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myh8

Mid-life crisis during Articling?

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This reminds me of my old job in the oil industry. I mostly did shift work and my shifts were always 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. In those 14 days my employer contracted us out to as many jobs as possible, whether we liked it or not. To the point that we sometimes didn't even have 8 hours of rest between our shifts (that means we billed over 16 hours of work). This was of course illegal, but they got around this by making sure each crew would get sent to different sides of the refinery for their 2 x jobs a day. This way safety would not be able to catch on unless they checked our card scans (to see how long we'd been inside the plant). This was common in our trade and I did eventually get caught by safety. I had done a night shift and after that was done they sent me to a day shift job. For some reason the night shit safety officer was over on the other side checking on some stuff. He sent me straight back to camp, called up my company and pulled every permit issued to our guys in the refinery. Within 36 hours it was back to normal and we were all being asked to do the same thing all over. While the money was amazing (because of double overtime), I eventually lost it and quit. 

Unfortunately this is how it is in most industries. Labour laws can always be worked around. Then you have small businesses and mom/pop shops that put in 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 a year!!! The only solution is not getting into debt, saving money, investing and getting the fuck out of dodge as soon as you have your 1-2 million in assets. Outside of that you either get lucky or you put up with it as best as you can, until you burn out. Then you move on to the next opportunity, rinse and repeat.

Edited by Abii

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6 hours ago, NYCLawyer said:

I didn’t read this whole thread but I’m pretty sure that part of what’s going on here is that you need to stop giving a shit so much. This is one of the most important and underrated skills of having a successful career. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve watched burn out of jobs or the profession altogether because they drive themselves crazy. A lot of “success” in any business, and in having a happy life in general, is learning to calm down. 

If somebody asks you to write a factum in a day they’re going to get whatever an articling student can churn out in a day, which is going to be hot garbage, but so what? Obviously it wasn’t very important if they’ve asked you - an articling student - to do it in a day. It’s not sustainable to treat this as a life or death thing. Just do your best and forget it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: nothing you do matters that much.  You’re a paper pusher.  A desk jockey.  Even more than that you’re a junior paper pusher.  You have to let things go.  You’re not a heart surgeon, and even heart surgeons have to let it go.  I don’t have the constitution to be a heart surgeon and have people die on my table and just walk out and forget it but I thank god that some people do because we need these people.  But your situation is even easier because you’re just a lawyer.  What you do does. not. matter.  Especially on the margins. You really think that guy was going free or getting custody because your third edit of some paragraph really changed the judge’s mind?  Just do what you can and move on to the next thing.  If you can get the hang of this you’ll have a longer and more successful career than people who don’t and you’ll provide more value to your clients too, because you’ll get better with more experience without burning out. That’s the guy I want operating on my heart when the time comes.

 

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.

I don't know how to say this without sounding like I am promoting negligence..... But if you want your blood pressure go down, OP, just show up at court one day and actually watch an entire day at court. Incorrect court file numbers. Incorrect styles of cause. Not even bothering to write a darn factum. Typos. Being unable to even answer questions from the presiding master at motions court. Etc. And then you wonder why masters / judges are always so cranky. I suspect the average quality of materials is poor. This stuff happens every day from countless lawyers.  And it is not just "no name" firms. Your firms with the "prestige" of being big players downtown Toronto are hardly immune. I am not encouraging this stuff by any means. But the world goes on, and the world still turns, and honestly, in many cases, no prejudice to the client even results from it. Step back and breathe. Do your best, forget the rest, and make sure you become a better lawyer and each every day and are learning in the process. So your very first mediation brief, factum, or statement of issues as an articling student wasn't the best? Well, that sucks. Not a good thing. But will it even matter in 5 years (or 5 weeks for that matter)? Extremely unlikely that it will. Breathe.

Edited by happydude
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6 hours ago, NYCLawyer said:

I didn’t read this whole thread but I’m pretty sure that part of what’s going on here is that you need to stop giving a shit so much. This is one of the most important and underrated skills of having a successful career. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve watched burn out of jobs or the profession altogether because they drive themselves crazy. A lot of “success” in any business, and in having a happy life in general, is learning to calm down. 

If somebody asks you to write a factum in a day they’re going to get whatever an articling student can churn out in a day, which is going to be hot garbage, but so what? Obviously it wasn’t very important if they’ve asked you - an articling student - to do it in a day. It’s not sustainable to treat this as a life or death thing. Just do your best and forget it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: nothing you do matters that much.  You’re a paper pusher.  A desk jockey.  Even more than that you’re a junior paper pusher.  You have to let things go.  You’re not a heart surgeon, and even heart surgeons have to let it go.  I don’t have the constitution to be a heart surgeon and have people die on my table and just walk out and forget it but I thank god that some people do because we need these people.  But your situation is even easier because you’re just a lawyer.  What you do does. not. matter.  Especially on the margins. You really think that guy was going free or getting custody because your third edit of some paragraph really changed the judge’s mind?  Just do what you can and move on to the next thing.  If you can get the hang of this you’ll have a longer and more successful career than people who don’t and you’ll provide more value to your clients too, because you’ll get better with more experience without burning out. That’s the guy I want operating on my heart when the time comes.

 

I’m in a very similar position to OP. Hating articling because I’m upset that I can’t seem to work harder/be more perfect. I needed to hear this. Sometimes it feels like my one contribution will make or break 1) the work of my superiors and/or 2)my career.

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23 minutes ago, happydude said:

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.

I don't know how to say this without sounding like I am promoting negligence..... But if you want your blood pressure go down, OP, just show up at court one day and actually watch an entire day at court. Incorrect court file numbers. Incorrect styles of cause. Not even bothering to write a darn factum. Typos. Being unable to even answer questions from the presiding master at motions court. Etc. And then you wonder why masters / judges are always so cranky. I suspect the average quality of materials is poor. This stuff happens every day from countless lawyers.  And it is not just "no name" firms. Your firms with the "prestige" of being big players downtown Toronto are hardly immune. I am not encouraging this stuff by any means. But the world goes on, and the world still turns, and honestly, in many cases, no prejudice to the client even results from it. Step back and breathe. Do your best, forget the rest, and make sure you become a better lawyer and each every day and are learning in the process. So your very first mediation brief, factum, or statement of issues as an articling student wasn't the best? Well, that sucks. Not a good thing. But will it even matter in 5 years (or 5 weeks for that matter)? Extremely unlikely that it will. Breathe.

I can't go this far. I've seen this stuff, but I can't condone it. In criminal law, this would get you a bad reputation at the very least. I agree that materials don't have to be perfect, but not having any??????

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19 minutes ago, Whaleofwallstreet said:

I’m in a very similar position to OP. Hating articling because I’m upset that I can’t seem to work harder/be more perfect. I needed to hear this. Sometimes it feels like my one contribution will make or break 1) the work of my superiors and/or 2)my career.

It won’t. You will be a better lawyer in the long run if you learn to give yourself some space because you will sleep at night and think more clearly. And you won’t burn out after three years so you’ll have time to learn to do the job. This is the single biggest reason that people fail in law firms — law school selects for people who are reasonably intelligent and hardworking but does not select at all for people with sustainable work habits and stress management techniques.

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I think the point is just that it’s not the end of the world and partners can sometimes frame it like it is. Someone once flipped on me when in first year I put the wrong threshold for some mechanic in, but we hadn’t even sent to the client let alone the other side. Some seniors talk like every single dot and cross is the line between good work and fireable offense and it’s just nonsense - the worst thing that can happen because of a first year is generally fixable and often mundane. 

Edited by theycancallyouhoju
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3 minutes ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

I think the point is just that it’s not the end of the world and partners can sometimes frame it like it is. Someone once flipped on me when in first year I put the wrong threshold for some mechanic in, but we hadn’t even sent to the client let alone the other side. Some seniors talk like every single dot and cross is the line between good work and fireable offense and it’s just nonsense - the worst thing that can happen because of a first year is generally fixable and often mundane. 

Yeah, no one with brains gives their students final authority over serious/important work. I don't usually have students writing facta for the court of appeal or supreme court and if they do, it's a first draft weeks in advance. I don't flip out over silly mistakes. For me, if a student repeatedly makes the same mistakes, I get mad, but everyone gets one screwup - people have to learn.

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5 minutes ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

I think the point is just that it’s not the end of the world and partners can sometimes frame it like it is. Someone once flipped on me when in first year I put the wrong threshold for some mechanic in, but we hadn’t even sent to the client let alone the other side. Some seniors talk like every single dot and cross is the line between good work and fireable offense and it’s just nonsense - the worst thing that can happen because of a first year is generally fixable and often mundane. 

Depends on firm size.. no?

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16 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Depends on firm size.. no?

I don't see how that would affect anything. There are anal people in all sizes of firm.

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1 hour ago, providence said:

I don't see how that would affect anything. There are anal people in all sizes of firm.

I was referring to how "make or break" your work can be as a first year (non solo prac)

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On 8/11/2018 at 3:41 PM, myh8 said:

I'm currently articling in a mid size ontario city at a firm that is considered large for the area. I hate it. Every day I wake up feeling almost suicidal. I really liked law school. And I did well. And I like the law and helping people. But I don't like articling. At all. It is too much stress and too much work. It is insane. But I feel like I've entered an alternate reality where everyone around me thinks it's great, except me. I am currently working 60 hours a week. Everyone else I'm articling with is putting in more hours. I just physically cannot do more, and even the 60 I am doing is affecting my health. I did not expect this at all. I feel like I am having a mid-life crisis. I thought I would enjoy aspects of the job, and was willing to deal with stuff I didn't like. But I don't want to work all the time. I have a life outside of law. Now I have only work. And work I hate.

Before law school I had a job that didn't pay very well, which I could go back to, but making $35,000 a year is not going to pay off my 120K of student debt. I feel like I've made an expensive giant mistake. Not sure what to do. I've been just trying to struggle though it, thinking I will just get through articles and figure out life later, but I feel so ruined every morning I'm not sure I can go on like this. Do I have any options? Has anyone here felt they hated articling after enjoying law school? Everyone I talk to says just stick it out, but it just feels like I've been sucked into a vortex in hell.

I wouldn't hate it as much if the hours were more manageable. But they're just bad. Maybe I coasted in law school, but I felt it was very challenging and put in tons of work, but I certainly didn't work 10 hour days 6 days a week. I had a life. Now I have nothing but work and the one day I take off I just feel angry all day. With students not being able to land articles, why do firms ask students to work 80 hour weeks? They could split each job in 2 and have 2 manageable places instead of one job that leads to emotional and physical ruin. I know it's a money thing but it is just not right. Some people (with disabilities or health issues for example, etc) just cannot physically work 80 hours. And that shouldn't mean you can't do law because you can't work the equivalent of 2 regular full time jobs. The expectations are crazy, and I feel like I can't keep this up.

If it makes you feel better, my firm just had our articling student quit after a week. He cited pretty much the same stuff you did, that the workload was overwhelming, too stressful and that the practice of law was not at all what he imagined it was when he was in law school. So you are definitely not alone. I spoke to him quite a bit, he plans on pursuing a non-law career path, likely somewhere in the public service. I understand the feeling that you have made a huge mistake going to law school now that you see you don't want to practice, but know that you're law degree will always be an asset throughout your career, even if you don't practice law. 

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1 hour ago, shawniebear said:

If it makes you feel better, my firm just had our articling student quit after a week. He cited pretty much the same stuff you did, that the workload was overwhelming, too stressful and that the practice of law was not at all what he imagined it was when he was in law school. So you are definitely not alone. I spoke to him quite a bit, he plans on pursuing a non-law career path, likely somewhere in the public service. I understand the feeling that you have made a huge mistake going to law school now that you see you don't want to practice, but know that you're law degree will always be an asset throughout your career, even if you don't practice law. 

After a week? I realize people can get fed up, but if someone is going to quit - burning all those bridges - wouldn't they want to at least speak to their articling principal or someone else first? Or give an ultimatum (not that it's a good idea, and no extortion I just mean in comparison to quitting isn't an I can't handle this without help better?!). I mean, unless someone was harassed or threatened, I could see leaving quickly; but even if ordered to do something illegal or unethical wouldn't it be better just to refuse and document it?

None of this constitutes legal or ethical advice and should not be relied on!

And, not to be negative, hope it works out for your friend, but working in the public service can be pretty stressful also, just in different ways (from what I've heard, no personal experience). At the extreme end, try being a manager (or otherwise required to work) when OPSEU is on strike.

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1 hour ago, shawniebear said:

If it makes you feel better, my firm just had our articling student quit after a week. He cited pretty much the same stuff you did, that the workload was overwhelming, too stressful and that the practice of law was not at all what he imagined it was when he was in law school. So you are definitely not alone. I spoke to him quite a bit, he plans on pursuing a non-law career path, likely somewhere in the public service. I understand the feeling that you have made a huge mistake going to law school now that you see you don't want to practice, but know that you're law degree will always be an asset throughout your career, even if you don't practice law. 

OP, I agree with shawnie that the law degree will always be an asset for you even if you don't practice law.  I don't know how bad it is in your current situation but as others have said if at all possible, I'd recommend trying to stick it out until your articling is done.  Get yourself Called and then if you still hate it, get out of dodge.  Whether that's trying to find another law job with a lifestyle that suits you more or whether you've just had enough of law and want to try something different where again you can get a lifestyle that is more suited for you, it would be beneficial being able to walk away as a lawyer. 

Ultimately though nothing is more important than your mental health and well-being.  If after analyzing your situation, you truly feel that you cannot make it through the remainder of the year, then there's absolutely nothing wrong in getting out and doing something else that makes you happier, whether it be law or something else.  Before quitting though (if you do go down that road), I would talk to your principal and have a very frank talk. You wouldn't have anything to lose.

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On ‎11‎/‎08‎/‎2018 at 4:41 PM, myh8 said:

I'm currently articling in a mid size ontario city at a firm that is considered large for the area. I hate it. Every day I wake up feeling almost suicidal. I really liked law school. And I did well. And I like the law and helping people. But I don't like articling. At all. It is too much stress and too much work. It is insane. But I feel like I've entered an alternate reality where everyone around me thinks it's great, except me. I am currently working 60 hours a week. Everyone else I'm articling with is putting in more hours. I just physically cannot do more, and even the 60 I am doing is affecting my health. I did not expect this at all. I feel like I am having a mid-life crisis. I thought I would enjoy aspects of the job, and was willing to deal with stuff I didn't like. But I don't want to work all the time. I have a life outside of law. Now I have only work. And work I hate.

Before law school I had a job that didn't pay very well, which I could go back to, but making $35,000 a year is not going to pay off my 120K of student debt. I feel like I've made an expensive giant mistake. Not sure what to do. I've been just trying to struggle though it, thinking I will just get through articles and figure out life later, but I feel so ruined every morning I'm not sure I can go on like this. Do I have any options? Has anyone here felt they hated articling after enjoying law school? Everyone I talk to says just stick it out, but it just feels like I've been sucked into a vortex in hell.

I wouldn't hate it as much if the hours were more manageable. But they're just bad. Maybe I coasted in law school, but I felt it was very challenging and put in tons of work, but I certainly didn't work 10 hour days 6 days a week. I had a life. Now I have nothing but work and the one day I take off I just feel angry all day. With students not being able to land articles, why do firms ask students to work 80 hour weeks? They could split each job in 2 and have 2 manageable places instead of one job that leads to emotional and physical ruin. I know it's a money thing but it is just not right. Some people (with disabilities or health issues for example, etc) just cannot physically work 80 hours. And that shouldn't mean you can't do law because you can't work the equivalent of 2 regular full time jobs. The expectations are crazy, and I feel like I can't keep this up.

I've been there. I really have. The good news is that working in a demanding firm gets better if you stick with it; the better news is that you don't have to stick with it, if you don't want to.

I don't have a lot in the way of advice, except to (1) take care of yourself and make it a priority (both mental and physical health) - you gotta find time for that because no one else will find it for you - they'll keep stacking work on top of you because you seem competent to handle it (and I'm sure you are, but you don't want it, and that's OK) and (2) I would stick it out at least for articles, get called, and then you can make a decision. In my case, I stuck with my firm for a few more years knowing that I wouldn't be there forever. It got better, but I still left when the right opportunity came up and it was a very good move for me.

 

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2 hours ago, epeeist said:

After a week? I realize people can get fed up, but if someone is going to quit - burning all those bridges - wouldn't they want to at least speak to their articling principal or someone else first? Or give an ultimatum (not that it's a good idea, and no extortion I just mean in comparison to quitting isn't an I can't handle this without help better?!). I mean, unless someone was harassed or threatened, I could see leaving quickly; but even if ordered to do something illegal or unethical wouldn't it be better just to refuse and document it?

None of this constitutes legal or ethical advice and should not be relied on!

And, not to be negative, hope it works out for your friend, but working in the public service can be pretty stressful also, just in different ways (from what I've heard, no personal experience). At the extreme end, try being a manager (or otherwise required to work) when OPSEU is on strike.

He did complain a lot for the week that he was here, and the response to all his complaints was that this is the job and he better get use to it. He himself even admitted that he had a very rosey and unrealistic image of what practicing law was like, and the fact that he did not do any summer internships during law school just exacerbated his misconceptions and made articling an even bigger shock for him. I guess his mentality was to just cut his losses asap and that he wasn't willing to struggle today for the hope of a better future. And its a shame really, he was an extremely intelligent and capable person, he just did not want to accept the lifestyle and work-life balance of a private practice lawyer, and he admitted it. The whole ordeal with this guy was highly usual and he single handedly brought down my employers opinion of U of T's Law Faculty, as my principle lawyer never thought she would have such a bad articling experience with a U of T grad.  

Edited by shawniebear
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3 hours ago, shawniebear said:

If it makes you feel better, my firm just had our articling student quit after a week. He cited pretty much the same stuff you did, that the workload was overwhelming, too stressful and that the practice of law was not at all what he imagined it was when he was in law school. So you are definitely not alone. I spoke to him quite a bit, he plans on pursuing a non-law career path, likely somewhere in the public service. I understand the feeling that you have made a huge mistake going to law school now that you see you don't want to practice, but know that you're law degree will always be an asset throughout your career, even if you don't practice law. 

Am so amazed no one has asked, yet, where you're located and if you are hiring a new student now. 

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59 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

He did complain a lot for the week that he was here, and the response to all his complaints was that this is the job and he better get use to it. He himself even admitted that he had a very rosey and unrealistic image of what practicing law was like, and the fact that he did not do any summer internships during law school just exacerbated his misconceptions and made articling an even bigger shock for him. I guess his mentality was to just cut his losses asap and that he wasn't willing to struggle today for the hope of a better future. And its a shame really, he was an extremely intelligent and capable person, he just did not want to accept the lifestyle and work-life balance of a private practice lawyer, and he admitted it. The whole ordeal with this guy was highly usual and he single handedly brought down my employers opinion of U of T's Law Faculty, as my principle lawyer never thought she would have such a bad articling experience with a U of T grad.  

Why is that a shame? He'll be extremely intelligent and capable doing something else, and may be much happier and healthier.

Also, why would a U of T grad make a more committed student than a grad of another school? If anything, I would assume the U of T grads may be wealthier on average, and more accomplished, meaning they have options and are more likely to bail. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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18 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Also, why would a U of T grad make a more committed student than a grad of another school? If anything, I would assume the U of T grads may be wealthier on average, and more accomplished, meaning they have options and are more likely to bail. 

U of T grads are also more likely to be intolerable ballbags than most other people. 

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1 hour ago, Diplock said:

Am so amazed no one has asked, yet, where you're located and if you are hiring a new student now. 

The firm that I work at is in North York. its a small firm that mainly specializes in family law practice, although we do a lot of general practice work. My principle decided to hire a 3rd year lawyer in his place instead of another articling student  because she just have birth and she doesn't feel like training another articling student right now. 

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6 minutes ago, NYCLawyer said:

U of T grads are also more likely to be intolerable ballbags than most other people. 

But probably not more so than other law grads. 

 

 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff

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