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Jobs with good work life balance

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2 minutes ago, dragonflower said:

Also maybe it’s just me but I would prefer to be efficient and finish all my tasks in 8-9 hours and go home early as opposed to dragging out my workday and staying in the office till late in the night. This of course assumes that the quality of my work does not suffer from being efficient.  Working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean increased productivity and/or profit, but I guess the profession can sometimes reward those who bill more hours and are seemingly more productive. 

See, this is where your post, and also @Deadpool’s post above, can get you into trouble.

I don’t think either of you realize it, but there’s an implicit argument here that one of the reasons a government lawyer is able to work 40 hours a week and leave on time is that they’re efficient, and that the reason a Bay Street lawyer working 100 hours a week has to work that hundred hours is because they’re inefficient.* That might be an argument you’re comfortable making, but it strikes me as just as distatesful as that 0L who called government lawyers lazy. I also think it’s wrong – I think that the Bay Street lawyer has to work 100 hours because they have more hours of work to do. 

But again, I’m not sure why this discussion has reference to any other employment situation. Government lawyers work hard and take pride in their work. That’s all that needs to be said. 

*I don’t think Deadpool meant to say that, but it’s what’s implied when he says that the difference between the government lawyer and Bay Street lawyer is that the government lawyer is doing the work efficiently. 

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4 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

See, this is where your post, and also @Deadpool’s post above, can get you into trouble.

I don’t think either of you realize it, but there’s an implicit argument here that one of the reasons a government lawyer is able to work 40 hours a week and leave on time is that they’re efficient, and that the reason a Bay Street lawyer working 100 hours a week has to work that hundred hours is because they’re inefficient.* That might be an argument you’re comfortable making, but it strikes me as just as distatesful as that 0L who called government lawyers lazy. I also think it’s wrong – I think that the Bay Street lawyer has to work 100 hours because they have more hours of work to do. 

But again, I’m not sure why this discussion has reference to any other employment situation. Government lawyers work hard and take pride in their work. That’s all that needs to be said. 

*I don’t think Deadpool meant to say that, but it’s what’s implied when he says that the difference between the government lawyer and Bay Street lawyer is that the government lawyer is doing the work efficiently. 

It's also distasteful to say "government lawyers leaving at 6 is notable" when you have no experience working in a government legal position, Blocked.

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7 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

It's also distasteful to say "government lawyers leaving at 6 is notable" when you have no experience working in a government legal position, Blocked.

Somebody had literally made note of the fact that some government lawyers don’t leave the office until 6 or 7 pm... that’s the definition of notable. Worthy of attention or notice. The poster had taken notice of it. 

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13 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

See, this is where your post, and also @Deadpool’s post above, can get you into trouble.

I don’t think either of you realize it, but there’s an implicit argument here that one of the reasons a government lawyer is able to work 40 hours a week and leave on time is that they’re efficient, and that the reason a Bay Street lawyer working 100 hours a week has to work that hundred hours is because they’re inefficient.* That might be an argument you’re comfortable making, but it strikes me as just as distatesful as that 0L who called government lawyers lazy. I also think it’s wrong – I think that the Bay Street lawyer has to work 100 hours because they have more hours of work to do. 

But again, I’m not sure why this discussion has reference to any other employment situation. Government lawyers work hard and take pride in their work. That’s all that needs to be said. 

*I don’t think Deadpool meant to say that, but it’s what’s implied when he says that the difference between the government lawyer and Bay Street lawyer is that the government lawyer is doing the work efficiently. 

I apologize if that is how my post came across. That comment I made about government lawyer efficiently completing their work within the 9-5 schedule was in the context of the other poster saying that government lawyers are slacking and producing sub-standard work. I did make it clear in my post that private practice lawyers have to do things that I don't, like running a business, managing staff, meeting billable targets, serving different types of clients, etc. This includes Bay Street lawyers. I'm not saying that Bay Street lawyers are working 100 hour weeks because they are inefficient. Rather, the nature of private practice and the business model requires them to work that much. In order to serve clients properly, you may have to work that many hours and it is perfectly fine and reasonable to do so. I mentioned this in the context that most government lawyers do not have the same constraints - as we just have one client that is the government itself. 

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10 hours ago, wtamow said:

I’ve heard of Crowns who break down in the shower crying every morning due to the stress and pressure they are under...

Patently false. Criminal lawyers rarely use the shower at all.

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1 minute ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Thread got dumb. Only way to settle this is a good old fashioned bareknuckle brawl. Government lawyers vs. Bay street lawyers. 

Government lawyers may be lazy, but at least they do some actual meaningful work, unlike Bay Street lawyers. 10 minutes of government lawyering is more socially valuable than a career of Bay Street lawyering.

(Yeah, yeah, bring it!)

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, IllegalBeagle said:

All due respect, but no, it's your anecdotes against the lived experience that several commenters have in actual government legal practice.    I'm articling in the public sector.  Many if not most government lawyers work a hell of a lot more than the 35 hours a week they get paid for, and are expected to work evenings and weekends whenever necessary.  They still have targets to meet for billable hours, too - it's just that it's a performance metric, rather than profit driven.  I don't doubt that there are lazy people in government, as with anywhere else.  But having met and worked with several dozen government lawyers so far, I have yet to see any indication that it's widespread at all, as your comments irresponsibly suggest.

I never made the suggestion that it was wide spread. Just simply stated that it exists to some extent for a particular area of law in the government based on what I heard from a crown. Not to mention that none of the commentators you mention are crowns. 

Edited by OnlyResident
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Ok, well, I think your contribution is being taken for what it’s worth. 

Anyone have anything constructive left to say?

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52 minutes ago, Hegdis said:

Ok, well, I think your contribution is being taken for what it’s worth. 

Anyone have anything constructive left to say?

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To get this thread back on track, to those who don't want to work for the government but want work-life balance, there are many opportunities once you are a few years out. Many lawyers I know spend a few years in private practice in order to get excellent in-house opportunities, which have far better hours in private practice. You'll take a pay cut, but usually not a huge one (the only real issue comp-wise is long-term, in the sense that your salary won't increase nearly as much as your salary would if you made partner and stayed in private practice). The hours are often really good. Anecdotally speaking, the lawyers I know of that moved in-house have 9-5 jobs and also either flex days, shorter Fridays, WFH days, etc.

If you stay in private practice, you'll never get a true "9-5" because of the nature of client demands (in a big city). But many lawyers (particularly on the, somewhat, more senior side) are able to structure their day to integrate time with family and away from work. You may have one week where you're working really long hours because you're closing a transaction, but then the next week you'll only have three hour workdays.

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My experience in a full service national law firm was that work life balance is certainly possible and I could bill 1,800 to 1,900 hours while working 9:00 am to 5:30 or 6:00 pm, sometimes leaving early, sometimes coming in around 10:00 am and sometimes skipping out early some Fridays, with a few hours of catch up time and organization per week in the evenings.

The challenges for work life balance, in my experience, weren't due to the amount of work (I could make my hours and have those hours billed (not written off) and paid by clients at a high realization rate), but the real enemy of work life balance was partners and clients not being as organized as me and emailing me to do a bunch of stuff on other files, sometimes on weekends, sometimes on evenings when I'm relaxing at home, which in my opinion was undue considering my billing numbers were always among the best for associates. Also, face time issues... At my firms people expected you in the office and there it was always a weird feeling if you were leaving before one of the service partners.

Also an uneasy feeling being out and about during extended work hours and having your email on your phone being blown up by people who realized you left early or weren't in the office. 

My point being that the problems with work life balance in big law weren't so much due to the volume of work if you're effective but the human demands and expectations that make the job quite miserable at times. That being said, there were many days I was in the office until 8, 9 and 10pm finalizing a brief, but on those occasions I would be working independently and generally enjoying my work so I never felt compelled to work in the same sense I would when people were, in my view, being indecent and demanding. 

Again, I always met my hours, felt like I was really a model associate, but that alone sometimes isn't enough. 

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Posted (edited)

My experience has been pretty similar to that of @pineapple21. The hours are usually manageable and fairly predictable most days (i.e., 9-6 with a few weeks a year of craziness), but the feeling of being "on" all the time really gets you. Another poster on this forum once said "it's not the hours that kill you - it's the unpredictability". Sometimes you get an email late in the evening which you have to respond to immediately or early the next morning, or you can get an assignment dropped on you out of nowhere that screws up your plans, or people try to  pile work on you while you're on vacation or out of the office for the day.  I don't know about others, but I usually dread work the most when I'm coming back to the office after a vacation. Also, trying to hit target every year can be mentally draining, even if it's not that difficult to do. Just a psychological thing watching it reset to 0 hours after you've had a long year.

@pineapple21If you don't mind me asking, how long were you in private practice and why did you decide to leave?

Edited by hitman9172
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, hitman9172 said:

 

@pineapple21If you don't mind me asking, how long were you in private practice and why did you decide to leave?

Less than 5 years. Long story short is that I entered big law with the idea that I'd be a partner and bring in business and have that type of career but in my time there,, in my view, I realized that it's not as advertised and you end up putting all your eggs in one basket (the firm), working a lot of hours, dealing with demanding clients and colleagues who have varying levels of interpersonal and management and organizational skills, and that it wasn't for me. I made a good amount of money and paid off my debts, maxed out my retirement accounts, saved a decent liquid nest egg. Then I left specifically to start my own practice doing the exact same thing but as a plaintiff's lawyer.

I work similar hours but without the human work demands of being at people's beck and call and without the client demands and I'm generally the captain of my ship. I have a few associates and staff and make a lot more money and my earning capacity is not limited by the billable hour, conflict issues within the firm, politics, and other things inherent to defense practice. 

The other thing I realized about big law was that even partners trade a lot of time and have to deal with a lot of BS for the $300K to $1m they earn per year and who have all their eggs in the firm basket. It wasn't the level of security I wanted for my career and my friends who were junior partners weren't really getting rich but working harder and had generally unspecified goals they had to hit to earn equity in the firm. I didn't want to bust my butt for 15 years to get equity and get on the gravy train. 

I took a calculated risk after about 6 months of serious thought and it's worked out beyond my wildest expectations. 

Edited by pineapple21
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18 minutes ago, pineapple21 said:

Less than 5 years. Long story short is that I entered big law with the idea that I'd be a partner and bring in business and have that type of career but in my time there,, in my view, I realized that it's not as advertised and you end up putting all your eggs in one basket (the firm), working a lot of hours, dealing with demanding clients and colleagues who have varying levels of interpersonal and management and organizational skills, and that it wasn't for me. I made a good amount of money and paid off my debts, maxed out my retirement accounts, saved a decent liquid nest egg. Then I left specifically to start my own practice doing the exact same thing but as a plaintiff's lawyer.

I work similar hours but without the human work demands of being at people's beck and call and without the client demands and I'm generally the captain of my ship. I have a few associates and staff and make a lot more money and my earning capacity is not limited by the billable hour, conflict issues within the firm, politics, and other things inherent to defense practice. 

The other thing I realized about big law was that even partners trade a lot of time and have to deal with a lot of BS for the $300K to $1m they earn per year and who have all their eggs in the firm basket. It wasn't the level of security I wanted for my career and my friends who were junior partners weren't really getting rich but working harder and had generally unspecified goals they had to hit to earn equity in the firm. I didn't want to bust my butt for 15 years to get equity and get on the gravy train. 

I took a calculated risk after about 6 months of serious thought and it's worked out beyond my wildest expectations. 

You were in US big law, weren’t you? 

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I will also add that there are a select few associates who enter a firm and really seem to thrive in that environment, make junior partner at the earliest opportunity, then equity partner, who work on really interesting cases like appeals and the like, and who go on to get on the gravy train, have the respect of the firm and staff, judges, etc. So I'm not ragging on big law. I just think that for every associate/lawyer like that who really fits the mold there's a lot who don't and leave or don't and stay. 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

You were in US big law, weren’t you? 

Yes. I have lawyer friends in Canada too including a couple at TO firms that everyone would know of. I commiserate with them from time to time so I'm aware of some of the differences with partnership track and so forth up there but by all accounts there are more similarities than differences.

Edited by pineapple21

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33 minutes ago, pineapple21 said:

 my friends who were junior partners weren't really getting rich but working harder

Could you elaborate on the not getting rich part?

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1 minute ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Could you elaborate on the not getting rich part?

I probably shouldn't have phrased it that way because 300-500 is a lot of money. When I say not getting rich I say it in the sense that people live in a HCOL major city where most family homes close to downtown or within a decent commute require you to stretch your mortgage credit, then factor in childcare, and the fact work from home options are generally limited (hopefully changed now post-covid), in addition to keeping up with the jones' type behaviour, plus the long hours, pressure and work demands... That high salary for many people turns into a really effective way to fund a highly functioning rat race rather than "getting rich" in the sense of having plenty of disposable income and time to use it on things that aren't bare necessities. 

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