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Mocha

Vancouver Recruit & “Connection” to the City

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I’ve read quite a bit on this forum about “if you’re not from Vancouver/Calgary and have no connection to the city, it’s gonna be a red flag”. Although I do understand the concerns the employers may have, I would still like to ask about this more specifically.

I go to law school in Toronto, considering applying for both Vancouver and Toronto OCIs. I’m from neither area, so I won’t say I have much “connection” to Toronto apart from going to law school there. One year ago I was really struggling to decide between Osgoode and UBC, ultimately decided on going to Toronto simply because there’s a “larger market”. But how big the market is would be meaningless to me if it doesn’t lead me to a biglaw position. The truth is, I don’t really care where I end up practising, I’ve lived in quite a few cities and so far haven’t seen one that I’m not willing to stay for the sake of a career.

So what I’m trying to ask is:

1) I’ve seen this discussed briefly in another thread: if a firm has a Toronto and a Vancouver office, it’s bad idea to apply for both because the recruiter will know about it and question your commitment to the city, unless a firm has specifically expressed that they don’t care. Could anyone further confirm this? Are there any firms that are known to be not caring about it? Anyone participated in both recruit can speak about their own experiences?

2) Has anyone actually, or heard about such cases that, someone from an Ontario law school, without connection to Vancouver succeeded in getting a position in Vancouver?

3) Should I just refrain from applying for Vancouver firms?

 

Would appreciate any insight :) Thank you!

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In general, big firms don't seem to give a shit about this. 

They know you're very likely to be gone in a year or two regardless, connection or not. 

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25 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

In general, big firms don't seem to give a shit about this. 

They know you're very likely to be gone in a year or two regardless, connection or not. 

Why would firms invest so much time and effort into training students "know" will be gone in as little as a year? At all the open houses I've been to so far the partners have emphasized that their firms hire for the long term.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Mocha said:

I’ve read quite a bit on this forum about “if you’re not from Vancouver/Calgary and have no connection to the city, it’s gonna be a red flag”. Although I do understand the concerns the employers may have, I would still like to ask about this more specifically.

I go to law school in Toronto, considering applying for both Vancouver and Toronto OCIs. I’m from neither area, so I won’t say I have much “connection” to Toronto apart from going to law school there. One year ago I was really struggling to decide between Osgoode and UBC, ultimately decided on going to Toronto simply because there’s a “larger market”. But how big the market is would be meaningless to me if it doesn’t lead me to a biglaw position. The truth is, I don’t really care where I end up practising, I’ve lived in quite a few cities and so far haven’t seen one that I’m not willing to stay for the sake of a career.

So what I’m trying to ask is:

1) I’ve seen this discussed briefly in another thread: if a firm has a Toronto and a Vancouver office, it’s bad idea to apply for both because the recruiter will know about it and question your commitment to the city, unless a firm has specifically expressed that they don’t care. Could anyone further confirm this? Are there any firms that are known to be not caring about it? Anyone participated in both recruit can speak about their own experiences?

2) Has anyone actually, or heard about such cases that, someone from an Ontario law school, without connection to Vancouver succeeded in getting a position in Vancouver?

3) Should I just refrain from applying for Vancouver firms?

 

Would appreciate any insight :) Thank you!

1) I think I was the one who said that haha. For context, I am at UBC and did the Vancouver recruit and some of recruiters of the national firms did tell us that it was a red flag if we applied for their Toronto and Vancouver offices. Friends who applied to Calgary were told the same thing. So did our CSO. So we only applied to one office for most firms.

I think Toronto offices are much less likely to care about people applying to multiple locations or having a connection to Toronto, since they think Toronto is the centre of the universe so they don't worry about people leaving. ;)

 

2) To your second question, I have a lot of friends who grew up in Ontario/other provinces or went to law school there and they were all asked about why they wanted to be in Vancouver during OCIs. But a response prepared about how much you love the mountains/ocean and could see yourself raising a family here or whatever is enough, you don't need to "prove" you're connected to Vancouver. Just have a solid answer to the question of "why do you want to be in Vancouver?" and you're good.

 

3) You can definitely apply to Vancouver both if you want, I know a few people who did both recruits and it worked out fine. I think you get your list of Toronto OCIs around the same time you find out which Vancouver in-firms you landed so you could apply to both and see who wants to move you forward.

 

 

Edited by Starling
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5 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Why would firms invest so much time and effort into training students "know" will be gone in as little as a year? At all the open houses I've been to so far the partners have emphasized that their firms hire for the long term.

Because they wring serious profit out of the minority that stick around? 

 

The reality is that the majority of your classmates will be somewhere else within 3 years of graduating. That's just the way it is. 

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54 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Because they wring serious profit out of the minority that stick around? 

 

The reality is that the majority of your classmates will be somewhere else within 3 years of graduating. That's just the way it is. 

I would agree in terms of firms, but jurisdiction?

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4 hours ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Why would firms invest so much time and effort into training students "know" will be gone in as little as a year? At all the open houses I've been to so far the partners have emphasized that their firms hire for the long term.

Look at the hireback rates for articling students at some of the firms that talk about hiring for the long term. Sometimes they let go of around 50% of their articling class. 

I think they hire with the intention that a handful of people will be worth keeping around and will want to stick around — that’s what they mean by “long term”.

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Echoing what other's have said, I don't think having little-no connection to Vancouver is going to be a deal breaker, per se. However, a weaker connection will mean that you need to have reasonable explanation as to why you want to stay here. I don't think the bar is terribly high for such an explanation.

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Crazy that people need to explain why they want to work in a generally high paying profession in the most beautiful city in Canada...

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Posted (edited)

Yah, as I said, the bar is pretty low as far as I'm aware. Basically anything coherent and beyond "I dunno" is probably fine.

That being said, if you're looking out in the Fraser Valley (Ie. Abbotsford, Chilliwack, etc.) it's very hard to find a job without a connection to the area. I spoke with a few lawyers out there while hunting for articles and they told me that even though they had reasonably strong connections to the area, a good portion of their interview revolved around demonstrating that they would not be a flight risk. That may start to change, however, as those areas continue to grow and demand for lawyers increases due to the insane CoL in Vancouver.

Edited by spicyfoodftw

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, spicyfoodftw said:

Yah, as I said, the bar is pretty low as far as I'm aware. Basically anything coherent and beyond "I dunno" is probably fine.

That being said, if you're looking out in the Fraser Valley (Ie. Abbotsford, Chilliwack, etc.) it's very hard to find a job without a connection to the area. I spoke with a few lawyers out there while hunting for articles and they told me that even though they had reasonably strong connections to the area, a good portion of their interview revolved around demonstrating that they would not be a flight risk. That may start to change, however, as those areas continue to grow and demand for lawyers increases due to the insane CoL in Vancouver.

Since when do firms in those hellholes do OCIs? 

OP asked specifically about OCIs. That's what we're responding to here.

ETA: but, since you raised the topic, firms in those places are desperate for warm bodies and I've seen many people get hired with zero connection to the Valley. Articling may be a different story, because they are committing to training you for a year and you likely cost them money. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Since when do firms in those hellholes do OCIs? 

OP asked specifically about OCIs. That's what we're responding to here.

ETA: but, since you raised the topic, firms in those places are desperate for warm bodies and I've seen many people get hired with zero connection to the Valley. Articling may be a different story, because they are committing to training you for a year and you likely cost them money. 

AFAIK, those firms do not conduct OCIs. I realize OP asked specifically about OCI's. I added that information as an aside.

You may very well be right about warm bodies for associate level positions. I never bothered to look there again after speaking with the lawyers I referred to, lol.

Edited by spicyfoodftw

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3 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Crazy that people need to explain why they want to work in a generally high paying profession in the most beautiful city in Canada...

Haha this is exactly my first reaction when hearing people talking about "connection". 🤣

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10 hours ago, Mocha said:

I’ve read quite a bit on this forum about “if you’re not from Vancouver/Calgary and have no connection to the city, it’s gonna be a red flag”. Although I do understand the concerns the employers may have, I would still like to ask about this more specifically.

Having absolutely no interest in biglaw I can't comment on any OCI issues - but on this broader point, I think you're severely overstating it.

 

Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto are probably the three places in Common-law Canada that that doesn't really apply to - they know they have a lot to offer, and people from outside want in. If you can accurately reproduce anything from the Visit <City> tourism website about why you can see yourself there long-term, you're sorted (I'd say as a concept & attitude it's also arguable for Montreal, but in legal profession that has a host of other issues around language/barreau/system, so will leave it off the list).

 

The 'no connection is a problem' tends to be the places below that - whether they simply have an inferiority complex, or are genuinely limited in what they can offer, places like Edmonton and Winnipeg, Saskatoon or St John, are far more likely to ask someone who isn't from there and didn't study there, "Why should we believe that you're really committed to this place, and we're not just your I-need-a-job backup?" Which still isn't an insurmountable problem, but it's a greater onus to actually show why you want to be there (and there you might well want to have concrete things to point to, like 'I've visited frequently, my partner's family are from here, we always wanted to be here long-term, haven't applied for OCIs anywhere else'). 

 

For what it's worth, my summer job is in a 'Most people don't list it as their first choice' location that I had no links to, but in cover letter, interview, and since arrival, I could reel off the list of 'Sure I'm not from here, but look how it's just like where I grew up, within striking distance of in-laws, and perfectly matches my ideal lifestyle, here can I show you the pictures of my non-stop weekend having fun?' People being aware of flight-risk doesn't mean rejecting incomers, it means wanting to be confident that they're not wasting their time.

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11 hours ago, Starling said:

 For context, I am at UBC and did the Vancouver recruit and some of recruiters of the national firms did tell us that it was a red flag if we applied for their Toronto and Vancouver offices. Friends who applied to Calgary were told the same thing. So did our CSO. So we only applied to one office for most firms.

Thank you so much for your detailed response! I'd like to ask a follow up re this point.

Regarding "applied to one office for 'most' firms", are there any known exceptions, like "it's already known that firm X doesn't care whether you have applied to both offices"?

 

11 hours ago, Starling said:

I think Toronto offices are much less likely to care about people applying to multiple locations or having a connection to Toronto, since they think Toronto is the centre of the universe so they don't worry about people leaving. ;)

So does this mean if a firm has found out that you've applied to both its Vancouver and Toronto office, it is likely to impact your chances in getting into its Vancouver office, but the Toronto office won't necessarily care?

I'm also curious, for those large full service firms, how did you and your friends decide "I'm gonna apply to this firm's Vancouver office but not its Toronto office"? What was your strategy? Personally it's gonna be hard decision because, tbh, one of the point of applying to both locations is to increase the chance of getting a biglaw job as I'll be happy ending up with either place.

 

Thanks again! :)

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14 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Crazy that people need to explain why they want to work in a generally high paying profession in the most beautiful city in Canada...

Agreed... no one in Toronto asks you why you want to stay in Toronto, and Toronto has nothing on Vancouver in terms of beauty, climate, etc...

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I know that Vancouver people are a bit insecure about their city, but not so insecure that they don't recognize that people want to live there.

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10 hours ago, Mocha said:

So does this mean if a firm has found out that you've applied to both its Vancouver and Toronto office, it is likely to impact your chances in getting into its Vancouver office, but the Toronto office won't necessarily care?

I’m a UBC student who did both recruits and ultimately chose to stay in Vancouver. Based on my personal experience (and from my friends’ experiences), at the OCI stage, I don’t think it’s much of a red flag if you apply to two different locations of the same firm. Several of the Toronto OCIs were with firms that I had OCIs with in Vancouver. There were a couple Vancouver firms that asked about it at the OCIs, and at that point, you may need to indicate a particular preference.

At the in-firm stage, I found it rare that students were offered in-firms at two different offices of the same firm (that could just be due to my small sample size). All the Toronto in-firms I received were from firms that didn’t give me an in-firm in Vancouver and it was similar for some of my friends that did both recruits as well. 

10 hours ago, Mocha said:

I'm also curious, for those large full service firms, how did you and your friends decide "I'm gonna apply to this firm's Vancouver office but not its Toronto office"? What was your strategy? Personally it's gonna be hard decision because, tbh, one of the point of applying to both locations is to increase the chance of getting a biglaw job as I'll be happy ending up with either place.

For me, for the firms I was very interested in Van, I didn’t apply for their TO firm. For the firms I was indifferent about in Van, I chose to apply to both. Having said that, as I said above, looking back now, I don’t think it would have much a huge difference in terms of getting OCIs for these firms. The firm I ended up at was actually a firm I didn’t have much interest for pre-OCIs and I OCId at both TO and Van offices. 

Just be prepared to answer questions like “Why Vancouver/Toronto” as everyone said above, and “What would your preference be”, which is a question that actually didn’t come up quite often. Also, hopefully this is a given, but just make sure you don’t tell both offices of the same firm that you would prefer to be in their specific city.

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18 hours ago, Mocha said:

Thank you so much for your detailed response! I'd like to ask a follow up re this point.

Regarding "applied to one office for 'most' firms", are there any known exceptions, like "it's already known that firm X doesn't care whether you have applied to both offices"?

 

So does this mean if a firm has found out that you've applied to both its Vancouver and Toronto office, it is likely to impact your chances in getting into its Vancouver office, but the Toronto office won't necessarily care?

I'm also curious, for those large full service firms, how did you and your friends decide "I'm gonna apply to this firm's Vancouver office but not its Toronto office"? What was your strategy? Personally it's gonna be hard decision because, tbh, one of the point of applying to both locations is to increase the chance of getting a biglaw job as I'll be happy ending up with either place.

 

Thanks again! :)

I am sure some firms don't care, but some definitely do. You could probably try asking upper-years who work at the firms or your CSO if it's common for people to move between offices in the firm you're interested in.  I assume the Toronto offices would be less likely to care because they assume the Toronto office would be everyone's first choice, but I did not do the Toronto recruit. 

As for deciding which office, the culture sometimes varies a lot by office. For example, the Toronto branch of one firm might be quite social and have a "work hard, play hard" mindset, whereas the Vancouver branch might be full of people who love the law but want to head home to their families after the work is done. So I would choose based on which environment I want to work in. 

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At a Vancouver firm here, and this point has been discussed during the recruits I've taken part in. I don't recall that it was ever determinative, but we have discussed whether candidates seemed interested in Vancouver long-term, and on what basis. Mostly came up where the candidates were from schools outside BC or the candidate was originally from another part of the country. Sometimes it's quite obvious that someone isn't really interested in Vancouver.

For context, I work for a regional, not national, firm, where the question of whether you want to (a) work in BC or (b) would be happy outside of the 'national firm' setting is perhaps more pertinent. 

And, also, sure it's easy to say "most beautiful city in Canada, etc etc" but Vancouver has an extremely high cost-of-living and firms here pay less than the firms in Toronto (and, let's be honest, there's less 'big' work out here), so if we think you're mostly interested in going to work in big law and make bank, there's a legitimate concern that you might turn us down for Toronto if we extend an offer. 

All that being said, I'd still apply in Vancouver if I were you, because if you get to the in-firm stage in Vancouver and you find a firm where things really click, you'll have the opportunity to make the case that you want to come to Vancouver and do the work they do. 

(I don't know what the timing is this year, but I believe the recruits are usually staggered, so you might have to decide whether to take a job in one city before you've had an opportunity to check out the opportunities in the other one.)

I did the 1L recruit in Calgary and I got asked a lot "why Calgary". As a life-long Vancouverite, it was perhaps more difficult to convince them that I wanted to go that way, I don't know, but I didn't get any offers. Worked out for the best, because on reflection I wouldn't have wanted to live in Calgary. 😄

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