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homer

Criminal Lawyer Associate Salary

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How much do they make?  I'm talking about those criminal law firms with about 4 - 12 lawyers.

I ask because as a new sole practitioner, I'm making a decent amount, but I don't know how I would pay an articling/summer student anytime soon.  I can't even begin to imagine how I would pay an associate, unless I got a huge amount of private clients.  One of my friends who is articling at one of these firms in Downtown Toronto is only getting 35K, about half what the MAG paid for articling. 

Also, even if you could hire an associate and pay him/her, why would they stay?  Once a criminal lawyer knows what they are doing, they could make double on their own, and just partner with another lawyer for more complicated matters.  Which begs the question again, what is their salary like?

Edited by homer

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There is a difference between a sole practitioner paying an articling student and 4-12 lawyers doing it. Obviously 4-12 lawyers have more income to pool and play with. 

Part of the point of an associate is that they also bring work in and begin building a practice. And why would they stay? Because you don’t know what you’re doing right after articling. Other lawyers can mentor you both in the business aspects of law and the substantive law much more intensely than if you are a sole asking for favours. If they are busy enough, they can also funnel you work. And they are providing you with office space, an assistant, a student etc that you can’t afford on your own.

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Out here in BC the salaried criminal defence associate position is a unicorn.

Much more common to have office sharing / percentage arrangements.

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1 minute ago, Hegdis said:

Out here in BC the salaried criminal defence associate position is a unicorn.

Much more common to have office sharing / percentage arrangements.

That's why I'm so curious about their salary.  I might be green, but criminal defence work generally doesn't seem like the kind requiring multiple lawyers per file.  I don't understand how much salary could be paid to a criminal defence associate, especially since they can get pretty much all the benefits providence mentioned from working in a chambers with other criminal lawyers. 

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8 minutes ago, providence said:

There is a difference between a sole practitioner paying an articling student and 4-12 lawyers doing it. Obviously 4-12 lawyers have more income to pool and play with. 

Part of the point of an associate is that they also bring work in and begin building a practice. And why would they stay? Because you don’t know what you’re doing right after articling. Other lawyers can mentor you both in the business aspects of law and the substantive law much more intensely than if you are a sole asking for favours. If they are busy enough, they can also funnel you work. And they are providing you with office space, an assistant, a student etc that you can’t afford on your own.

You get all this from a chambers (sans student). 

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It depends on the firm. In a bigger, more established criminal firm where they have lots of cash clients, they pay you as an associate to deal with smaller stuff they don’t have time to do but can bill for or recover elsewhere. And big files do sometimes need more than one lawyer. On top of that, you build your own practice/find your own work.

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4 minutes ago, homer said:

You get all this from a chambers (sans student). 

Well chambers don’t generally send work out of their own firm to another sole do they? Unless there is a conflict or something. And having a student to be on call etc is a huge benefit. Plus you don’t benefit from the reputation of the people you work for/with to the same extent in a chambers situation. Again it would depend on the firm - with some firms, their name/reputation is worth it.

Edited by providence

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14 minutes ago, providence said:

It depends on the firm. In a bigger, more established criminal firm where they have lots of cash clients, they pay you as an associate to deal with smaller stuff they don’t have time to do but can bill for or recover elsewhere. And big files do sometimes need more than one lawyer. On top of that, you build your own practice/find your own work.

 

12 minutes ago, providence said:

Well chambers don’t generally send work out of their own firm to another sole do they? Unless there is a conflict or something. And having a student to be on call etc is a huge benefit. Plus you don’t benefit from the reputation of the people you work for/with. 

Big firms have a mix of legal aid and private clients, legal aid does pay well for bigger matters.  I agree that some files need more then one lawyer, but that's rare.  Even then, lawyers can and often do, partner with others.  This often occurs in chambers.  They also send each other work sometimes (e.g. they may offer a legal aid bail to a new lawyer like me in the chambers since it only pays very little).  Also, if you need to have an adjournment or have something simple done in court, the CLA has a listserve where we just ask someone to adjourn something.  Someone always answers.   If we need specific questions answered, the listserve does that as well.  

I guess if someone knows first hand, I would love to get a ballpark on how much these lawyers make.  In all honesty, I cant see these positions paying very much.  The only reason I could see someone working at such a firm is for experience, bragging rights, or because they genuinely love criminal law and do not want to run a business. 

Edited by homer

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Sean Robichaud, who runs a firm of approx 3 other associates said said the following:

       What salary can criminal lawyers expect in the first few years of practice?

       Between $30,000 and $70,000. And it doesn’t grow much for associates: they practice for a few years and become Crown attorneys, partners or sole practitioners.


Does that sound accurate?

Source:  http://lawandstyle.ca/career/career-sean-robichaud/

Edited by homer

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38 minutes ago, homer said:

 

Big firms have a mix of legal aid and private clients, legal aid does pay well for bigger matters.  I agree that some files need more then one lawyer, but that's rare.  Even then, lawyers can and often do, partner with others.  This often occurs in chambers.  They also send each other work sometimes (e.g. they may offer a legal aid bail to a new lawyer like me in the chambers since it only pays very little).  Also, if you need to have an adjournment or have something simple done in court, the CLA has a listserve where we just ask someone to adjourn something.  Someone always answers.   If we need specific questions answered, the listserve does that as well.  

I guess if someone knows first hand, I would love to get a ballpark on how much these lawyers make.  In all honesty, I cant see these positions paying very much.  The only reason I could see someone working at such a firm is for experience, bragging rights, or because they genuinely love criminal law and do not want to run a business. 

It’s not rare that your files need more than one lawyer if you do a lot of murders and jury trials. The list serve is a great resource, I agree, but it’s still not the same as being part of a firm. The main reason to be an associate is definitely to get experience and future relationships/connections.

Those numbers seem accurate, maybe slightly on the low side. But a lot of soles in their first or second year are lucky to make that. 

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Jr associates can be between 40k-70k. It ranges on year of call obvs and whether you bring your own client list.

 It also really depends on the firm's expected billable (for Ottawa, are you working with Edelson on $$$ files or are you working at a high-volume LAO practice). There are also only a handful of mid size solely criminal law firms. I believe people choose to work in them, as opposed to sole, because they dont want to run a business. Thry also get much more interesting cases waaaay earlier on. JR SPs generally arent getting appeal work, though a colleague who a 2 year call is getting exactly that at one of these firms.

Other common pay strategies is a 50-50 share arrangement. You get to benefit from the firm name and resources in this way. 

 

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I know in some of the regulatory prosecutions in my office the prosecutors (often big name criminal types) use their associates in the bigger hearings.

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