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sansasnark

Deciding not to article?

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I have a friend who wanted to skip articling and do government work and was told by someone who does the kind of work she wants to do that it would be a good idea to article and finish the process because apparently our generation has a reputation of not finishing what we start.

That's not to say it can't work out as it's obviously anecdotal, but I suppose it's a case by case thing.

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1 minute ago, SlytherinKali said:

because apparently our generation has a reputation of not finishing what we start.

:rolleyes:

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23 minutes ago, jd2018canwest said:

No, that's incorrect and something only a lawyer would say. 99% of regular folk don't even know that articling exists and what it is. To them you're a lawyer if you work as a lawyer and you're not a lawyer if you don't. Simple as that. Hence articling only has a use later on if you intend to work as a lawyer in a position that requires that licence (including in house or corporate counsel). The things that will get considered with internal government promotions is direct experience, references and evaluations in terms of your supervisor, assessments or tests that are internal, and educational credentials. Being called to the bar in the past is irrelevant unless you're suddenly applying to a counsel position. And articling years later would mean going from 80-100k a year to 30-50k and then starting out at the bottom again. Unless of course you're talking about stuff completely outside government which it sounds like you are.

Let's say you work as a CBSA Officer. This is probably not the best example but it's not that far off from most government positions. Assignment to a specialized unit or to a supervisory position is based on internal experience competencies and internal assessments via internal competitions. You will never ever be competing against someone who has articled and most people barely have a bachelors if even that. Part of that competition will be what education you have such as a JD. But whether or not you were called to the bar no one will care because it is irrelevant to the position. Most people working there won't even know what articling or called to the bar means, but they will understand "graduated from law school". And the JD degree name even sounds impressive now that they changed it from a bachelors. Remember, you are not dealing with any lawyers or law students during hiring or as coworkers as these are not law positions. It's a refreshing change after law school ends.

It's something a lawyer would say. It's also true. Being called to the bar gives you optionality, it gives you the ability to practice, if you want, or to accept a job which requires you to be called, if you want. That optionality has value. 

Yes, maybe nobody in the CRA (to choose a different government agency) gives a shit that you've been called to the bar (they certainly don't care much about the law), so it's worthless to them. It might be worth something in 30 years when you want to retire from the government but can find a cushy gig with a firm that practices tax law.  

A few years ago I listened to a presentation by the GC of Rogers (I think) talking about the value of optionality in drafting legal documents, it was one of the more brilliant CPD I've ever heard.   Don't discount optionality.   

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11 minutes ago, SlytherinKali said:

Should I be insulted? 

Maybe. But not by me. Anyone who says that about millennials with any seriousness is particularly dumb. 

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3 hours ago, Ryn said:

Maybe. But not by me. Anyone who says that about millennials with any seriousness is particularly dumb. 

True point.

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On 2018-06-20 at 6:19 PM, maximumbob said:

It's something a lawyer would say. It's also true. Being called to the bar gives you optionality, it gives you the ability to practice, if you want, or to accept a job which requires you to be called, if you want. That optionality has value. 

Yes, maybe nobody in the CRA (to choose a different government agency) gives a shit that you've been called to the bar (they certainly don't care much about the law), so it's worthless to them. It might be worth something in 30 years when you want to retire from the government but can find a cushy gig with a firm that practices tax law.  

A few years ago I listened to a presentation by the GC of Rogers (I think) talking about the value of optionality in drafting legal documents, it was one of the more brilliant CPD I've ever heard.   Don't discount optionality.   

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Management in government would be quite aware that someone was not a lawyer. Even those who are lawyers, but who are working in non-lawyer positions are not permitted to give legal advice. In my policy management experience, I had two Canadian lawyers work for me, one person with an LLB but not called to the bar, and one lawyer with a foreign LLB who was not yet called in Canada (doing the studies and preparing at the time).

The actual lawyers in government lawyer positions are highly aware of the difference, and senior management is careful to take its legal advice ONLY from the lawyers assigned to them. The legal training and experience was respected and valued (this was working in regulatory policy and enforcement in two federal departments), but not used for legal advice. One of those policy analysts used the job in policy as a stepping stone to get into government LA positions. Two left government and the other continues to work as a well-respected regulatory policy manager with no plans to be called to the bar. 

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On 6/20/2018 at 4:19 PM, maximumbob said:

It's something a lawyer would say. It's also true. Being called to the bar gives you optionality, it gives you the ability to practice, if you want, or to accept a job which requires you to be called, if you want. That optionality has value. 

Yes, maybe nobody in the CRA (to choose a different government agency) gives a shit that you've been called to the bar (they certainly don't care much about the law), so it's worthless to them. It might be worth something in 30 years when you want to retire from the government but can find a cushy gig with a firm that practices tax law.  

A few years ago I listened to a presentation by the GC of Rogers (I think) talking about the value of optionality in drafting legal documents, it was one of the more brilliant CPD I've ever heard.   Don't discount optionality.   

That is also something a lawyer would say and incorrect. Of course that person would talk about that in CPD; it's self-serving and what everyone in the room wants to hear. Fake news.

The reality is that if you work in a good department or agency that is large enough there will be many, many opportunities for movement and advancement quite literally every few years or sooner, so in short time periods. And none of them will ever be lawyer positions because there are no lawyers positions outside of specific counsel or Justice counsel roles. The pay is the same by the way but the work more varied and interesting in non law roles. Although federally the pay is actually higher sooner in non law roles over time (with the exception of prosecutors).

In 30 years (or sooner) when you retire from such a government job you will get a fat juicy pension at which point you can just retire and not work, or take on a term position at an executive level in the private sector or municipality. Or even be a consultant or special advisor due to your expertise and experience.

Some coworkers are lawyers and they have zero intention of going back to practice; there's reasons why they left in the first place. And yeah people who went to law school or were lawyers talk about law topics and give internal advice all the time when people ask them questions or want more info about a legal topic. But it's all informal and it's more akin to information or education. Although sometimes it's just discussions of interpretation or opinion. And almost always orally. It is not actual legal advice though, just discussions about interpretation of issues. And it does not involve management.

Officially everyone knows it's Justice lawyers who provide actual legal advice or do anything legal but that only happens at the higher executive management levels far removed from anything front line operations employees do or talk about.

Also any job in government is very specific in terms of what your role is and the same goes for responsibilities, policies and procedures. The rest is just people talking about whatever internally, and not "legal advice". Not like the public or law society would ever know anyway what government employees talk about outside of official memos (which are only at the higher management levels). 

But yeah a legal education is always respected and coworkers will always ask you questions about different specific topics law related (going to law school is enough). And it’s usually issues of interpretation regarding a topic or where to find more information on a specific topic. No one thinks of it as legal advice though. And management is not involved in the discussions. In fact I don't even know what legal advice means. Only Justice or official legal services people give “legal advice” and that goes to senior managers in written form, which then eventually results in changes in procedures and policies down to the front line operations people. The front line people just follow the policies and procedures as best as possible. And front line operations people discuss a lot of things between themselves, including how inept or impractical management is. 

The stuff coming from policy units which sounds like advice on legislation interpretation is almost never from lawyers anyway. In fact some of the stuff actual lawyers write to higher ups is mostly crap and far removed from anything that makes any common sense operationally or practically.

Real optionality is not being stuck and typecast in a law position with no room to move laterally or otherwise. Think small firm family lawyer. Or large firm specialized associate. Not to mention paying yearly law society dues on an inactive membership year after year.

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1 hour ago, jd2018canwest said:

But yeah a legal education is always respected and coworkers will always ask you questions about different specific topics law related (going to law school is enough). And it’s usually issues of interpretation regarding a topic or where to find more information on a specific topic. No one thinks of it as legal advice though.

I mean, call me naive but that does sound a lot like it’s approaching legal advice (like addressing “issues of interpretation”). It’s a fine line to be sure, but if someone gets the wrong idea and takes your “education” more like “advice”, I feel like you’d open yourself up to all kinds of liability.

I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable speaking about the law in that environment, if I were unlicensed, unless it’s extremely broad and abstract where there’s almost no risk that anyone would take what I said as legal advice, even mistakenly. 

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On 2018-06-20 at 5:49 PM, jd2018canwest said:

No, that's incorrect and something only a lawyer would say. 99% of regular folk don't even know that articling exists and what it is. To them you're a lawyer if you work as a lawyer and you're not a lawyer if you don't. Simple as that. Hence articling only has a use later on if you intend to work as a lawyer in a position that requires that licence (including in house or corporate counsel). The things that will get considered with internal government promotions is direct experience, references and evaluations in terms of your supervisor, assessments or tests that are internal, and educational credentials. Being called to the bar in the past is irrelevant unless you're suddenly applying to a counsel position. And articling years later would mean going from 80-100k a year to 30-50k and then starting out at the bottom again. Unless of course you're talking about stuff completely outside government which it sounds like you are.

Let's say you work as a CBSA Officer. This is probably not the best example but it's not that far off from most government positions. Assignment to a specialized unit or to a supervisory position is based on internal experience competencies and internal assessments via internal competitions. You will never ever be competing against someone who has articled and most people barely have a bachelors if even that. Part of that competition will be what education you have such as a JD. But whether or not you were called to the bar no one will care because it is irrelevant to the position. Most people working there won't even know what articling or called to the bar means, but they will understand "graduated from law school". And the JD degree name even sounds impressive now that they changed it from a bachelors. Remember, you are not dealing with any lawyers or law students during hiring or as coworkers as these are not law positions. It's a refreshing change after law school ends.

It is my experience in management at the federal level that non-lawyers NEVER give legal advice. Senior management is careful about this, and the lawyers from the Dept of Justice watch for this. If you are in a policy or research position, or even an executive with a law degree (whether you are called or not), you can be very knowledgable about the law, but when a formal legal opinion is required, it goes to a lawyer in an LA position. Even the general discussion about the legal opinion will defer to the lawyer in the LA position - everyone else (including the person with the law degree, called or not) is on a pretty much equal footing in the discussion. A person with a law degree would likely have better questions, but then again, a lot of the folks who have backgrounds in public admin, economics, history, and even the trades (like former police or correctional officers, former inspectors) etc., have some specific and insightful questions. Law is a very good degree for the public service, and would prepare you well, but it only gets preference in LA positions. You will find that some competitions for non-LA jobs will mention law as one of a number of backgrounds, e.g., a job as a senior food inspector or tax collector might say "a degree in  law, or experience in law enforcement is prefered ." People with a degree in law from Carleton (law and legal studies, not a law school), for example, would also be considered then. 

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On 7/21/2018 at 12:22 PM, Ryn said:

I mean, call me naive but that does sound a lot like it’s approaching legal advice (like addressing “issues of interpretation”). It’s a fine line to be sure, but if someone gets the wrong idea and takes your “education” more like “advice”, I feel like you’d open yourself up to all kinds of liability.

I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable speaking about the law in that environment, if I were unlicensed, unless it’s extremely broad and abstract where there’s almost no risk that anyone would take what I said as legal advice, even mistakenly. 

I get what you mean but this isn't involving the public or management so it's not an issue practically speaking. There's a pretty big gap sometimes between what senior management says to do and what actually gets done (or what even makes sense). Also this isn't federal so things are a lot more flexible and informal at the operations level. 

There're former lawyers at work who are not active in the law society in non law roles who give their opinion and discuss various specific legal issues informally (or even formally as written directives if in policy) all the time.

Licensing is meant to protect the public, but again none of this involves discussions with the public. It's just between coworkers. There is no liability at all that I can think of that would come up. Coworkers discuss various topics all the time as peers regardless of their education. There is no expectation of entering into any sort of legal professional relationship. Everyone knows what everyone else's job titles are and what experience they have. More than a few went to law school but none of them are in law positions. Literally some coworkers go up to other coworkers and say, "you were a lawyer, based on your legal knowhow, what do you think would happen in this specific situation...or what does this section of law mean in this particular case..." Again all informal discussions involving coworkers. Management is never involved. It's very specific about specific application of legislation to specific cases or situations. Coworkers definitely ask each other for advice on how to proceed, or additional information, but no one is dense enough to think it's actual "legal advice".  

Instead of "legal advice", let's just call it educational discussions about internal policies and procedures, and how they impact operations; all of which is directly related to legislation interpretation and enforcement. There are also group file discussions where many people offer their opinions. Policy units do give more formal written opinions and directives on some of these procedural or interpretation things all the time, and it sounds exactly like legal opinions but none of them are lawyers.

Is any of it "legal advice"? Practically speaking no, because formal legal advice everyone knows only comes from Justice lawyers and it first goes to senior management. Anything else outside of that context no one cares about what you call it in the operations areas, and especially in the front lines. 

When dealing directly with anyone in the public generally specific procedures and policies are followed of course being careful not to say anything that would suggest or seem like a preference or advice on any course of action. That's where the liability comes in, when dealing with the crazy public. Luckily just stick to your job description and role when it comes to the public and statutory immunity prevents any lawsuits. Trying to be overly helpful with "randos" beyound the bare minimum required is definitely a trap.

Edited by jd2018canwest

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I always, always cage my opinions in generalities and legal disclaimers. In real life I talk like epeeist posts ;)

It only takes one person who thinks they can blame you for their course of action to screw up your life for the length of a lawsuit. Defending yourself against this kind of allegation is no joke and not worth the time or stress. And lawyers suffer the same weaknesses as everyone else - screw up, blame some one else. It’s a natural knee jerk reaction. 

 

Always better to err on the side of caution. I am not saying all of our colleagues do this, but God knows all of us should. Be free with your opinion at your own peril. 

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I know several friends from law school who got called to the bar and ceased to practice law shortly or immediately after being licensed. All of them are working jobs that they either would not have gotten were they not licensed lawyers (and in those jobs their employers pay for the maintenance of their license even though they aren't practicing, such as doing research at LexisNexis or Westlaw) or else would not have started in the higher position and at the higher salary that they did start at were they not licensed.

 

Basically, let me give you the simple cost benefit analysis: getting licensed will not diminish your job prospects but may increase them. Not getting licensed means you can't get a job that requires a license or a job where the employer would prefer a license, plus it may raise questions of "why didn't you get your license?" They may assume you couldn't find an articling position or couldn't pass the Bar, or some other thing about you that may indicate that you simply weren't up to the challenge of getting the thing that one would assume you would be after (the license to practice law) based on your having a law degree. Plus, being licensed could open more doors for you by giving you a leg up. An employer might go "well, they're both good candidates but this one is a licensed lawyer. Maybe we can get them to do "such and such," and thereby save us some money on our regular lawyer." Hell, even increase your odds! Become a notary public too! If you're a lawyer, you have the right to become one just for the asking, and you just fill out a one page form, pay something like $75-$100 or so, then get a stamp/seal and mail back your impression. You're a notary! That's something you can now do for an employer for free that could save them a fair bit of money. And hell, getting your license could give you the opportunity to do side gigs. Be an escrow agent. Notarize and/or commission stuff (there's a lawyer who has set themselves up to commission stuff for medical students downtown. He shows up around one time a year, charges them $50 each and makes a killing. My sister was going to do it and I told her to just give me the document. Did it for her right there. didn't even need my stamp since I was licensed. Just had to print my name clearly).

 

Point is, don't lock yourself out of opportunities. You're right there. You just need to pass the Bar exams and article in order to have a license that only a small percentage of the population has and then you get to be a license holder that there's a lot of demand for (according to a basic google search, about 2 to 3 lawyers per 1,000 people).

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On 7/28/2018 at 9:10 PM, Hegdis said:

I always, always cage my opinions in generalities and legal disclaimers. In real life I talk like epeeist posts ;)

It only takes one person who thinks they can blame you for their course of action to screw up your life for the length of a lawsuit. Defending yourself against this kind of allegation is no joke and not worth the time or stress. And lawyers suffer the same weaknesses as everyone else - screw up, blame some one else. It’s a natural knee jerk reaction. 

 

Always better to err on the side of caution. I am not saying all of our colleagues do this, but God knows all of us should. Be free with your opinion at your own peril. 

Funnily enough, in real life I use fewer disclaimers - because situationally, if e.g. I'm speaking with a friend or family member, I know enough about them to know their situation and that they're not asking for legal advice (whether or not I'm willing to provide it, obviously I always insist on speaking later by phone or otherwise privately). If it's a stranger or more of an acquaintance, I generally start off with the I'm drinking so don't rely on anything disqualifier (that is, assuming it's at an event with alcohol...if not, the I was drinking earlier disqualifier... :drinkers:).

On one occasion, I was waiting for my next fencing bout, and had to tell the person asking me about patenting an invention - they knew me it's not like I was advertising to opponents! - to phone me when I wasn't about to fight and I could speak to them privately.

Re @QueensGrad post I agree with your general sentiment - I've met people a few years out of law school (or sometimes more than a few years) who didn't article at the time because they had another plan, and wanting to be called now, good luck finding a willing employer for articles to hire someone years out from their degree. .At least if one was once called and then didn't maintain status, I think even after 5 years (in Ontario, but don't rely on any of this, not drinking now but insomnia... :rolleyes:) even if there's a more rigorous/testing/whatever process for reinstatement, at least you don't have to article (again, from memory, check for yourself!).

Re being a notary etc., my recollection is that in Ontario the LSO doesn't consider the occasional acting as a notary to be the practice of law, but if one does it regularly/for money their position is it is something one should maintain active status for?

I only practice law part-time, full-time in a non-law field, but having practiced law (not just having a law degree) was a plus to my non-law employer, though that's a specific individual anecdote. We did specifically include in my contract terms that i'm free to moonlight as a lawyer.

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Hi, all! 

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to this thread -- catching up on this thread was very interesting. 😁 I thought that I'd post an update: since my last post, I have secured an articling position! While I'm not sure if this is the career for me, I am going to at least give it a shot.

Thanks again for all the advice! ☺️

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On 8/7/2018 at 5:12 AM, epeeist said:

 

Re being a notary etc., my recollection is that in Ontario the LSO doesn't consider the occasional acting as a notary to be the practice of law, but if one does it regularly/for money their position is it is something one should maintain active status for?

 

Is it even possible to remain a notary if you have changed your status to non-practicing? I know it is very difficult (ie next to impossible) to become a notary if you are not a lawyer. 

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3 hours ago, OWH said:

Is it even possible to remain a notary if you have changed your status to non-practicing? I know it is very difficult (ie next to impossible) to become a notary if you are not a lawyer. 

Use Google!

Simply because I wanted to check my memory, I'll give you the link. Here's what LSUC (as the page still states) said, I make no assertions as to the continued validity of whatever the LSO (as it is now) states:

"...

Under the Act, it appears that a lawyer who pays their annual fees at a lower fee category (i.e., 25% or 50%) or who is under a fee exemption (i.e., the lawyer has applied to the Law Society and been approved for a fee exemption because he or she is retired from the practice of law and over 65 years of age) may act as a notary.  If a lawyer charges a fee to act as a notary, he or she must be in the 50% or 100% fee-paying category.  No matter what the lawyer’s status, the lawyer should ensure that he or she does not provide any legal advice when exercising his or her authority as a notary unless the lawyer is authorized to do so.

There are certain circumstances in which a lawyer’s appointment as a notary public will be suspended or revoked.  Section 7(1) of the Act provides that if a notary public who is licensed under the Law Society Act to practise law in Ontario ceases for any reason to be licensed (i.e., the lawyer’s licence is surrendered or has been revoked) or if his or her licence is under suspension or in abeyance, the lawyer’s appointment as a notary will be suspended...."

 

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=2147494267

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

Use Google!

Simply because I wanted to check my memory, I'll give you the link. Here's what LSUC (as the page still states) said, I make no assertions as to the continued validity of whatever the LSO (as it is now) states:

"...

Under the Act, it appears that a lawyer who pays their annual fees at a lower fee category (i.e., 25% or 50%) or who is under a fee exemption (i.e., the lawyer has applied to the Law Society and been approved for a fee exemption because he or she is retired from the practice of law and over 65 years of age) may act as a notary.  If a lawyer charges a fee to act as a notary, he or she must be in the 50% or 100% fee-paying category.  No matter what the lawyer’s status, the lawyer should ensure that he or she does not provide any legal advice when exercising his or her authority as a notary unless the lawyer is authorized to do so.

There are certain circumstances in which a lawyer’s appointment as a notary public will be suspended or revoked.  Section 7(1) of the Act provides that if a notary public who is licensed under the Law Society Act to practise law in Ontario ceases for any reason to be licensed (i.e., the lawyer’s licence is surrendered or has been revoked) or if his or her licence is under suspension or in abeyance, the lawyer’s appointment as a notary will be suspended...."

 

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=2147494267

That sounds like it was written by a lawyer, or at least someone who plays a lawyer in TV. ;) 

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17 hours ago, sansasnark said:

Hi, all! 

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to this thread -- catching up on this thread was very interesting. 😁 I thought that I'd post an update: since my last post, I have secured an articling position! While I'm not sure if this is the career for me, I am going to at least give it a shot.

Thanks again for all the advice! ☺️

That's great news, congrats!  All the best during your articling year!  I think you'll find that even if you switch to another career after you're called because you didn't enjoy the practice of law, the skills you've learned along the way and being able to identify as a lawyer will only be a benefit to you.

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My post is aimed in terms of people who couldn’t find a suitable articling position but decided to look for a government job instead without ever articling and not planning to ever practice. Yes, the government hires a lot of law school graduates and many are not in lawyer positions!

Basically, a JD can get you into a government interview for various jobs requiring about 2-4 years of experience, almost by itself. Then whether or not you get hired depends on your interview performance and how many positions there are. You should always apply if it looks interesting even if you don’t meet the “ideal” experience requirements. The reason is because a JD is a unique advanced degree that few people have yet is applicable to almost all government jobs. Some of these jobs might even prefer a law degree, or very rarely even require it specifically, but none are law positions.

Pay range is anywhere from 60-110k depending on the exact job or location. An Advisor/Analyst type job might pay 60-70k in BC, but a very similar job with similar requirement might pay 80-110k in Alberta. Some provincial governments generally pay much better than Federal, and hiring only takes a few months at most. Then once you get hired even if it’s not a permanent position, there are many, many even better internal competitions that you can apply to after only a few months, and these tend to be more specialized, higher paying, but also have far fewer contenders. Internal competitions can be open to all government employees, or just to a specific ministry. The ministry specific ones are the easiest to get since the pool of eligible applicants becomes very small and generally they’re not that well educated if they feed from line areas. Your education is a factor and so is your experience. Whether or not you articled is irrelevant for internal competitions unless you’re applying for a counsel position requiring law society membership (ironically even some internal competitions clearly intended for more senior lawyers do not actually require articling since they are higher level advisor/analyst policy positions except at a lawyer salary).

Government regular working hours are about 7h a day at most and no weekends or evenings. Sometimes for newer people they are far less than 7h a day (many early days going home or just in the office with not much actual work to do) because due to training there is a lot of downtime until someone is fully trained which can take up to half a year depending on the position.

There are also juicy benefits and a fat pension for those that stick it through the day-to-day tedium. I don’t have to ask any of the former lawyer hires why they took this job and abandoned the law profession altogether because I already know the answer. I mean, who wouldn’t? Lawyer positions in government on the other hand would make slightly more but deal with way more stress and longer hours. And I don’t think prosecutors for example can ever work 4, 8 h days a week from home and nothing else.

Most government workers (depending on the type of job and work area) after 1 year of working can get perks such as working from home combined with flexible work schedules or compressed work weeks where you can work just 4 days a week for example and all from home with hours equivalent to 7-5, no evenings, no weekends. Imagine getting up around 7 and stepping into your office in the next room, then clocking out at around 5, and always having Fridays and weekends off every week. All the while making around 80-90k with a few years of seniority.  Once again, who in their right mind would give that up to join a firm just to be called a “student-at-law” for half the salary and double the hours. And if you don’t like your job you can quite easily switch to a completely different one within a few months, internally, as there are many diverse internal opportunities all the time (limited competitions to which external applicants cannot apply).

As for interview questions, I tell them flat out that I couldn’t find an articling position because there are way too many law students interviewing for like 1 firm spot, and that I always intended for a government career. That’s what I said when I got this current job. I simply never intended to practice or be a lawyer. And just having recently graduated everyone understood I was looking for a job…just like every other person who applied for the posting. In fact, as a recent grad I would get fewer questions than someone switching jobs or late into their career. At my next interview I might get asked why I want to leave my current job, but I already have an answer to that as well so no big deal. People move around all the time in government internally and quickly.

As for junior versus senior, everyone does the same work for a given working title and is treated equally. The only difference is that the senior people have more experience and tend to move into specialized units or supervisory positions if they so wish. And by senior I mean only a few years of experience in the case of some supervisors. Others just enjoy the easy routine jobs and plenty of vacation and flex time off.

Getting licenced means missing out on whatever great job they are hiring right now and by the time you get licenced maybe there will be a hiring freeze like in Ontario. And in that 1 year you could have moved into an even better internal position before said hiring freeze. Because hiring in some desirable areas happens in bursts and very rarely such as during expansions or the creation of new units. If you know what you want to do then why not go straight for it from the beginning. If you don’t, then sure allow yourself to get pulled in by whatever law firm tentacles pull you into whatever soul sucking dark abyss. The real reason I didn’t get licenced is because I want good pay for regular hours and good benefits for meaningful work, but don’t want to have to worry about keeping track of hours or dealing with any clients. And also there weren’t really any decent articling positions that came up, but who cares. Only articling students or lawyers look down on not articling. Everyone else does not care.

Just to be clear, some coworkers who are less educated assume I was a lawyer just because I went to law school but I explain to them that I did not article and so was never a lawyer and cannot give actual legal advice. That’s just about educating them when they ask the next question of “so are you writing, or when are you writing the bar exam?” or “are you looking to be a lawyer for a private firm in the future?”.

As for policy jobs, it’s true that there are lots of internal policy related positions. There are even specific legal issues units for various division and branches where there are no lawyers (just advisors or analysts with various working tittles) although they might at times work with Justice counsel lawyers on certain matters. This happens all the time in regulatory and enforcement environments. There are also ex lawyers either active bar members or not in various positions such as policy specialists, legislative advisors, appeal officers, regular enforcement officers (human rights and other legislated areas), etc.

Some of the policy units which generally do not have people that went to law school give advice whether technical or operational all the time on legislation issues, interpretation issues, case law precedents, and written opinions on procedures and policies, etc. But generally none of the analysts/advisors are lawyer positions and generally have no law background or education. These higher level policy positions do work with senior management and line management/supervisors when providing advice and legislation interpretation opinions in terms of policies and procedures for legislation enforcement, investigations, and procedural matters. And sometimes they say that in some very limited instances they will seek a “legal opinion” from legal services, but it almost never happens.

What’s in this post is how it is at the provincial level and that’s just how things are in most government worksites. So yes, a law degree will help you first get a government job, and then move up from there internally, literally in a matter of months if you want. And my questions is, if within 1 year from grad you’re already making 80k or more (the same as a junior lawyer, or more by the way), plus benefits, plus pension, why would you want to quit later to article for half of that (and lose all the benefits and pension)?

You also have to pay membership fees if you have a law society membership even if not practicing, but also if you’re inactive for years it’s very difficult to all of a sudden apply to jobs requiring an active licence and recent experience in whatever area of law they are looking for. Practically it’s just as if you never articled yet paid the fees the whole time. Government will absolutely not pay a cent for your licence fees or anything else unless it’s an actual professional job requirement that directly relates to your position.

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