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capitalttruth

Constitutional Litigation

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Posted (edited)

I see some "Constitutional Litigation" classes being offered in 2L at most Ontario law schools. Is this an area where one can specialize in after law school? What jobs would focus on this kind of specialization, and what would they entail? I have an interest in solicitor work in the public interest law area (government) but if jobs are scarce in that area or I don't for whatever reason have competitive enough grades for government, I'd like to focus on private practice firms that have a niche in constitutional litigation. Are there firms which primarily practice this area, or is this a small niche area contained within a larger portfolio of other niches for most firms?

Edited by capitalttruth

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

I see some "Constitutional Litigation" classes being offered in 2L at most Ontario law schools. Is this an area where one can specialize in after law school? What jobs would focus on this kind of specialization, and what would they entail? I have an interest in solicitor work in the public interest law area (government) but if jobs are scarce in that area or I don't for whatever reason have competitive enough grades for government, I'd like to focus on private practice firms that have a niche in constitutional litigation. Are there firms which primarily practice this area, or is this a small niche area contained within a larger portfolio of other niches for most firms?

"Constitutional litigation" is pretty broad. Charter litigation comes up a lot in criminal defence, especially things like search and seizure, arbitrary detention etc, or challenging the constitutionality of mandatory minimums or other aspects of the Criminal Code. It will also come up in aboriginal law re: s.35 aboriginal rights, hunting etc. It comes up in administrative/civil law too with people challenging the equality provisions of legislation, principles of fundamental justice, etc. You wouldn't necessarily see a "constitutional litigation" firm as a result as that is pretty meaningless, but litigation boutiques are going to be dealing with it.

Here's an example of a firm that practices constitutional law:

 https://www.falconers.ca/

But if you don't have the grades for government, you probably don't have the grades for competitive boutiques either....

Edited by providence
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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, providence said:

"Constitutional litigation" is pretty broad. Charter litigation comes up a lot in criminal defence, especially things like search and seizure, arbitrary detention etc, or challenging the constitutionality of mandatory minimums or other aspects of the Criminal Code. It will also come up in aboriginal law re: s.35 aboriginal rights, hunting etc. It comes up in administrative/civil law too with people challenging the equality provisions of legislation, principles of fundamental justice, etc. You wouldn't necessarily see a "constitutional litigation" firm as a result as that is pretty meaningless, but litigation boutiques are going to be dealing with it.

Here's an example of a firm that practices constitutional law:

 https://www.falconers.ca/

But if you don't have the grades for government, you probably don't have the grades for competitive boutiques either....

Hmmm. I geuss I'll see what my grades are like after 1L. If they are not competitive enough for government or boutiques, and can't be improved in 2L or 3L, I will throw in the towel and choose a different career.

Edited by capitalttruth

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5 hours ago, capitalttruth said:

Hmmm. I geuss I'll see what my grades are like after 1L. If they are not competitive enough for government or boutiques, and can't be improved in 2L or 3L, I will throw in the towel and choose a different career.

It gets much easier to move into certain areas once you have some experience under your belt, since you're much more useful to your firm than you are as an articling student who's constrained in what you can do by the law society.

Employment/labour has some constitutional components to it too. 

Anyway wait until you're in law school. Your interests will/likely will change.

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11 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

It gets much easier to move into certain areas once you have some experience under your belt, since you're much more useful to your firm than you are as an articling student who's constrained in what you can do by the law society.

 Employment/labour has some constitutional components to it too. 

Anyway wait until you're in law school. Your interests will/likely will change.

Where did you get this idea? It is not true. It is extremely difficult to move into areas dominated by prestigious firms unless you were already competitive for these firms. 

Articling students are not that useful to most firms because they are inexperienced not because of constraints imposed by the law society.

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36 minutes ago, Mal said:

Where did you get this idea? It is not true. It is extremely difficult to move into areas dominated by prestigious firms unless you were already competitive for these firms. 

Articling students are not that useful to most firms because they are inexperienced not because of constraints imposed by the law society.

Sorry yes of course. I don't think I wrote that clearly enough.

Real practice gives you an opportunity to exceed in ways which law school doesn't test you, so I've been told anyway. So there's some shifting around based on that.

Beyond that my point on articling was that you're legally allowed to do more stuff as an associate than an articling student, so you're literally more profitable to any legal enterprise. I was referring to an older thread/conversation on the forum.

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Posted (edited)

What I take from the last couple of conversations is that its grades or bust. Can you still have access to these kinds of positions with average grades (B)? That would take some of the pressure off I've been feeling lately. I don't anticipate having below average grades. Evidently, some people have to be last and noone enters into a law school with the intention to be last place but I've done well at every stage of my education, even at the PhD level, and I plan to do whatever is humanly possible to fix whatever mistakes I make during my tenure in school. Whether this gives me above average grades or just average grades, I can live with that. 

Edited by capitalttruth

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1 hour ago, capitalttruth said:

What I take from the last couple of conversations is that its grades or bust. Can you still have access to these kinds of positions with average grades (B)? That would take some of the pressure off I've been feeling lately. I don't anticipate having below average grades. Evidently, some people have to be last and noone enters into a law school with the intention to be last place but I've done well at every stage of my education, even at the PhD level, and I plan to do whatever is humanly possible to fix whatever mistakes I make during my tenure in school. Whether this gives me above average grades or just average grades, I can live with that. 

It depends how competitive the firm is to get into and what else you have going for you besides grades. Some firms have the pick of students and you basically have to be a medalist to go there - others are less selective. Also you may have unique undergrad experiences, relevant extracurriculars, relevant community work, you may have the right connections... you can’t generalize. Apply where you want to work and see what happens.

Also law school is not like grad school  - masters’ programs are notorious for grade inflation.  And a lot of people in law school who were top of the class all their lives will get average grades. But you shouldn’t be feeling pressure about law school grades before you even start - that’s a good way to burn yourself out and not do well. 

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4 minutes ago, providence said:

It depends how competitive the firm is to get into and what else you have going for you besides grades. Some firms have the pick of students and you basically have to be a medalist to go there - others are less selective. Also you may have unique undergrad experiences, relevant extracurriculars, relevant community work, you may have the right connections... you can’t generalize. Apply where you want to work and see what happens.

Also law school is not like grad school  - masters’ programs are notorious for grade inflation.  And a lot of people in law school who were top of the class all their lives will get average grades. But you shouldn’t be feeling pressure about law school grades before you even start - that’s a good way to burn yourself out and not do well. 

Average grades I can live with. I get the impression that I can still have access to the jobs I want with average grades and some of the intangible additions to my resume you mention.

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45 minutes ago, capitalttruth said:

 Average grades I can live with. I get the impression that I can still have access to the jobs I want with average grades and some of the intangible additions to my resume you mention.

The areas you describe are done by some of the best litigators in the country, I would not expect to be able to get the best work with average grades. You can be reasonably confident with above average and good softs, or exceptional grades. 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Mal said:

The areas you describe are done by some of the best litigators in the country, I would not expect to be able to get the best work with average grades. You can be reasonably confident with above average and good softs, or exceptional grades. 

That depends. You could open your own crim shop with average grades and probably get some Charter cases.

Edited by providence

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1 minute ago, providence said:

That depends. You could open your own crim shop with average grades and probably get some Charter cases.

I guess, but I wouldn't describe that as constitutional litigation. 

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I'm in house, but probably know more about federalism than almost any lawyer in the country. And that part of my job is boring as hell. Welcome to constitutional litigation!

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11 minutes ago, Jaggers said:

I'm in house, but probably know more about federalism than almost any lawyer in the country. And that part of my job is boring as hell. Welcome to constitutional litigation!

I have a keen interest in federalism, specifically comparative federalism - did my MA thesis on constitutional courts in the EU (EU law vs Member State law, specifically Germany and France) so I enjoyed reading about federalism during my research.

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51 minutes ago, Mal said:

I guess, but I wouldn't describe that as constitutional litigation. 

What? We do constitutional litigation frequently. There are probably more constitutional cases out of crim than any other area.

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7 hours ago, Mal said:

I guess, but I wouldn't describe that as constitutional litigation. 

Echoing Providence - criminal law regularly has charter challenges. My firm currently has a few cases on the go.

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It's absolutely true that criminal law involves a lot of constitutional litigation - based around specific sections of the Charter and fairly narrow other issues. Some practitioners and firms never take on these cases or quite frankly don't know how to do them properly. Some shine at it. But it's also true this generally isn't what anyone means who isn't already practicing criminal law when they say "constitutional litigation" in a sentence. What someone tends to mean is that they hope to litigate broadly and generally across Canada's foundational body of law, and argue about how it should be changed or interpreted and applied differently. And quite frankly, for good reason, there are very few lawyers doing this. That's simply because there aren't many clients or situations where the cost of such litigation can be supported, and in cases where it does happen they obviously want the best. Note that it isn't uncommon for the larger firms to take on files such as this pro bono either, to give junior lawyers in the firm an opportunity to litigate. I was discussing one such situation with a colleague yesterday.

The main point I'm making is, it's fine to be interested in the constitution. And it's fine to want to litigate. But I'd advise anyone who wants a job and isn't some kind of natural superstar to try to broaden their interest outside of only messing with the operating code of our nation. Otherwise, you're like the average student in med school who insists you are only interested in neurosurgery.

Anyway, good luck.

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Well I’d say challenging a mandatory minimum sentence, or the new reverse disclosure provisions, or the new “drinking alcohol within two hours of driving” law IS arguing how the foundational body of law should be changed or interpreted and applied differently. Seaboyer, Bedford, Nur, Lloyd etc all came out of criminal law, and we’re about to see the next generation of criminal constitutional law now. 

 

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26 minutes ago, providence said:

drinking alcohol within two hours of driving

What did I miss? Feel free to PM so we don't derail this thread

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33 minutes ago, providence said:

Well I’d say challenging a mandatory minimum sentence, or the new reverse disclosure provisions, or the new “drinking alcohol within two hours of driving” law IS arguing how the foundational body of law should be changed or interpreted and applied differently. Seaboyer, Bedford, Nur, Lloyd etc all came out of criminal law, and we’re about to see the next generation of criminal constitutional law now. 

 

Can we just agree that however you care to describe the work that you do (and that I do also, let's recall) it isn't what the OP wants to do, and his primarily concern right now isn't learning about how cool criminal defence is.

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