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Will be $102,000.00 in Debt. How screwed am I?

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title says it all - Currently a 2L who is interested in working in criminal defence (and doesn't mind personal injury work). Will I be able to do so, or should I just live at the Salvation Army while trying to do this? 

 

Thanks. 

 

 

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The average Criminal Lawyer salary in Ontario is roughly $72 000, after tax it's about $57 000.

 

In order to pay off $102 000 in seven years, @3% interest, you'd have to pay $16417 per year. The total cost of borrowing over this period hovering around $12000. 

 

So after tax and paying off your debt, you'd have $40500 left for everything else you do. I don't know about your lifestyle, but that's not completely unreasonable to live off of. And of course I'm not taking into account raises, or bonuses or even the tax credit you've probably accumulated throughout your years of post secondary career. 

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Yeah, due respect to YemenJemen...fear of saying things like you'd have $40,500 left over, not counting raises! is exactly the reason why, when there's a thread I don't know enough to answer and when several of our very most prolific posters do know enough to answer, I err on the side of not responding. I don't know anything and am just hazarding a not-even-educated-but-may-have-picked-up-a-thing-or-two-via-osmosis guess, but an "average" criminal lawyer making $72,000 a year probably looks like one Marie Heinen making quadruple that and three other guys making zilch, not every single criminal lawyer making exactly $72,000.

OP: we're at the stage of the admissions process (and this is not just a YemenJemen problem---I've seen it a few times this year, and I see it every year) where people who've just been admitted, or are still waiting, start to feel very eager to give back. Sometimes their desire to be helpful can outweigh how helpful they actually are. It's the old Homer Simpson "I gave him directions even though I didn't know the way, because that's the kind of guy I am this week!" thing. Be careful what advice you take (including, in fairness, mine).

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title says it all - Currently a 2L who is interested in working in criminal defence (and doesn't mind personal injury work). Will I be able to do so, or should I just live at the Salvation Army while trying to do this? 

 

Thanks.

 

Do you live at the Salvation Army now? In all likelihood you'll effectively continue to live like a student for a few years while you build your practice and make a dent in you student loans.

 

Don't forget, you probably have significant unused tuition tax credit left over from law school meaning you shouldn't be paying much in tax early on. Use those tax refunds (or reduced withholding/instalments) to make an early dent in your loans.

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Most criminal defence lawyers do not draw a salary so I do not know where the 72k figure is coming from (maybe we can get some clarification?)

 

OP it can be done but that is a shit ton of debt. I would give serious consideration to Crown work first if you can get it. It's the other side of the same coin and a lot of people do both over the course of their careers. It offers you more stability and potentially better training / support early on when you really need it.

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Most criminal defence lawyers do not draw a salary so I do not know where the 72k figure is coming from (maybe we can get some clarification?)

 

OP it can be done but that is a shit ton of debt. I would give serious consideration to Crown work first if you can get it. It's the other side of the same coin and a lot of people do both over the course of their careers. It offers you more stability and potentially better training / support early on when you really need it.

Hutchinson!

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Yeah, due respect to YemenJemen...fear of saying things like you'd have $40,500 left over, not counting raises! is exactly the reason why, when there's a thread I don't know enough to answer and when several of our very most prolific posters do know enough to answer, I err on the side of not responding. I don't know anything and am just hazarding a not-even-educated-but-may-have-picked-up-a-thing-or-two-via-osmosis guess, but an "average" criminal lawyer making $72,000 a year probably looks like one Marie Heinen making quadruple that and three other guys making zilch, not every single criminal lawyer making exactly $72,000.

 

OP: we're at the stage of the admissions process (and this is not just a YemenJemen problem---I've seen it a few times this year, and I see it every year) where people who've just been admitted, or are still waiting, start to feel very eager to give back. Sometimes their desire to be helpful can outweigh how helpful they actually are. It's the old Homer Simpson "I gave him directions even though I didn't know the way, because that's the kind of guy I am this week!" thing. Be careful what advice you take (including, in fairness, mine).

 

 

Most criminal defence lawyers do not draw a salary so I do not know where the 72k figure is coming from (maybe we can get some clarification?)

 

OP it can be done but that is a shit ton of debt. I would give serious consideration to Crown work first if you can get it. It's the other side of the same coin and a lot of people do both over the course of their careers. It offers you more stability and potentially better training / support early on when you really need it.

 

I really did just pull that number out of a quick google search: http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Criminal_Defense_Lawyer/Salary

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And for the record I think the OP knows that I am indeed a random guy on the internet. Of course there are other things that need to be taken into account when answering these questions, I just applied the amount of debt he has to an average salary and spit out the results. 

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Mmm - that site also says the gender split in criminal defence is 50/50.

 

I don't know that I would rely on it overmuch. It's probably in the ballpark, but the failure to distinguish between small business owners versus employees is a pretty important glossover.

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Most criminal defence lawyers do not draw a salary so I do not know where the 72k figure is coming from (maybe we can get some clarification?)

 

OP it can be done but that is a shit ton of debt. I would give serious consideration to Crown work first if you can get it. It's the other side of the same coin and a lot of people do both over the course of their careers. It offers you more stability and potentially better training / support early on when you really need it.

 

It is a shit ton of debt. Some to OSAP - even more to the Bank. I think I am regretting not applying to do crown work for 2L. Perhaps I should be applying, although I suspect a B+ in first year crim, followed by a B+ in advanced crim pro is not going to get me interviews 

Do you live at the Salvation Army now? In all likelihood you'll effectively continue to live like a student for a few years while you build your practice and make a dent in you student loans.

 

Don't forget, you probably have significant unused tuition tax credit left over from law school meaning you shouldn't be paying much in tax early on. Use those tax refunds (or reduced withholding/instalments) to make an early dent in your loans.

 

 

Do not live at the salvation army, although I suspect I could be in 2 years. I am not sure how much I will get back in refunds, but I will keep that in mind. 

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Yeah, that's a pretty strange site, but thanks for at least sharing the source of the number. I'm not prepared to say that $72k is a wildly unrealistic figure across the profession, but like Hegdis I wouldn't put much faith in that number aside from viewing it as a ballpark.

 

Look, in basic terms, more debt means you'll find it harder to have a career in criminal defence (or in many less remunerative areas of law, really) and still live a comfortable lifestyle. But of course it can be done, depending on the sacrifices you're prepared to make. There are some advantages, at least. First, you're lifestyle and your wardrobe don't have to meet any standard save that of "slightly respectable." In other words, you can buy your suits off the rack at a department store, and your shoes at Goodwill, and no one will even blink. You won't be expected to go anywhere expensive or know anything about expensive things. A trip to Harvey's qualifies as a business lunch. Second, I actually think it can make you a better lawyer to have at least some insight into the lives your clients lead. Now I don't meant to draw any equivalent at all, but at least if you struggle with money, maybe even need to live in a cheap apartment, that's something. Better than living in a condo and driving the BMW your parents bought you as a graduation present. It's amazing how often just "getting" your clients and the lives they lead can help you both attract clients and even win cases.

 

I'll add some bad news. You'll need a car. That's basically non-negotiable. It can be a shit box, but you need to be able to drive to various courts. You'll need it in time to be a realistic candidate for almost any articling positions. And yes, that's a major expense to add to an already tight budget. Sorry.

 

It can be done. It'll just suck. As real numbers, in Toronto, I'd say what you could expect to earn while articling would be anywhere from nothing to about $50k, with a realistic figure to expect around $30k. As a first year associate if employed on salary I'd say you'd make from around $40k-70k, with a realistic figure to expect around $50k. If you're forced to go on your own, as many do, you might be netting from almost nothing to around $60k in your first year and then who knows after that. But going sole can help a lot with things like licensing costs, insurance, the car we just talked about, etc. The $60k a sole declares, after all legal (and mostly legal) expenses are factored in, probably feels more like $70k on salary.

 

Hope that helps.

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Yeah, that's a pretty strange site, but thanks for at least sharing the source of the number. I'm not prepared to say that $72k is a wildly unrealistic figure across the profession, but like Hegdis I wouldn't put much faith in that number aside from viewing it as a ballpark.

 

Look, in basic terms, more debt means you'll find it harder to have a career in criminal defence (or in many less remunerative areas of law, really) and still live a comfortable lifestyle. But of course it can be done, depending on the sacrifices you're prepared to make. There are some advantages, at least. First, you're lifestyle and your wardrobe don't have to meet any standard save that of "slightly respectable." In other words, you can buy your suits off the rack at a department store, and your shoes at Goodwill, and no one will even blink. You won't be expected to go anywhere expensive or know anything about expensive things. A trip to Harvey's qualifies as a business lunch. Second, I actually think it can make you a better lawyer to have at least some insight into the lives your clients lead. Now I don't meant to draw any equivalent at all, but at least if you struggle with money, maybe even need to live in a cheap apartment, that's something. Better than living in a condo and driving the BMW your parents bought you as a graduation present. It's amazing how often just "getting" your clients and the lives they lead can help you both attract clients and even win cases.

 

I'll add some bad news. You'll need a car. That's basically non-negotiable. It can be a shit box, but you need to be able to drive to various courts. You'll need it in time to be a realistic candidate for almost any articling positions. And yes, that's a major expense to add to an already tight budget. Sorry.

 

It can be done. It'll just suck. As real numbers, in Toronto, I'd say what you could expect to earn while articling would be anywhere from nothing to about $50k, with a realistic figure to expect around $30k. As a first year associate if employed on salary I'd say you'd make from around $40k-70k, with a realistic figure to expect around $50k. If you're forced to go on your own, as many do, you might be netting from almost nothing to around $60k in your first year and then who knows after that. But going sole can help a lot with things like licensing costs, insurance, the car we just talked about, etc. The $60k a sole declares, after all legal (and mostly legal) expenses are factored in, probably feels more like $70k on salary.

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

Thank you for your time and insightful post. I appreciate it a lot. 

 

I think the car is the thing I'm worried about most (aside from the already high figure of debt). But, without getting into the sob story, I would say my debt is not much less than it could be. Mom and Dad certainly don't have cheques to give. I think I'm reaching the end of almost 2L and it scares me. I can't afford to not earn positive figures. Although that seems redundant because nobody can. 

 

I am just worried about getting out of school, finishing articling (assuming I get something that pays) and having to go out on my own which I don't think I can economically do. Anyway, again thanks for the response. 

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Thank you for your time and insightful post. I appreciate it a lot. 

 

I think the car is the thing I'm worried about most (aside from the already high figure of debt). But, without getting into the sob story, I would say my debt is not much less than it could be. Mom and Dad certainly don't have cheques to give. I think I'm reaching the end of almost 2L and it scares me. I can't afford to not earn positive figures. Although that seems redundant because nobody can. 

 

I am just worried about getting out of school, finishing articling (assuming I get something that pays) and having to go out on my own which I don't think I can economically do. Anyway, again thanks for the response. 

Sorry, are you saying that your debt could have been more, but that you basically only borrowed what you had to?  The wording has thrown me off.

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Sorry, are you saying that your debt could have been more, but that you basically only borrowed what you had to?  The wording has thrown me off.

 

 

No worries - long day makes for poor sentence structure. 

 

I am saying that it couldn't be much less. I work during school as well so I suppose it could be more! I have availability of more $ from the bank, etc., but I am reluctant to use it, as I should be. 

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It is a shit ton of debt. Some to OSAP - even more to the Bank. I think I am regretting not applying to do crown work for 2L. Perhaps I should be applying, although I suspect a B+ in first year crim, followed by a B+ in advanced crim pro is not going to get me interviews

 

 

Do not live at the salvation army, although I suspect I could be in 2 years. I am not sure how much I will get back in refunds, but I will keep that in mind.

You are forecasting 100K+ of debt, yet self-selecting out of the best paying summer positions in your area of interest?

 

What job are you working 2L summer?

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Generally speaking, what gpa is expected from the crown's office in Ontario in the 2L recruit, either in toronto or in one of the neighboring cities? I'm interested in criminal law too but I'm also forecasting 100k+ of debt, so working as a crown (at the very least until I pay off that debt) might be a necessity.

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You are forecasting 100K+ of debt, yet self-selecting out of the best paying summer positions in your area of interest?

 

What job are you working 2L summer?

 

 

Without getting into specifics I currently have a 2L Summer position in a firm (but for only half the summer), but it is not in the area of criminal law, and the pay isn't great. I am in the process of applying to two crown offices, as well as other jobs. Not concrete "yes" or "no" from these places yet. 

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It is a shit ton of debt. Some to OSAP - even more to the Bank. I think I am regretting not applying to do crown work for 2L. Perhaps I should be applying, although I suspect a B+ in first year crim, followed by a B+ in advanced crim pro is not going to get me interviews 

?*?*?*?*?

 

I missed this earlier. 

 

You're in the top half of your class in criminal law courses and you're not applying to the crown?  WTF?  I've said it before, but what sort of number have people done on you poor students that with a B+ in advanced criminal law you think you're not in the running for respectable criminal law jobs - just how many A students do you think are out there?  And how many of them do you think are applying for jobs with the crown?  I don't know anything about crown hiring - other than that it is competitive - but would have thought that those grades alone, assuming your other grades are otherwise respectable (e.g., you're not rocking a C+ average), and you've got some other activities which indicate a genuine interest in criminal law, you would at least be competitive for an interview (and, if not with the crown, than certainly with a respectable criminal practitioner).  Even if you're not, who cares, you will not be hired for 100% of the jobs you don't apply for.   Apply for everything.   

 

Sorry Op, not really intended to pick on you, but I've heard a number of people recently with objectively pretty good grades worrying about whether or not they are employable.  People need some perspective. 

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?*?*?*?*?

 

I missed this earlier. 

 

You're in the top half of your class in criminal law courses and you're not applying to the crown?  WTF?  I've said it before, but what sort of number have people done on you poor students that with a B+ in advanced criminal law you think you're not in the running for respectable criminal law jobs - just how many A students do you think are out there?  And how many of them do you think are applying for jobs with the crown?  I don't know anything about crown hiring - other than that it is competitive - but would have thought that those grades alone, assuming your other grades are otherwise respectable (e.g., you're not rocking a C+ average), and you've got some other activities which indicate a genuine interest in criminal law, you would at least be competitive for an interview (and, if not with the crown, than certainly with a respectable criminal practitioner).  Even if you're not, who cares, you will not be hired for 100% of the jobs you don't apply for.   Apply for everything.   

 

Sorry Op, not really intended to pick on you, but I've heard a number of people recently with objectively pretty good grades worrying about whether or not they are employable.  People need some perspective. 

 

 

My average is mid B. I have 4 grades that are under a B. The rest are mostly B+'s and I have two A-. Absolutely have other activities that show a genie interest. But, most people I know who have higher marks than I have do not get accepted at the Crowns office. But, I am applying to things still. 

 

No need to apologize. Don't feel picked on at all - you are right. It comes down to being worried about whether or not I am employable lol. Thank you for your comment - much appreciated. 

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