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Luckycharm

Junior associate $20 an hour???

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Without getting any more personal, maybe everyone can commit to reading what a poster actually says before replying.

This is a discussion about the legal market. Let’s not derail into some pointless comparison to every other market out there that no one else is talking about. If you want to do that, start a new thread. 

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^ respectfully, without context of other markets how can we discuss the legal market?  What else would we compare it to?  Past markets? - they are in the past and are hard to compare.  (why in my day we had it hard -- actually we didn't I even managed to get a big law job first try)

Are there dental grads being asked to work for $20 an hour (plus bonus I gather?.  I understand that the job market for many young professionals is being fragmented and folks with newly minted degrees in many areas are required to take temp, contract, low/no benefit positions to get by.

Seems that this is relevant to the legal job market no?  

Edited by Rumpy
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3 hours ago, LawMaidsTale said:

Do yourself a favor OP and work in doc review (if you live in Toronto). You will at least make better money and be able to service any student loans debts you have (if any).

I am happy with where I am. 

I don't have any debt outstanding

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I agree with Rumpy. A discussion of the legal market without comparison to other markets isn’t a particularly useful discussion.

I don’t even think you can have an effective conversation about past legal markets without referring to other markets (e.g. discussion of compensation in the Toronto market in 2005 would be meaningless without considering the context of adjacent markets), let alone a comparative discussion. 

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I think all a mentioning of the legal market, sans others, can provide is student expectations. If you include past legal markets, then you can see how the legal market has improved or gotten worse - albeit without context of the economic forces in play.

I think at the end of the day is, some students are frustrated that their investment has not yielded their expected returns. Fair, all sorts of investors get frustrated. But at the end of the day, that's what your law degree was - an investment on your part, which may have yielded yacht to yacht communication, international human rights glory (with a handsome paycheck), or a 20 dollar an hour compensation package. 

 

here's the good news: What is available to you now, does not determine what your career will look like 20, 10, 5, or even 3 years from now. I think the comparison between doc review and this position was astute - do you want to get meaningful experience that you can use to potentially catapult your career to a better place in (relatively) a short time, or would you rather have more pay now? Neither is necessarily a wrong choice, depending on your priorities and constraints (i,.e my heart bleeds for those in too much debt to take this job), but the choice is yours. You're in the real world now, and while it may not be a perfect meritocracy, by virtue of your law degree you're already in a (again, relatively) privileged place in terms of potential career (and earnings) growth. It's up to you to work to realize that potential, and better returns for your investment.

Edited by pzabbythesecond
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As others have said, the legal market depends upon the ability of clients to pay and so it is different than the medical market, where the government pays doctors for their services, the dental market, where either the government is covering low income people or many patients are covered by insurance from their employers, or the engineering market where often there are government tenders or big corporations requiring services.

In biglaw, the clients have money so the students and juniors are paid well. In a practice where a good part of the work is on legal aid, this is not the case, and your salary has to come from somewhere.

My type of practice is a true meritocracy. I am not guaranteed 150 or 180K because I’ve been called 6 or 7 years or whatever the scale is. If I make 150K, it’s through hard work and struggle and really hustling and retaining those cash files. Every penny I make is either a client I found and was able to get to trust me enough to let me be their lawyer, a client who heard I had done good work, called me and decided to trust me, or a client another lawyer sent me because they like my work and trust me. I earn all my clients through reputation and decent work. And I then share what I earn with the people I employ to help me.

There is no intrinsic value to a lawyer because you’ve completed law school and no one owes you a living because you took on debt. Your value in my field is your reputation, your hustling ability, your personality and the quality of your work. Some of this you can learn from mentors and if someone is willing to pay you at least something to learn, it is worth it if you car about this work. If you’re a biglaw reject then you’re in for a rough ride.

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3 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I think all a mentioning of the legal market, sans others, can provide is student expectations. If you include past legal markets, then you can see how the legal market has improved or gotten worse - albeit without context of the economic forces in play.

I think at the end of the day is, some students are frustrated that their investment has not yielded their expected returns. Fair, all sorts of investors get frustrated. But at the end of the day, that's what your law degree was - an investment on your part, which may have yielded yacht to yacht communication, international human rights glory (with a handsome paycheck), or a 20 dollar an hour compensation package. 

 

here's the good news: What is available to you now, does not determine what your career will look like 20, 10, 5, or even 3 years from now. I think the comparison between doc review and this position was astute - do you want to get meaningful experience that you can use to potentially catapult your career to a better place in (relatively) a short time, or would you rather have more pay now? Neither is necessarily a wrong choice, depending on your priorities and constraints (i,.e my heart bleeds for those in too much debt to take this job), but the choice is yours. You're in the real world now, and while it may not be a perfect meritocracy, by virtue of your law degree you're already in a (again, relatively) privileged place in terms of potential career (and earnings) growth. It's up to you to work to realize that potential, and better returns for your investment.

This is the real issue - student expectations. I don’t know where they cone from but they need to be adjusted.

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11 minutes ago, providence said:

This is the real issue - student expectations. I don’t know where they cone from but they need to be adjusted.

I think it largely come from the “Bay Street or Bust” mindset, and the fact that people coming to law school have often never truly failed. That combination leads people to discount the “bust” part of that saying, and then become incredibly disenchanted when they do “bust.” 

There’s only one category of people whom I honestly feel bad for when they fail to secure a job or decent articling position (decent being paid): the people that came to law school wanting to work in a less remunerative field, who didn’t try for those higher paid fields, who worked hard, and then failed to secure anything. I never hear those people complaining, though, because by and large if you work hard and have a sincere interest in the field, you’ll find a position. I certainly never hear them complaining about their pay, because they never raised their expectations to match the Bay St crowd.

If you’re in law for the money, go to Bay Street (well, preferably leave the profession, but failing that). If you couldn’t make it to Bay Street, you don’t have any right to the money Bay Street lawyer’s make as a first year — the people that make that pay that much money already decided you weren’t worth it, at least right now. 

 

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17 minutes ago, providence said:

As others have said, the legal market depends upon the ability of clients to pay and so it is different than the medical market, where the government pays doctors for their services, the dental market, where either the government is covering low income people or many patients are covered by insurance from their employers, or the engineering market where often there are government tenders or big corporations requiring services.

In biglaw, the clients have money so the students and juniors are paid well. In a practice where a good part of the work is on legal aid, this is not the case, and your salary has to come from somewhere.

My type of practice is a true meritocracy. I am not guaranteed 150 or 180K because I’ve been called 6 or 7 years or whatever the scale is. If I make 150K, it’s through hard work and struggle and really hustling and retaining those cash files. Every penny I make is either a client I found and was able to get to trust me enough to let me be their lawyer, a client who heard I had done good work, called me and decided to trust me, or a client another lawyer sent me because they like my work and trust me. I earn all my clients through reputation and decent work. And I then share what I earn with the people I employ to help me.

There is no intrinsic value to a lawyer because you’ve completed law school and no one owes you a living because you took on debt. Your value in my field is your reputation, your hustling ability, your personality and the quality of your work. Some of this you can learn from mentors and if someone is willing to pay you at least something to learn, it is worth it if you car about this work. If you’re a biglaw reject then you’re in for a rough ride.

[emphasis added]

To avoid going on a tangent per Hegdis I'll just say - yeah, no. Markets are different, yes (while also comparable as others have noted). But to state that engineering graduates as a class benefit from the factors you indicate, no (and that's even without getting into the issue of engineering graduates who do work not requiring them to become licensed as professional engineers). And from (admittedly limited and anecdotal) discussions with dentists and staff, there are many people who aren't covered, or are incompletely covered, and have to ration their dental care (which can lead to even greater expenses down the road...). Also, whatever the problems, people can self-rep and access court services, the registry, serve documents, etc., participate in the functions of the court system. They can't book hospital facilities and self-operate, self-prescribe pharmaceuticals, or self-perform dental services including obtaining access to dental facilities, tools, and drugs.

I do find the comparison with engineering helpful because that's a first-entry degree, with no guaranteed employment and experience requirement to become licensed (4 years), but the fact that it's a first degree means graduates aren't (unlike many law grads) funnelled into a narrow path because they see it as the only way to service their student debt (if applicable).

And in for a penny, in for a pound, I'll criticize your self-description! It's not a true meritocracy, because no matter how excellent a lawyer you are, you may be judged in part for factors unrelated to your ability - discriminated against based on sexism or other factors, your client discriminated against for racist or sexist factors which affects the result and thus their and others' perception of you, taking a hit for being properly ethical, etc. I agree it's a meritocracy or at that end of the spectrum, but there are factors unrelated to the quality of one's representation that come into play also. So maybe I'm being nitpicky by saying it's not a "true" meritocracy, but apparently nitpicking is the thing to do this thread... :rolleyes:

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23 minutes ago, providence said:

My type of practice is a true meritocracy. I am not guaranteed 150 or 180K because I’ve been called 6 or 7 years or whatever the scale is. If I make 150K, it’s through hard work and struggle and really hustling and retaining those cash files. Every penny I make is either a client I found and was able to get to trust me enough to let me be their lawyer, a client who heard I had done good work, called me and decided to trust me, or a client another lawyer sent me because they like my work and trust me. I earn all my clients through reputation and decent work. And I then share what I earn with the people I employ to help me.

There is no intrinsic value to a lawyer because you’ve completed law school and no one owes you a living because you took on debt. Your value in my field is your reputation, your hustling ability, your personality and the quality of your work. Some of this you can learn from mentors and if someone is willing to pay you at least something to learn, it is worth it if you car about this work. If you’re a biglaw reject then you’re in for a rough ride.

This. 

We do a terrible job of impressing on would-be lawyers that a huge chunk of the profession - and most of the private practice side of the profession - involves running your own small business.  Yeah, getting a job with the crown and a pension is nice.  Getting a job with a big bay street law firm, which a cushy and guaranteed pay check for a couple of years (until you make partner, that is), is nice.  But that's not the norm. For most of the profession you're a sole practitioner, running her own business, or a partner at a small firm, or some other "in association" type relationship where your compensation is driven solely by you, where there's no guaranteed pay check at the end of the month - heck, there's no guarantee you're in the black.   And people can make a good living doing that, but they have to accept the uncertainty inherent in it.  It's unflattering, but at the end of the day, it's really no different than the dude running a hot dog stand. 

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Sure, you get judged for race and gender. But how you react to that and work around it and build your practice around it or make it work for you is part of your merit/skill.

Edited by providence

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36 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I think it largely come from the “Bay Street or Bust” mindset, and the fact that people coming to law school have often never truly failed. That combination leads people to discount the “bust” part of that saying, and then become incredibly disenchanted when they do “bust.” 

I'm not sure it's that.  I think it's because the sort of people who succeed in undergrad and who want to become lawyers tend to be risk adverse people - that, after all, is a desirable trait in a lawyer.  It's also a trait that's not common among people who want to start up or run a small business - an inherently risky activity. 

So, the risk adverse people seek out the relatively small set of career paths which don't require them to work as a small business, hence the demand among law students for biglaw jobs, crown jobs, NGOs etc. For those risk adverse people who don't end up there (or aren't interested in those career paths) they end up having to face the stark reality that their realistic career path requires them to do things that they aren't comfortable with - so a job offer with  small guaranteed salary, but a piece of any work you bring in, isn't attractive to them, because its uncertain and risky, even if it might give you a footstep to more success down the road. 

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32 minutes ago, epeeist said:

[emphasis added]

To avoid going on a tangent per Hegdis I'll just say - yeah, no. Markets are different, yes (while also comparable as others have noted). But to state that engineering graduates as a class benefit from the factors you indicate, no (and that's even without getting into the issue of engineering graduates who do work not requiring them to become licensed as professional engineers). And from (admittedly limited and anecdotal) discussions with dentists and staff, there are many people who aren't covered, or are incompletely covered, and have to ration their dental care (which can lead to even greater expenses down the road...). Also, whatever the problems, people can self-rep and access court services, the registry, serve documents, etc., participate in the functions of the court system. They can't book hospital facilities and self-operate, self-prescribe pharmaceuticals, or self-perform dental services including obtaining access to dental facilities, tools, and drugs.

I do find the comparison with engineering helpful because that's a first-entry degree, with no guaranteed employment and experience requirement to become licensed (4 years), but the fact that it's a first degree means graduates aren't (unlike many law grads) funnelled into a narrow path because they see it as the only way to service their student debt (if applicable).

And in for a penny, in for a pound, I'll criticize your self-description! It's not a true meritocracy, because no matter how excellent a lawyer you are, you may be judged in part for factors unrelated to your ability - discriminated against based on sexism or other factors, your client discriminated against for racist or sexist factors which affects the result and thus their and others' perception of you, taking a hit for being properly ethical, etc. I agree it's a meritocracy or at that end of the spectrum, but there are factors unrelated to the quality of one's representation that come into play also. So maybe I'm being nitpicky by saying it's not a "true" meritocracy, but apparently nitpicking is the thing to do this thread... :rolleyes:

Sure, there are people who don’t have dental insurance but my point is that a sizeable chunk of people do and this can keep a dental practice afloat and I’m willing to bet it’s a better rate than legal aid. And sure, not all engineers fall into this class but many of them do big government/military projects. Obviously there are still dentists and engineers falling through the cracks and struggling, but they have more potential sources of income than we do - there are clients’ own resources and there is legal aid. 

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2 minutes ago, maximumbob said:

I'm not sure it's that.  I think it's because the sort of people who succeed in undergrad and who want to become lawyers tend to be risk adverse people - that, after all, is a desirable trait in a lawyer.  It's also a trait that's not common among people who want to start up or run a small business - an inherently risky activity. 

So, the risk adverse people seek out the relatively small set of career paths which don't require them to work as a small business, hence the demand among law students for biglaw jobs, crown jobs, NGOs etc. For those risk adverse people who don't end up there (or aren't interested in those career paths) they end up having to face the stark reality that their realistic career path requires them to do things that they aren't comfortable with - so a job offer with  small guaranteed salary, but a piece of any work you bring in, isn't attractive to them, because its uncertain and risky, even if it might give you a footstep to more success down the road. 

Yeah, I would agree with this. I have spoken to or been approached many times by people who are interested in what I do, and their interest often wanes when they hear they have to hustle. Some people seem to find it tacky and demeaning and want the work to come to them or be given to them. 

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8 minutes ago, providence said:

Yeah, I would agree with this. I have spoken to or been approached many times by people who are interested in what I do, and their interest often wanes when they hear they have to hustle. Some people seem to find it tacky and demeaning and want the work to come to them or be given to them. 

And to be fair to them, hustling for business is an ability that comes more naturally to some people than others. For me, the prospect of showing up in cities and arranging meetings, cold, with foreign lawyers was an unnatural experience - but you get used to it. But, of course, that's an easier skill to pick up when you have mentors modelling it, an employer will devote resources to helping you, etc.

 Law schools would do their students a favour by offering up mandatory workshops on business development (perhaps instead of some of their alternative content...)

Edited by maximumbob
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15 minutes ago, providence said:

Yeah, I would agree with this. I have spoken to or been approached many times by people who are interested in what I do, and their interest often wanes when they hear they have to hustle. Some people seem to find it tacky and demeaning and want the work to come to them or be given to them. 

But that's fine. If someone would rather be employed, paid a reliable salary, etc., that's a choice. But it's not a reasonable choice if they want to do what you do (for the most part, I assume given the nature of the practice).

Re the engineers thing I think you underestimate the employment difficulties many face, but it's not really directly relevant to this discussion.

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Just now, maximumbob said:

And to be fair to them, hustling for business is an ability that comes more naturally to some people than others. For me, the prospect of showing up in cities and arranging meetings, cold, with foreign lawyers was an unnatural experience - but you get used to it.  Law schools would do their students a favour by offering up mandatory workshops on business development (perhaps instead of some of their alternative content...)

True. My type of hustling is multi-faceted and (I think) I do it in a dignified way. It’s more networking and putting your name out there. But people think it means ambulance chasing and twisting arms in the hood. 

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Just now, epeeist said:

But that's fine. If someone would rather be employed, paid a reliable salary, etc., that's a choice. But it's not a reasonable choice if they want to do what you do (for the most part, I assume given the nature of the practice).

Re the engineers thing I think you underestimate the employment difficulties many face, but it's not really directly relevant to this discussion.

My husband was an engineer before, so I’m going by his and his friends’ experiences but I don’t know much more about it than that so I’m happy to leave that issue alone. 

If someone would rather be employed and paid a reliable salary, that’s fair enough, but then they have to convince a salary-paying employer to hire them. If they can’t, then their choices are quit law, seek a non-practising position, work for themselves, or take a position like this one. Complaining about the terms of this position is pointless. 

And a person who was passed over for hiring due to race, gender etc can take a position like this one, or self-employment, and shine and do really well. 

There are decently paid criminal law positions - I had one. They’re usually in the bigger, more established criminal firms and there’s usually also the opportunity to supplement your salary with work you bring in. But there aren’t many of those and the positions are competitive and require a pedigree - good grades, awards in moots etc. They love people who clerked. If you can get hired at one of those firms you probably could get hired in biglaw too. And most people eventually either become a partner or go out and start their own firm because they can make more money that way.

 

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3 minutes ago, providence said:

If you can get hired at one of those firms you probably could get hired in biglaw too

Do you think so? As far as i've been told/understood, both by students, employers, etc is that those positions are more competitive than big law positions for the most part.

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Just now, pzabbythesecond said:

Do you think so? As far as i've been told/understood, both by students, employers, etc is that those positions are more competitive than big law positions for the most part.

That’s what I’m saying - a position in a good criminal shop is more competitive than biglaw because more people are going after fewer spots and they are really picky about who they hire, so if you can get a good criminal law position you should be able to get a biglaw one.

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