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Suzanne

Articling termination

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I need advice with my articling situation. I'm mid-way through articles in BC, and am currently attending PLTC (BC's bar ad course). I've had some problems with my principal all along, largely to do with a serious lack of communication from my principal. Anyway, I had to move to attend PLTC, and the Law Society recommends that students not work for their firm during PLTC because it's a heavy courseload. My principal told me before that he wants me to work during PLTC, and I told him I didn't want to make any promises since PLTC is a) a lot of work and b) a Law Society requirement. At our last in-person conversation, he said that I should focus on PLTC. A week into PLTC I called him, said I was swamped with coursework and really couldn't work for the firm and expect to pass PLTC. It was a light, friendly conversation. A few days later, he emailed saying he assumed my saying I couldn't work during PLTC meant I was quitting articling, that working during PLTC was an employment condition (he never said or wrote such a thing), and that he thought it best if I end my employment with the firm. Plot twist: the lawyer acting as my principal is not my official principal. I haven't heard from my official principal, so I believe I am not actually terminated at this point.

So far my plan is to look for new articles and possibly contact an employment lawyer if my firm tries to stop paying me without actually terminating me. The contract was that I would be paid through PLTC. I've had some problems working for this firm, but I was trying to make it work and certainly didn't want to leave without having another place to go. I've contacted the law society but it seems to be more of an employment law issue than a law society issue.

Has anyone experienced something like this? I am honestly baffled that it's even possible for a principal to terminate a student due to prioritizing PLTC obligations. There was more to it than that, but honestly most of the problems would not have occurred if my boss were better at communicating. His assumption that because I said I didn't have time to work during PLTC meant I was quitting, even though in the same breath I talked about coming back in August, is a good indicator of the degree of miscommunication.

I'm a little hesitant to post so much sensitive info online, but I'm at a complete loss for how to make any sense of my boss's actions. I don't know what to say to this guy. Please help.

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Okay, your “principal” is seriously misbehaving and the law society is the best contact point to start with. There are rules to the relationship. 

Send an email clarifying that you are not quitting and never intended to give him that impression, just so that is perfectly clear.

EDIT: speak to your actual principal!!!! They should be heavily involved in this mixup and if they aren’t yet, enlighten them.

If that doesn’t clear it up, you need to contact the bencher you already met with during your articles to seek direction. 

There are strict rules in play here and I am guessing your “principal” doesn’t regularly have students and doesn’t realize that. 

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1 hour ago, Hegdis said:

Okay, your “principal” is seriously misbehaving and the law society is the best contact point to start with. There are rules to the relationship. 

Send an email clarifying that you are not quitting and never intended to give him that impression, just so that is perfectly clear.

EDIT: speak to your actual principal!!!! They should be heavily involved in this mixup and if they aren’t yet, enlighten them.

If that doesn’t clear it up, you need to contact the bencher you already met with during your articles to seek direction. 

There are strict rules in play here and I am guessing your “principal” doesn’t regularly have students and doesn’t realize that. 

What exactly is the basis to contact the law society?

"My boss wants me to work through PLTC and I don't want to and our employment agreement does not address this issue." 

That hardly seems like grounds to contact the Law Society. And considering the fact that this is the first firm to employ her out of law school,  I don't think its a good to file a borderline (at-best) complaint to the law society.

You don't wanna be known as  the person who filed a frivolous complaint against the people who gave you articles, just because you think they are expecting too much from you. Remember, you are going to need a reference from these people, so don't make things worse than they already are.

The whole thing about them thinking that she was quitting, if push come to shove, can just be characterized as a misunderstanding. 
 

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3 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

What exactly is the basis to contact the law society?


 

From the Law Society of BC Website:

"Neither the articled student nor the principal should terminate articles without a report from each party being made to the Law Society and, unless the termination was by mutual agreement of you and your principal, the matter will be referred to the Credentials Committee.

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Just now, Rumpy said:

From the Law Society of BC Website:

"Neither the articled student nor the principal should terminate articles without a report from each party being made to the Law Society and, unless the termination was by mutual agreement of you and your principal, the matter will be referred to the Credentials Committee.

They have not terminated her. They have said that they are "assuming" that her refusal to work during PLSC means she is quitting. Presumably they want to hear a response. From what I am reading, no ones articles have been terminated yet. Theres obviously a discussion of potentially getting to that point, but it has not happened yet. 

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Just now, shawniebear said:

They have not terminated her. They have said that they are "assuming" that her refusal to work during PLSC means she is quitting. Presumably they want to hear a response. From what I am reading, no ones articles have been terminated yet. Theres obviously a discussion of potentially getting to that point, but it has not happened yet. 

Nope - they said she terminated- by not working.

Its not really relevant who did what first - still needs to go the Law Society.

Articling is a commitment - from both.  Neither gets out of it easy.

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" A few days later, he emailed saying he assumed my saying I couldn't work during PLTC meant I was quitting articling, that working during PLTC was an employment condition (he never said or wrote such a thing), and that he thought it best if I end my employment with the firm. "

 

Where did they say she was terminated for not working? They said they assumed she was quitting and that they thought it would best if she ended her employment. From what I am reading it's very clear: no one has had their articles terminated. They are heading in that direction, but it has not happened.

I don't doubt that the firm is treating  her poorly and ideally shouldn't be doing this. But that does not mean you have a valid basis to file a complaint to the law society. Once again, you don't wanna be known as the girl who filed a frivolous complaint against the people who gave you articles just because you thought they expected too much from you.

The legal professional is a small, tight knit group, and the number of people who actually hire lawyers is even smaller. Word gets out.  

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10 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

What exactly is the basis to contact the law society?

"My boss wants me to work through PLTC and I don't want to and our employment agreement does not address this issue." 

That hardly seems like grounds to contact the Law Society. And considering the fact that this is the first firm to employ her out of law school,  I don't think its a good to file a borderline (at-best) complaint to the law society.

You don't wanna be known as  the person who filed a frivolous complaint against the people who gave you articles, just because you think they are expecting too much from you. Remember, you are going to need a reference from these people, so don't make things worse than they already are.

The whole thing about them thinking that she was quitting, if push come to shove, can just be characterized as a misunderstanding. 
 

From your avatar pic, I'm assuming you're not in BC (nor am I).

No-one suggested (at this point) filing a complaint with the LSBC. They suggested contacting the LSBC (or a bencher she's already spoken with?).

And first sending an email clearly stating no, she's not quitting; and following-up with the actual articling principal (and OP has already said she's contacting a lawyer, who can give legal advice we can't on this board).

And, if pseudo-principal said she was terminated (or misinterpreted what she said as quitting) - then that seems to be in violation of the rules per Rumpy? That is, even if she was quitting, on mutual consent, there would be an obligation for both her and the actual articling principal to contact the LSBC. So what's wrong with contacting them both to clarify she isn't quitting?

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Posted (edited)

Actually, I think in this case, it needs to go the Law Society - that is why credentials and member services are there.

Also - who said complaint?

The Law Society is the third party who governs the relationship between articles and principals- why exactly would they not be involved?

edit - my post was in response to shawniebear not epeeist in case it caused confusion

Edited by Rumpy
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3 minutes ago, Rumpy said:

Actually, I think in this case, it needs to go the Law Society - that is why credentials and member services are there.

Also - who said complaint?

The Law Society is the third party who governs the relationship between articles and principals- why exactly would they not be involved?

 

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

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Posted (edited)

 "presuming" OP has quit their articles if they don't work during PLTC clearly implies the relationship has ended; this email was sent after OP informed the firm they wont work during PLTC. There was also reference to an employment condition. Regardless, the sender isn't even OP's articling supervisor, so they're irrelevant as far as the licensing requirement goes (probably not someone I'd want to work with afterwards).

The termination wasn't by mutual agreement, so it will be referred to the Law Society anyways unless OP stays or consents to leaving.

Edited by Trew
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8 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

:wacko:

Articling student: Hello, LSBC? I'm an articling student with a question regarding articles and termination.

LSBC: Fuck you, how dare you contact us for such a wildly invalid reason!

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7 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice?

I would want the articling supervisor to fulfill their undertaking so that OP could be called to the bar

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

You are going to be able to deal with the result of what ever is said in the firm's ultimate report - that if you read what I quoted above - will be going to the credentials committee.

I call my bencher on probably a quarterly/semi-annual basis.  I have, knock-on-wood, had very little opportunity to have to deal with a Law Society letter setting out a complaint or potential complaint.

However, with that limited experience in mind - I can't tell you how much better you will feel when you are able to write: "on such a such date I spoke with Madam Bencher on this issue, she suggested the course of action I ultimately took"  The course of action is ultimately my choice - but a second opinion in advance of a decision is way better than second guessing after.

Like the insurance folks say - call early and call often.

We also have practice advisors in BC - which may give you a better idea of what your steps might be:

https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/support-and-resources-for-lawyers/about-practice-advice/

 

Edited by Rumpy
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I believe that both Rumpy and I have actually been principals to students in BC. While we aren’t the final word by any means, the law society and the benchers should be getting informed (if not involved) at this point if the OP is unable to communicate effectively with his or her principal (especially if the misunderstanding seems on the part of some stand-in for the principal).

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

Are you a lawyer? If so, this ignorant advice is extremely troubling. Please stop spreading misinformation.

As Rumpy said, that's what Bencher practise advisors are there for. I've called on more than one occasion, for the precise reasons stated by Rumpy. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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22 hours ago, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

This forum is meant to assist lawyers and articling students, you are neither. It is not acceptable for you to give bad professional advice and contradict senior members of the bar of BC. 

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On 6/12/2019 at 2:03 PM, shawniebear said:

if you are not going to file a complaint what are you going to do? Tell them to contact your Principal and tell them to be nice? I just don't see what the valid basis is for contacting LSBC and, regardless, I don't think it's a good idea for the reasons listed above. 

 

You’re 100% wrong and don’t know what you’re taking about. 

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So, I obviously don't want to keep working for this guy, if I'm terminated or not. What would people suggest I say to prospective employers about why my articling fell apart?

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3 hours ago, Suzanne said:

So, I obviously don't want to keep working for this guy, if I'm terminated or not. What would people suggest I say to prospective employers about why my articling fell apart?

I would tell them the exact truth. Your principal has been completely unreasonable and violated a number of Law Society rules. 

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