Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
VicGal

Working in-house AND doing part-time solo work

Recommended Posts

I work for a small law firm in Victoria. A client of mine has asked me to come work in-house for them, on a part-time basis. I am considering making the move. If I do, I will be cutting ties completely with my old law firm. However, I would like to be able to perform some "legal" services should the situation ever arise. Assuming I am not breaching any contractual duties to my future employer, is there any concern with opening up a solo practice and providing legal services through it? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in Ontario and I've thought about this, biggest issue business-wise is that you may need to pay the full overhead for a full-time practice but only take in part-time revenue, so may not really be worth it etc. (but you may be able to avoid this to a degree if you are ok with working from home etc)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Won't your employment contract have a term about only being able to work for your employer? But if it is truly important for you, you could negotiate it. Conflicts might be tricky.

 

That being said I think there is a poster on the board who has a job and does some private practice "on the side."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My employment contract does not have an exclusivity provision. So I don't see how working outside of my normal hours of employment would be improper. But maybe I am missing something...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever other considerations you'd have to take into account, you'd have to consider conflicts. And not just legal/ethical conflicts, but also business conflicts (e.g. taking on files that you can ethically work but which your employer will be unhappy with - extreme example, your employer probably doesn't want to read about your successful defense of a notorious child molester in the paper).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work for a small law firm in Victoria. A client of mine has asked me to come work in-house for them, on a part-time basis. I am considering making the move. If I do, I will be cutting ties completely with my old law firm. However, I would like to be able to perform some "legal" services should the situation ever arise. Assuming I am not breaching any contractual duties to my future employer, is there any concern with opening up a solo practice and providing legal services through it? 

 

Just to be fair, tell your employer (sorry for that comment if that's your intention). My fear in your place would conflict  interest issues. Victoria is small-ish, and the potential for inadvertently talking to a former client or file is a reasonable concern. You know best... I deal with Victoria clients a lot, so I'm sure we have crossed-paths :-)

Edited by Ciaran
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work for a small law firm in Victoria. A client of mine has asked me to come work in-house for them, on a part-time basis. I am considering making the move. If I do, I will be cutting ties completely with my old law firm. However, I would like to be able to perform some "legal" services should the situation ever arise. Assuming I am not breaching any contractual duties to my future employer, is there any concern with opening up a solo practice and providing legal services through it? 

 

TL;DR: Isn't this simply a matter of negotiating terms with your new employer before you accept? What's the difficulty?

 

If you're only going to be working PT, and they are only paying you on that basis, it seems a reasonable thing to ask for. If they were opposed, and only paying you on a PT basis, why would you want the position? Unless of course there are personal/health/family/etc. reasons to work PT, I'm not trying to pry.

 

Like the above I'm assuming you would let your new employer know, and better to do so before you accept rather than assume they'd be okay and then told they're not; I'd be concerned if you didn't inform them (not that I am able to give advice regarding BC ethics and employee duties...).

 

When I took a non-law position (I still practice law PT as a solo) we agreed that I was free to do legal work (obviously, I wouldn't do anything with a potential conflict for ethical reasons). LSUC and Lawpro are fine with it (I made sure they knew what I was doing, in case there were any concerns). I obviously don't know the BC situation. Though depending upon the nature of the in-house work and the type of legal services you intend to offer (or possibly offer), there might be more or less potential for conflict - my FT work being non-law simplifies things for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TL;DR: Isn't this simply a matter of negotiating terms with your new employer before you accept? What's the difficulty?

 

Agreed. The only thing is that I don't see why I would need to negotiate this term into my contract. If my part-time employer wants exclusivity, that it something for THEM to negotiate into the employment contract. Based on my understanding of B.C. law, it would be unlikely for there to be an implied term of exclusivity in an employment contract: if my new employer wants exclusivity, that is a covenant they have to bargain for. This, of course, assumes that I will not breach any other terms of my employment contract (for example, number of hours worked per week, etc.). 

 

But aside from that difference, your analysis makes sense. Thanks for input. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whatever other considerations you'd have to take into account, you'd have to consider conflicts. And not just legal/ethical conflicts, but also business conflicts (e.g. taking on files that you can ethically work but which your employer will be unhappy with - extreme example, your employer probably doesn't want to read about your successful defense of a notorious child molester in the paper).

 

Thanks - good point re: conflicts. Something to think about. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed. The only thing is that I don't see why I would need to negotiate this term into my contract. If my part-time employer wants exclusivity, that it something for THEM to negotiate into the employment contract. Based on my understanding of B.C. law, it would be unlikely for there to be an implied term of exclusivity in an employment contract: if my new employer wants exclusivity, that is a covenant they have to bargain for. This, of course, assumes that I will not breach any other terms of my employment contract (for example, number of hours worked per week, etc.). 

 

But aside from that difference, your analysis makes sense. Thanks for input. 

 

As a lawyer (my understanding is you're a BC lawyer?), if you had a client in your situation, and they said they could either:

 

1. Have a contract explicitly saying they're free to do other legal work;

 

2. Have a contract that does not say they're free to do other work;

 

Which contract would you suggest they choose to have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a lawyer (my understanding is you're a BC lawyer?), if you had a client in your situation, and they said they could either:

 

1. Have a contract explicitly saying they're free to do other legal work;

 

2. Have a contract that does not say they're free to do other work;

 

Which contract would you suggest they choose to have?

 

There are other reasons why I would prefer not to disclose this to my employer.

 

And in any event, and respectfully, I don't share your view that having a contract that explicitly states X employee is free to earn income outside of his/her regular work hours is necessary at all. The question is: do I have a legal obligation to tell my employer? If the answer is no, that is all I need to know. I personally don't think my employer needs to know about all aspects of my life, including my income earning hobbies. I earn side income as a wedding photographer. Probably significantly more than I will earn as a "part time" lawyer in the next 5 years. Further, I believe in privacy. I don't feel obligated to tell every person I meet (or even all of my family members) that I have a side business as a photographer, so why I would treat my employer any differently I am not sure. I feel like we may value privacy a lot differently.

 

Similarly, I own multiple revenue properties in the prairies. I spend at least 20 hours a month on this, sometimes more when I travel home. According to your logic I better disclose? Why?

 

If you do think I have a positive obligation to tell my employer, what is the source?. My research suggests that so long as there is no conflict of interest, and so long as I am not breaching any duties to my part-time employer, contractual (including implied duties (good faith, etc.)), statutory or otherwise, I am free to do as I wish in my spare time with respect to earning a legal wage.

 

An employment contract is a contract: someone is agreeing to pay me $X for Y Hours of work (etc. etc.)...not to dictate what I may or may not do in my own time outside of the hours for which they own my time. 

 

Let me pose a question for you: if I did inform my employer, and they communicated to me that they did not find this practice acceptable, yet I continue, and they terminate my employment on that basis, would that be grounds for a claim for wrongful dismissal? As mentioned earlier, I have no express contractual duty of exclusivity. If you do think that would be grounds for a claim for wrongful dismissal, I would suggest to you I have no legal obligation to inform my employer. 

 

Zzzzz. All I ask from you is that you point me to a precedent from which your imaginary "obligation to disclose other sources of income" duty arises. Then I will shut up. 

 

Edited: spelling

Edited by VicGal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are other reasons why I would prefer not to disclose this to my employer.

 

And in any event, and respectfully, I don't share your view that having a contract that explicitly states X employee is free to earn income outside of his/her regular work hours is necessary at all. The question is: do I have a legal obligation to tell my employer? If the answer is no, that is all I need to know. I personally don't think my employer needs to know about all aspects of my life, including my income earning hobbies. I earn side income as a wedding photographer. Probably significantly more than I will earn as a "part time" lawyer in the next 5 years. Further, I believe in privacy. I don't feel obligated to tell every person I meet (or even all of my family members) that I have a side business as a photographer, so why I would treat my employer any differently I am not sure. I feel like we may value privacy a lot differently.

 

Similarly, I own multiple revenue properties in the prairies. I spend at least 20 hours a month on this, sometimes more when I travel home. According to your logic I better disclose? Why?

 

If you do think I have a positive obligation to tell my employer, what is the source?. My research suggests that so long as there is no conflict of interest, and so long as I am not breaching any duties to my part-time employer, contractual (including implied duties (good faith, etc.)), statutory or otherwise, I am free to do as I wish in my spare time with respect to earning a legal wage.

 

An employment contract is a contract: someone is agreeing to pay me $X for Y Hours of work (etc. etc.)...not to dictate what I may or may not do in my own time outside of the hours for which they own my time. 

 

Let me pose a question for you: if I did inform my employer, and they communicated to me that they did not find this practice acceptable, yet I continue, and they terminate my employment on that basis, would that be grounds for a claim for wrongful dismissal? As mentioned earlier, I have no express contractual duty of exclusivity. If you do think that would be grounds for a claim for wrongful dismissal, I would suggest to you I have no legal obligation to inform my employer. 

 

Zzzzz. All I ask from you is that you point me to a precedent from which your imaginary "obligation to disclose other sources of income" duty arises. Then I will shut up. 

 

Edited: spelling

 

The fact that you don't want to disclose this raises a red flag - it doesn't necessarily mean that you're wrong, again, I'm not a BC lawyer and you are; but feeling the need to hide is a concern because it suggests you know your future employer would have a problem with it (and maybe for a good reason?). And your initial presentation of the facts was that they want to hire you (PT only) and that you haven't yet started working there. This is NOT the situation of e.g. someone who's already been doing this for a while.

 

You're focused on the law (and generally re non-fiduciaries I assume), I'm thinking of professional legal ethics. Reread the BC ethical rules regarding moonlighting - I haven't read them, I'm not a BC lawyer. See if the LSBC has any materials/advice/letters regarding moonlighting. Here the moonlighting would be as a lawyer, which is even more concerning (I assume the rules are thinking of non-legal outside work, but again, haven't read the BC ones).

 

It's also possible the future employer has a code of conduct regarding moonlighting - whether or not you agree with its enforceability or not, would you be comfortable agreeing to terms you intended to violate (even if your opinion was that they were unenforceable)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is: do I have a legal obligation to tell my employer? If the answer is no, that is all I need to know.... If you do think I have a positive obligation to tell my employer, what is the source?

 

Thanks for clarifying this. You are asking for legal advice and we cannot help you.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Recent Posts

    • Hi folks, this is obviously a throwaway account for a few reasons, which I have cleared with Hegdis prior to posting.  I'm looking for some advice in terms of the next steps I should take in my career, and am hoping those of you with experience can chime in. This is a bit of a long story, so hold on to your hats here. Since I was a kid, I had always wanted to go to law school, and frankly, always wanted to do criminal law. As I approached law school, and even entered 1L, I heard the refrain time and time again to keep an open mind and that often what you enter wanting to practice isn't what you may enjoy. In 1L I actually really did enjoy my Criminal Law course, and I participated in a moot on a criminal issue and felt really good about it (I did well in it too). But somewhere I went wrong. In the process of "keeping an open mind" I frankly think I let others sway me away from what I was actually interested in. It may have been constantly hearing about the money you could make in corporate, or how hard criminal law is, or really even just worrying myself about what others would think of my decision to forego the corporate recruit, but I decided to move towards the path of being a corporate lawyer.   And frankly, some of the corporate stuff I learned I really enjoyed, and it definitely made me want to at least try it out in practice. Despite a B+ average, including a smattering of A's in various courses, I was unable to get a job in 1L or 2L I struck out in the recruit. I ended up securing an articling job in March of 3L, doing 90% corporate commercial work, with some other stuff mixed in. Pretty much zero litigation (I drafted some documents for an ADR matter and did some research related to a dispute, no court/tribunal time). I figured it would be a good experience. I had gotten some idea of what litigation would look like in law school (took some courses, mooted, etc.) and wanted some transacational experience. It was also March and I was frankly desperate to secure articles. You may be able to see where this is going.   I hate it.  Like, really hate it.  Really, it comes down to three things that I don't like. The job isn't personal. The job isn't complex. And the work I'm doing doesn't feel meaningful. I can definitely expand on those headings if I need to, but that's really what it comes down to.  I feel like I'd be a lot happier in a litigation role, where I could feel like I'm using my brain, put my public speaking skills to use, and actually have something to fight over with a result that means something significant to a client. Specifically, I'm thinking a move to Criminal/PI/Union/Employee side Labour and Employment litigation would check some of the boxes that seem to be missing from my current job (I'm really interested in criminal, if I'm being honest).  So here's the question, what would you do in my situation? How would you sell yourself? Are there firms out there that will let you "pay the bills" with your corp/comm experience while you gain litigation experience? If I gain civil lit experience can I make a move to criminal? Should I hang my own defence shingle when I get called, look for some mentors, and grind? Is there a path for me, or should I just work as a solicitor for 4 years, pay off my loans, and leave the profession? Am I overthinking this completely? I'm aware I'm fighting an uphill battle, and if I could go back and do it again I would. But I'm looking for a way forward now, and am hoping someone here can provide some guidance to a person who has definitely gone down a path and realized (thankfully at the beginning of their career) that it isn't what they want.  Happy to provide additional info, if it'll make a difference.  Thanks.   
    • Okay, so I would still be eligible for wait list considerations to Queen's after my acceptance goes firm on July 1? If the only penalty for accepting Windsor is a deposit then I will absolutely pay that to keep my options open. Thanks.  Does anyone happen to know how much that deposit would be though?...
    • " Pretty shocking that employers would think negatively of a 2L student with a B+ avg who has 1 semester pass/failed" No one can tell. i have a few P/F because of  the 2015 strike. Didn't notice any impact during interviews.
    • yes they must. a friend of mine got into ryerson today and her offer expires tomorrow. 
    • That's very unfortunate considering those with mandatory pass/fail can now just relax and basically pass the course with a D while the rest of us at optional pass/fail schools are pressured to take grades. Pretty shocking that employers would think negatively of a 2L student with a B+ avg who has 1 semester pass/failed. 

×
×
  • Create New...