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Articling search strategy for 3Ls?

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Hi fellow law students, I'm a 3L at UBC with no article lined up, and I feel a bit frustrated and discouraged by the unsuccessful applications during 1L and 2L. I have made an appointment with the career office but would like to hear what people think here as well.

Experience wise, I have some work experience at law school, working as research assistant for two professors, and I've worked at a non-law job during the summer before law school. My grades are not too bad (I think), mostly Bs and B+, with an A in biz org and an A- in taxation of trust. But I also have a C in constitution because of a very dumb mistake. I came from a business background and ideally I would like to practice in M&A and corporate finance, but also interested in trusts (mostly because I really liked that course). What do you guys think my strategies should be? Are big firms even an option at this point? or should I just focus on boutiques and network with as many as I can? What will the timeline look like?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated! 

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9 hours ago, arandomstudent said:

Hi fellow law students, I'm a 3L at UBC with no article lined up, and I feel a bit frustrated and discouraged by the unsuccessful applications during 1L and 2L. I have made an appointment with the career office but would like to hear what people think here as well.

Experience wise, I have some work experience at law school, working as research assistant for two professors, and I've worked at a non-law job during the summer before law school. My grades are not too bad (I think), mostly Bs and B+, with an A in biz org and an A- in taxation of trust. But I also have a C in constitution because of a very dumb mistake. I came from a business background and ideally I would like to practice in M&A and corporate finance, but also interested in trusts (mostly because I really liked that course). What do you guys think my strategies should be? Are big firms even an option at this point? or should I just focus on boutiques and network with as many as I can? What will the timeline look like?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated! 

Most employers hiring articling students now and throughout the year will be clinics and smaller firms. Most of them will not be corporate-oriented either, so it will be difficult to show a demonstrated interest if you have all M&A, corporate, and trust courses and this is all you want to do. 

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3 hours ago, Deadpool said:

Most employers hiring articling students now and throughout the year will be clinics and smaller firms. Most of them will not be corporate-oriented either, so it will be difficult to show a demonstrated interest if you have all M&A, corporate, and trust courses and this is all you want to do. 

Yeah, this.

I'd encourage you to consider that the sort of work you are expressing an interest in just isn't the sort of work any employer is going to have for you to do, in the marketplace you are looking at post big firm recruitment. And no, you aren't likely to get a job at this point at any firm that hires during OCIs, unless something really strange happens. I'd encourage you to ask this question - what exactly drew you to M&A, corporate finance, etc. in the first place? Be honest. If it's just "I like money and working with things that concern large amounts of money" then stay that. This isn't about judgment - it's about obtaining practical information to guide your decision-making. Because the next question will be "how do those interests translate, potentially, into other areas of practice?"

You can do that on your own, of course. But feel free to bring the information back here too, if you like. You may find some suggestions you hadn't considered. But you probably want to start expanding your areas of stated interest. Because you aren't going to find boutiques that have a substantial practice in M&A or corporate finance. That's just the reality.

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I'm not familiar with the recruit this late the game, but OP may get lucky with some late in the game in-house departments, banks, etc?

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57 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'm not familiar with the recruit this late the game, but OP may get lucky with some late in the game in-house departments, banks, etc?

For sure, I know people who got these midway through 3L

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You could also apply for the articling recruit next year. Not sure how successful you'd be, but technically there's nothing stopping you.

IMO, while large firms may be unlikely at this point, there seem to be a lot of small/mid/in house positions that crop up over the year. While not huge M&A/corporate finance, there are still lots of smaller firms in Vancouver that do solicitor work and would be worth investigating. Even if it isn't you dream articling job, these could be gateways to more ideal positions in the future. Just a thought.

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3 hours ago, Diplock said:

Yeah, this.

I'd encourage you to consider that the sort of work you are expressing an interest in just isn't the sort of work any employer is going to have for you to do, in the marketplace you are looking at post big firm recruitment. And no, you aren't likely to get a job at this point at any firm that hires during OCIs, unless something really strange happens. I'd encourage you to ask this question - what exactly drew you to M&A, corporate finance, etc. in the first place? Be honest. If it's just "I like money and working with things that concern large amounts of money" then stay that. This isn't about judgment - it's about obtaining practical information to guide your decision-making. Because the next question will be "how do those interests translate, potentially, into other areas of practice?"

You can do that on your own, of course. But feel free to bring the information back here too, if you like. You may find some suggestions you hadn't considered. But you probably want to start expanding your areas of stated interest. Because you aren't going to find boutiques that have a substantial practice in M&A or corporate finance. That's just the reality.

Thank you for the advice Diplock. I came from an Economics/Finance background and have some knowledge in capital markets and investment analysis (valuation models and some of the banker side of work), that's why I'm naturally more interested in corporate finance and M&A, as I imagine that clients would appreciate it that I speak their language and also it'll be easier for me to understand the work better. Also because I found that I tend to do better in courses in these areas, due to the same reason I suppose. I hope I could do the work I'm good at and I have an interest in, and feel a bit reluctant to force myself into another area that might give me a job but I don't really like. But I do understand that hopes and realities are completely two different things lol. Thanks for the advice!

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1 hour ago, Disputes said:

For sure, I know people who got these midway through 3L

 

2 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'm not familiar with the recruit this late the game, but OP may get lucky with some late in the game in-house departments, banks, etc?

Thank you guys both for the inputs! That's an interesting idea pzabbythesecond, I've actually never thought about it. Disputes, could you please share more info about how this individual found these opportunities? are these posted jobs? when do the opportunities usually come up?

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1 hour ago, spicyfoodftw said:

You could also apply for the articling recruit next year. Not sure how successful you'd be, but technically there's nothing stopping you.

IMO, while large firms may be unlikely at this point, there seem to be a lot of small/mid/in house positions that crop up over the year. While not huge M&A/corporate finance, there are still lots of smaller firms in Vancouver that do solicitor work and would be worth investigating. Even if it isn't you dream articling job, these could be gateways to more ideal positions in the future. Just a thought.

Thank you, spicyfoodftw, I will definitely keep investigating.

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3 minutes ago, arandomstudent said:

Thank you for the advice Diplock. I came from an Economics/Finance background and have some knowledge in capital markets and investment analysis (valuation models and some of the banker side of work), that's why I'm naturally more interested in corporate finance and M&A, as I imagine that clients would appreciate it that I speak their language and also it'll be easier for me to understand the work better. Also because I found that I tend to do better in courses in these areas, due to the same reason I suppose. I hope I could do the work I'm good at and I have an interest in, and feel a bit reluctant to force myself into another area that might give me a job but I don't really like. But I do understand that hopes and realities are completely two different things lol. Thanks for the advice!

You know, so far most of what you just said is "I have a background in this, and so I figured it would be saleable." That's not at all irrational, but also not required. Most lawyers end up doing things they had no background in prior to law school.

How about some other, related questions. And maybe this question comes from my bias that I really can't understand anyone being genuinely fascinated with the paperwork involved in M&A. What sorts of people do you enjoy working with? Do you prefer helping individuals with their personal matters, or do you prefer to interact with officers and agents on behalf of entities? Do you imagine solicitor-type work (largely done at a desk in your own office) or litigation (often in court)?

Those are just early questions. Probably more will occur. My point is, I don't want you to feel backed into a corner where someone is saying "time to give up on your dreams!"  I have a hard time even wrapping my mind around big firm practice. It's so alien and unappealing to me. But I do know that when you isolate the things you actually enjoy and care about from the atmosphere and chafe around them, you're likely to find options outside of big firm practice that check a lot of the same boxes.

Anyway, hope that's some help.

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3 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'm not familiar with the recruit this late the game, but OP may get lucky with some late in the game in-house departments, banks, etc?

I just wanted to say that the OP is not "late in the game".  He or she just started their third year - they have 8 or more months to look.

Look, the formal hire process is over, and those jobs are out of reach.  But I bet you almost half of all articles are not arranged through the formal hiring process.  It's not late in the game at all - the second half has just started.

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3 minutes ago, Malicious Prosecutor said:

I just wanted to say that the OP is not "late in the game".  He or she just started their third year - they have 8 or more months to look.

Look, the formal hire process is over, and those jobs are out of reach.  But I bet you almost half of all articles are not arranged through the formal hiring process.  It's not late in the game at all - the second half has just started.

I'm sorry, yes you're totally right. I can see how it reads like that and that wasn't my intention at all. Sorry OP.

I just meant I don't have familiarity with this stage/what is out there, since I'm in my final year myself (and not searching anymore).

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11 minutes ago, Diplock said:

You know, so far most of what you just said is "I have a background in this, and so I figured it would be saleable." That's not at all irrational, but also not required. Most lawyers end up doing things they had no background in prior to law school.

How about some other, related questions. And maybe this question comes from my bias that I really can't understand anyone being genuinely fascinated with the paperwork involved in M&A. What sorts of people do you enjoy working with? Do you prefer helping individuals with their personal matters, or do you prefer to interact with officers and agents on behalf of entities? Do you imagine solicitor-type work (largely done at a desk in your own office) or litigation (often in court)?

Those are just early questions. Probably more will occur. My point is, I don't want you to feel backed into a corner where someone is saying "time to give up on your dreams!"  I have a hard time even wrapping my mind around big firm practice. It's so alien and unappealing to me. But I do know that when you isolate the things you actually enjoy and care about from the atmosphere and chafe around them, you're likely to find options outside of big firm practice that check a lot of the same boxes.

Anyway, hope that's some help.

That’s very helpful, and too be honest, I enjoy talking to people from boutique practices a lot more and the only reason why I kind of focused on big law is the fact that most corporate firms are big law. I’ve definitely enjoyed solicitor work more and I guess I’m interested in helping people achieving something (making a deal happen, setting up tax efficient estates). I agree that I have been focusing on certain areas and I will take your advice and keep my eyes open to different areas. Thanks again!

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7 minutes ago, Malicious Prosecutor said:

I just wanted to say that the OP is not "late in the game".  He or she just started their third year - they have 8 or more months to look.

Look, the formal hire process is over, and those jobs are out of reach.  But I bet you almost half of all articles are not arranged through the formal hiring process.  It's not late in the game at all - the second half has just started.

 

3 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'm sorry, yes you're totally right. I can see how it reads like that and that wasn't my intention at all. Sorry OP.

I just meant I don't have familiarity with this stage/what is out there, since I'm in my final year myself (and not searching anymore).

Thank you for the encouragement Malicious! And no worries pzabbythesecond, it’s totally fine :)

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29 minutes ago, arandomstudent said:

Disputes, could you please share more info about how this individual found these opportunities? 

Your school should be posting these jobs throughout the year...otherwise it's up to you - just keep looking online via various job sites. Not going to say more for anonymity reasons but I think they applied for the job via the school.

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Just now, Disputes said:

Your school should be posting these jobs throughout the year...otherwise it's up to you - just keep looking online via various job sites. Not going to say more for anonymity reasons but I think they applied for the job via the school.

Absolutely, thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it!

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There are a lot more boutiques and smaller firms working on "M&A" write large and corporate finance (in the broadest of senses) that you might think. Take a look around and do some additional searching - there are a bunch that don't recruit through the traditional rigid channels, as far as I can tell.

If you're looking to work on large public capital markets transactions, those are few and far between outside of the big firms, some of whom might have articling openings if you reach out - once you're passed the formal recruit cycle, it doesn't hurt to try, though I wouldn't approach every single one. But if you're willing to do M&A writ large (again, largely not public M&A, but the myriad types of private M&A that occur constantly without anyone paying attention), smaller firms do that kind of work all the time.

Once you're outside the formal recruit, you have to do a bit more proactive searching and digging because the process isn't spoon fed, but likewise, there are way more law firms out there doing certain types of work that anyone truly appreciates. I work in a big firm and constantly come across firms doing work that I do that I've never heard of, which means that work does exist in some fashion at smaller and mid-size shops.

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5 hours ago, Rashabon said:

There are a lot more boutiques and smaller firms working on "M&A" write large and corporate finance (in the broadest of senses) that you might think. Take a look around and do some additional searching - there are a bunch that don't recruit through the traditional rigid channels, as far as I can tell.

If you're looking to work on large public capital markets transactions, those are few and far between outside of the big firms, some of whom might have articling openings if you reach out - once you're passed the formal recruit cycle, it doesn't hurt to try, though I wouldn't approach every single one. But if you're willing to do M&A writ large (again, largely not public M&A, but the myriad types of private M&A that occur constantly without anyone paying attention), smaller firms do that kind of work all the time.

Once you're outside the formal recruit, you have to do a bit more proactive searching and digging because the process isn't spoon fed, but likewise, there are way more law firms out there doing certain types of work that anyone truly appreciates. I work in a big firm and constantly come across firms doing work that I do that I've never heard of, which means that work does exist in some fashion at smaller and mid-size shops.

Yep, a friend has a tiny shop outside of a city centre doing primarily real estate and smaller transactions (with some employment and wills from time to time). They’re out there doing it. 

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Plenty of small and mid-sized firms have business law practice groups. Without knowing much of anything about M&A, maybe civil/commercial litigation might be up your alley compared to more transactional work. There could be other alternatives that you might like. My practice is about 40/20/40 litigation, advisory, and transactional work for municipalities/developers in municipal and planning law. I enjoy it much more than pure transactional work I did summering at a private equity firm, even though the deals were in the millions (or billions), because the work is very dry. If you work government, you would probably get the opportunity to write policies or other laws.

Big firms occasionally advertise few and far between positions during 3L, but I wouldn't count on it. But, there are plenty of 30-80 lawyer firms that hire during this time. 

Funny enough I just had a conversation with a colleague who mostly does condominium law about trusts. As far as he could tell, there really is no way to just do trusts, outside just occasionally seeing one as part of your usual practice. Good luck!

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