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Anyone works part-time?

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If you are working part-time, would you kindly please share how your schedule and pay is arranged? What area of law do you do? Thanks. 

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I think @epeeist practices part-time and has a different job as well? Maybe he has some ideas?

I have worked with an associate who was supposed to be working part-time, due to just having gotten back from mat leave, but it definitely didn't seem like she was working part-time in practice. She had a couple days off a week but would work super long hours on the day she was in and often ended up having to deal with things on the days she was supposed to have off.

Partners would try to give her a different day off when they could to compensate.  

Edited by Starling

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I've seen a few lawyers give it a try in a smaller solicitor firm setting. The main problem there was how can you run your own files when you aren't available during all business hours. So the part timers end up not having their own files which reduces them to more of a paralegal or articled student role, and at that point why does a firm want to pay for a lawyer to do the work when there is cheaper options.

Also from a support staff point of view, trying to work with a lawyer that's only around on certain days is an absolute nightmare.

Edited by lawstudent20202020

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I've known a handful of part-time solicitors, but they're always at least 35-40 years post-call who pull it off due to their seniority, reputation, experience, and existing big books (i.e., they don't drum up any new work and their practice is dwindling, but it doesn't matter because it is so large, built up over decades, that it amply sustains them and will, ultimately, outlive them).

And even then, those part-time solicitors that I've known still practice 4 or 5 days a week. It's just more of a Noon-4:30pm, easing into retirement/the grave type job.

Edit: I guess I should add that part of the reason these senior solicitors are kept around, and may still be in the partnership, is that part of their gig is that they mentor younger lawyers/articling students. My principal was one of these solicitors and I learned a ton just by watching him do his thing.

Edited by Mountebank
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5 hours ago, Starling said:

I think @epeeist practices part-time and has a different job as well? Maybe he has some ideas?

I have worked with an associate who was supposed to be working part-time, due to just having gotten back from mat leave, but it definitely didn't seem like she was working part-time in practice. She had a couple days off a week but would work super long hours on the day she was in and often ended up having to deal with things on the days she was supposed to have off.

Partners would try to give her a different day off when they could to compensate.  

OP sounds like they're working part-time as a lawyer employed by a law firm, which is quite different from me;   have a normal non-lawyer job, and also (with their knowledge and written into my agreement) I'm free to practice law on my own as a sole practitioner, which I do part-time, from recommendations and having total control over intake, typically only a few active files.

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Working part-time can be challenging in many areas of law.

After Ford's first round of LAO cuts, some clinic lawyers initially reduced their hours to match their reduced, pro rated salary (eg., dropped from five days to four days if their salary was being reduced by 20%, to three if reduced by 40%, etc). The problem was that the demands of the work didn't always fit neatly into their schedule for the week. Some things could get pushed, but if they had disclosure deadlines, hearings to prep for, and applications to file, then it didn't really matter that they weren't supposed to be working on those days. The work still had to get done, and the lawyer with carriage of the file had to work until it was. That meant they often weren't truly part-time.

I imagine similar problems arising in lots of other part-time roles. 

Edited by realpseudonym
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Part-time sounds good, in theory, but every lawyer I know who has attempted it has ended up working far more hours than they anticipated. The issue of carrying files is also an issue.

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48 minutes ago, realpseudonym said:

Working part-time can be challenging in many areas of law.

After Ford's first round of LAO cuts, some clinic lawyers initially reduced their hours to match their reduced, pro rated salary (eg., dropped from five days to four days if their salary was being reduced by 20%, to three if reduced by 40%, etc). The problem was that the demands of the work didn't always fit neatly into their schedule for the week. Some things could get pushed, but if they had disclosure deadlines, hearings to prep for, and applications to file, then it didn't really matter that they weren't supposed to be working on those days. The work still had to get done, and the lawyer with carriage of the file had to work until it was. That meant they often weren't truly part-time.

I imagine similar problems arising in lots of other part-time roles. 

Hopefully they were able to reduce their file load by the percentage of days that were reduced. Many areas of law wouldn't neatly fall into a 9-5, M-W kind of schedule but if they're cumulatively working 30 hours a week instead of 40 on average, for example, then I'd say it's as "part time" as it gets.

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1 hour ago, epeeist said:

OP sounds like they're working part-time as a lawyer employed by a law firm, which is quite different from me;   have a normal non-lawyer job, and also (with their knowledge and written into my agreement) I'm free to practice law on my own as a sole practitioner, which I do part-time, from recommendations and having total control over intake, typically only a few active files.

Just curious, what issues would you foresee if it wasn't written into your agreement? Aside from them possibly being pissed off that you didn't tell them about it.

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1 hour ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Hopefully they were able to reduce their file load by the percentage of days that were reduced. Many areas of law wouldn't neatly fall into a 9-5, M-W kind of schedule but if they're cumulatively working 30 hours a week instead of 40 on average, for example, then I'd say it's as "part time" as it gets.

They probably weren't. The only way to accomplish that would be to tighten the LAO cutoffs, which are already comically (read: sadly) low. 

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4 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

They probably weren't. The only way to accomplish that would be to tighten the LAO cutoffs, which are already comically (read: sadly) low. 

Well, that would explain why they weren't able to fit a five-day workweek into four days. Unless their five-day workweek wasn't being used to capacity, there's no way to shorten it without longer days or cutting down their workload.

Though, just thinking out loud, wouldn't they have discretion to reject files if they were at capacity?

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Just now, georgecostanzajr said:

Though, just thinking out loud, wouldn't they have discretion to reject files if they were at capacity?

5 hours ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Hopefully they were able to reduce their file load by the percentage of days that were reduced.

This is getting off-topic, but I'll bite.

Rejecting a clinic case isn't the same as rejecting a client in private practice. When you turn away a private client, you're basically just sending them to another lawyer. When you turn away a clinic client, you're probably denying them access to representation.

That's because there aren't very many people outside the clinic system who will do that work. Clinic lawyers tend to practice niche areas of law. Tenant side housing and social assistance aren't lucrative enough to maintain a robust private bar (if you're being evicted or having trouble applying for ODSP, you probably can't afford to pay legal fees). And they aren't funded by the certificate program. Clinic immigration has some overlap with private practice, but even then, clinic immigration lawyers tend to deal with a subset of problems. Add in the fact that many clinic clients are very high needs -- poverty and mental illness tend to run hand-in-hand -- and they're going to have trouble securing representation outside the clinic system. Plus, the clients can't just wander over to another clinic and find someone else. Each clinic serves a specific community or population. And since they barely have enough resources to serve their own community, they're not taking people outside of it.

Which is to say, sure, clinics can turn away people when they're at capacity. But when you're talking about eviction applications for impoverished individuals with mental illness in the middle of winter when the shelters are full, that's a possible death sentence and not a decision a clinic lawyer makes lightly. My guess is they take the case, and they exceed their reduced hours. 

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6 hours ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Well, that would explain why they weren't able to fit a five-day workweek into four days. Unless their five-day workweek wasn't being used to capacity, there's no way to shorten it without longer days or cutting down their workload.

Though, just thinking out loud, wouldn't they have discretion to reject files if they were at capacity?

@realpseudonym has nailed it. Yes they have discretion to reject files but they won't do it in practice because legal clinics are the legal services of last resort for poor people and they tend to do areas of law that paid lawyers don't do. Their mandate is to represent these clients on these matters. They simply won't turn away a core file (in a normal community clinic that typically means an ODSP or OW matter, or tenant matter) unless they can refer it to a different clinic. They might stop doing files in other areas though, like small claims... some clinics will expand services a bit when they are well funded.

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Firm work doesn't really lend itself to part-time practice. Overhead and staff are expensive, clients want to get a hold of us, court deadlines/timing of conferences and the like.

I knew of a few part time lawyers who were doing summary legal advice for EAPs. It's glorified call centre work but it pays decently.

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18 hours ago, epeeist said:

OP sounds like they're working part-time as a lawyer employed by a law firm, which is quite different from me;   have a normal non-lawyer job, and also (with their knowledge and written into my agreement) I'm free to practice law on my own as a sole practitioner, which I do part-time, from recommendations and having total control over intake, typically only a few active files.

I have a colleague who does this, and he is pretty gosh-darned busy. Do you find that the two jobs sometimes interfere with each other?

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10 hours ago, realpseudonym said:

Which is to say, sure, clinics can turn away people when they're at capacity. But when you're talking about eviction applications for impoverished individuals with mental illness in the middle of winter when the shelters are full, that's a possible death sentence and not a decision a clinic lawyer makes lightly. My guess is they take the case, and they exceed their reduced hours. 

Fair enough. I'm part of a community legal clinic as part of my school term and we haven't done any intakes since the beginning of 2020 as we are at capacity. The lawyers seem rather comfortable not taking on other clients due to our workload. I wasn't sure if this was the case for other clinics. I presume every clinic has its own procedures.

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1 hour ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Fair enough. I'm part of a community legal clinic as part of my school term and we haven't done any intakes since the beginning of 2020 as we are at capacity. The lawyers seem rather comfortable not taking on other clients due to our workload. I wasn't sure if this was the case for other clinics. I presume every clinic has its own procedures.

That doesn't sound like a capital C Community Legal Clinic, which is a defined thing in Ontario. Ex., in Toronto Neighbourhood Legal Services and Parkdale are CLCs and the student clinics out of the law schools are really not (despite offering services to the community).

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On 12/11/2020 at 8:28 PM, georgecostanzajr said:

Just curious, what issues would you foresee if it wasn't written into your agreement? Aside from them possibly being pissed off that you didn't tell them about it.

Moonlighting generally raises issues; not being an employment lawyer, I can't say whether controlling.

But, for lawyers particularly, a higher ethical burden (my view, not providing any ethical advice here!); and even if not I'd rather be honest. And I've occasionally been off from my regular job for a pre-trial hearing or trial, kind of hard to do that and be truthful if you've kept it a secret. Even if doing solicitor work, I think it bad practice to keep a professionally-regulated side business secret. Huge difference between mowing your neighbour's lawn for $20 on the weekend versus being solicitor of record in a lawsuit.

I've even had a few matters referred to me because not a secret (I don't mean lawyer referral, I mean someone at work asking if I'd be interested in speaking to a friend of theirs).

8 hours ago, GreyDude said:

I have a colleague who does this, and he is pretty gosh-darned busy. Do you find that the two jobs sometimes interfere with each other?

I do not do a lot of lawyer work, enough to have a reasonable expectation of profit and to keep my hand in and maintain familiarity (I only do civil litigation, not a GP, and no longer do IP work, by limiting my scope keeping current is more feasible), and because I like litigation. In considering whether to become more active and advertise etc. I have to bear in mind that can quickly become much busier; and my regular job has unpredictable busy times also.

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I work part-time. I'm kind of surprised that it seems to be uncommon as I've had part-time lawyer colleagues at every firm I've ever worked at. At my current job I bill, so I do an 80% schedule -- that is, my target is 80% of full-time. In a previous firm I didn't have to bill and worked M-Thurs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I don't take a consistent day off, though I do try to take a full day each week. I monitor email on my off days though. 

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3 hours ago, Lola O. said:

I work part-time. I'm kind of surprised that it seems to be uncommon as I've had part-time lawyer colleagues at every firm I've ever worked at. At my current job I bill, so I do an 80% schedule -- that is, my target is 80% of full-time. In a previous firm I didn't have to bill and worked M-Thurs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I don't take a consistent day off, though I do try to take a full day each week. I monitor email on my off days though. 

I'm currently full-time but I know of similar arrangements, particularly for parents, and surprised by the above comments. 

For instance, do 0.8 of full-time bills, but be on call and available to clients.  It isn't too difficult to manage.  It does affect the overhead to productivity ratio, so base pay may also not be a pure 0.8, etc., but it's a workable model. 

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