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Smorr53

Best/ Worst Bay Street Firms to Work at ?

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Would like to know people's experiences for the best/worst firms to work at in regards to work/life balance, compensation, benefits, mentorship, career growth, etc.

Edited by Smorr53

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People ask this question but it's kind of silly. At most, you'll have someone who has maybe worked for two of the firms, at different stages in their careers, that can speak to the question. The rest is just personal observation of a single firm and hearsay regarding other firms.

There are firms I have a low opinion of, for very good reasons, but its not based on my own personal experiences there.

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On 8/1/2019 at 12:38 PM, Rashabon said:

People ask this question but it's kind of silly. At most, you'll have someone who has maybe worked for two of the firms, at different stages in their careers, that can speak to the question. The rest is just personal observation of a single firm and hearsay regarding other firms.

There are firms I have a low opinion of, for very good reasons, but its not based on my own personal experiences there.

It also varies vastly from group to group within firms. At least it did at the firm I worked at, anything else I tell you is just hearsay :)

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On 8/1/2019 at 12:29 PM, Smorr53 said:

Would like to know people's experiences for the best/worst firms to work at in regards to work/life balance, compensation, benefits, mentorship, career growth, etc.

Really, should anyone be posting  that a firm is the “worst” with regards to work/life balance, compensation, benefits, mentorship, or career growth? In general, identifying an entity as “the worst” is potentially defamatory, unless it can be shown to be true or something. And to preserve anonymity and reputation, it seems inadvisable to share the kind of specific statements that would reinforce the truth of the statements. So I can’t imagine you getting more than general tropes around how Davies is called Slavies or whatever, except if someone is looking for a lawbuzz-style demise. 

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Posted (edited)

Honestly, this culture of deference towards the Bay Street firms in Canada is crazy when one compares this attitude to the kind of aggressive law firm gossip on Above the Law and Top Law Schools. Whilst that culture is not always an unambiguous positive, it has lead to great gains for biglaw associates in the US with regards to salary and bonus transparency, hireback transparency (every firm is now scared not to hire back 100% of its summers for first year positions, which is really not the case in Canada, where many articling students are not hired back), and behavioral, cultural, and career advancement transparency.

 

I really believe this is a big part of the reason why Bay Street firms feel empowered to pay Canadian associates less than US firms. Until associates start standing up and realizing these firms are not your friends, but are businesses and employers who are engaged in a quid pro quo relationship with you, the situation of Canadian associates will not improve drastically. These firms will just as easily fire you, not hire you back, or work your socks off, and yet you all are scared to say anything mean about them. There's sometimes too much deference in Canada.

 

To OP, although I can't speak to your question directly being in the US, know that I think your question is a perfectly valid one that ought to be answered. You may have better luck speaking to trusted colleagues on a one on one basis.

Edited by Livinginamerica

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11 minutes ago, Livinginamerica said:

Honestly, this culture of deference towards the Bay Street firms in Canada is crazy when one compares this attitude to the kind of aggressive law firm gossip on Above the Law and Top Law Schools. Whilst that culture is not always an unambiguous positive, it has lead to great gains for biglaw associates in the US with regards to salary and bonus transparency, hireback transparency (every firm is now scared not to hire back 100% of its summers for first year positions, which is really not the case in Canada, where many articling students are not hired back), and behavioral, cultural, and career advancement transparency.

 

I really believe this is a big part of the reason why Bay Street firms feel empowered to pay Canadian associates less than US firms. Until associates start standing up and realizing these firms are not your friends, but are businesses and employers who are engaged in a quid pro quo relationship with you, the situation of Canadian associates will not improve drastically. These firms will just as easily fire you, not hire you back, or work your socks off, and yet you all are scared to say anything mean about them. There's sometimes too much deference in Canada.

 

To OP, although I can't speak to your question directly being in the US, know that I think your question is a perfectly valid one that ought to be answered. You may have better luck speaking to trusted colleagues on a one on one basis.

I think you'd have to look at numbers to make any such conclusions. I don't think Canadian big law firms do nearly well enough (relatively) to the kind of international power houses down south to pay their associates 200k plus bonus as a first year. 

Further, it would be interesting to see what the loss rates are like from first year associates to second year associates, since that's more akin to articling to first year associates in Canada. How much can a firm really learn from a student in a summer to determine whether to keep them on or not? A year though is arguably enough time to make that type of decision.

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15 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I think you'd have to look at numbers to make any such conclusions. I don't think Canadian big law firms do nearly well enough (relatively) to the kind of international power houses down south to pay their associates 200k plus bonus as a first year. 

Further, it would be interesting to see what the loss rates are like from first year associates to second year associates, since that's more akin to articling to first year associates in Canada. How much can a firm really learn from a student in a summer to determine whether to keep them on or not? A year though is arguably enough time to make that type of decision.

I'm not necessarily claiming that the culture is the only reason for the differentials, per se, rather that it is a merely contributing factor. Of course, the financials also play a (probably larger) role.

 

I can't speak definitively as to loss rates from first to second year associates in the US, but my understanding from colleagues is that it is very unusual to be fired as a first year associate in US biglaw, and such a firing is normally a sign of bad financials on the part of the firm as opposed to underperformance on the part of the associate.

 

In the end, I am merely saying that associates pressuring firms for increased transparency regarding financials and employment practices would not be a bad thing in Canada, and a greater degree of oppenness as opposed to deference might allow associates in Bay Street firms to gain more leverage in order to improve their lot. I definitely think the Canadian legal profession can be a bit too deferential in general at times, and this too often comes at the expense of those young people and new calls who are at the bottom of totem pole.

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The problem with answering a question like OPs is that everything is extremely subjective. A firm that’s full of assholes to one person is amazing to the next person. I’ve literally summered with students in the same firm and we’ve had two totally different experiences and would have something completely different to say about a given group or about our firm. Aside from commenting on compensation,  everything else is just one person’s opinion which isn’t that helpful 

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The Canadian market is a fraction of the size of the US market. You can't look to what works in the US and assume it would work 1:1 in Canada. In some practice areas on Bay Street there might be 10-12 firms, at most, doing 95% of the work, with a fraction of the number of students/associates, as compared to the US.

I'm also not really sure what transparency would do - we've had hireback transparency for a decade (https://precedentjd.com/hireback-watch/toronto-wide-hireback-numbers/) and we somewhat have salary transparency (https://lawandstyle.ca/law/on-the-record-bay-street-associates-get-their-first-pay-raise-in-a-decade/).

Canadian firms pay less than US firms because they have less money. Profits per partner was $5M at Paul, Weiss. There might be a couple dozen partners on Bay Street that make $5M at all, let alone that being the average profit.

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