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Changing Articling

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I just starting articling 2 weeks ago at a PI firm that is a hefty commute and the pay is low (lower than minimum wage). Just this past week I got offered another articling position that is closer to me in terms of location, a better paying job and is in the field of law where I see my future. Is it bad if I leave my current articling for this new position that was offered to me? Just wanted to hear some opinions. 

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Not even articling yet but people need to be a little bit more selfish sometimes. Leave and take the new articling position.

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19 minutes ago, lawapplicant2015 said:

I just starting articling 2 weeks ago at a PI firm that is a hefty commute and the pay is low (lower than minimum wage). Just this past week I got offered another articling position that is closer to me in terms of location, a better paying job and is in the field of law where I see my future. Is it bad if I leave my current articling for this new position that was offered to me? Just wanted to hear some opinions. 

Depending where you are, you likely need the permission of both principals and the law society to switch your articles.  If they all agree with the switch, it's no problem. It happens. You just need to have a reasonable conversation with your current principal thanking them for the opportunity but explaining why the other position is a better fit. 

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12 hours ago, lawapplicant2015 said:

I just starting articling 2 weeks ago at a PI firm that is a hefty commute and the pay is low (lower than minimum wage). Just this past week I got offered another articling position that is closer to me in terms of location, a better paying job and is in the field of law where I see my future. Is it bad if I leave my current articling for this new position that was offered to me? Just wanted to hear some opinions. 

You went to Windsor Dual (?)

If you are in Ontario, then I suggest you contact LSO first before you talk to your current principal.

https://lso.ca/becoming-licensed/lawyer-licensing-process/articling-candidates/during-a-placement

Edited by Luckycharm

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12 hours ago, lawapplicant2015 said:

I just starting articling 2 weeks ago at a PI firm that is a hefty commute and the pay is low (lower than minimum wage). Just this past week I got offered another articling position that is closer to me in terms of location, a better paying job and is in the field of law where I see my future. Is it bad if I leave my current articling for this new position that was offered to me? Just wanted to hear some opinions. 

If you have the opportunity to jump ship and it’s a much better opportunity all around go for it. You’re just at the beginning of your career. It’s not unheard of to change firms. 

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I respect a range of opinions on this subject, but whatever anyone tends to think, it's important to be aware that the articling relationship is a special thing, and it implies obligations on both sides that go beyond ordinary employment. Talking about bailing on articles two weeks in is just different from leaving a new associate position two weeks in. They just aren't the same thing. 

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"No one can take care of your self-interest as much as you can." - this was the advice I was given by a mentor when I was in a similar situation. Trust me, it was one of the most practical advice I was given in my life. Having said that make sure that you leave your current firm gracefully and explain them why you are leaving. I am sure they will understand. If they do not understand why someone wants to leave when they are getting paid less than minimum wage and driving so much, the firm is probably not worth your consideration. However, before you have the conversation make sure you get the green light from the law society(s). Good luck! 

Edited by newlawcraze

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3 hours ago, newlawcraze said:

"No one can take care of your self-interest as much as you can." - this was the advice I was given by a mentor when I was in a similar situation. Trust me, it was one of the most practical advice I was given in my life. Having said that make sure that you leave your current firm gracefully and explain them why you are leaving. I am sure they will understand. If they do not understand why someone wants to leave when they are getting paid less than minimum wage and driving so much, the firm is probably not worth your consideration. However, before you have the conversation make sure you get the green light from the law society(s). Good luck! 

Further to what Diplock said, what I was getting at is that it is not just up to you to switch articling positions in the same way that you can switch associate positions if something better comes along. Your principal gets a say in it, and while it might be a dick move, they could refuse to release you. Even if they don't do that, how you leave could leave a bad taste that could come back on you later. So it has to be handled diplomatically and sensitively and "looking out for your self-interest" may not be the best attitude. 

Edit: For that reason, my principal would be the first person I'd talk to, not the law society. Preserving a relationship with your principal is the most important thing. I would not go behind their back and get law society approval for something the principal doesn't even know about. The law society might even tell you that - to talk to your principal first. You shouldn't technically even be talking to the principal at the second job without your principal being looped in early on. I have been a principal in a small firm, and while obviously if our student had a better opportunity come their way and asked for permission to pursue it, I would not stand in their way, I would certainly appreciate them having the courtesy to inform me at an early stage, and it would leave a negative mark against them if they handled it badly. 

Edited by providence
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32 minutes ago, providence said:

Further to what Diplock said, what I was getting at is that it is not just up to you to switch articling positions in the same way that you can switch associate positions if something better comes along. Your principal gets a say in it, and while it might be a dick move, they could refuse to release you. Even if they don't do that, how you leave could leave a bad taste that could come back on you later. So it has to be handled diplomatically and sensitively and "looking out for your self-interest" may not be the best attitude. 

They cannot unreasonably refuse to.

The aim of articling is to train future members of the Bar, not to provide cheap labour for principals. 

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2 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

They cannot unreasonably refuse to.

The aim of articling is to train future members of the Bar, not to provide cheap labour for principals. 

I agree - I'm not saying otherwise. I'm just saying that the current principal is an integral part of this discussion and should be approached in an upfront manner. 

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I'm not quite as virulent on this topic as I once was, but I would strongly urge the OP (and anyone else presuming to advise the OP - especially those without a history in this profession) to remember that the articling relationship is not an ordinary job. This is true both in terms of the articling candidate's rights and obligations, and the employer's rights and obligations.

I took a glance at the OP's history. They graduated in April of last year and only found articles recently. Not long ago they were looking for anything at all, I'm sure. And while a PI firm offering low pay isn't ideal (I can't even fault them for the commute - that's on you for applying there) they at least were willing to pick up a student in the off season and it's still paid. It could be a lot worse. And so far I'm seeing nothing that goes to any dissatisfaction in the actual articling relationship - no issues with supervision, learning experience, etc.

My biggest concern is this. Does your new proposed employer know that you are already doing articles elsewhere? If no, you have a problem, and you should probably come clean with them. Because lying your way through this profession is a bad, bad idea. If yes, you may have an even bigger problem. And that's simply because it is almost inconceivably bad form to hire an articling student who is already employed. That isn't to say it can't be done with appropriate caution. But I can barely imagine another firm saying "this person has articles elsewhere, but we'll just offer them a job and see what they do." My point being, if that's what they are doing you probably don't want to work there anyway. It's a little like hooking up with the guy who's cheating on his wife and his existing mistress to be with you. You gotta ask yourself - even if you end up with him, what do you expect in the future?

I won't say you need to stay where you are right now. But talk with them honestly about it. A month ago you would have killed for articles anywhere. Maybe this isn't the best time to immediately burn the only bridge anyone has extended to you.

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To the OP: please read diplock's post. Those of you advocating that the OP 'be selfish' and 'jump ship' should also read it. There is a way to do this, if it is absolutely necessary, but, as diplock said, there are not only rights, but also obligations here.

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Thanks for the responses everyone, I truly appreciate it. I agree with a lot of you guys on your points, but still stuck on what I should do. I do not want to burn bridges, but I also don't want to continue to practice in an area of law which is of no interest to me. Also after speaking to a few people at the current position, it seems as though a hire back in a real slim to none chance, whereas the second firm has told me that they do indeed hire articling students back.

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This is a test of your integrity. Whatever you do, make sure you are honest and honourable. And above all else, read your Law Society rules. 

Diplock has given the best advice in this thread. Take it seriously. 

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Also, remember that if you jump ship now other members of the local bar will know about it. Consider whether this may be a barrier to obtaining an associate position down the road later if things don't work out with the new firm. 

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Like the others, I definitely agree with Diplock's post.  This is something that you can do as long as you do it the right way with honesty and integrity. 

I can relate to your dilemma in a small way as I had a slightly similar situation about 4 years ago.  I had just graduated from law school and already knew that my long term career wasn't going to be in law.  Regardless, I started articling in-house with a great corporation because I needed a job.  My intent was to finish off the articling year and hopefully by that time transition to the non-law career that I was really passionate about, but hadn't yet been hired into.  The job that I really wanted included a very competitive process and the timeline of getting hired was somewhere between a few months and a few years so it was impossible to plan for.  Only a month into articling, I received a job offer from the non-law position that I dreamed about.  The first thing I did after making up my mind was to sit down and have a frank discussion with my principal and she was honestly fantastic about it.  I ended up quitting my articling position with my principal assisting me with all the paperwork and the corporation was able to hire another student who hadn't been able to find a job which made me feel a lot less guilty because there absolutely is that obligation that others referred to.

I went back to article 3 years later and my legal reputation certainly doesn't appear to have been tarnished which goes back to my initial point that this is something that you can do, but make sure you do it the right way.  Also, if you're going to do it, do it sooner than later so you don't waste their time.  

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If I were you, I would stick it out, finish my articles, try to gain whatever transferrable skills I could at this current job, and then apply for first year jobs in the area you're more interested in. Maybe even apply for a first year job at this new firm that's looking to hire you.

I think you're better off responding to this sort of a job offer with "Thank you for the offer - while I am excited about the opportunities available at your firm, I already have an articling position. However, I'm very interested in your firm's practice areas, particulary _________, and I would love to speak to you later on in my articles if, at that time, you're looking for a junior." 

Also re: money - in my opinion it would be extremely shortsighted to sacrifice your professional reputation for one year's wages.

Edited by beyondsection17

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On 2/10/2019 at 3:10 PM, providence said:

they could refuse to release you

Really? Based on what? I mean, unless you've signed a contract I guess. Doesn't mean it's wise to throw the relationship away after two weeks... but "refuse to release you"? Hm.

I found this in the Licensing Process Policies...

Termination of Articles

10.38.  Articles may be terminated prior to the anticipated end of the Articling Term by either the Candidate or the Principal, or by mutual agreement.

10.39.  Where Articles are terminated, the onus is on the Candidate to find another articling placement in order to complete the Articling Term.

10.40.  Where Articles are terminated, both the Candidate and the Principal must provide to the Society, within 10 business days of the termination of Articles, written notice that includes the effective date of the termination, and the Principal must provide to the Society, within 10 business days of the termination of Articles, a Certificate of Service under Articles in the Prescribed Form.

10.41.  Where the Candidate transfers to another articling placement immediately upon the termination of the Articles, the former Principal, the Candidate and the new Principal must complete and provide to the Society an Assignment of Articles in the Prescribed Form within 10 business days of commencement of the new articling placement.

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1 hour ago, ericontario said:

Really? Based on what? I mean, unless you've signed a contract I guess. Doesn't mean it's wise to throw the relationship away after two weeks... but "refuse to release you"? Hm.

I found this in the Licensing Process Policies...

Termination of Articles

10.38.  Articles may be terminated prior to the anticipated end of the Articling Term by either the Candidate or the Principal, or by mutual agreement.

10.39.  Where Articles are terminated, the onus is on the Candidate to find another articling placement in order to complete the Articling Term.

10.40.  Where Articles are terminated, both the Candidate and the Principal must provide to the Society, within 10 business days of the termination of Articles, written notice that includes the effective date of the termination, and the Principal must provide to the Society, within 10 business days of the termination of Articles, a Certificate of Service under Articles in the Prescribed Form.

10.41.  Where the Candidate transfers to another articling placement immediately upon the termination of the Articles, the former Principal, the Candidate and the new Principal must complete and provide to the Society an Assignment of Articles in the Prescribed Form within 10 business days of commencement of the new articling placement.

Bad choice of words. I meant they might not agree to it (as in the mutual termination option) - obviously the student can still leave against their wishes. 

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11 minutes ago, providence said:

Bad choice of words. I meant they might not agree to it (as in the mutual termination option) - obviously the student can still leave against their wishes. 

I was starting to imagine that scene with Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and the empty fireplace when I thought about you and your articling students :P

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