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lawstudentmikescott

How does a lawyering career work?

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Hey everyone! 1L here.

I know I just started and all, but I want to understand how the career aspect of lawyering works. 

I am getting a lot of anxiety in regards to knowing where I am going with law school. The debt is really hitting me and making me worry. I will try to keep this short and to the point. I apologize if these questions come across as dumb. They are likely super ignorant, I know your time is valuable and I honestly appreciate any insight you can provide. 

I wanted to go to law school with the idea to help people with the law. People like regular folk. I was interested in family law (helping people with their familial relationships through the application of the law...helping people in distress, etc.)

1) I spoke to older students and they indicated opportunities in family law are limited, esp. with OCIs. Further, it became apparent that those Toronto firms/big firms that do specialize in family law don't hire too often/a lot. Is this true?

2a)  I really like Tort law, I have taken a course regarding it in my undergrad too. I always liked personal injury law. However, I remember talking about it at one of the socials and I felt like people would shutdown the conversation quick. I understand that it has a bad rep, but I am sure some clients do really need help. Is personal injury lucrative/are there opportunities? I know there are some PI firms on Bay. 

2b) I read about insurance defence, is this in the scope of personal injury and tort law? Would this be considered as "corporate law"? It sounds interesting. 

3) What is corporate/business law? I understand its law pertaining to corporate/business needs. But when people tell me they want to go into corporate and/or business law, what kind of law do they want to practice? Is it just that they want to be legal counsel for a corporation/business?

I don't think merging businesses will bring me joy. Is there more to it?

 To answer this, I reached out to some older students. They indicated that most corporate law firms are full service, where they offer legal services to a wide variety of cases. So, if a lawyer were to work/apply there, would they be expected to be well rounded in regards to the type of law they specialize in? 

If I wanted to pursue a legal career with a specialization/interest in tort law, do I have a place in a corporate law firm? I hope you can see my confusion. 

4) I have people telling me they want to do litigation. I know what that is, but what is that in the sense of a career? Do firms explicitly hire litigators? I thought a lawyer once called are litigators and solicitors. Are litigators people that only do litigation? And if so, do they have a certain type of law the specialize in or is it mixed (I think you can see my confusion lies somewhere with the idea of specializing)? I am assuming they need to be hired at a firm that has good amount of litigation cases. 

Lastly, is it the case that a law student will find a type of law they want to practice, and apply to a firm that specializes in that type of law? Or is it more complicated than that? 

I hope these are all appropriate questions. Feel free to be as blunt as possible, any advice would be great. 

Thank you so much! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Large firms may offer a wide range of general services. Individual lawyers in those situations will often be hyper-specialized, and know everything there is to know about one very specific section of that area. This level of expertise is a way to justify high bills - you have someone in the office who lives and breathes that particular clause. 

 

If you want to be a 'well-rounded lawyer', you'd be more likely to be at the other end of the spectrum, where a sole practicioner in a small city might help people with a variety of legal problems, not knowing the details to the exactitude of the specialist, but being competent in several different areas, such as family/property/wills. 

 

Family is certainly not an area that is limited - it's one of the ones you can be confident will exist in every community across the country. Now, whether there's enough work in that to sustain a practice is another question (see: general practice). I can't imagine, although have never bothered to research so could be completely up the wall on this, that there are many large firms doing OCI recruits with substantial family practices. 

 

This seems a good time to mention, it doesn't seem clear what type of work you want to be doing. Governments and large firms hire through the On Campus Interview process, and a lot of careers officer time is spent on them, and they're certainly often a way to pay off debt quickly, but they're only one part of legal employment. Do you want to work in a glass tower in a major city? If so, that will necessarily limit your scope to that sort of employer. If you don't, OCIs could be a much smaller part of your world. 

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It’s understandable to want to map your career out and feel like you have a plan and are in control but as much as possible try not to feel like you need to do this right now. You’ll hear a lot of people who talk like they have it all figured out but they don’t and are just trying to calm themselves down by convincing others they have it figured out. 

Just do your best in your classes and each day you’ll learn more about different practice areas and opportunities that may interest you. You’ll have 350 different career plans by the time you graduate and none of them will actually happen. I didn’t take a single class or participate in a single clinic in all of law school that’s relevant to what I do now. I don’t even practice Canadian law at all. 

Just do your best in classes and forget the rest, at least until the end of 1L. Everybody who is convincing themselves (by trying to convince you) that they’ve put themselves on the path by joining some clinic or connecting with some professor or lawyer or whatever is wrong and you don’t need to worry about it. 

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On 9/20/2019 at 10:02 PM, lawstudentmikescott said:

1) I spoke to older students and they indicated opportunities in family law are limited, esp. with OCIs. Further, it became apparent that those Toronto firms/big firms that do specialize in family law don't hire too often/a lot. Is this true?

Family law is normally practiced in a small firm setting and most small firms don't attend OCIs. There are many opportunities for family LAWYERS, but articling positions can be elusive. Many family practitioners don't want an articling student. Still, if you pound the pavement you might find something.

Make sure you get experience dealing with family law through a legal clinic or something similar. It's a head trip and only a small group of people are really suited for it.

On 9/20/2019 at 10:02 PM, lawstudentmikescott said:

2a)  I really like Tort law, I have taken a course regarding it in my undergrad too. I always liked personal injury law. However, I remember talking about it at one of the socials and I felt like people would shutdown the conversation quick. I understand that it has a bad rep, but I am sure some clients do really need help. Is personal injury lucrative/are there opportunities? I know there are some PI firms on Bay. 

Personal injury tends to involve high volume business where you take large numbers of contingency fee claims in the hopes of hitting a pay out. It's kind of grimy because a traumatic brain injury is like a jackpot, so that's probably why people tend to not talk about it. Still, it's a service and it's possible to practice ethically. Again, you're probably not going big law on that route.

Keep in mind that what you're studying in your Torts class is about the foundations of the law of negligence. It has little to do with actually chasing down people who rear-ended your client and trying to enforce a judgement against them.

On 9/20/2019 at 10:02 PM, lawstudentmikescott said:

2b) I read about insurance defence, is this in the scope of personal injury and tort law? Would this be considered as "corporate law"? It sounds interesting. 

Insurance defence is what you would more likely be doing in a big law setting, but not necessarily. When people get in a motor vehicle accident, for example, the respective insurance companies assume the legal rights and obligations of their insured (unless they deny coverage!). What you would be doing is taking a contract with the insurance company to defend the insured against the claim if coverage is accepted. 

This is not corporate law. It is an aspect of personal injury law.

On 9/20/2019 at 10:02 PM, lawstudentmikescott said:

3) What is corporate/business law? I understand its law pertaining to corporate/business needs. But when people tell me they want to go into corporate and/or business law, what kind of law do they want to practice? Is it just that they want to be legal counsel for a corporation/business?

I don't think merging businesses will bring me joy. Is there more to it?

 To answer this, I reached out to some older students. They indicated that most corporate law firms are full service, where they offer legal services to a wide variety of cases. So, if a lawyer were to work/apply there, would they be expected to be well rounded in regards to the type of law they specialize in? 

If I wanted to pursue a legal career with a specialization/interest in tort law, do I have a place in a corporate law firm? I hope you can see my confusion. 

It varies. I work in a small firm. Most of the corporate law that I do involves incorporating private corporations for individuals to run their businesses through or to hold investments. I hold their records and file their annual reports. I also amalgamate or alter the corporations' structure over time.

In a big law setting, it tends to be a lot more convoluted and involve high end financial maneuvers. The law is the same, but the players are very different. That's pretty much all I know about the big law version of corporate law (and it may be wrong!).

Will it bring you joy? I seriously doubt it. It pays the bills so I like it, but it's not what you do to fulfill the exhortations of your soul.

When you say "full service" I assume you're referring to a large firm.  They tend to have departments that handle different areas, one of which would be corporate.

Also, just so you know, although the two tend to be lumped together, business law usually refers more to commercial transactions, while corporate law refers to the structure of corporate entities, as well as (confusingly) partnerships and sole proprietorships.

On 9/20/2019 at 10:02 PM, lawstudentmikescott said:

4) I have people telling me they want to do litigation. I know what that is, but what is that in the sense of a career? Do firms explicitly hire litigators? I thought a lawyer once called are litigators and solicitors. Are litigators people that only do litigation? And if so, do they have a certain type of law the specialize in or is it mixed (I think you can see my confusion lies somewhere with the idea of specializing)? I am assuming they need to be hired at a firm that has good amount of litigation cases. 

Lastly, is it the case that a law student will find a type of law they want to practice, and apply to a firm that specializes in that type of law? Or is it more complicated than that? 

OK, last question! Barristers/litigators go to court, and solicitors stay in the office and draft documents. It's not a hard and fast distinction like it used to be, but it still exists. I mostly do solicitor work revolving around wills and estates, so sitting around drafting wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Sometimes I take family law cases, so that would be the litigation side of my practice since it involves actually appearing in front of judge and trying not to embarrass myself/my client/innocent bystanders.

It's a good idea to find an area you're interested in. Don't just go to an interview and say you "love the law". Have an interest. Get involved with clinics, participate in a moot, take a variety of classes. Go to court and watch! What goes on in court is very, very, very different from sitting in class and reading cases. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.

Once you find something you're interested in, use it as a springboard to meet practitioners in the area and apply for jobs. Hopefully, you'll find an summer or position in the area. That being said, you may or may not enjoy the area once you work in it full time. Many people end up switching practice areas after articling. I thought I was going to do family law full time, but I summered at a family law firm and was totally overwhelmed, so I switched to wills and I love it.

Phew, that was a lot. Hopefully that helps. The legal world is a complex one, and it can be daunting if you don't come from a lawyer family. Work hard and do your research. Don't apply to things just because people say you should, but don't be so picky that you end up unemployed. You'll make it.

Good luck!

 

Edited by ZappBranniganAgain
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7 hours ago, ZappBranniganAgain said:

Family law is normally practiced in a small firm setting and most small firms don't attend OCIs. There are many opportunities for family LAWYERS, but articling positions can be elusive. Many family practitioners don't want an articling student. Still, if you pound the pavement you might find something.

Make sure you get experience dealing with family law through a legal clinic or something similar. It's a head trip and only a small group of people are really suited for it.

Personal injury tends to involve high volume business where you take large numbers of contingency fee claims in the hopes of hitting a pay out. It's kind of grimy because a traumatic brain injury is like a jackpot, so that's probably why people tend to not talk about it. Still, it's a service and it's possible to practice ethically. Again, you're probably not going big law on that route.

Keep in mind that what you're studying in your Torts class is about the foundations of the law of negligence. It has little to do with actually chasing down people who rear-ended your client and trying to enforce a judgement against them.

Insurance defence is what you would more likely be doing in a big law setting, but not necessarily. When people get in a motor vehicle accident, for example, the respective insurance companies assume the legal rights and obligations of their insured (unless they deny coverage!). What you would be doing is taking a contract with the insurance company to defend the insured against the claim if coverage is accepted. 

This is not corporate law. It is an aspect of personal injury law.

It varies. I work in a small firm. Most of the corporate law that I do involves incorporating private corporations for individuals to run their businesses through or to hold investments. I hold their records and file their annual reports. I also amalgamate or alter the corporations' structure over time.

In a big law setting, it tends to be a lot more convoluted and involve high end financial maneuvers. The law is the same, but the players are very different. That's pretty much all I know about the big law version of corporate law (and it may be wrong!).

Will it bring you joy? I seriously doubt it. It pays the bills so I like it, but it's not what you do to fulfill the exhortations of your soul.

When you say "full service" I assume you're referring to a large firm.  They tend to have departments that handle different areas, one of which would be corporate.

Also, just so you know, although the two tend to be lumped together, business law usually refers more to commercial transactions, while corporate law refers to the structure of corporate entities, as well as (confusingly) partnerships and sole proprietorships.

OK, last question! Barristers/litigators go to court, and solicitors stay in the office and draft documents. It's not a hard and fast distinction like it used to be, but it still exists. I mostly do solicitor work revolving around wills and estates, so sitting around drafting wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Sometimes I take family law cases, so that would be the litigation side of my practice since it involves actually appearing in front of judge and trying not to embarrass myself/my client/innocent bystanders.

It's a good idea to find an area you're interested in. Don't just go to an interview and say you "love the law". Have an interest. Get involved with clinics, participate in a moot, take a variety of classes. Go to court and watch! What goes on in court is very, very, very different from sitting in class and reading cases. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.

Once you find something you're interested in, use it as a springboard to meet practitioners in the area and apply for jobs. Hopefully, you'll find an summer or position in the area. That being said, you may or may not enjoy the area once you work in it full time. Many people end up switching practice areas after articling. I thought I was going to do family law full time, but I summered at a family law firm and was totally overwhelmed, so I switched to wills and I love it.

Phew, that was a lot. Hopefully that helps. The legal world is a complex one, and it can be daunting if you don't come from a lawyer family. Work hard and do your research. Don't apply to things just because people say you should, but don't be so picky that you end up unemployed. You'll make it.

Good luck!

 

This was amazing. I appreciate all of this so much. It really clarified a lot. I am grateful for your time! thanks again!

however, when thinking insurance defence I thought that involved working for insurance companies to reduce payout to individuals making insurance claims (i.e. fraudulent claims). Again, people think this is grimy (because those individuals that truly suffer are being screwed to some extent), but at the same time I can imagine the work and application and analysis of the law to be interesting. 

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On 9/21/2019 at 1:02 AM, lawstudentmikescott said:

I don't think merging businesses will bring me joy. Is there more to it?

@Uriel in:

 

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5 hours ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

This was amazing. I appreciate all of this so much. It really clarified a lot. I am grateful for your time! thanks again!

however, when thinking insurance defence I thought that involved working for insurance companies to reduce payout to individuals making insurance claims (i.e. fraudulent claims). Again, people think this is grimy (because those individuals that truly suffer are being screwed to some extent), but at the same time I can imagine the work and application and analysis of the law to be interesting. 

As a general rule, don't make your career choices based on what strangers think about it. You can find a subset of people who think that insurance defence, insurance plaintiff, Crown work, criminal defence, and corporate are grimy; jointly and severally.

I know a fair number of people in insurance defence and they are perfectly fine people who find satisfaction in their work (especially when a claim is bullshit).

Edited by thegoodlaw
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This is your life and your career. You are the one making the investment in pursuing law. Why does your career choice then have to be dictated by anyone else? Why does it matter how someone else perceives corporate/commercial, insurance, personal injury, criminal, family, etc.? You are a lawyer at the end of the day, a position that carries a certain level of power, prestige and respect in everyday society.

Find what you want to do and run with it. 

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5 hours ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

This was amazing. I appreciate all of this so much. It really clarified a lot. I am grateful for your time! thanks again!

however, when thinking insurance defence I thought that involved working for insurance companies to reduce payout to individuals making insurance claims (i.e. fraudulent claims). Again, people think this is grimy (because those individuals that truly suffer are being screwed to some extent), but at the same time I can imagine the work and application and analysis of the law to be interesting. 

Just responding to the point on what an insurance defence practice actually is - what you describe (people working for an insurance company) aren't typically described as "insurance defence" lawyers, they work in-house for an insurance company (the title "claims counsel" would likely be the appropriate one for the type of job you're describing).

Insurance defence work is typically done by law firms, rather than insurance companies. Insurance companies will hire external lawyers to do work for them in two ways - they may hire coverage counsel (whose job is to assist them with coverage issues, including whether a particular claim is covered and to what extent), and they may hire defence counsel (whose job is to manage litigation on behalf of an insured that has been sued). Typically, different firms will be hired for these different roles - coverage counsel is generally insulated from defence counsel.

While this kind of work may be considered as a "flip side" to personal injury work (as suggested by @ZappBranniganAgain), this isn't necessarily so - consider all the different types of insurance claims that can be made outside the realm of personal injury (property damage, fraud, D&O liability...).

Depending on the firm, an "insurance defence" practice may extend beyond what I've described above. For example, I know lawyers who identify as "insurance defence lawyers" who also act on behalf of entities like municipalities, police forces, educational institutions - similar issues come up, and there's overlap in the manner of acting for such a large institutional client.

I agree with the comments people have been making about how to determine what interests you, but just thought I'd chime in to give some information.

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To me, the biggest knock against the OP's stated interest in insurance defence is that he (she?) started with an interest in working with people. I can imagine few areas of law where you are less likely to be working for real, individual clients (rather than institutional clients) than insurance defence. That's not a knock against it generally. But if you are motivated, as I am, to solve problems for real, individiual people who are counting on you, rather than just meeting business-related targets, this does't strike me as an area of law you're likely to find satisfying.

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3 minutes ago, Diplock said:

To me, the biggest knock against the OP's stated interest in insurance defence is that he (she?) started with an interest in working with people. I can imagine few areas of law where you are less likely to be working for real, individual clients (rather than institutional clients) than insurance defence. That's not a knock against it generally. But if you are motivated, as I am, to solve problems for real, individiual people who are counting on you, rather than just meeting business-related targets, this does't strike me as an area of law you're likely to find satisfying.

To be fair to OP, they didn't say how they want to be working with people. Insurance defence requires that you work with real people -- but not necessarily to their benefit.

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On 9/21/2019 at 1:02 AM, lawstudentmikescott said:

I wanted to go to law school with the idea to help people with the law. People like regular folk. I was interested in family law (helping people with their familial relationships through the application of the law...helping people in distress, etc.)

 

6 minutes ago, thegoodlaw said:

To be fair to OP, they didn't say how they want to be working with people. Insurance defence requires that you work with real people -- but not necessarily to their benefit.

I assume you're joking, but the above is what I was keying on. This is a topic I tend to take pretty seriously because I think it's overlooked so often, and to the extreme detriment of many people's satisfaction in legal practice. I'm not knocking folks who enjoy working with institutions. There are obvious benefits to that - not managing a host of unpredictable relationships, clearer measures of success, understandable hierarchy and predictable benefits to climbing it, etc. But to me, legal work is almost meaningless (and incredibly unmotivating) outside of the individual clients I'm trying to help. Even when my clients aren't particularly sympathetic, they are still real people at the mercy of a system they don't understand, and I'm motivated to help them.

Joking aside, this is a very important distinction to me. And the fact that the OP raised this unprompted, at the start, is the most interesting part of his introduction, from my perspective.

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27 minutes ago, barelylegal said:

Just responding to the point on what an insurance defence practice actually is - what you describe (people working for an insurance company) aren't typically described as "insurance defence" lawyers, they work in-house for an insurance company (the title "claims counsel" would likely be the appropriate one for the type of job you're describing).

Insurance defence work is typically done by law firms, rather than insurance companies. Insurance companies will hire external lawyers to do work for them in two ways - they may hire coverage counsel (whose job is to assist them with coverage issues, including whether a particular claim is covered and to what extent), and they may hire defence counsel (whose job is to manage litigation on behalf of an insured that has been sued). Typically, different firms will be hired for these different roles - coverage counsel is generally insulated from defence counsel.

While this kind of work may be considered as a "flip side" to personal injury work (as suggested by @ZappBranniganAgain), this isn't necessarily so - consider all the different types of insurance claims that can be made outside the realm of personal injury (property damage, fraud, D&O liability...).

Depending on the firm, an "insurance defence" practice may extend beyond what I've described above. For example, I know lawyers who identify as "insurance defence lawyers" who also act on behalf of entities like municipalities, police forces, educational institutions - similar issues come up, and there's overlap in the manner of acting for such a large institutional client.

I agree with the comments people have been making about how to determine what interests you, but just thought I'd chime in to give some information.

This is a better explanation than mine. I kind of see insurance defence lawyers as the reverse of personal injury lawyers, since I usually see them in court appearing against personal injury lawyers representing plaintiffs. As you say, there are many other aspects.

And then there are the in-house lawyers for the insurer itself, who tend to focus on defending the insurer's decision to deny coverage.

On a side note, there's actually an interesting related case going through the BCSC right now:

https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2019/2019bcsc485/2019bcsc485.html?resultIndex=1

I swear the facts of this case would make a great 80's detective show episode.

Edited by ZappBranniganAgain
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3 minutes ago, Diplock said:

 

I assume you're joking, but the above is what I was keying on. This is a topic I tend to take pretty seriously because I think it's overlooked so often, and to the extreme detriment of many people's satisfaction in legal practice. I'm not knocking folks who enjoy working with institutions. There are obvious benefits to that - not managing a host of unpredictable relationships, clearer measures of success, understandable hierarchy and predictable benefits to climbing it, etc. But to me, legal work is almost meaningless (and incredibly unmotivating) outside of the individual clients I'm trying to help. Even when my clients aren't particularly sympathetic, they are still real people at the mercy of a system they don't understand, and I'm motivated to help them.

Joking aside, this is a very important distinction to me. And the fact that the OP raised this unprompted, at the start, is the most interesting part of his introduction, from my perspective.

You’re absolutely right, that’s why I’m confused af. I want to help people, I applied with that intention. 

but as school commenced my peers made it their goal to work for corporate law, and no one that I’ve befriended seem to be interested in family for example (helping people in distress). And I know I shouldn’t be influenced by what people are saying, but then I spoke to some 3Ls and they stated that there’s no much opportunity  in family. So it is discouraging to hear that.

Further, I spoke to another older student and they said initially people that start law school want to get involved in social justice, but as years progress they switch to corporate. The reasoning being is that the debt and what not really takes a hit at you, and social justice gigs don’t pay that well. To this I’d say the real payout is the satisfaction of helping a person that really needed it and didn’t have the means to do it. 

But at the end of the day it would be nice to make a lot of money, pay off my debt, take care of the family, etc. That’s why I switched points and highlighted insurance defence as (I’d imagine) it would play to my interest of tort and PI, while paying well. You’re correct in saying this kind of work (to me at least) won’t give me the satisfaction of helping people.

I'm just confused, but I think I should just continue following the main reason why I applied to law school, and see what happens. 

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If I'm being honest, from what you've said in this thread it sounds like you're interested in plaintiff-side personal injury litigation because you like torts and you like helping people. And those are both perfectly fine reasons to go into plaintiff-side PI. 

I would just caution that, while you think today that you'll enjoy that kind of work, you may feel differently when you get into the trenches and deal with actual clients. I work in insurance defence (declaring my bias off the top here) and when asked why I don't want to do plaintiff-side work, my answer generally is that plaintiffs are either genuinely injured or they are not - and while I cannot imagine making a living writing sob stories for liars, I also cannot imagine taking a 33% cut off the top of a genuinely injured person's settlement to buy a new car or re-line my pool. Therefore, to defence work I go. 

I understand Diplock's position when he says that he can't imagine a less personal area of law than insurance defence, but I disagree.  In my job, I get to deploy resources. If I see a person who's genuinely injured, and we're liable (or are likely to be found mostly liable), I can recommend that we settle the file, and I can recommend the amount that we settle it for. I can genuinely help that person. If I see a file where the person is clearly a fraud, I can recommend that we go balls-to-the-wall defending it and I can personally take that person to trial to defend what my client and I feel is right. There's a lot of fulfillment in that for me, and much more than I would feel simply running a Plaintiff-side quantity practice and settling files for whatever I can get, as fast as I can. 

Hope that helps.

Edited by beyondsection17
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11 minutes ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

they stated that there’s no much opportunity  in family. So it is discouraging to hear that.

Further, I spoke to another older student and they said initially people that start law school want to get involved in social justice, but as years progress they switch to corporate. The reasoning being is that the debt and what not really takes a hit at you, and social justice gigs don’t pay that well. To this I’d say the real payout is the satisfaction of helping a person that really needed it and didn’t have the means to do it. 

I'd recommend reaching out to family lawyers, rather than upper year law students about this. Upper years tend to have about the same knowledge of legal practice as you do: almost none (give or take a summer of doing whatever at somewhere, plus or minus some anecdotal evidence, and a handful of networking events and interviews). It's true that family doesn't usually pay as well as someone doing commercial transactions -- institutional or individual clients doing commercial transactions typically have far more money to pay for legal services than those engaged in custody battles, divorce, division of property, etc. And certain kinds of files, e.g., child protection, where there's a lot of disclosure for a small-ish legal aid certificate, don't pay well. However, I don't think it's true that there's no opportunity in family. 

@artsydork?

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14 minutes ago, lawstudentmikescott said:

You’re absolutely right, that’s why I’m confused af. I want to help people, I applied with that intention. 

but as school commenced my peers made it their goal to work for corporate law, and no one that I’ve befriended seem to be interested in family for example (helping people in distress). And I know I shouldn’t be influenced by what people are saying, but then I spoke to some 3Ls and they stated that there’s no much opportunity  in family. So it is discouraging to hear that.

Further, I spoke to another older student and they said initially people that start law school want to get involved in social justice, but as years progress they switch to corporate. The reasoning being is that the debt and what not really takes a hit at you, and social justice gigs don’t pay that well. To this I’d say the real payout is the satisfaction of helping a person that really needed it and didn’t have the means to do it. 

But at the end of the day it would be nice to make a lot of money, pay off my debt, take care of the family, etc. That’s why I switched points and highlighted insurance defence as (I’d imagine) it would play to my interest of tort and PI, while paying well. You’re correct in saying this kind of work (to me at least) won’t give me the satisfaction of helping people.

I'm just confused, but I think I should just continue following the main reason why I applied to law school, and see what happens. 

3Ls don't know what the hell they are talking about. And I don't fault you for listening to them - they are apparently the best authority available to you at times. But in terms of the realities of legal practice, they don't know fuck all. And worse, they don't even know they don't know fuck all. Imagine the third and fourth year students in undergrad running the "pre-law" club. Now imagine the incoming first year students who are talking to the executives of the pre-law club and counting on what they say as authoritative advice regarding applying to law school. I hope you're shuddering, because I am. THAT'S YOU right now. You're listening to the fucking pre-law executives and counting on what they say to mean something.

I don't have much to add to my earlier points above. But to anyone telling you that you can't have a career in family law if that's what you want to do, they are irresponsible fucking idiots. And if they don't know the difference between "family law" and "social justice" (I don't know if that's their slippage or yours) they are also dumb. Everyone has family law issues - rich and poor alike. There are wealthy clients in this area of practice. And the notion that there's no money in serving these clients is ... well, I'm running out of different ways to say "dumb." Without telling you what you should do or what areas of law you should be interested in, I find it sad as hell that ostensibly intelligent students honestly imagine that (a) some areas of law don't exist or there are no opportunities in those areas of law, even though looking out their windows while they drive down a major street would demonstrate otherwise, and (b) that the only opportunities that exist are the ones being spoodfed to them by their CDO. As if looking for a job without a university official holding their hand every step of the way is somehow too great a challenge to navigate, such that jobs outside the OCI process become utterly impossible to access.

Anyway, I'm sure you get the point by now. Speaking as someone who found a job outside that process, found my way into an area of practice that's both satisfying and rewarding, and is doing very well at it right now ... I find it sad and ridiculous that students imagine what I do isn't possible. I know it's a gut check moment to pass up those OCIs at major firms and hold on for what you really want. But to me, it's also a screening mechanism. To be good at what I do, you have to want to do it. And if your priorities are so malleable that some know-nothing students, just a couple of years ahead of you, can disaude you from your ambitions ... well, maybe you should be doing something else after all. I say that not about "you" but in the general sense.

I do see some connection between "social justice" and "helping real people" as ambitions in law. They aren't the same thing, exactly, but they are at least more admirable (in my view) than "I hope to work for whatever corporation pays me the most money to challenge my brain." I admire students who enter law school with ambitions of helping the little guy. But I have no respect - absolutely no fucking respect at all - for those students who talk a good game about social justice and walk around mouthing off about Amal Clooney but then end up applying to all the big firms because there are "no jobs" available in what they want to do. What they are really saying is "I want to help people, as long as it isn't hard or inconvenient in any way." Between those fucking hypocrites, and someone who just says "show me money" I'll take the second kind of law student any day.

Anyway, you're asking the right questions. Keep doing that. And don't assume the students around you know better than you do. You're already closer to figuring this shit out than they ever will be.

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^This. If I'd managed to get any of the jobs I *thought* I wanted when I was a 1L/2L, I can now say as a near-certainty that I would have been absolutely miserable. My route was unnecessarily difficult and I shot myself in the foot several times, but I real do think that It pays off to (a) engage in introspection and consider what you really want to do (rather than what you merely think you should do or what others expect you to do); and (b) stick to your guns (though within reason, because it's nice to put food on the table and a roof over one's head).

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No opportunity in family law!? You don't need to be even competent and you'll get people phoning you for family law. My small jurisdiction could use 2-3 more family lawyers - SPs and small firms are actively looking for family lawyers here. There are a few postings in the GTA and greater Ottawa area.

The distinction is the type of firm that needs family lawyers. 3Ls don't realize that lawyers find jobs outside of organized recruitment. Family law isn't really practiced at the 50+ lawyer firm. Most of family law is done by SPs or the small firm. This is generally true for even high networth clients. There are some exceptions - Cohen Highley in London, ON, comes to mind. But yeah, plenty of opportunities for family lawyers. You just don't see postings for articles as large shop firms don't generally offer rotations as they have like 2 lawyers in it, or it's a small firm that doesn't advertise.

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