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chirico

Omnibus topic: when you are not hired back

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i'd also just add, maybe it's for the better you don't stay on if your practice group is winding down/looks like it might not exist in 2 years time. You can move onto a different firm, and do work you actually want to do, as opposed to desperately stay on at the firm doing whatever, just for the sake of staying on. I suspect the former option leads to a more fulfilling and successful career - since you almost certainly will do better in a field you also care about, as opposed to one you tolerate.

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8 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

i'd also just add, maybe it's for the better you don't stay on if your practice group is winding down/looks like it might not exist in 2 years time. You can move onto a different firm, and do work you actually want to do, as opposed to desperately stay on at the firm doing whatever, just for the sake of staying on. I suspect the former option leads to a more fulfilling and successful career - since you almost certainly will do better in a field you also care about, as opposed to one you tolerate.

The OPs firm made that decision for them so this is irrelevant; and bad advice.

New calls come with a certain aura around them that can be dispelled by even a few months of associate experience.  New calls are essentially treated as untrained lawyers, even if they have done 10 months of articling. They are a greater liability than someone who's at least got some actual practice under their belt. Getting that experience can be invaluable in making a lateral move further down the road.

If the choice is between having a less-than-ideal hireback over looking for work as a new call, the former option wins every time.

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Just now, thegoodlaw said:

The OPs firm made that decision for them so this is irrelevant; and bad advice.

New calls come with a certain aura around them that can be dispelled by even a few months of associate experience.  New calls are essentially treated as untrained lawyers, even if they have done 10 months of articling. They are a greater liability than someone who's at least got some actual practice under their belt. Getting that experience can be invaluable in making a lateral move further down the road.

If the choice is between having a less-than-ideal hireback over looking for work as a new call, the former option wins every time.

I mean, does it? Does working in the litigation group really help that much with lateralling over into a tax solicitor group? 

I may be wrong. But it just seems odd to me..

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Just now, pzabbythesecond said:

I mean, does it? Does working in the litigation group really help that much with lateralling over into a tax solicitor group? 

I may be wrong. But it just seems odd to me..

Even if it doesn't help at all, it's not going to be detrimental - if someone asks why you want to move, "they offered me a job in this area even though I want to be a tax lawyer, and better a bird in hand" is a pretty digestible explanation.  And, it's not as if the soft skills of being a lawyer are that different between different practice areas (managing clients, writing memos, juggling deadlines). 

  And it's a pay check.  

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6 minutes ago, maximumbob said:

Even if it doesn't help at all, it's not going to be detrimental - if someone asks why you want to move, "they offered me a job in this area even though I want to be a tax lawyer, and better a bird in hand" is a pretty digestible explanation.  And, it's not as if the soft skills of being a lawyer are that different between different practice areas (managing clients, writing memos, juggling deadlines). 

  And it's a pay check.  

Right but if you know a few months in advance, as chirico seemed to be alluding to, is it not better to network/Ask your firm for help landing an associate job in your desired field? I appreciate the equation changes if it's at the taking on the associate job or being unemployed, but a few months in advance?

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On 2018-05-25 at 10:32 AM, pzabbythesecond said:

Right but if you know a few months in advance, as chirico seemed to be alluding to, is it not better to network/Ask your firm for help landing an associate job in your desired field? I appreciate the equation changes if it's at the taking on the associate job or being unemployed, but a few months in advance?

I would think the risk you run there is that your firm might be thinking that they want to keep you, just not in the field you want, and by making it clear early that you want to leave, you close the door on that firm, so if you don’t get a job elsewhere in your r chosen field, you have no job.

Also, I’d question how an articling student can be THAT sure of an area they want to practice in before they’ve even completed articles rotated through all the areas. There are plenty of people who change their mind about what they want to do during articles.

If I otherwise liked the firm and they liked me, I might rather start in an area that wasn’t my first choice and try to get what work I can in my first choice to either move into that later at my firm or switch firms once I had experience. I’d think someone with experience is of more interest to another firm than someone who just finished articles.

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On 2018-05-25 at 11:24 AM, maximumbob said:

Even if it doesn't help at all, it's not going to be detrimental - if someone asks why you want to move, "they offered me a job in this area even though I want to be a tax lawyer, and better a bird in hand" is a pretty digestible explanation.  And, it's not as if the soft skills of being a lawyer are that different between different practice areas (managing clients, writing memos, juggling deadlines). 

  And it's a pay check.  

I'm not sure about this. It's very much an employer's market in law right now (especially in Toronto). I work at a commercial boutique downtown. If you've spent a year or two working in an unrelated area, I'm likely to ignore your application, since I'll get so many from people with litigation experience.

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It's not an employer's market right now. It's really difficult to find good people at the associate level. I have friends who are partners at firms who are struggling to fill openings.

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On 3/21/2018 at 11:43 PM, UpAboveIt715 said:

There are lots of jobs in law.  Just try your best during articles and, if it doesn't work out, worry about what to do then.  If you don't get hired back, you will be unemployed for a period of time.  I all but guarantee that.  However, if you are persistent, you'll find something to jump to before long.  

The only people I know who went unemployed post articles were people who had something seriously wrong with them or people who were really lazy in their job search. 

Not to overgeneralize,  but one problem people who article at big firms have who don't get hired back is that they are not used to the dog fight of finding a job.  A lot of them went from high school to uni to law school to OCIs to $1450.00 per week at big law.  They are not used to looking for a job in an unstructured environment and can have difficulty adjusting (major overgeneralization, I know).

However, looking for a job isn't rocket science:

  1. Apply for jobs as they come up;
  2. Network as best you can (go to conferences and what not)
  3. Don't be weird

And you'll be fine.  

But right now, as others have said, don't worry about life after articles.  Just focus on getting through articles.  Don't think about your job as a first year associate until Feb at the latest.  Just survive for now and good luck (honestly though, it doesn't sound like you need it).

 

2

Step 3, how does one go about that? 

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17 hours ago, Jaggers said:

It's not an employer's market right now. It's really difficult to find good people at the associate level. I have friends who are partners at firms who are struggling to fill openings.

+1. The market gets flooded with people seeking first year associate positions right after articling, but if a firm is looking for someone with a couple of years of experience, the pool narrows super significantly. It's not necessarily that easy to fill spots at that level.

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My experience is different from Jaggers and barelylegal. I work at a small litigation firm in downtown Toronto. We compete with other employers on quality of life, not salary. We pay less than all of the large or mid-size firms, but we also have an associate billable target of only 1,400 hours a year. I have never had trouble finding a second or third year associate and the one time we considered hiring a mid-level associate, we received more than 50 resumes. (I'll admit, however, that I've never hired an associate more senior than that.)

It's possible that my experience is so different from partners at large firms because fewer associates are willing to put in 2,000+ billable hours a year. I read somewhere that 50% of lawyers in Ontario leave the practice of law in their first 10 years. Given how much pressure and concomitant stress Toronto associates often face, burn out and attrition may be higher in the downtown core and higher still among firms with 100+ lawyers. In my experience, there are numerous associates who can see the writing on the wall - who can see burn out approaching and make efforts to find work at a lower stress firm before giving up on law. Many of these associates are highly qualified and capable.

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Rebbox, 

By the time you're looking for a first year associate position, "weird" is likely no longer a fixable condition. That said, there is a lot of eccentricity among practicing lawyers. Follow all of the usual interview and networking advice and don't worry about being "weird".

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Being too weird to be employable on the retail side of law used to be what really kept me up at night in law school. Then I actually started getting into court and dealing with other lawyers.

 

I don't worry about that anymore.

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On 6/21/2018 at 12:42 PM, barelylegal said:

+1. The market gets flooded with people seeking first year associate positions right after articling, but if a firm is looking for someone with a couple of years of experience, the pool narrows super significantly. It's not necessarily that easy to fill spots at that level.

Are you able to elaborate? I don't think that many people leave law within a year or two post articling? What makes spots hard to fill? Is it just that young associates generally do not have the skills firms are hoping to find from that level of call (I know at times my insecurities pop up and I feel I am not performing at the level I should be for someone who is almost a 2nd year call.. other days I am much less hard on myself and think I am doing just fine for such a junior associate)

Edited by happydude

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On 8/31/2018 at 7:49 PM, happydude said:

Are you able to elaborate? I don't think that many people leave law within a year or two post articling? What makes spots hard to fill? Is it just that young associates generally do not have the skills firms are hoping to find from that level of call (I know at times my insecurities pop up and I feel I am not performing at the level I should be for someone who is almost a 2nd year call.. other days I am much less hard on myself and think I am doing just fine for such a junior associate)

I just mean that generally, there are more people looking for first year associate positions than there are looking for 2-4 year associate positions. If a firm is looking for a first year associate, there are lots of people at that experience level applying, and with someone that junior the experiential expectations might be lower. If a firm is looking for a 2-4 year associate, they might get far fewer appropriately qualified applicants (plus tons of applications from people trying to convince them to hire a first year for the spot). On top of that, when a firm is looking for someone with some experience, they might be looking for particular interests or competencies or experiences, which further narrows down the pool, and then when you add personality factors, it narrows even more. If a firm is looking for an associate with X years of experience, in X field, how many candidates will there be that (a) fit that criteria, (b) are interesting in switching firms, (c) are interested in that firm, and (d) at a time that matches when the firm is looking?

Of course, I can only speak to what I've seen at my own firm, but I'd be surprised if this differs elsewhere.

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On 9/14/2018 at 10:25 AM, Throwaway28 said:

Hey guys!

After neglecting the board for a month or so, I came back to find this thread still at the top of the list & thought I ought to update everyone as to what's become of me. You were all so kind with your advice and encouragement. Thank you! You're good eggs.

I inexplicably managed to fall ass backwards into an associate's position at a bigger, better firm. It's in a practice group I loved but my articling firm didn't have, and it even pays better than my articling firm would've. I don't doubt a huge part of this is the hot market in Toronto, because I'm not a straight A student or at all connected or anything like that. 

I did all of the things you guys told me: I got letters, had people make calls on my behalf, asked around, went to every networking event I could afford, checked the TLA/ Advocates' Society/ all other job boards religiously, cold called people like it was my day job & went on what felt like a thousand coffee dates. And that shit panned out- into jobs I wouldn't have been aware of otherwise, and interviews I probably wouldn't have gotten but for the hustle.

Oddly enough, though, the job I got materialized out of a cold application. I didn't know anyone at the firm, and I didn't have any intel that they were hiring new calls; I just saw on their website a posting for third year associates and figured what the hell. I have no idea what they decided they liked about my application; possibly someone else's transcripts got mixed in with the rest of my stuff. 

Anyways, I'd like to add just one thing to the awesome advice you guys gave me. When you're cold calling people for coffee dates, everyone says look for someone who shares something with you: hobbies, schools, whatever. That's good advice. But IMO, the best possible commonality in this situation is someone who also moved around after articling. The junior and mid level associates I found who didn't get hired back and then went elsewhere went above and beyond to help me because they shared my shitty experience and felt bad for me. They rocked. You guys rock! 

In conclusion: thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!

 

Awesome news! :)

A cold application is how I landed my first associate job, too. Like yourself, the add wanted 2-3 years of experience. New calls, never be deterred by a job posting asking for more experience than you have (within reason... no point applying to positions seeking 10+ years experience). You just never know!

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