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thebadwife

Q from 1L: Can you do corporate work outside of Big Law?

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I'm not sure which forum section to post under, but I am just a 1L so thought I'd post here. Also apologies in advance for the super ignorant question!

I'm curious to know if you need to work in big law to be a business/contract/transactional (not sure the exact term) lawyer? Contracts & property are what interest me the most (I don't really have an interest in crim/public interest etc.), but I am also nervous of the whole big law route (OCIs/grade expectations/competitive work environment). I haven't actually gotten any marks yet, but I want to have a back up plan/idea of my options in an area that interests me just in case I don't make the cut for big law!

I am interested in the Vancouver market if that makes a difference. 

 

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Well I can't speak specifically to Vancouver, but generally of course you can do corporate work outside of Biglaw. I mean, Biglaw accounts for a fraction of the entire legal market. The majority of legal work happens outside of Biglaw.

What you generally won't get outside of it is working on huge transactions with multimillion dollar companies and seven/eight/nine figure deals. But smaller transactions (which can still be quite large) are handled by small firms all the time, and you'd regularly do all of the solicitor stuff a big firm would do for its huge clients, like drafting agreements, incorporating companies, doing purchases and sales of businesses, or any number of other things.

So I wouldn't think that Biglaw is the only way to do corporate/commercial work. It totally is not. It's certainly going to be a different flavour of corporate/commercial practice, but the work will be very similar.

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In Vancouver the conveyancing of a house is a seven figure deal - so if we are calling that a "bigger" deal - I would say small firms do almost all of them.

It really doesn't take much to make a company a multi-million dollar company.  

But I agree as to the eight and nine figure deals.

I started at a large firm and now am in a small one.  The deals are the same - just the scale and the number of people working on them is smaller.  The vast majority of my work is for companies with 10 or less million in assets, less than 50 employees - but not always.

Contracts are contracts, accountants are accountants, security is security.

I would say - try to get a job at one of the big firms.  Why not?  If it works great, if it doesn't you will probably get some great training, meet some great connections and get to do all the minute book review you could ever want (do people still do minute book review or is it an app now?)

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Ryn said:

So I wouldn't think that Biglaw is the only way to do corporate/commercial work. It totally is not. It's certainly going to be a different flavour of corporate/commercial practice, but the work will be very similar.

 

15 minutes ago, Rumpy said:

I would say - try to get a job at one of the big firms.  Why not?  If it works great, if it doesn't you will probably get some great training, meet some great connections and get to do all the minute book review you could ever want (do people still do minute book review or is it an app now?)

Thank you! Another question: How hard is it to get a job at a firm for corporate/commercial work not through OCIs? I know I am probably getting ahead of myself a bit, but I don't want to bank on something like OCIs since they really aren't a guarantee. Even though I'm only two months in, I am really worried about not scoring high enough on the curve looking at how bright my classmates are!

Do you have any tips for non-conventional ways of getting 2L summers?

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3 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

 

Thank you! Another question: How hard is it to get a job at a firm for corporate/commercial work not through OCIs? I know I am probably getting ahead of myself a bit, but I don't want to bank on something like OCIs since they really aren't a guarantee. Even though I'm only two months in, I am really worried about not scoring high enough on the curve looking at how bright my classmates are!

Do you have any tips for non-conventional ways of getting 2L summers?

This I can't help with since I got my job through OCIs. I am sure others will chime in with better advice, but I can say that your career development office will certainly have job postings throughout the year that aren't OCI firms but are either small full-service or corporate/commercial firms. I am sure they can also give you a list of other resources you can access (like recruitment websites) that will have listings for firms looking for students. Finally, there's just plain networking. Reaching out to small corporate firms and sending them your resume on the chance that they're looking to hire a student is something that does work. A few outcomes can happen from this: (1) they aren't looking, and don't plan on hiring anyone, so sorry; (2) they are looking or will be soon, so it's great they have your resume to consider; (3) they aren't looking but know someone who is and they pass your resume on to them. So in any event engaging with firms that interest you is helpful.

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As Ryn commented, sure you can. I work at a small firm and we do corporate work. It's just a different style compared to big law. I work at a very small firm (we're really more like a quartet).

The main things we do are:

1. Interview the client and find out what they want and if there are any special considerations. For example, if they are a member of a professional body like the college of surgeons, then certain regulations need to be complied with. We also decide what the share structure should be (who gets what types of shares).

2. Take the corporate precedents (articles, notice of articles, securities registry, etc.) and insert the client's information into it. Then we adjust the precedents for any special considerations.

3. Usually, we store the corporate records for the client. This entails certain responsibilities. For example, if someone wants to inspect the books (usually CRA) then we need to contact the client and let them know. We also will be served if someone is suing the corporation.

4. Alter the corporation's structure from time to time. We frequently amalgamate companies, issue new shares, appoint or remove directors, and so on.

5. File annual reports for the corporation in exchange for a flat fee.

We do sales and leases of commercial property from time to time.

Big Law corporate work has more to do with the world of high finance, involves public corporations and securities law, and will generally be a lot more involved. The people you deal with tend to be high net worth. 

Our version of corporate law mostly involves ordinary people running a small business or looking for a holding company to hold different types of assets.A lot of people we get are contractors who are required to have a corporation in order to be hired by certain companies (oil patch companies, major construction companies).

On 10/22/2019 at 5:33 PM, thebadwife said:

Thank you! Another question: How hard is it to get a job at a firm for corporate/commercial work not through OCIs? I know I am probably getting ahead of myself a bit, but I don't want to bank on something like OCIs since they really aren't a guarantee. Even though I'm only two months in, I am really worried about not scoring high enough on the curve looking at how bright my classmates are!

Do you have any tips for non-conventional ways of getting 2L summers?

In general, difficult. There are a lot of exhausted litigators who go into solicitor work. They are senior lawyers, and may or may not want an articling student. They usually will not want a summer student. You will need to pound the pavement, but I wouldn't limit yourself to looking in just one area for a summer job or articling. A job is always better than no job, and you can switch areas later when you are more experienced.

I got my 2L summer job by emailing firms until one responded. It was located in my hometown. Then I phoned them and sold myself. I'm not gonna lie: I shamelessly exaggerated my interest in working there (they were a shady, unpleasant firm and I knew it). But I got the job, got the experience, and got a different job while I was working there. This is not necessarily something you should imitate! For a variety of reasons, this worked for me and there were no burned bridges (I was very polite about it), but be cautious about taking a job you really don't want.

I got my articling position because it was in the same town as my summer, I could easily sell myself as a candidate who was nearby, and had a touch of experience. Small firms are usually looking for someone who "fits" (is likeable), is easy to hire (they don't have spare resources), and is business orientated.

Hope that helps! Good luck.

Edited by ZappBranniganAgain
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On 10/25/2019 at 10:14 AM, ZappBranniganAgain said:

 

I got my 2L summer job by emailing firms until one responded. It was located in my hometown. Then I phoned them and sold myself. I'm not gonna lie: I shamelessly exaggerated my interest in working there (they were a shady, unpleasant firm and I knew it). But I got the job, got the experience, and got a different job while I was working there. This is not necessarily something you should imitate! For a variety of reasons, this worked for me and there were no burned bridges (I was very polite about it), but be cautious about taking a job you really don't want.

Very interested in learning how you knew the firm was shady and unpleasant before starting to work there. Disciplinary complaints? Rumours from third-parties? 

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On 10/26/2019 at 6:32 PM, BabyRhinoRainbow said:

Very interested in learning how you knew the firm was shady and unpleasant before starting to work there. Disciplinary complaints? Rumours from third-parties? 

I had met someone who worked for them previously and heard that the head lawyer and his two main associates were extremely difficult and indifferent to their juniors. The firm had a high turnover rate.

Once i got there, it turned out to be even worse than I had heard. I don't want to go into the details too much in order to avoid identifying the firm, but there was some serious misrepresentation and negligence going on that has recently come to the attention of the law society. I was glad to get out.

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