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DefenderOfTheLaw

How I Landed a 1L Position Within 2 Months of Starting Law School

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A bit of backstory: I joined the LawStudents.ca forum back in 2007 during my undergrad before being admitted to law school in 2009 at University of Ottawa. This forum was an incredible resource and it helped me a lot during the application process. Within 2 months of starting law school, I was lucky enough to land a 1L position at one of the largest multi-national law firms in Canada, which subsequently led to 2L and articling positions. Although my grades and educational background played a role during the hiring process, what set me apart from other candidates (with equal grades and educational background as me) was that I was one of the only candidates to have meaningful volunteer work experience at a law firm before starting law school. The main reason I chose to obtain volunteer work experience at a law firm is because I wanted to know if law was right for me before investing the time and money in law school. Little did I know that the experience that I gained would be instrumental in helping me land a 1L position at a multi-national law firm within 2 months of starting law school, resulting in a guaranteed articling position before my first law school mid-term.

Fast forward to today, I’ve been working as an in-house lawyer for 5 years and loving it, but I’m ambitious to grow. To this end I’m currently in the process of launching my own law firm for the start of 2019. I’d like to pay it forward and offer future law students an opportunity to gain some meaningful volunteer work experience at a law firm that you can use in your CV when applying for 1L, 2L, and articling positions, which could make the difference between landing your dream position or losing out to other candidates. You can list your experience at this firm on your CV, and if you do good work, I would be happy to write you a reference letter and/or provide a reference to your future employers. This arrangement would be mutually beneficial since I need some help with some legal research tasks at the moment.

Here’s a brief summary of what the work would entail:

- Legal Research on topics relating to real estate law in Ontario
- Writing articles (which will be published on the firm’s website) to be read by the public to help them understand the process and details involved with real estate transactions in Ontario. Some example topics include: Land Transfer Tax, Tenancy in Common vs Joint Tenants, First Time Home Buyer Credits, Legal Differences Between Condos and Houses, etc.

- If you’re interested, you can be involved in actual real estate transactions also, which would really give you great insight into how law firms operate.
- You WILL NOT be expected to do anything non-law related. i.e. you will never be asked to make photocopies, run errands, or do anything of that nature. Everything you do will be strictly law-related and relevant to your future career.

A successful candidate for this position will have the following:
- Minimum of 2-3 years of undergrad completed (doesn’t need to be in a law related field).
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Strong organizational skills.
- Capacity to work independently and figure things out.
- Ability to pay close attention to detail.
- Strong research skills (you will be asked to research various legal topics and then write well-written summary articles on your findings).
- Strong interest in applying to law school and becoming a successful lawyer.
- Ability to dedicate a minimum of 3-4 hours a week.

If you’re interested in applying for this position, please send me a private message with your email address so we can discuss further. I will be examining your university transcript, CV, and writing samples, in addition to contacting your references before the position is awarded.

Thank you and best of luck on your law school applications!

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Pay your employees.

To any students reading this, having prior law firm experience is entirely unnecessary to getting hired at a large firm and more often than not is not at all a deciding factor. You're better off earning some money and getting any form of work experience than giving away your labour for free to someone that wants to take advantage of it for the promise of "exposure".

Read up before you work "for exposure":

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/jul/09/creative-careers-is-it-ever-worth-working-for-exposure

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/03/13/no-i-wont-work-for-free-for-the-exposure/#6af4dab64402

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10926-no-working-for-free.html

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I don’t think volunteer experience “in a firm” will be the deciding factor in getting hired. Volunteering generally leads to some great experience, some of which may be resume-worthy. But also, having had a job is extremely valuable.

People who went K-JD with no time spent doing anything outside of working for Tim Hortons during the summers are going to find themselves at a disadvantage compared to people who have done something meaningful outside of school. 

You don’t need to give your time away for free to be competitive for the recruits.

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I have found volunteer positions are a bonus to any resume, for only 3-4 hours a week of work.  But usually the effect is much more significant when the company is well known versus a start up.

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5 minutes ago, Ryn said:

I don’t think volunteer experience “in a firm” will be the deciding factor in getting hired. Volunteering generally leads to some great experience, some of which may be resume-worthy. But also, having had a job is extremely valuable.

People who went K-JD with no time spent doing anything outside of working for Tim Hortons during the summers are going to find themselves at a disadvantage compared to people who have done something meaningful outside of school. 

You don’t need to give your time away for free to be competitive for the recruits.

Aren't you an articling student? In what way are you qualified to make the above pronouncement (which, FYI, is not accurate)?

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If you are still based in Ottawa - or based in any firm with a law school - maybe consider hosting a student for academic credit. It's at no extra cost to you, but it is less exploitative then volunteering in a for-profit enterprise.

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Highly exploitative thread. I'm reporting it and calling out OP for being sneaky and preying on unsuspecting undergrad students who don't know better. 

 

Shame on you.

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HA wow. 

I'm betting OP did the Ottawa IP recruit, which is a fall of 1L thing and that's how they got a job so soon.

"Volunteering" isn't going to create fall 1L opportunities for you unless you want to live in Ottawa and practice IP law.

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I'm as tempted as the next guy to slam the OP, but to her credit at least, she advocated the same position when she was starting law school as she is now - she is looking for unpaid volunteers, and she was willing to do unpaid volunteer work herself. Here's a thread from 2009. So I think this whole thing is kinda ridiculous, but OP isn't being hypocritical, at least.

I will say this, however, to everyone concerned.

Point one. If you are considering doing "volunteer work" in a law firm, do not work for any employer that is under the delusion they are getting anything of value from you, especially law-related work. Because it's functionally impossible. A law firm may choose to create unpaid volunteer positions to do someone's kid a favor. They may get that kid to run coffee or make copies in order to justify their presence more than it would otherwise be justified. But even then, it's not beneficial labour. Because it just can't be. IF you have an opportunity to be somewhere and gain experience shadowing lawyers etc. and they know it's just a favor, you might as well take it if you want to. Because ... whatever. If you can afford to spend your time that way, you might as well. But IF this would-be employer imagines they'll get value out of your work, it's going to be a disasterous experience all around. Now see...

Point two. Trying to provide legal services and law-related work performed by untrained undergraduates is a recipe for disaster as a professional and as an entrepreneur. Imagining you can do that and somehow help yourself in the process is like imagining that Gordon Ramsey plus two untrained idiots in a kitchen somehow produce more and better food than Gordon Ramsey by himself. It's an insane notion. Either (a) you will spend far more time supervising and reviewing the work done by these students than their work could possibly be worth to you, or else (b) you will rely on their work when it's been inadequately reviewed and supervised. The first is a waste, and the second is literally putting your license to practice law on the line.

I'm speaking to you now as an entrepreneur who is running my own practice. Do what you can do for yourself, or pay someone else to do it. You cannot, you cannot, you absolutely fucking cannot establish your legal practice on a foundation of unpaid and untrained labour provided by wannabe pre-law students. If you find yourself in a position where you genuinely can't get what you need done any other way, then rethink whether you are able to actually establish your own practice at all.

Good luck.

 

 

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4 hours ago, DefenderOfTheLaw said:

A bit of backstory: I joined the LawStudents.ca forum back in 2007 during my undergrad before being admitted to law school in 2009 at University of Ottawa. This forum was an incredible resource and it helped me a lot during the application process. Within 2 months of starting law school, I was lucky enough to land a 1L position at one of the largest multi-national law firms in Canada, which subsequently led to 2L and articling positions. Although my grades and educational background played a role during the hiring process, what set me apart from other candidates (with equal grades and educational background as me) was that I was one of the only candidates to have meaningful volunteer work experience at a law firm before starting law school. The main reason I chose to obtain volunteer work experience at a law firm is because I wanted to know if law was right for me before investing the time and money in law school. Little did I know that the experience that I gained would be instrumental in helping me land a 1L position at a multi-national law firm within 2 months of starting law school, resulting in a guaranteed articling position before my first law school mid-term.

Fast forward to today, I’ve been working as an in-house lawyer for 5 years and loving it, but I’m ambitious to grow. To this end I’m currently in the process of launching my own law firm for the start of 2019. I’d like to pay it forward and offer future law students an opportunity to gain some meaningful volunteer work experience at a law firm that you can use in your CV when applying for 1L, 2L, and articling positions, which could make the difference between landing your dream position or losing out to other candidates. You can list your experience at this firm on your CV, and if you do good work, I would be happy to write you a reference letter and/or provide a reference to your future employers. This arrangement would be mutually beneficial since I need some help with some legal research tasks at the moment.

Here’s a brief summary of what the work would entail:

- Legal Research on topics relating to real estate law in Ontario
- Writing articles (which will be published on the firm’s website) to be read by the public to help them understand the process and details involved with real estate transactions in Ontario. Some example topics include: Land Transfer Tax, Tenancy in Common vs Joint Tenants, First Time Home Buyer Credits, Legal Differences Between Condos and Houses, etc.

- If you’re interested, you can be involved in actual real estate transactions also, which would really give you great insight into how law firms operate.
- You WILL NOT be expected to do anything non-law related. i.e. you will never be asked to make photocopies, run errands, or do anything of that nature. Everything you do will be strictly law-related and relevant to your future career.

A successful candidate for this position will have the following:
- Minimum of 2-3 years of undergrad completed (doesn’t need to be in a law related field).
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Strong organizational skills.
- Capacity to work independently and figure things out.
- Ability to pay close attention to detail.
- Strong research skills (you will be asked to research various legal topics and then write well-written summary articles on your findings).
- Strong interest in applying to law school and becoming a successful lawyer.
- Ability to dedicate a minimum of 3-4 hours a week.

If you’re interested in applying for this position, please send me a private message with your email address so we can discuss further. I will be examining your university transcript, CV, and writing samples, in addition to contacting your references before the position is awarded.

Thank you and best of luck on your law school applications!

Can't you at least partner up with a UG to offer co-op credit?

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6 hours ago, Rashabon said:

Aren't you an articling student? In what way are you qualified to make the above pronouncement (which, FYI, is not accurate)?

Well for one, I meant the statement generally, not solely about getting a job. But I do know that it has a bearing not only based on the fact that I was close to the decision-making process at my firm, but have heard likewise from my colleagues at other firms. 

But also it’s common sense. Great grades are one thing, but most people in competition for a Bay Street gig have them. What sets you apart from other candidates? It wouldn’t make any sense that having had a job where you demonstrated communication skills, strategy, meaningful levels of contribution to a business, etc., would be held as equivalent to an applicant who has done none of those things. 

Edit - Lest anyone think I took a parting shot and locked the thread, I assure you it wasn’t me.

Edited by Ryn

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Rashabon wanted to make another reply:

Quote

Trust me when I say that "the job they worked before law school" is not going to make or break a hiring decision.

Plenty of K-JD grads without stellar job history backgrounds make it to Bay Street. I am one, and I am not atypical. I've seen plenty of partners more impressed by a candidate's job as a waiter/waitress/bartender than some snooty job running coffee at a law firm or whatever else someone thinks is impressive for a candidate to have had at that point.

 

I agree with Rashabon, but he is likely misinterpreting Ryn. I have also seen plenty of big firm partners more impressed by normal jobs than the so-called prestigious ones. 

The only thing that I have seen as a true advantage over general charisma is specialized knowledge that is needed in some specialties like a CPA with multiple years experience applying for a tax articling gig or someone like the OP who had a graduate degree in Engineering for IP. 

This thread was locked because whether the OP had good intentions or not, a law firm does not need "volunteers". If someone creates a "volunteer" position for someone who approaches them that is one thing, asking for people to create value for your firm is another. 

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