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1ceman

COVID Job Security - Should I Make a Change?

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Hi all,

I'm currently practicing litigation at a boutique firm in the GTA. It's a great fit for me for many reasons : short commute, decent salary, good work experience, great mentor, etc.

However, the pandemic has resulted in a significant slowdown in my work, so much so that my employer cannot foresee maintaining my pay beyond this month if things do not change. I'm fully expecting the current situation to last until June/July. Therefore, I feel like there is a very real possibility that I will be laid off in the next month or so.

While I enjoy my job, I also have a baby on the way, a mortgage, etc. Like many of you, I am feeling the financial pressure of potentially being without my regular salary for weeks, if not months. 

For these reasons I'm considering exploring jobs with more security, benefits, etc. I like litigation, but not all litigation. Ideally, I would like to work in-house or solely in employment law. Unfortunately most jobs fitting these criteria are downtown.

Is big law/downtown lawyering worth the job security in light of the current situation? Would my job even be protected if I made a switch to a downtown firm or in-house? Also, with a baby on the way, I want to be able to spend time at home with him/her and my wife. 

Basically I'm balancing the importance of job security/stable income vs. work-life balance/commute time. Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I want to be proactive.

Grateful for any thoughts/advice,

1M

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I don't know man; how is the job market looking for these downtown/Big Law firms you're (considering) considering? Are they hiring? 

This will continue far beyond the next month. If you want more job security, I would look to areas of law that will have some security during some of darkest economic times in 100 years. That is not necessarily tied to the size of the employer. 

 

 

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By all means look for another position, but it is premature to speculate about changing fields until you have a job offer in hand given the likely huge amount of people that are looking at layoffs. 

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Global pandemics requiring large scale economic shutdown are obviously unique and rare situations. I wouldn't base one's job security, or lack there of, on how covid-19 impacts things.

Nevertheless, such situations do underscore why government employment can be such a great fit for many. Even in government, budget cuts etc. can happen.... but if you value job security above other things, which is certainly a fair position to take, I can't think of anything "safer" than government. Government lawyer positions, however, are not easy to get in my understanding. And the grass is always greener. Many wishing that they are in government right now would likely complain about the pay gap (which can be dramatic, depending on the comparator role in question) when times are booming.

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19 minutes ago, happydude said:

Global pandemics requiring large scale economic shutdown are obviously unique and rare situations. I wouldn't base one's job security, or lack there of, on how covid-19 impacts things.

Nevertheless, such situations do underscore why government employment can be such a great fit for many. Even in government, budget cuts etc. can happen.... but if you value job security above other things, which is certainly a fair position to take, I can't think of anything "safer" than government. Government lawyer positions, however, are not easy to get in my understanding. And the grass is always greener. Many wishing that they are in government right now would likely complain about the pay gap (which can be dramatic, depending on the comparator role in question) when times are booming.

The pay is probably equivalent with the current cuts to BigLaw associate pay. 
Government may even pay better, in some cases. 

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12 minutes ago, happydude said:

but if you value job security above other things, which is certainly a fair position to take, I can't think of anything "safer" than government. Government lawyer positions, however, are not easy to get in my understanding. And the grass is always greener. Many wishing that they are in government right now would likely complain about the pay gap (which can be dramatic, depending on the comparator role in question) when times are booming.

'not easy' is an understatement in ontario right now. i've not seen a single job posting that wasn't restricted to internal gov lawyers. and i don't think anyone knows when doug ford will lift the external hiring freeze that he placed when he got in (not just for counsels but for all gov positions). and are there people actually complaining about pay as a gov lawyer? it's not like you're stuck at $50-80k, gov lawyers easily make $150-200k. if you're complaining about that kind of salary while having job security+pension, etc., then just... leave.  

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10 minutes ago, levin said:

'not easy' is an understatement in ontario right now. i've not seen a single job posting that wasn't restricted to internal gov lawyers. and i don't think anyone knows when doug ford will lift the external hiring freeze that he placed when he got in (not just for counsels but for all gov positions). and are there people actually complaining about pay as a gov lawyer? it's not like you're stuck at $50-80k, gov lawyers easily make $150-200k. if you're complaining about that kind of salary while having job security+pension, etc., then just... leave.  

Probably some, but that isn't what happydude said: he said that "many wishing" they worked for the government would complain about the pay gap "when times are booming". 

That's an entirely different issue. 

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1 minute ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

The pay is probably equivalent with the current cuts to BigLaw associate pay. 
Government may even pay better, in some cases. 

True at the junior levels if Bay Steet salaries have been cut by as much as 20%, hence why I added "when times are booming". Covid-19 will not last forever. 

But at any rate, I was more so referencing the pay gap at the senior levels (and to a lesser extent, the intermediate levels), when it can be pretty dramatic. My understanding is that many government lawyers cap out at around 180k (which is certainly a great salary, by any reasonable and objective measure). A Bay Street associate can earn that as a 6th year call - not in his or her 40s, 50, and 60s. And that is before any Bay Street bonus. If one sticks around to make partners (granted,  few will), the gap can be huge.

Of course, government employment has its own perks. Defined benefit pension. Unmatched job security. And generally, though not always from what I have gathered from those on the inside, less hours and stress, with a few lucky ones even working mostly 9 to 5 with no weekends.

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8 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

In which cases?

Do I really have to do the math for you?

If you were a large firm first year associate making $100K, you make $80K after a 20% reduction. 

A first year provincial Crown earning $87K now makes more money than you do. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff

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10 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

In which cases?

I think Federal DOJ lawyers start at 79k. A first year call on Bay Street making, say, 100k pre-covid-19, if now making 80k due to a pay cut of 20%, would certainly be less compensated overall factoring in the value of the former lawyer's pension. And I believe that some provinces and municipalities pay their lawyers more than the feds.

But again, covid-19 will not last forever. And not all Bay Street associates are taking 20% cuts (some are not currently suffering any pay cut at all).

 

Edited by happydude
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7 hours ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Do I really have to do the math for you?

If you were a large firm first year associate making $100K, you make $80K after a 20% reduction. 

A first year provincial Crown earning $87K now makes more money than you do. 

I know that one firm who cut salaries also set a salary floor of $100k. Not sure how widespread this is.

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11 minutes ago, easttowest said:

I know that one firm who cut salaries also set a salary floor of $100k. Not sure how widespread this is.

Articling students got a raise?? 

;)

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it might be difficult in general for you to switch to in house though, covid or not. Boutique litigation doesn’t really lend well to that 

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9 hours ago, tanx said:

it might be difficult in general for you to switch to in house though, covid or not. Boutique litigation doesn’t really lend well to that 

I assumed he meant in-house with an insurance company. 
 

 

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13 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Articling students got a raise?? 

;)

A floor as in no one making less got a pay cut hahah.

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The security from working in biglaw isn't the job security.  It's the giant salary they pay you which hopefully you're wisely investing.  

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On 4/6/2020 at 12:19 PM, QuincyWagstaff said:

The pay is probably equivalent with the current cuts to BigLaw associate pay. 
Government may even pay better, in some cases. 

I'm not sure how you come up with this, if we're assuming "Big Law" to be Bay Street... The salaries at the top firms > government pay. The starting salaries can have a $30-40,000 gap (which is 30-50%), and that gap is maintained throughout. A partner at a Bay Street firm can expect to pull in a very strong six figure income (lets say, high 100s, low 200s, as a reasonable average benchmark). That's not even close to matched by government, where the equivalent pay band tops out around $140,000. Again, you're looking at a 30-50%+ difference.

There are all sorts of reasons to not work on Bay Street, but pay is not one of them. A 15% cut to salaries isn't going to close the gap meaningfully (again, on compensation alone).

  

23 hours ago, happydude said:

I think Federal DOJ lawyers start at 79k. A first year call on Bay Street making, say, 100k pre-covid-19, if now making 80k due to a pay cut of 20%, would certainly be less compensated overall factoring in the value of the former lawyer's pension. And I believe that some provinces and municipalities pay their lawyers more than the feds.

But again, covid-19 will not last forever. And not all Bay Street associates are taking 20% cuts (some are not currently suffering any pay cut at all).

 

My recollection was that you were incorrect (too high), although it appears you were incorrect (too low). This is a by-product of the circumstances. Anyway, Treasury Board has this information: https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/agreements-conventions/view-visualiser-eng.aspx?id=13

Step 1 is now $80,000 outside of Toronto for an LP-01. Its the same for Toronto.

One thing about the Federal Government though, is because its a unionized position, you see percentage increases every year + the incremental increases. This is part of the reason why public sector wages are growing while private sector wages tend to be more stagnant. 

Edited by Pyke

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8 minutes ago, Pyke said:

A partner at a Bay Street firm can expect to pull in a very strong six figure income (lets say, high 100s, low 200s, as a reasonable average benchmark)

A partner at a bay street firm makes far more than that. Especially a few years into partnership.

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