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RuthlessJazzHands

Seeking Advice: Career switch to law?

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I’m looking for advice from the practicing (or not) lawyers on the forum. Thanks for the advice in advance! :)

My questions:
 
  1. Will Employee Relations experience be a hindrance  when making the jump into a legal career? What can I do to mitigate that, if anything?
  2. Given that I want to focus on employment/labour law (eventually going out on my own) what experiences (even if they are outside of where I want to practice) should I try to have?
  3. Will the school I choose matter if I don’t care about being on Bay Street and could probably article with my current employer’s legal team?
 
Background
 
29/F, Accepted into two law schools (Windsor, Ryerson) and waiting on other schools including UofM.
 
Education-wise: BA (hons) Sociology (uofw), Master of Industrial Relations (Queen’s), Certified Workplace Investigator, Sexual Harassment Investigation Training. 
 
Working on: AML certificate and a Digital Forensics certificate. 
 
Career-wise: I work in Employee Relations (management-level) and have unionized/non-union experience and have worked within Canadian Federally and Provincially regulated environments as well as UK, US (NYC) and Singapore. 
 
My main focus is human rights investigations (start to finish w/o counsel) and other serious misconduct investigations (theft, fraud, sexual misconduct) and I also provide day-to-day advice on terminations, restructures etc...to executive level (director-level and above).
 
Previous to this I worked as a Human Rights Consultant. Before that I had a project focused ER role.
 
Industry-wise: My roles have been in Banking, Transportation, Retail and Cyber Security. 
 
Motivation
 
 
 In about 5-6 years I would like to open my own consulting firm that offers employee relations services with the ability to also give advice as a lawyer. (employer side exclusively.) I think this fits into that plan.
 
I’m not heading into this thinking I’m going to get rich. I work in HR I see what the lawyers make and I know there are higher paid careers with lower bars of entry. But my intention has been since
my early 20’s to go to law school which I put on hold due to my mothers diagnosis and eventual death from a terminal illness. So I have the time and space to go...now.
 
 
 

 

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5 hours ago, RuthlessJazzHands said:

 

I’m looking for advice from the practicing (or not) lawyers on the forum. Thanks for the advice in advance! :)

My questions:
 
  1. Will Employee Relations experience be a hindrance  when making the jump into a legal career? What can I do to mitigate that, if anything?
  2. Given that I want to focus on employment/labour law (eventually going out on my own) what experiences (even if they are outside of where I want to practice) should I try to have?
  3. Will the school I choose matter if I don’t care about being on Bay Street and could probably article with my current employer’s legal team?
 
Background
 
29/F, Accepted into two law schools (Windsor, Ryerson) and waiting on other schools including UofM.
 
Education-wise: BA (hons) Sociology (uofw), Master of Industrial Relations (Queen’s), Certified Workplace Investigator, Sexual Harassment Investigation Training. 
 
Working on: AML certificate and a Digital Forensics certificate. 
 
Career-wise: I work in Employee Relations (management-level) and have unionized/non-union experience and have worked within Canadian Federally and Provincially regulated environments as well as UK, US (NYC) and Singapore. 
 
My main focus is human rights investigations (start to finish w/o counsel) and other serious misconduct investigations (theft, fraud, sexual misconduct) and I also provide day-to-day advice on terminations, restructures etc...to executive level (director-level and above).
 
Previous to this I worked as a Human Rights Consultant. Before that I had a project focused ER role.
 
Industry-wise: My roles have been in Banking, Transportation, Retail and Cyber Security. 
 
Motivation
 
 
 In about 5-6 years I would like to open my own consulting firm that offers employee relations services with the ability to also give advice as a lawyer. (employer side exclusively.) I think this fits into that plan.
 
I’m not heading into this thinking I’m going to get rich. I work in HR I see what the lawyers make and I know there are higher paid careers with lower bars of entry. But my intention has been since
my early 20’s to go to law school which I put on hold due to my mothers diagnosis and eventual death from a terminal illness. So I have the time and space to go...now.
 
 
 

 

1. None of your experience will have an impact. 

2. I am not in this field. 

3. Schools don't care if you want to go to Bay Street or Yonge Street

Congrats 

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To offer you a very short and concise answer to your questions:

1. Absolutely not. Your experience will be a big plus, and not a hindrance at all. 

2. You have plenty of experience (definitely above average) as compared to the average law student that is looking to go into labour& employment.

3. Nope, it doesn't matter given what you've written. But if you always want to keep your options open (because you never know what life throws at you), then Windsor is a pretty good school. 

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1 hour ago, JaysFan364 said:

To offer you a very short and concise answer to your questions:

1. Absolutely not. Your experience will be a big plus, and not a hindrance at all. 

2. You have plenty of experience (definitely above average) as compared to the average law student that is looking to go into labour& employment.

3. Nope, it doesn't matter given what you've written. But if you always want to keep your options open (because you never know what life throws at you), then Windsor is a pretty good school. 

Between Windsor and Ryerson- Windsor has a track record and Ryerson is new. You can "provisionally" accept one of the school and wait to hear from the other schools.  

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I'm perplexed by the idea that your experience would be a "hindrance" to be "mitigated". I agree with @JaysFan364 above and suspect that when @Luckycharm said there would be no "impact" they meant no negative impact.

When in law school, try to get some clinic experience. It doesn't have to be in employment/labour - anything that gives you some experience working on real legal cases is a plus, especially if it gets you on your feet at a court/tribunal.

In your position I would choose Windsor over Ryerson. Windsor's academic calendar lists three courses directly relevant to your area of practice (Labour Law, Labour Arbitration, and Personal Employment) while Ryerson seems to have just one course covering L&E. Also Windsor has a well-developed clinical program while AFAIK (based on their website) Ryerson doesn't have any plans for clinics, and it's not clear to me that their one-semester work placement will be equivalent.

That said Ryerson does have the IPC (no articling) if you have any apprehension about finding an articling position.

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Well, first of all, the kind of firm you're talking about founding if successful, @RuthlessJazzHands, sounds very much like the kind of firm I'd like to work with in a few years, if I'm admitted to LS (hopefully in the next cycle). I have around a decade of experience as a labour leader, including a couple of years as a contract negotiator on the labour side, so you can see why I think I could fit in that sort of environment. (And, haha, no, I'm not already angling for employment! Just praising your plan and daydreaming a bit. But... let's stay in touch. :uriel:). 

I have no direct knowledge of how law school works (beyond what I can learn here from the forums, and what I've found out by reading and talking with people at law schools). Still, I can't see your background as anything but helpful as you enter LS. Why would it be a hindrance? It seems to me that the ability to draw on a wide experience set should pretty much always be helpful in school generally, and particularly in LS where pretty much all areas of life can be at issue, depending on context. I hope I'm right, since as I said my own background is not entirely dissimilar to yours, though I'm quite a bit older than you and I haven't done labour relations on the employer's side (that said, both my father and brother are HR specialists). 

And second, 

2 hours ago, Luckycharm said:

3. Schools don't care if you want to go to Bay Street or Yonge Street

I got the Bay Street reference, of course. But I have never encountered this specific distinction before -- what is the Yonge Street side? Is this shorthand for big firm / small firm? Élite / popular?  Thanks!

Edited by GreyDude

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2 minutes ago, GreyDude said:

I got the Bay Street reference, of course. But I have never encountered this specific distinction before -- what is the Yonge Street side? Is this shorthand for big firm / small firm? Élite / popular?

Thanks!

Thanks!

The poster just picked a different street.

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Just now, easttowest said:

The poster just picked a different street.

Ah. The distinction just looked so perfect, I was sure it was a "thing". Silly me. 

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