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Hopefullawstudent11

Is becoming a lawyer worth it?

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4 hours ago, admitme said:

OP (and any other pre-law reader) if you have the grades to go to dental school please do not pursue law. 

Huh? That's nonsensical. 

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Edit. Deleted derailing post. 

Yes you can make 100k+ as a lawyer. 

No, the profession isn't nearly as bad as some make it out to be. It's actually quite satisfying and the hours are generally manageable when you consider the fact that you're making 100k+. Lawyers just enjoy complaining. It's part of the fun and it starts in law school. 

Edited by setto
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1 hour ago, Ptolemy said:

There does seem to be a lot of dissatisfaction expressed in this profession.  As an example, some Crowns in AB have recently (but pre-pandemic) expressed such dissatisfaction to the media:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-crown-prosecutors-justice-government-1.5393024

And here is a response from defence counsel who used to be a Crown:  https://calgary-law.ca/blog/stop-your-whinging-alberta-justice-in-crisis/.  In this response, the author gives an important reminder that making between $100k - $200k is actually a lot of money and those earning that type of money (which I assume is the vast majority of lawyers at least 5 years out) should be grateful.

I am now in my 5th year and I am very satisfied with this profession. 

So... as an Alberta Crown I know pretty much all of the people mentioned in both links, and I really don't want to comment much.  But I did want to say that the fate of Crown Prosecutors in Alberta is our own very much individual and specific thing, and can't be used to generalize about the whole profession.

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16 minutes ago, setto said:

Lawyers just enjoy complaining. It's part of the fun and it starts in law school. 

1L wouldn't be 1L without bitching about how much studying you have to do, while at a bar at 2am on a Wednesday (or over zoom, because COVID).

Edited by lawstudent20202020
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Yeah, $100-200k is quite a bit of money! I don’t make that much yet, but I make much more than I used to, and it’s already like... more than enough money. I put an entire paycheque each month towards my debt (which is eye watering) and otherwise live quite comfortably in a two-bedroom in downtown Toronto (shared with my partner).

This is not to say that my outcome is the common one, but more a comment about how much money that is.

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I'll throw in this thought for what it's worth. Even for those of us making a modest hourly wage, we can increase hour yearly earnings by 50% by working 50% more hours. (Assuming a 40 vs 60 hour work week).

So it makes absolute sense that a new lawyer making an amount of money on the high end of the spectrum has chosen to work for a firm where extremely long hours are expected. Those wishing to work 40 to 45 hours can probably find an appropriate job with an appropriate salary as well.

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11 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Yeah, $100-200k is quite a bit of money! I don’t make that much yet, but I make much more than I used to, and it’s already like... more than enough money. I put an entire paycheque each month towards my debt (which is eye watering) and otherwise live quite comfortably in a two-bedroom in downtown Toronto (shared with my partner).

This is not to say that my outcome is the common one, but more a comment about how much money that is.

This is more a comment of how costs have outpaced wage growth, but 100k isn't a "lot" of money in the sense it was 10 years ago. Property and child care pretty much wipe out a massive chunk of that in most urban cities today, which is usually where you expect to make 100-200k these days.

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13 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

This is more a comment of how costs have outpaced wage growth, but 100k isn't a "lot" of money in the sense it was 10 years ago. Property and child care pretty much wipe out a massive chunk of that in most urban cities today, which is usually where you expect to make 100-200k these days.

It’s about a $3000 cheque, twice a month (depending on your employer’s deductions). That still goes quite a ways. 

Things are definitely more expensive, but if you’re doing that by your early 30s, you’re doing okay.

Edited by easttowest

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A lot of real estate lawyers I know are always complaining about how much they make. I think it is because they are comparing themselves to their wealthy developer and investor clients, not the average person. Then, too, I do sympathize with the frequent observation that a residential conveyance might generate a $700 fee with all of the inherent risk/bother compared to a realtor selling that same house with a commission that might be $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000.

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2 minutes ago, ronlawyer1420 said:

A lot of real estate lawyers I know are always complaining about how much they make. I think it is because they are comparing themselves to their wealthy developer and investor clients, not the average person. Then, too, I do sympathize with the frequent observation that a residential conveyance might generate a $700 fee with all of the inherent risk/bother compared to a realtor selling that same house with a commission that might be $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000.

Real estate is a volume business. I know BC notaries that have cracked 200k just doing simple conveyances and development work, although their insurance fund is significantly better than a lawyers so the personal risk is lower. 

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9 minutes ago, easttowest said:

It’s about a $3000 cheque, twice a month (depending on your employer’s deductions). That still goes quite a ways. 

That is a substantial amount of money for one person to take home.

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1 minute ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

That is a substantial amount of money for one person to take home.

Yes, we agree.

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2 hours ago, Malicious Prosecutor said:

So... as an Alberta Crown I know pretty much all of the people mentioned in both links, and I really don't want to comment much.  But I did want to say that the fate of Crown Prosecutors in Alberta is our own very much individual and specific thing, and can't be used to generalize about the whole profession.

I agree.  It was just an example of expressed dissatisfaction and a reply to it

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Law has its benefits, as others have mentioned - well-defined path to a middle or upper-middle class life, intellectual work, "cool" opportunities outside law (e.g., galas, events), less uncertainty than many other "office jobs" (I have friends who have languished on the corporate ladder for a long time and have no idea what their next move will be), but it definitely has downsides too. Essentially saying "how high?" when a client asks you to jump to can get exhausting (although this isn't unique to law), the billable hour can get tiring fast, and sometimes you do just feel like you're pushing paper (particularly if you're in a business law role where the major deal decisions are being made by the business people). As others have mentioned, at larger firms, you also tend to associate with clients and partners who have far more money than you, so even a good associate income can make you feel underpaid. Part of the problem is sampling bias - you're generally dealing with the business people and senior lawyers that succeeded - not the entrepreneurs who failed or the middle managers who work longer hours than you do for a lower salary and more career uncertainty.

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On 11/24/2020 at 6:53 PM, Hopefullawstudent11 said:

Recently I have been doing more research on what lawyers think of the profession and honestly most opinions that I am reading paint a very dark picture with long hours, and little pay.

Then don't work in a firm. There's plenty of work you can do with a law degree that pays very well and isn't brutal like working in a traditional law firm. Look into government jobs for instance, in the legal services branch. Work a certain position in a company. Etcetera. 

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13 hours ago, Mihael said:

Then don't work in a firm. There's plenty of work you can do with a law degree that pays very well and isn't brutal like working in a traditional law firm. Look into government jobs for instance, in the legal services branch. Work a certain position in a company. Etcetera. 

Securing a government job is not guaranteed (and your best shot would be getting in as a student. If you miss that opportunity, it's private practice for you for a while) and that working a position in a company (in-house counsel) can also be very demanding - it depends on the company. 

think practicing at a smaller town is better? But I haven't spoken with lawyers practicing in those areas. 

My 0.02 as a law student: 0Ls should not be considering law school if they are not comfortable with the idea that there is a good chance they will have to sacrifice work-life balance. 0Ls should understand this. 

Edited by Twenty
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On 11/24/2020 at 6:53 PM, Hopefullawstudent11 said:

Hey guys,

I am a fourth year who has finished applying to law school, done their LSAT and now just waiting for the law schools to make their decisions. I have only applied to Ontario law schools. Recently I have been doing more research on what lawyers think of the profession and honestly most opinions that I am reading paint a very dark picture with long hours, and little pay. I would like it if some of you could share your thoughts/opinions/personal experiences. I have an undergrad degree which I can get a job with right out of undergrad so I was just wondering. I have always wanted to be a lawyer and was attracted to the field partly due to the high income earning potentials. I understand that for the first 4-6 years that may not be a possibility as I will still be learning but I definitely want to be making 100k-200k in my career. Please don't tell me to not go into law thinking only about money; I am not, but in this world you have to be realistic. No one is gonna go under debt and extra schooling for the pure passion of it. Yes I have passion and a desire to be a lawyer, but I definitely do want to be making money as no one is putting me through school and I will be exclusively depending on loans. 

 

I would really appreciate your honest advice thanks! Please be gentle LOOL

I don’t think this has been said clearly enough

As a lawyer with 4 to 6 years experience if you want to make 100k a year, you can. 
 

Making 200k by year 6 would be a stretch, but not impossible depending on how much you are willing to work. 


That said, and I’m stealing this from someone this website, law is a great way to make a upper middle class wage*. It isn’t a great way of making you ridiculously wealthy. 

what you need to ask is if not law, what? 

*As defined by what people think upper middle class is, which is completely out of sync with realty based on actual income percentiles, but that’s a different issue.

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15 minutes ago, Twenty said:

Securing a government job is not guaranteed (and your best shot would be getting in as a student. If you miss that opportunity, it's private practice for you for a while) and that working a position in a company (in-house counsel) can also be very demanding - it depends on the company. 

think practicing at a smaller town is better? But I haven't spoken with lawyers practicing in those areas. 

My 0.02 as a law student: 0Ls should not be considering law school if they are not comfortable with the idea that there is a good chance they will have to sacrifice work-life balance. 0Ls should understand this. 

Those big law jobs that sometimes require 60+ work weeks aren't exactly a cake walk to land either.

The fact of the matter is, there are PLENTY of legal careers in private practice that aren't very demanding. Sure, they pay less, but you can still hit 100k. Working at most midsized firms in any larger Canadian city will put you at 100k within the first few years of work and you're not exactly burning the candle at both ends. For smaller firms, you can generally expect to make partner much sooner and can hit 100k-200k if you have the hustle (and if there isn't a pandemic...).

Edit - it's all relative. 50 hours a week is manageable for me but may seem like garbage to someone working 35. But then again, $100k is a large amount of money so 50 hours a week and the stress doesn't seem all that bad.

Edited by setto

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22 minutes ago, Coolname said:

I don’t think this has been said clearly enough

As a lawyer with 4 to 6 years experience if you want to make 100k a year, you can. 
 

Making 200k by year 6 would be a stretch, but not impossible depending on how much you are willing to work. 


That said, and I’m stealing this from someone this website, law is a great way to make a upper middle class wage*. It isn’t a great way of making you ridiculously wealthy. 

what you need to ask is if not law, what? 

*As defined by what people think upper middle class is, which is completely out of sync with realty based on actual income percentiles, but that’s a different issue.

I think 6th year calls make like $200k at Bay Street firms...

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30 minutes ago, setto said:

...The fact of the matter is, there are PLENTY of legal careers in private practice that aren't very demanding...[focus on midsized firms]

Edit - it's all relative. 50 hours a week is manageable for me but may seem like garbage to someone working 35. But then again, $100k is a large amount of money so 50 hours a week and the stress doesn't seem all that bad.

I am not necessarily disagreeing with your points. I just think that while there are mid-sized firms that have better hours, there are also mid-sized firms that have bad hours. It is not as simple as "big law = bad hours, mid size = good balance". 

Lawyers work hard because it is a service profession. As you alluded to in your edit, "good balance" in law may actually not be that "good" relative to other professions. The point I am trying to make is that 0Ls should expect to work hard regardless...but down the road if they do encounter those unicorn firms/boutiques with excellent hours, good pay, and semi-reasonable clients, I hope they send me a DM and name drop the firm. 

I also suspect geography might be a huge factor. For example, a typical Bay Street mid-size firm probably expects their lawyers to still work a lot (and certainly not work 9-5 hours). 

Edited by Twenty

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