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I am a June 2018 call and was not extended an offer for rehire at the firm which I articled.  Due to a sudden and unfortunate set of circumstances regarding a firm where I was employed, between the end of my articling term and my call date, I have only begun my search for a 1P junior associate position as of June 26, 2018.

Fortunately, I am getting a fair bit of action from boutique personal injury firms. Since June 26, 2018, I have interviewed at 2 firms.  One firm (Firm A), where I interviewed twice, has yet to advise as to whether I am their candidate of choice. A second firm (Firm B) has extended an offer. And I have two upcoming interviews (Firms C,D).  I have been offered 70k/yr plus benefits from Firm B.  

I am looking for some thoughts, hopefully coming from experience, on where I should go from here.  Should I reach out to Firm A and advise of Firm B's offer?  If I receive further offers, should I be trying to leverage the competing offers for a higher pay rate?  Is this going to be taken badly, as a junior associate? I think in this context its important to note than I have two competitive advantages over my colleagues of equal call date.  I have significant in court experience (articling rotation in criminal defence) and a medical background which is sought after in personal injury.

Lastly, is there any point in holding out for better offers? I think 70k plus benefits sounds very good.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I can tell you're not from my neck of the woods cause 70k is far and above anything their paying on the east coast for 1st years. 

I have no advice to offer but I'm curious what kind of court experience you got during articling that sets you apart from the pack? Am I wrong to assume that the majority of articling students get atleast some small claims and summary offence experience?

Edited by neymarsr
:p

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Where are these firms located?

First year salary isn't everything.  Even if they offer you a lot of money, it may not be worth it if the firm has a terrible reputation.  I would also be curious about pay structure after first year.

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2 hours ago, neymarsr said:

I can tell you're not from my neck of the woods cause 70k is far and above anything their paying on the east coast for 1st years. 

I have no advice to offer but I'm curious what kind of court experience you got during articling that sets you apart from the pack? Am I wrong to assume that the majority of articling students get atleast some small claims and summary offence experience?

That is a good question.  I was in court 3-4 days a week arguing contested (90% contested) adjournments.  Criminal law is very different from civil.  I was in court maybe 3 times a month in the civil context speaking to primarily consent motions and i worked under 15 lawyers.  In the criminal context, I worked under 4 lawyers and spoke to approximately 8 matters per day most days of the week.  Articling in criminal law is very uncommon.  I was fortunate to get a 50/50 split between civil and criminal litigation.

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2 hours ago, Edmontonlawyer said:

Where are these firms located?

First year salary isn't everything.  Even if they offer you a lot of money, it may not be worth it if the firm has a terrible reputation.  I would also be curious about pay structure after first year.

These are all in the GTA. 

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14 minutes ago, pdaddy said:

That is a good question.  I was in court 3-4 days a week arguing contested (90% contested) adjournments.  Criminal law is very different from civil.  I was in court maybe 3 times a month in the civil context speaking to primarily consent motions and i worked under 15 lawyers.  In the criminal context, I worked under 4 lawyers and spoke to approximately 8 matters per day most days of the week.  Articling in criminal law is very uncommon.  I was fortunate to get a 50/50 split between civil and criminal litigation.

? It’s not uncommon to article in criminal law. Surprised to hear lawyers needed matters adjourned 3-4 times a week in light of Jordan, too. 

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20 minutes ago, pdaddy said:

That is a good question.  I was in court 3-4 days a week arguing contested (90% contested) adjournments.  Criminal law is very different from civil.  I was in court maybe 3 times a month in the civil context speaking to primarily consent motions and i worked under 15 lawyers.  In the criminal context, I worked under 4 lawyers and spoke to approximately 8 matters per day most days of the week.  Articling in criminal law is very uncommon.  I was fortunate to get a 50/50 split between civil and criminal litigation.

Lol, bumping a criminal matter a couple of weeks 10x a day isn't exactly amazing court experience. 

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2 hours ago, neymarsr said:

I can tell you're not from my neck of the woods cause 70k is far and above anything their paying on the east coast for 1st years. 

I have no advice to offer but I'm curious what kind of court experience you got during articling that sets you apart from the pack? Am I wrong to assume that the majority of articling students get atleast some small claims and summary offence experience?

For PI in a major city it's average at best. 

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If you are happy with the 70k, I don't see a harm in using it to leverage against firm A for a higher salary or at the very minimum and offer. Worst case scenario you're stuck with a salary you like.

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5 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Lol, bumping a criminal matter a couple of weeks 10x a day isn't exactly amazing court experience. 

I disagree completely. I have argued contested motions in civil court that required less advocacy than a contested adjournment. The courts have hired "Jordan Crown's" who's sole purpose is to vigorously oppose every single adjournment.  You have to be very careful what you say and how you say it.  You have to make the record very clear about at who's feet the delay ought to be apportioned to.  When you're drafting your 11b factum 18 months down the line you're going to learn how important having a clear record on every adjournment is.

It also helps you learn how to maintain a collegial relationship with opposing counsel.  I argued against the same 2-3 crowns every single day.  They had horrific relationships with a lot of senior defence counsel. I thought that disadvantaged those particular defence counsel's clients.  So i made sure i maintained a good relationship with crown counsel.

If you think you just walk in there and ask for a matter to be put over two weeks and it just happens, you have not been in a criminal court room in a long time and maybe also over estimate how simple a lot of contested motions are.

Like I said, I articled with a firm who did civil litigation, 15 lawyers, and criminal defence, 4 lawyers.  I had full time work from each department.  My in court experience in criminal law absolutely blew my civil litigation in court experience out of the water.  I am very comfortable in court. I am comfortable thinking on my feet and handling my relationships with crown counsel and maintaining strong credibility with the justices i appeared before.  I am not sure I would be saying that without my criminal court experience.

 

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, pdaddy said:

I disagree completely. I have argued contested motions in civil court that required less advocacy than a contested adjournment. The courts have hired "Jordan Crown's" who's sole purpose is to vigorously oppose every single adjournment.  You have to be very careful what you say and how you say it.  You have to make the record very clear about at who's feet the delay ought to be apportioned to.  When you're drafting your 11b factum 18 months down the line you're going to learn how important having a clear record on every adjournment is.

It also helps you learn how to maintain a collegial relationship with opposing counsel.  I argued against the same 2-3 crowns every single day.  They had horrific relationships with a lot of senior defence counsel. I thought that disadvantaged those particular defence counsel's clients.  So i made sure i maintained a good relationship with crown counsel.

If you think you just walk in there and ask for a matter to be put over two weeks and it just happens, you have not been in a criminal court room in a long time and maybe also over estimate how simple a lot of contested motions are.

Like I said, I articled with a firm who did civil litigation, 15 lawyers, and criminal defence, 4 lawyers.  I had full time work from each department.  My in court experience in criminal law absolutely blew my civil litigation in court experience out of the water.  I am very comfortable in court. I am comfortable thinking on my feet and handling my relationships with crown counsel and maintaining strong credibility with the justices i appeared before.  I am not sure I would be saying that without my criminal court experience.

 

But if the Crowns are vigorously opposing adjournments defence wants, why would defence be drafting an 11(b) factum 18 months down the line? The Crowns don't ever want a matter stayed for delay, and you can't ask for it if you fought for an adjournment against the Crown's wish, so what would you be appealing?

Are you talking about going to regular date-setting courts where defence is either ready to set the matter down and the Crown isn't, or the defence needs an adjournment because the Crown hasn't made disclosure, or something like that? Because it's pretty normal to get 2 weeks in those instances. And who are these lawyers that are fighting for adjournments 3-4 times a week? I think I have asked for 3 adjournments ever and the Crown may have asked me for a few more than that for witness issues, I don't think more than 10, over several years. 

Edited by providence
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2 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

I guess there is a reason this guy is not practising criminal law. 

Wow. What a great forum.  You're all better than everyone else. 70k is a joke of a salary. The court experience i felt benefited me was laughable.  I guess the defence counsel with over 35 years of experience who instructed me was a moron also? 

Absolutely no reason for you to be disparaging people like that. A lot of people would be very proud to earn 70k as a first year associate. Plenty of people out there make a lot less. I know a few of them. And they are very smart and very capable people.

 

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1 minute ago, pdaddy said:

Wow. What a great forum.  You're all better than everyone else. 70k is a joke of a salary. The court experience i felt benefited me was laughable.  I guess the defence counsel with over 35 years of experience who instructed me was a moron also? 

Absolutely no reason for you to be disparaging people like that. A lot of people would be very proud to earn 70k as a first year associate. Plenty of people out there make a lot less. I know a few of them. And they are very smart and very capable people.

 

I don't think 70K is a bad salary to start. I don't think your court experience was laughable either, but I have to be honest, the way you explained it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I wasn't trying to disparage you, I just don't understand what you were saying. And I wouldn't normally comment, but you responded to someone about how you had superior or outstanding courtroom experience as a result of criminal articles and that criminal articles are rare. They aren't, and it's pretty standard for us to send our students to set dates and put matters off a couple of weeks for disclosure issues or to have further discussions, if that's what you're talking about. I would think contested motions brought by defence to adjourn an already scheduled trial are far more rare. I didn't want other students to be misinformed about criminal practice. 

To answer your original question and not get bogged down in this, it's up to you. If the only offer you get is the 70K one and you're happy with that, take it. If you get other offers, worry about it then and look at more than slight variations in salary but also firm culture, potential to progress both in experience and in salary, and other aspects of each job. If you want to try to leverage another offer into a higher salary - go for it - they can only say no and you'd still be left with the 70K job. 

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6 minutes ago, pdaddy said:

Wow. What a great forum.  You're all better than everyone else. 70k is a joke of a salary. The court experience i felt benefited me was laughable.  I guess the defence counsel with over 35 years of experience who instructed me was a moron also? 

Absolutely no reason for you to be disparaging people like that. A lot of people would be very proud to earn 70k as a first year associate. Plenty of people out there make a lot less. I know a few of them. And they are very smart and very capable people.

 

Hey, hey now. I'm sorry you got upset. I don't think I said 70K was a "joke"; I believe I said it was average at best for plaintiff PI in a major city. 

With respect to the lawyer you worked for being a moron, I can't say. On its face, what he had you doing doesn't seem to make much sense. 

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1 minute ago, providence said:

I don't think 70K is a bad salary to start. I don't think your court experience was laughable either, but I have to be honest, the way you explained it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I wasn't trying to disparage you, I just don't understand what you were saying. And I wouldn't normally comment, but you responded to someone about how you had superior or outstanding courtroom experience as a result of criminal articles and that criminal articles are rare. They aren't, and it's pretty standard for us to send our students to set dates and put matters off a couple of weeks for disclosure issues or to have further discussions, if that's what you're talking about. I would think contested motions brought by defence to adjourn an already scheduled trial are far more rare. I didn't want other students to be misinformed about criminal practice. 

To answer your original question and not get bogged down in this, it's up to you. If the only offer you get is the 70K one and you're happy with that, take it. If you get other offers, worry about it then and look at more than slight variations in salary but also firm culture, potential to progress both in experience and in salary, and other aspects of each job. If you want to try to leverage another offer into a higher salary - go for it - they can only say no and you'd still be left with the 70K job. 

At no point did I ever indicate these were trial adjournments. I am talking about the regular set date courts. The ones you just described.  I would say 50% of these blew up. There were so many issues that came up that my instructions could not have predicted. It was the exception, not the rule, that I would ask for whatever my instructions told me to ask for and it was granted without incident.  More often, I would get Crown counsel flipping through their file, coming up with some issue I had no idea about, and putting me on the spot about it. Maybe we had already put the matter over twice previously and hadn't made any progress. Now what?  Maybe the story wasn't exactly what Crown counsel was alleging though.  Over the months, I was the one who was present at all these adjournments so I would know exactly what had happened and I could fight back.  Often times, this meant I was able to put big chunks of the delay on Crown counsel that otherwise would have been on defence.  Our firm brought half a dozen 11b applications that I was involved with.  We were often unsuccessful but I felt the ground work I laid gave our clients the absolute best chance of success.

When it came to setting down a matter for trial, or for JPT for example, the standard defence counsel is expected to be held to is reasonable availability, not perpetual availability. So say for example only one date for JPT was available over the span of two months (and believe me, the jurisdiction I articled in, this was a real possibility), I wanted it to be clear that only one date was offered, and that this delay should not be apportioned to defence.  So i made sure the availability of the court and crown was on the record in these circumstances.  

I learned a lot about thinking on my feet.  It was an in invaluable experience because I made it one. I took pride in what I did because it was my job. If you wanted 4 weeks and generally you would only get two in those circumstances, you wanted to send me because I had developed great relationships with everyone and earned the respect of the various judges and JoPs.  I never bull shitted or exaggerated.  So I got what I wanted a lot more often than those senior sole practitioners who were despised by crown counsel.

If you read again what I wrote, I do not think it was wrong or misleading.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, pdaddy said:

At no point did I ever indicate these were trial adjournments. I am talking about the regular set date courts. The ones you just described.  I would say 50% of these blew up. There were so many issues that came up that my instructions could not have predicted. It was the exception, not the rule, that I would ask for whatever my instructions told me to ask for and it was granted without incident.  More often, I would get Crown counsel flipping through their file, coming up with some issue I had no idea about, and putting me on the spot about it. Maybe we had already put the matter over twice previously and hadn't made any progress. Now what?  Maybe the story wasn't exactly what Crown counsel was alleging though.  Over the months, I was the one who was present at all these adjournments so I would know exactly what had happened and I could fight back.  Often times, this meant I was able to put big chunks of the delay on Crown counsel that otherwise would have been on defence.  Our firm brought half a dozen 11b applications that I was involved with.  We were often unsuccessful but I felt the ground work I laid gave our clients the absolute best chance of success.

When it came to setting down a matter for trial, or for JPT for example, the standard defence counsel is expected to be held to is reasonable availability, not perpetual availability. So say for example only one date for JPT was available over the span of two months (and believe me, the jurisdiction I articled in, this was a real possibility), I wanted it to be clear that only one date was offered, and that this delay should not be apportioned to defence.  So i made sure the availability of the court and crown was on the record in these circumstances.  

I learned a lot about thinking on my feet.  It was an in invaluable experience because I made it one. I took pride in what I did because it was my job. If you wanted 4 weeks and generally you would only get two in those circumstances, you wanted to send me because I had developed great relationships with everyone and earned the respect of the various judges and JoPs.  I never bull shitted or exaggerated.  So I got what I wanted a lot more often than those senior sole practitioners who were despised by crown counsel.

If you read again what I wrote, I do not think it was wrong or misleading.

Oh, ok. Well, set date courts aren't really "contested adjournments." To me at least, that term refers to trial dates that are set and need to be changed for extenuating circumstances. Yes, there can be some fuckery in set date courts that the students need to deal with, and some of them are better at it than others. BUT.... this is a normal criminal articling student task, not an exceptional one. I don't want to have to spend my time down there dealing with that, so instructions are given to the students. There are dozens of students in there every day. I took issue with you making it sound like you got an experience most students wouldn't, or that this is "significant" court experience. But I'm glad you found your articling experience to be worthwhile and took pride in doing a good job for your lawyers. A diligent student is always appreciated. 

Edited by providence
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I don't think setting dates is significant experience, even if the Crown is unreasonable. Running bail hearings, doing sentencings, etc., that's substantive criminal experience. 

After you've run around setting dates for a week or two, I think you know the deal. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

I don't think setting dates is significant experience, even if the Crown is unreasonable. Running bail hearings, doing sentencings, etc., that's substantive criminal experience. 

After you've run around setting dates for a week or two, I think you know the deal. 

I'm a few months into articles and I'm sick of setting dates (note none of mine have ever been contested). 

I'm begging my principal to throw me a bone. A parking ticket or a even a joint sentencing, anything will do!!!!!!!

Edited by neymarsr
Grammar :s
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I would add for OP, if you’re interviewing, be careful about how you characterize your experience given the comments on this thread. Don’t say you have significant or unusual court experience. Even if a bunch of PI lawyers don’t know the difference, they might have done crim before or might know people who do. Certainly talk about what you learned from the experience about being collegial and so on but don’t overdo it. 

Also for me personally, if issues are constantly arising and the student has to think on their feet often when setting dates, I look at that as either the principal hasn’t properly prepared the student or hasn’t been diligent on the file, or the student wasn’t listening when they got instructions. When my matters have blown up in date setting, it is usually one or both of those. Once in a while, there is an unanticipated issue or the Crown is unreasonable, but it shouldn’t be a big contested argument on the regular. So if I heard that was happening, I would question the competence of the student, the principal, or both. Be careful about making yourself or your former firm look bad. 

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