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chezjackie

How to fill the gap in my resume as I am looking for a job following articling

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Hi All, 

I noticed on linkedin that many legal professionals fill in gaps in their resume by indicating that they are operating as a sole practitioner under a professional corporation in their name. How does this work? I would really appreciate hearing from those who have experience with this! 

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I don't have experience with this personally but I suspect they incorporate a company and start practicing law. 

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Yeah, um...I can't entirely dismiss the possibility that some people aren't really practicing law at all, and are just creating an entry on linkedin or something. But otherwise, we're talking about people who do, in fact, start their own practice and work in that practice. For some it may be something that they only do for a while, between working in other firms and for other lawyers. But it isn't a trick or a way to fill a hole in their resume. It's just self-employment, with all that implies.

Maybe you want to clarify your question. Are you asking about how you would set up for yourself and work as a sole practitioner? Or are you asking about how you would pretend to work as a sole practitioner?

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Yes, I am interested to know what steps to take to set one's self up as a sole practitioner while also looking for other opportunities at firms. How can I learn more about incorporating my own practice? 

Thank you for the response!!

 

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Practically speaking, I think it would be more beneficial not to incorporate if you only intend to do it until you land an associate gig. But I might be wrong and others with more experience please correct me if so.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, chezjackie said:

Yes, I am interested to know what steps to take to set one's self up as a sole practitioner while also looking for other opportunities at firms. How can I learn more about incorporating my own practice? 

Thank you for the response!!

 

You need to setup a professional corporation. The first step is to determine what your jurisdiction's law society requires (forms, endorsements, etc.) and the order they require it in. Normally this will be some permutation of:

  • Performing a NUANS to secure a name 
  • Incorporating a corporation with said name
  • Submitting the incorporating documents with the necessary schedules outlined by your law society
  • Paying for a permit/registration fee

There are a lot of caveats to this and I don't want to give out legal advice, but I suggest that you research the pros and cons of practicing as a sole individual vs as a PC. Be sure to look into liability and the taxation of PCs - there's a reason why a lot of juniors don't necessarily need or use one. 

Edited by setto
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You don't need to incorporate to set up a solo law practice. It really wouldn't make sense to incorporate a company to fill a period of time on your resume.

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As noted earlier, the question about incorporation is a complete distraction from the real question here. I'll trust you are able to appropriately research your options between incorporation and carrying on business as a sole proprietor. It's really just a question of how you want to structure your business, not a question of how you want to practice law. I'll say preemptively most individual lawyers are sole proprietors and it's just easier that way.

The bigger issue is this. I gather from your history you are a freshly called lawyer who wasn't hired back. Sorry about that. What, if any, areas of law have you learned about that you feel capable of practicing on your own and without supervision? And if the answer is "none" as may well be the case, coming out of a firm environment, what areas of law are you willing to learn well enough to do that?

I have to warn you, the superficiality of your questions gives me serious concerns - and I mean serious concerns - about the advisability of this plan. Right now you're an out of work chef, and you're saying "since no one will hire me as a chef right now, I'm thinking of opening my own restaurant until I find some other job." The skill set required to run your own practice, and the work required to both set one up and potentially shut it down if/when you do find something else, are very different from simply doing legal work for another employer. And if you really just view it as a way to fill a gap, you might be better off not doing it at all.

If you're serious, think carefully about the kind of law you'd want to practice on your own, and I'll try to reply intelligently.

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11 minutes ago, Diplock said:

As noted earlier, the question about incorporation is a complete distraction from the real question here. I'll trust you are able to appropriately research your options between incorporation and carrying on business as a sole proprietor. It's really just a question of how you want to structure your business, not a question of how you want to practice law. I'll say preemptively most individual lawyers are sole proprietors and it's just easier that way.

The bigger issue is this. I gather from your history you are a freshly called lawyer who wasn't hired back. Sorry about that. What, if any, areas of law have you learned about that you feel capable of practicing on your own and without supervision? And if the answer is "none" as may well be the case, coming out of a firm environment, what areas of law are you willing to learn well enough to do that?

I have to warn you, the superficiality of your questions gives me serious concerns - and I mean serious concerns - about the advisability of this plan. Right now you're an out of work chef, and you're saying "since no one will hire me as a chef right now, I'm thinking of opening my own restaurant until I find some other job." The skill set required to run your own practice, and the work required to both set one up and potentially shut it down if/when you do find something else, are very different from simply doing legal work for another employer. And if you really just view it as a way to fill a gap, you might be better off not doing it at all.

If you're serious, think carefully about the kind of law you'd want to practice on your own, and I'll try to reply intelligently.

Just to add to this:

OP, you should take Diplick's advice with serious weight. If still you're convinced you can practice, I'd look into how many contacts you have in the field you'd like to practice in, who could support you with mentorship (read; NOT supervision in the sense of a firm structure senior/junior call) if and when you're inevitably over your head as a fresh call SP. 

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Posted (edited)

OP, every single person I know that went solo after their call did so because that is what they wanted to do, not because they were lacking in options. It took them a lot of planning and strategizing to put their plan in motion. They are all focusing on only one or two areas of law, and trying to learn as much as they can about their fields through peer and professional networks, accessing resources online, joining CBA sections, joining listservs, etc.  

As Diplock mentioned, you need a better plan than simply saying - I can't find a job, so I think I'll set up my own shop and dabble in everything to make some money and put food on the table. I hope I do not have to tell you how dangerous this mentality is not just for you, but the clients you serve.

You don't fill a "gap on your resume" by going out on your own with a lack of experience and jeopardizing real people's lives through your lack of commitment or experience. If you do this, you have to go all in 100%. And decide on a practice area or two at the most because you do not want to be a generalist. 

Edited by Deadpool
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, chezjackie said:

Hi All, 

I noticed on linkedin that many legal professionals fill in gaps in their resume by indicating that they are operating as a sole practitioner under a professional corporation in their name. How does this work? I would really appreciate hearing from those who have experience with this! 

I'm with everyone else. Solo practice isn't something you should do lightly. Probably not at all as a stop gap. 

In addition to the obvious concerns about feasibility and competence without any direct supervision, Diplock raised the issue of closing down your practice if you find something else. If things go well and you get work, that means you'll have a set of professional obligations to your clients. You can't just drop those the minute another lawyer offers you a salary. 

Think about all the stuff you'll need to do when you close up your practice. You'll have to figure out exactly what to do with every single file. Can the file come with you? Will the employer want the retainer? Is it in their practice area? Are there conflicts? Is there too little money left on the retainer for the firm? Will the client come? And then, if the file isn't coming with you and it's litigation, you're wondering whether you can get off the record without causing prejudice. Even if you can, it's a lot of work closing off files, providing referrals, etc properly. 

What I'm describing is the best case scenario in your plan: you get work (in the middle of a pandemic), you aren't horribly negligent, and then you leverage the experience into a job offer. It seems like a huge pain in the ass just to add a line to your resume. I know lawyers who I'm pretty sure have been procrastinating for years on retirement, because winding up the practice almost seems like more work than completing the rest of their retainers.

Unless this is something you're actually committed to doing and doing well, maybe don't. 

 

Edited by realpseudonym
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53 minutes ago, Diplock said:

I have to warn you, the superficiality of your questions gives me serious concerns - and I mean serious concerns - about the advisability of this plan. Right now you're an out of work chef, and you're saying "since no one will hire me as a chef right now, I'm thinking of opening my own restaurant until I find some other job." The skill set required to run your own practice, and the work required to both set one up and potentially shut it down if/when you do find something else, are very different from simply doing legal work for another employer. And if you really just view it as a way to fill a gap, you might be better off not doing it at all.

Oh man, here we go again on ls.ca with judging some rando into oblivion based off 2 posts. I'm not saying you're wrong @Diplock. Starting a business to fill a gap in your resume doesn't tend to work. Hell, starting a business generally doesn't tend to work. The numbers are against anyone.  @chezjackie, don't be an idiot. You have worse odds right now than most people starting a business, and they have have bad odds already. 

But I'm not here to get into those probabilities.

I just want to remind you that whether or not you succeed does not depend on your reputation here. It depends on luck, ingenuity and hard work. Just because you asked dumb questions here does not mean you are not capable of adapting and working hard. Don't forget that just because someone who has a grand reputation here has told you they have "serious concerns", whatever that means. This just touches a nerve because I know it can be easy to carry this kind of comment with you whether consciously or not. 

One more thing: I hate when people come to snap judgments with so little evidence. You posted two small posts in this thread. We can't even judge your demeanour of asking those questions. 

 

 

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I'd like to think there are things that an unemployed licensee can do and legitimately put on a resume. Read up on cases/legislation/commentary related to your area of interest, prepare summaries (or precedents if there are things in your area of interest that are very, very common), attend PD events, and so on.

I imagine employers would see things of this nature as being somewhat useful (at least when compared to a resume gap) and might even help with actually going solo if you feel that you're ready to do so.

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, grishamlaw said:

Oh man, here we go again on ls.ca with judging some rando into oblivion based off 2 posts. I'm not saying you're wrong @Diplock. Starting a business to fill a gap in your resume doesn't tend to work. Hell, starting a business generally doesn't tend to work. The numbers are against anyone.  @chezjackie, don't be an idiot. You have worse odds right now than most people starting a business, and they have have bad odds already. 

But I'm not here to get into those probabilities.

I just want to remind you that whether or not you succeed does not depend on your reputation here. It depends on luck, ingenuity and hard work. Just because you asked dumb questions here does not mean you are not capable of adapting and working hard. Don't forget that just because someone who has a grand reputation here has told you they have "serious concerns", whatever that means. This just touches a nerve because I know it can be easy to carry this kind of comment with you whether consciously or not. 

One more thing: I hate when people come to snap judgments with so little evidence. You posted two small posts in this thread. We can't even judge your demeanour of asking those questions. 

 

Unless it's a joking demeanour, there are very apparent and serious concerns with these posts. The potential start-up and closing expenses alone do not justify starting a temporary sole proprietorship for the purpose of "filling an employment gap on LinkedIn". Then there's the competence and negligence issues. 

Edited by Trew

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54 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

I'm with everyone else. Solo practice isn't something you should do lightly. Probably not at all as a stop gap. 

In addition to the obvious concerns about feasibility and competence without any direct supervision, Diplock raised the issue of closing down your practice if you find something else. If things go well and you get work, that means you'll have a set of professional obligations to your clients. You can't just drop those the minute another lawyer offers you a salary. 

Think about all the stuff you'll need to do when you close up your practice. You'll have to figure out exactly what to do with every single file. Can the file come with you? Will the employer want the retainer? Is it in their practice area? Are there conflicts? Is there too little money left on the retainer for the firm? Will the client come? And then, if the file isn't coming with you and it's litigation, you're wondering whether you can get off the record without causing prejudice. Even if you can, it's a lot of work closing off files, providing referrals, etc properly. 

What I'm describing is the best case scenario in your plan: you get work (in the middle of a pandemic), you aren't horribly negligent, and then you leverage the experience into a job offer. It seems like a huge pain in the ass just to add a line to your resume. I know lawyers who I'm pretty sure have been procrastinating for years on retirement, because winding up the practice almost seems like more work than completing the rest of their retainers.

Unless this is something you're actually committed to doing and doing well, maybe don't. 

 

That means a lot, I really appreciate your kind comment! I was just curious and hoping to gather some information- not exactly prepared for what this post turned into... Nevertheless, thank you everyone for the insight! 

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, chezjackie said:

That means a lot, I really appreciate your kind comment! I was just curious and hoping to gather some information- not exactly prepared for what this post turned into... Nevertheless, thank you everyone for the insight! 

Do you have a home office or were you preparing to sign a commercial lease?  

Edited by Trew

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On 5/26/2020 at 4:01 PM, pzabbythesecond said:

Practically speaking, I think it would be more beneficial not to incorporate if you only intend to do it until you land an associate gig. But I might be wrong and others with more experience please correct me if so.

If anything just go avoid any potential liability, especially while trying to learn on the move, having the protection of a corporation would be helpful imo. 

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6 hours ago, HelloSir80 said:

If anything just go avoid any potential liability, especially while trying to learn on the move, having the protection of a corporation would be helpful imo. 

Oh for Christ’s sake. 

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8 hours ago, HelloSir80 said:

If anything just go avoid any potential liability, especially while trying to learn on the move, having the protection of a corporation would be helpful imo. 

Your post is a red flag.

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