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ABguy

Bringing in Work / Importance of "College" Network

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Hello all, first off I am not a lawyer nor law student (yet) so apologies if this is in the wrong subforum but I figured its the best place to ask. 

This may come off incredibly douchey but I'm quite simply looking for some advice from those further along in the careers. For a little bit of background about me, I'm lucky enough to come from an upper-middle class "legal family" in that many of my family members are or were lawyers/justices/etc. This means that I have a ton of connections (some close enough that I've been told I could work at their firm(s), some more distant) in the legal community in my hometown (Calgary) and more broadly in Edmonton and Vancouver. Also, a bunch of people I've become friends with from sports and throughout college (think good friends for 5-10+ years) are incredibly wealthy and well-connected (think between $10-100mm family net worth, with a couple probably exceeding $500mm). 

Now, my immediate thinking is that these relationships essentially mean jack shit for bringing in work in the business world ~5-10 years down the road, but I'm curious if anyone else has experience to the contrary. I simply ask because I'm considering making the move to Ontario or even the USA for law school / life (personal reasons) but fear I'd be losing potential clientele in the future given that these guys are almost all entirely based in Alberta. Thoughts? 

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Wealthy people stay wealthy by making deals with other wealthy people. Your network of individuals, whom I imagine wear a sweater over their shoulders and carry a tennis racket over their shoulder whenever they leave the house, will likely be valuable in your career. However, I wouldn't bet my career, happiness, or geography on it. 

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10 minutes ago, setto said:

Wealthy people stay wealthy by making deals with other wealthy people. Your network of individuals, whom I imagine wear a sweater over their shoulders and carry a tennis racket over their shoulder whenever they leave the house, will likely be valuable in your career. However, I wouldn't bet my career, happiness, or geography on it. 

While I resent your quip I appreciate the advice. Rich dudes in AB mostly just golf in my experience though 😉

Edited by ABguy

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Would these connections assist you in some way if you were to stay out West? Maybe. It's up to you to decide if that's sufficiently valuable to out-prioritize your desire to move.

Although, these relationships might not matter as much as you seem to think they do. I should know; I'm best friends with Bill Gates ($100b+ net worth).

Edited by TdK

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I can see why you'd think it might sound douchy to bring this up but I think you're smart to do it. I've been debating starting a similar thread about how to leverage a small advantage I have, but have been too afraid to make the post because I thought I would seem douchey, too - so good on you for taking the plunge to seek advice anyway. Shows you're not taking anything for granted!

To your actual point. As someone who has moved from Eastern Canada to Calgary, I think I have some perspective on this. In my perspective, Calgary's "high-status" community may be a little bit more insular than the similar fancy-person subcultures in other Canadian cities. Most wealth in Calgary is at the very least indirectly connected to the oil industry. Obviously law does not equal oil, but when it comes to the ultimate source of the money flowing around, it pretty much is. Given the increasing unpopularity of this industry in the rest of Canada, which can lead to divestment and lack of growing business ties, I feel like the Calgary business world is becoming increasingly isolated. Now obviously this doesn't mean that your connections won't have their own meaningful connections in Toronto, the US, etc., but I think there is at least an air of reality to the theory that you are more likely to have a leg up on your career if you stay close to where your connections are more powerful. Does that mean you won't have a great experience elsewhere? Of course not. I'm really just talking about probabilities, here.

-GM

PS I am just a 0L as well, so all of this is speculative.

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There is no doubt that “who you know” is helpful and you are getting a head start.

I have found the real value in Knowing People early on is that it assures people in the profession that you Belong. For that matter, it assures you that you Belong. That’s a pretty big leg up. (Take it from a person who didn’t, and had to put in years and years before establishing a network from zero, feeling like an imposter most of the time!)

In terms of it actually assisting your career in terms of you getting clients, lots depends on that. But I agree with the earlier poster who said you shouldn’t graft your whole future on the assumption that your network will keep you afloat. Treat it as window dressing instead of foundational to your career and you will be better counsel for it, whatever you do.

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1 hour ago, Hegdis said:

There is no doubt that “who you know” is helpful and you are getting a head start.

I have found the real value in Knowing People early on is that it assures people in the profession that you Belong. For that matter, it assures you that you Belong. That’s a pretty big leg up. (Take it from a person who didn’t, and had to put in years and years before establishing a network from zero, feeling like an imposter most of the time!)

In terms of it actually assisting your career in terms of you getting clients, lots depends on that. But I agree with the earlier poster who said you shouldn’t graft your whole future on the assumption that your network will keep you afloat. Treat it as window dressing instead of foundational to your career and you will be better counsel for it, whatever you do.

Thank you, very helpful.

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I agree with @Hegdis.  Connections can often be beneficial but one thing to keep in mind is that these very wealthy individuals likely have very established relationships with law firms and it would be very unlikely, years from now, that they are going to move their business to another firm simply because of any connection to you. 

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I was going to echo what was said above me. Do not rely on them for business - they all likely already have lawyers, and will not be waiting on you to finish law school to retain you/your firm, or to switch to you/your firm. You also have no clue whether you'd be able to take on work of that type or be at a firm that could.

 

 

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I worked with a lawyer in Calgary who came from a very wealthy family. This lawyer developed a significant practice quite quickly, and became a partner at a national firm relatively early in his career. My sense was that his pre-law connections were very helpful in building his practice, although it still takes a lot of work to leverage those connections to generate legal work.

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There's a partner at Uriel's firm who made partner very, very early because of his family connections.

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43 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

There's a partner at Uriel's firm who made partner very, very early because of his family connections.

This makes it pretty easy to identify who he is and which firm he’s at. I don’t know if thats supposed to be common knowledge.

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16 minutes ago, wtamow said:

This makes it pretty easy to identify who he is and which firm he’s at. I don’t know if thats supposed to be common knowledge.

Does it though? I'm sure there's more than one example of this.

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41 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Does it though? I'm sure there's more than one example of this.

Maybe you’re right! 

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1 hour ago, wtamow said:

This makes it pretty easy to identify who he is and which firm he’s at. I don’t know if thats supposed to be common knowledge.

Do you mean the partner or Uriel? Uriel's never particularly hidden what firm he's at. As for that partner, everyone on the street knows. 

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