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lucus3245

Is Bay St the only way to make good money?

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I’ve been lurking this forum for a while and there is a wide consensus that if you want to make money you will pursue Bay St. 
 

As someone who knows nothing about the law or about compensation in different areas of law, I would like to ask those more experienced than me for insight. 
 

is Bay st the only way to make good money? How difficult is it secure well paying employment out of law school?

ive been reading on this forum that some articling students make only $2000 net in areas like criminal law. That scares me because I currently net $5000-7000 a month which will go down to about $3000 net during law school. 
 

I’m obviously choosing to go to law school to be in a better position in the future than I am in now. What areas of law do you guys recommend for the highest return on investment?

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3 hours ago, lucus3245 said:

is Bay st the only way to make good money? How difficult is it secure well paying employment out of law school?

 

No. Bay Street is not the only way to make good money. There are many lawyers, soles, small firm lawyers, in house counsel, crown counsel, and lawyers at mid-sized non "Bay Street" firms making a great living. I personally know a few soles who are making 6 figures and others at small firms doing very well for themselves – the soles in particular have busted their ass and worked hard to get where they are but they definitely enjoy being solo.

How do you define well paying? articling salaries can fluctuate dramatically from $0 to whatever the big firms are paying nowadays, ditto for first year associate salaries which can probably range from 30k- 100k.

If you already net 5000-7000 monthly you might want to reconsider law if you are pursuing it from a purely economic perspective.

Edited by PropJoe
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Working at Bay Street will make you good money, but it is not necessary to go to Bay Street to make good money. 

Edited by Twenty
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The best ROI is to go to McGill as a Quebec resident and then become the most successful plaintiff-side class actions lawyer in the country.

YMMV.

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9 minutes ago, bernard said:

The best ROI is to go to McGill as a Quebec resident and then become the most successful plaintiff-side class actions lawyer in the country.

YMMV.

Or go to McGill as a Quebec resident and make partner at Cravath.

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Bay is simply the most brain-dead way to get to a high starting salary. The application and interview process is basically paint by numbers. They set up the portal for you, tell you what you need to give them to apply, set the deadlines, come to your school to interview you, interview everyone on the same three days, and tell you right away if you're in or not. It's the most straight-forward job search you can imagine. 

It come with its own problems and stresses as explored in myriad other posts, but it's far easier to do the recruit than have to pound the pavement on your own. 

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Let's reset this conversation a bit. When I see a title that refers to "good" money, my first question is what the poster means by "good." Fortunately, OP clarified that, and says he currently nets $5-7k/month. That's $60-84k/year. In order to take that much home, we're talking about a gross pre-tax income of $100k+.

There are definitely areas of law outside of Bay and large firm practice where you can earn a good living. But if you hope/expect/need to make that much out of the gate, I have two warnings for you. First, you won't make that much even on Bay as an articling student or immediately as an associate, though you'll progress there soon if you stick a Big Law position and manage to hold it. And second, no, you won't be there right away anywhere else, aside from a few positions elsewhere that make a point of basically indexing to Big Law incomes in order to compete for the same people. Someone else would have a better summary of those (relatively few) examples.

"Good" is a relative term. Clearly your sense of what "good" money looks like is pretty extreme. I'm not criticizing that, right now. I'm just saying you'll have a hard time satisfying it doing anything other than large, corporate law.

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^  A first year associate would take home $81k after taxes in 2020 (not including any bonuses), according to EY’s tax calculator. 

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3 minutes ago, easttowest said:

^  A first year associate would take home $81k after taxes in 2020 (not including any bonuses), according to EY’s tax calculator. 

I'm surprised. What's the associate gross at that calculation, and what are the assumptions being fed into it? Unless the marginal tax rate is as low as 20% (again, would surprise me, but I'm not a tax guy) then associate salaries on Bay are higher than I've noticed recently.

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Just now, Diplock said:

I'm surprised. What's the associate gross at that calculation, and what are the assumptions being fed into it? Unless the marginal tax rate is as low as 20% (again, would surprise me, but I'm not a tax guy) then associate salaries on Bay are higher than I've noticed recently.

$110,000.

Calculator here: https://www.eytaxcalculators.com/en/2020-personal-tax-calculator.html

Even if you drop down to the $105 some shops are still at, you're at $79k takehome.

Edited by easttowest
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Yeah. Bay is not the only way to make good money but it’s the easiest and fastest.

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Okay, fair enough. I'm surprised first year associates are that high now, but certainly it's possible. I can advise they are definitely not at that rate anywhere that isn't tracking Bay - or at least nowhere I'm aware of. To return to the OP's original question, there's quite a bit of upper end potential in almost any area of law. Law is inherently entrepreneurial. If you look forward to starting your own practice, you can potentially make a lot of money doing just about anything, if you imagine doing it at scale. People make fun of the Axcess Law Offices in Walmarts and such. But the lawyers who actually founded that practice are, I would imagine, doing very well for themselves.

All that said, if you confine your question to "where can I make this kind of money out of the gate" you won't find it many places outside of traditional Big Law.

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Just now, choijonesjr said:

Isn't personal injury also lucrative?

It can be very lucrative. Depends on the provincial insurance model.

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Just now, choijonesjr said:

Isn't personal injury also lucrative? I also heard good things about real estate. 

See my last post. Both areas of law are potentially lucrative if you start your own practice and do well at it, certainly. So are many others. Is anyone going to pay you $110k in their established practice, as a newly minted first year call, to work the files they assign to you? Not likely.

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I'll be frank, if OP is making six figures gross right now, the opportunity cost of going to law school is probably heavily on the "don't go" side. Trading 3 years of 6 figure earning power while young to go dump cash into an institution to get out and make.... six figures in the best case is lunacy. Take the money you'd spend on law school and sock it away in the market and be content you're likely going to come out ahead. 

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Personal injury can be very lucrative but starting out as a sole in PI is not easy by any means. Most, if not all files are on a contingency basis. When you start your practice as a sole you're going to have to find a way to fund your cases (disbursements, overhead etc.) before getting any settlement money. 

Not saying it can't be done, it has been done by many successful small personal injury shops, but it is not easy.

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If you're wanting to go into law purely for the money - given where you are now - it doesn't make much sense. It's a big risk for a chance to eventually make 250k+, which would be the only way to make up the opportunity cost.

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3 minutes ago, whoknows said:

I'll be frank, if OP is making six figures gross right now, the opportunity cost of going to law school is probably heavily on the "don't go" side. Trading 3 years of 6 figure earning power while young to go dump cash into an institution to get out and make.... six figures in the best case is lunacy. Take the money you'd spend on law school and sock it away in the market and be content you're likely going to come out ahead. 

Agreed with this. If money is in your top 3 reasons for going to law school and you already make six figures, don’t go to law school and find fulfilment outside of your job.

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