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concernedlawstudent

Concerned Law Student

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

I'm not asking for legal advice, feel free not to reply to a semi-rhetorical question!

On a practical level, if someone says e.g., you sent me to pick up supplies from that factory, there were pickets and given what was shouted at me and photographs that were taken of me and the truck I didn't feel safe crossing the picket line and making the pick-up - how is the employer (of the person refusing to cross the picket line at the other business' premises) going to disprove that there was a genuine safety fear justifying not crossing the picket line?

And, even if no such pretextual reason, I thought that individual action like an individual not crossing a picket line may be individual refusal to work, but it's not a strike unless multiple union members act in concert (or whatever the current language is, this is long-ago memory that may have been changed)?

EDIT: especially because a York prof's blog, even though a guest post, I thought this item about yesterday's OCA decision finding union fine against member for crossing picket line unconscionable (due to $ amount not fact of fine?) interesting. But I posted in Labour and Employment thread:

 

As for that case, as I read it, it was employees in a legal strike position who were crossing the picket line.   It would be as if CUPE 3903 members decided to return to work in the middle of the strike (which is their right).   So, it doesn't speak to the issue of unionized or non-unionized employees who are not part of the striking union refusing to cross the picket line.  

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23 minutes ago, Constant said:

Glad to see there are still some entrepreneurs in the profession.

Not very smart if the short-term gain of those clients/matters leads to a bad reputation, other lawyers not referring to you, judges not giving you the benefit of the doubt, etc.

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16 minutes ago, Adrian said:

If I understand police procedure, they will only intervene when there is a court injunction.   Getting an injunction takes time (I think anyone who was an articling student or junior associate at a management side labour firm has stories about being on strike injunction teams), and so unions will generally get at least a day to do what they want relatively unimpeded.  

As for Epeeist's point, generally the request to refuse to cross picket lines comes from union leadership, meaning that even if it is individual decision making there is a concerted action behind it.  I don't recall the case law much anymore because I haven't dealt with strikes in years. 

So when e.g. OPSEU on its website guide explains how one has to cross picket lines of other unions unless safety concerns, then notify supervisor by phone, etc. that's with the subtext of a nudge and a wink understood by union members? :rolleyes:

While from what I've read I think the York union is misguided at best, idiotic at worst, average that out to stupid, management is certainly no prize either.

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14 minutes ago, providence said:

Not very smart if the short-term gain of those clients/matters leads to a bad reputation, other lawyers not referring to you, judges not giving you the benefit of the doubt, etc.

TL;DR: Bolded paragraph is an attempt to relate this to York and student concerns...:rolleyes:

From the nature of the description of their behaviour by @Hegdis I got the impression that it was not a principled decision, deciding (in disagreement with others) that morally, ethically, in the interests of justice, they disagreed with other lawyers and were choosing a noble path despite the disapprobation that would follow. Nor was it, we'll go bankrupt if we don't get some money? Rather, that it was motivated by pure profit - not principle nor survival - concerns? Not that profit is bad, but it should be balanced against other, including moral and ethical, considerations.

In a different way, I could see that both students crossing a picket line, and those not crossing, those not crossing but trying remote viewing, those not participating at all but accepting deferred teaching and grading, those going pass/fail, whatever, could be making choices based on both principle and need, and one could/should be sympathetic to people reaching different conclusions from you as to what's right and what's necessary. My objection and annoyance is not with those who act differently from how I (think I) would, but those who fail to think about how they should act and what is necessary.

Because if it were a matter of principle not profit, I trust that judges and lawyers would recognize it as such, just as they would recognize defending an unsavoury individuals and making unpleasant arguments may be necessary. At least I hope they would. Since you're BC, and this thread is at least putatively about York, I'll leave out the LSO...

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33 minutes ago, Adrian said:

If I understand police procedure, they will only intervene when there is a court injunction.   Getting an injunction takes time (I think anyone who was an articling student or junior associate at a management side labour firm has stories about being on strike injunction teams), and so unions will generally get at least a day to do what they want relatively unimpeded.  

 

I get that that's their procedure.  But it's a procedure that tells individuals that they have to sacrifice their rights to the rule of the mob, unless they get a court order telling the police to enforce the law.  That's a terrible procedure (and one which - lefties should note - means that only the rich and powerful get the protection of the police).  Treat them the same way you would treat, say, any other protester blocking a road - let them say their piece for some reasonable period of time, then clear them out of the way if they don't leave.  

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They will also intervene if there's a public safety issue. For example, if a picket line is blocking vehicles from entering and it starts to jam up the public road, the cops will tell picketers to let them in and clear the road. But if that's not an issue, the cops will let them block you all day until an injunction is in place.

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1 hour ago, Hegdis said:

The legal aid strike is a sensitive issue in my province. 

There is one firm that crossed the lines and scooped up all the LA clients during both strikes. 

We all know who they are, every single one of them. The bench also knows and a lot of those judges used to be legal aid lawyers. They see the brutal effect of years of stripped down funding and a broken system from their perch; a lot of them support any efforts to address it. There is a very strong feeling in the bar about this situation. Even without my family history and personal views I am not sure, strategically, that I would have made such a career limiting move*.

The good news is our new provincial government has finally begun injecting funding into the system and for the first time in twenty years things are looking up  - long way to go yet though.

 

*Ha! Apparently defence lawyers CAN make career-limiting moves! (Context: I did not know what a CLM was until some one on this forum told me.)

That's shameful. I would never break a Legal Aid strike in that way. Even if it weren't against my principles, it would be obvious to me that in the long-term there would be adverse consequences, as there should be. As well I think it is wrong that someone would not participate in and in fact work against a Legal Aid strike, but then benefit from the resulting increase. And I do agree that in the case of Legal Aid, a strike is likely short-term pain for long-term gain, for clients as well as for lawyers. This is why I would come down on the side of a strike. But I do find it hard to reconcile that with the possibility that some of my clients might spend longer in custody because of it.

I have some family members who were/are in unions, and I too was raised to always support a strike and to support unions. However, I am a bit more critical of unions now and I struggle with the gap between ideology and reality. I've read about the racist history of unions and I do believe that they could do a lot more to support racialized, newcomer, indigenous and other marginalized workers.* When I worked at the Human Rights Commission, I was shocked at the number of cases claimants brought against unions for either bullying and harassment, or failing to prevent it, based on gender, sexuality, race etc, or for not assisting people with grievances based on those issues. 

I generally look at a strike on a case-by-case basis now instead of assuming that all strikes are good. I don't know enough about the York strike to comment but I do think that striking so frequently likely harms the goodwill strikers might otherwise have and undermines the argument that their strikes are effective. I wouldn't look negatively upon a student who prioritized their education during a strike, but I am not a labour lawyer. 

*In fact other members of my family never had the opportunity they would have liked to have unionized work due to those factors. I know some unions are now doing more to address those issues, but there is a long way to go.  I don't know how much the York strike is considering those issues but that would be a factor as to how much support I as a student would give it.

 

Edited by lioness
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I think different people in the firm had different motivations. I will do them the courtesy of assuming they thought it through before they acted.

Which means they made a calculated decision to undermine the efforts of their colleagues to draw attention to the issue, knowing they would receive a financial benefit for doing so. Maybe they did this because they were very much disturbed by the vulnerability of legal aid clients and it was totally altruistic. However, that vulnerability is in part due to the lack of funding - so round and round it goes. 

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In the case of LA, wouldn't it have been wise for the firm to make their intentions clear if they were in fact acting altruistically?  The way I see it, trying to scoop up the business "discretely" would only be appropriate if it was in fact purely financially motivated.  I'm a little torn on the issue.  Although I don't have any experience in LA, I feel that it must be difficult to justify the short-term consequences to these clients all for the greater good.  Many of them might never reap the long-term rewards that may come from policy change or funding, but they must endure the majority of the pain. It's unfortunate (assuming) that there is no other way to bring change.

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16 minutes ago, TrqTTs said:

In the case of LA, wouldn't it have been wise for the firm to make their intentions clear if they were in fact acting altruistically?  The way I see it, trying to scoop up the business "discretely" would only be appropriate if it was in fact purely financially motivated.  I'm a little torn on the issue.  Although I don't have any experience in LA, I feel that it must be difficult to justify the short-term consequences to these clients all for the greater good.  Many of them might never reap the long-term rewards that may come from policy change or funding, but they must endure the majority of the pain. It's unfortunate (assuming) that there is no other way to bring change.

The clients definitely benefit from improvements to legal aid funding, whether it be more resources for their cases (experts etc) or better funded lawyers that can devote more time to them. 

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1 hour ago, providence said:

Not very smart if the short-term gain of those clients/matters leads to a bad reputation, other lawyers not referring to you, judges not giving you the benefit of the doubt, etc.

Big if

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2 hours ago, lioness said:

I generally look at a strike on a case-by-case basis now instead of assuming that all strikes are good

I do the same instead of assuming all strikes are bad. 

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4 minutes ago, Constant said:

I do the same instead of assuming all strikes are bad. 

Generally, if it's in the private sector, meh, they're private parties, they can do what they want.  There, at least, there's usually a check on union abuse - get too greedy and GM ups and moves to Alabama or replaces you with the Car-bot, or else it declares bankruptcy and you lose everything (not a hypothetical risk, in the case of GM).   And you can't go on strike too long, because if your company's customers go to a competitor, well, shit, you've screwed yourself.  Because they operate in a more-or-less competitive market, private sector unions are subject to the discipline of the market. 

But public sector unions don't have the same constraints.  Teachers go on strike, well, shit, is the TDSB going to move to Alabama? Hire teacher-bots? Send all the kids to private schools? (Well, actually, yes, if we had a functioning charter/voucher school system, this wouldn't be an issue)  Well, no, the teachers work in a sector where they have an effective monopoly on the provision of public education, so when they go on strike, they're abusing their monopoly power.  Same with nurses, garbage collectors, janitors, bus drivers, librarians, etc. If public services are "too important' to be left to the "whim of the market", they're absolutely too important to be left to the whim of big labour.  

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1 hour ago, maximumbob said:

Hire teacher-bots?

Now that would be some tech I’d like to see! For some reason I’m getting images of the Toyota robots in the classroom. 

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Slightly back on topic, a funky transcript is potentially not that much of a bar to entry, you'll just have to network more. Attend a bunch of CLE events while they are free or almost free. Be social even if you're an introvert. Tons of my classmates got jobs through social contacts, not the OCIs or articling recruits.

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Why do we always assume the union is correct? There've been a few school related strikes where I firmly sided AGAINST the union's positions....
Even if I agreed with the union, short of it being something incredibly serious (workplace was full of horrific human rights abuses, safety issues, etc.) I'd be crossing that picket line - I'm not going to let squabbling over things like salary and work hours and the stuff that constitutes the vast majority of strikes that I've seen get in the way of my career.

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On 6/13/2018 at 2:49 PM, providence said:

The clients definitely benefit from improvements to legal aid funding, whether it be more resources for their cases (experts etc) or better funded lawyers that can devote more time to them. 

Certainly, clients in the abstract will. But the individual clients who are languishing in jail or who are getting convicted or pleading guilty or basically in any other way having their lives utterly ruined by the criminal justice system without the benefit of a lawyer that they are entitled to under LA's legislation sure aren't benefiting from these strikes....So I guess the question is, how many people are we willing to harm, sometimes irreparably, to try and fix the system through striking instead of other means?

LA generally isn't the one deciding to under fund these programs - they're working with a ridiculously tiny budget to begin with. It's the government that isn't properly funding LA and yet somehow LA always ends up being the bad guy during these strikes, meaning government has no reason to increase their funding because THEY'RE not the ones getting bad press.

Edited by darkangel45422
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19 hours ago, concernedlawstudent said:

Just know that I received two job offers (not through OCI's) for summer work. One with a mid-size firm, one with a boutique firm. Grades do not define your success, if you learn to network, interview well and sell yourself properly.

Congrats! Similarly, I had bad grades in 1L and at the time grades were released, I felt sick to my stomach. Despite my concerns, I ended up securing various interviews and am now completing my articling with a firm I enjoy (paid position). So as reminder for anyone with some bad grades, it isn't the end of the world.

A few tips for anyone in a similar position:   

  1. Get better grades in later years - This may seem obvious, but it really is helpful if you can explain to a potential employer, "I got poor grades in first year, but as you can see, I have greatly improved since then." This can indicate several positive traits: you aren't discouraged when you face challenges, you overcome adversity, you are able to self-reflect and learn from your mistakes, etc. Use all the resources that your school makes available to you. Also, if you struggle with 100% exams, see if you can enroll in courses which incorporate alternative evaluation methods (e.x. research papers, clinics, etc.).  
  2. Get experiences that will allow you to tell a convincing (and hopefully genuine) narrative - I recently participated in my firm's articling recruitment, where I did the initial screening of all applicants (narrowing 150+ to ~ 20). I can tell you, I read every applicant's cover letter. If the cover letter was notably bad, I usually didn't bother reading the rest of the application. If an applicant's cover letter was great, and after reading it I thought "This is someone I'd like to meet", that set the applicant ahead of comparable applicants and, in some cases, made me overlook poor grades (or at least care less about them). Thinking back now on my extracurricular and volunteer work in law school, there are certain experiences I had which I found incredibly fulfilling, educational, and genuinely enjoyable - these are the experiences that went on my cover letter, that I was able to enthusiastically talk about in interviews, and that helped me get a job. 
  3. Do your best to network - I've never been much of a social butterfly, but I forced myself to network with other students, professionals, and academics, especially in my desired area of practice. This came in handy when it came time to look for jobs (mainly jobs outside of formal recruitments). The person I knew at firm x told me that x wasn't hiring, but they knew firm y might be looking and they were friends with an associate at y, so they set up a time for us to have coffee. I also managed to get a few very positive letters of reference this way, which I think helped me in the application process.  
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