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ENkta

How saturated is the job market in Canada? Job prospects?

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Hi everyone! 

I hope you are all doing well. 

I'm currently a second year undergraduate student and I'm really interested in applying to law school. The practice of law genuinely interests me, and I am seriously considering going into law.

However, I have seen some things on the internet saying that the job market for law is saturated and it may be difficult to become employed. I would appreciate it if someone can confirm how true these claims are. 

How saturated is the job market in Canada? Which areas of law are the least saturated? And in particular,  is there a good probability of becoming employed with a law degree? 

Thanks in advance!!!

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I can't speak to the saturation but one of the great things about a law degree is that it's very versatile. You're not necessarily restricted to just being a lawyer, you can do any number of things (e.g. academia, ombudsperson, conflict resolution, politics, legal publishing, policy development). So if you go through your education and find that the lawyer route is too saturated at the time, you definitely won't be stuck at a dead end. 

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I'm going to only engage with this question to the depth that it deserves. And "I've seen stuff on the Internet" isn't exactly a deep query. The real issue you're going to run into here is of course there are people who struggle to find employment in law, just as of course there are people doing really well. Finding some example of one or the other doesn't prove anything. So can we at least establish some context?

I don't know what your thinking is as a current student in university, but I've got some shitty news for you. Life doesn't come with guarantees. Any possible field you can think about, you'll find people doing well and people who are struggling. Compared with almost any other profession I can reasonably think of, law is a good choice. And that's all the reassurance you'll get. It's all that's possible. You're going to hear stories about people who went to law school and can't find the jobs they want. But I don't know what kinds of alternatives you're hoping for where that's not a possibility.

That's really all there is to say.

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8 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

That’s possibly one of the worst arguments for going to law school. 

Yeah. This is a great example of why "pre-law" clubs should be banned on campus. This is the kind of discussion you get, when a student at the end of undergrad is advising a student in the middle of undergrad about the legal profession. At least here someone else will step in and call bullshit. In a pre-law club, this sort of claim would pass as authoritative.

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10 minutes ago, Diplock said:

Yeah. This is a great example of why "pre-law" clubs should be banned on campus. This is the kind of discussion you get, when a student at the end of undergrad is advising a student in the middle of undergrad about the legal profession. At least here someone else will step in and call bullshit. In a pre-law club, this sort of claim would pass as authoritative.

Reminds me of how stupid I was back in second year undergrad to be really upset about not getting on the pre law club's exec team.

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29 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

That’s possibly one of the worst arguments for going to law school. 

Beyond that, it also can make you actively less attractive to those positions, especially early in your career. You're seen as a flight risk who will run back to being a lawyer at the drop of a hat. If you want to work in politics, get the MPM from Carleton. Policy, go grind for a party that suits your fancy for a few years, or get a MPP and head to the public service. Do not get a JD. 

OP - the response to the question you asked is basically another question. How good of a law student are you going to be? You'll find being at the top 15-20% of any professional field is generally a pretty safe place to be.

Edited by whoknows
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1 hour ago, navyblue11 said:

I can't speak to the saturation but one of the great things about a law degree is that it's very versatile. You're not necessarily restricted to just being a lawyer, you can do any number of things (e.g. academia, ombudsperson, conflict resolution, politics, legal publishing, policy development). So if you go through your education and find that the lawyer route is too saturated at the time, you definitely won't be stuck at a dead end. 

Many of the alternative careers people cite for those with a law degree are either also extremely difficult to get into and/or have additional requirements to get into other than merely a JD.

A JD can be a nightmare for finding non-law related work in many cases as employers are scared you will jump ship. This is especially the case if the position isn't what people refer to as "legal adjacent."

There's almost never a time where it is a good idea to get a JD if you are not planning to become a lawyer. There will almost always be an alternative pathway to just about any non-legal position that is cheaper and less time consuming than a JD and that won't require you to go through herculean efforts to convince any recruiter that you aren't a flight risk for the first 3-5 years of your non-legal career.

Edited by Toad
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The articling rate at U of T, Osgoode, Western and Queens is 90%+. I’m not sure about other schools and other jurisdictions, but if you come out of one of these programs (or an equivalent) you’ll be fine. You should, however, be aware that not all law jobs are made equal in terms of salary. Grades determine what end of the spectrum you’ll be on. 
 

I was asking myself the same question last year. If you’re looking to get rich, a law degree probably isn’t the best way to get there. For instance, the average starting comp for a top Canadian MBA grad is ~115k and 90%+ employment rates after 3 months. I have friends in MBB consulting and investment banking/PE that made $100k out of undergrad plus bonus. I have a friend who’s does some sort of computer engineering shit at one of the big 5 and his salary out of undergrad was $90k plus bonus. The highest paying law jobs pay first year associates ~110k base  + bonus  

My take: If you come out of a strong program with grades that aren’t absolutely dismal, you’ll have a very good chance of getting a job and a very good chance of living at least a middle class lifestyle. The demand for lawyers is expected to grow roughly in line with the Canadian economy as a whole. My only hope is that we don’t see new law schools pumping out more lawyers that the market doesn’t need. 
 

I also second the fact that a law degree is very versatile. A lot of people exit and go into consulting, finance, policy, etc. I don’t know why this wouldn’t be a factor in making a decision to go to law school. It was definitely a factor in mine. 

Edited by HopefulLawyer97
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38 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

Reminds me of how stupid I was back in second year undergrad to be really upset about not getting on the pre law club's exec team.

Same, my university's pre law society was the first club my clueless first year self applied to. In hindsight, I'm not at all complaining that they rejected my application 🤣

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2 hours ago, ENkta said:

However, I have seen some things on the internet saying that the job market for law is saturated and it may be difficult to become employed. I would appreciate it if someone can confirm how true these claims are. 

How saturated is the job market in Canada? Which areas of law are the least saturated? And in particular,  is there a good probability of becoming employed with a law degree? 

First and most important thing: Canada is not the US and the two countries aren't comparable in terms of educational opportunities and employment prospects for lawyers. So where ever it is that you're reading this stuff, make sure it's specific to the Canadian market.

Second thing: a lot of lawyers are self-employed. Once you are Called (ie have your degree plus fulfill your articling requirement plus pass the bar exam(s)) you can hang your own shingle doing whatever you want. Obviously this is a terrible idea if you don't know what you're doing, and I would in general not recommend it for first and second year Calls, but "become employed" needs to be filtered through this lens. You can always be employed. Whether you can always have some one else sending you a paycheque every two weeks is different.

Third: the areas of law aren't saturated - the geographical areas are. So the Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal markets etc are saturated - as in there's incredible competition via sheer volume of other lawyers vying for the same work. But if you move to a small city, or a town, or even a quasi-rural area and you're willing to drive around a bit, there is LOTS of work to go around.

If, to you, "law" means prosecuting gangsters or working behind a mahogany desk on the 40th floor or consulting with the graphic designer for the Oilers on some copyright infringement of the logo, it's extremely competitive and very difficult to get to that level of work. But if you're thinking of working with a smaller group of lawyers helping people get divorced or write up their wills or plan their small business expansion, or if you want to defend people who get into bar fights or drive drunk, the odds are good you'll find reasonable prospects of doing this work anytime, almost anywhere.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

That’s possibly one of the worst arguments for going to law school. 

Only if you make it your primary reason of going to law school. I see it more as an upside as opposed to a main motivator, and I never suggested it should be viewed as anything else other than that. In fact, I strongly recommend against viewing it in anything other than just an upside/downside scenario. 

Edited by navyblue11
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2 hours ago, Diplock said:

I'm going to only engage with this question to the depth that it deserves. And "I've seen stuff on the Internet" isn't exactly a deep query. The real issue you're going to run into here is of course there are people who struggle to find employment in law, just as of course there are people doing really well. Finding some example of one or the other doesn't prove anything. So can we at least establish some context?

I don't know what your thinking is as a current student in university, but I've got some shitty news for you. Life doesn't come with guarantees. Any possible field you can think about, you'll find people doing well and people who are struggling. Compared with almost any other profession I can reasonably think of, law is a good choice. And that's all the reassurance you'll get. It's all that's possible. You're going to hear stories about people who went to law school and can't find the jobs they want. But I don't know what kinds of alternatives you're hoping for where that's not a possibility.

That's really all there is to say.

Hi,

Thanks for your answer! Yes, I know that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to finding a job. I wanted clarification since the people on reddit seemed to be saying that in general, the employment rate is low. But I am glad to hear that law is a good choice compared to other professions. 

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2 hours ago, whoknows said:

Beyond that, it also can make you actively less attractive to those positions, especially early in your career. You're seen as a flight risk who will run back to being a lawyer at the drop of a hat. If you want to work in politics, get the MPM from Carleton. Policy, go grind for a party that suits your fancy for a few years, or get a MPP and head to the public service. Do not get a JD. 

OP - the response to the question you asked is basically another question. How good of a law student are you going to be? You'll find being at the top 15-20% of any professional field is generally a pretty safe place to be.

Thank you!!

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1 hour ago, HopefulLawyer97 said:

The articling rate at U of T, Osgoode, Western and Queens is 90%+. I’m not sure about other schools and other jurisdictions, but if you come out of one of these programs (or an equivalent) you’ll be fine. You should, however, be aware that not all law jobs are made equal in terms of salary. Grades determine what end of the spectrum you’ll be on. 
 

I was asking myself the same question last year. If you’re looking to get rich, a law degree probably isn’t the best way to get there. For instance, the average starting comp for a top Canadian MBA grad is ~115k and 90%+ employment rates after 3 months. I have friends in MBB consulting and investment banking/PE that made $100k out of undergrad plus bonus. I have a friend who’s does some sort of computer engineering shit at one of the big 5 and his salary out of undergrad was $90k plus bonus. The highest paying law jobs pay first year associates ~110k base  + bonus  

My take: If you come out of a strong program with grades that aren’t absolutely dismal, you’ll have a very good chance of getting a job and a very good chance of living at least a middle class lifestyle. The demand for lawyers is expected to grow roughly in line with the Canadian economy as a whole. My only hope is that we don’t see new law schools pumping out more lawyers that the market doesn’t need. 
 

I also second the fact that a law degree is very versatile. A lot of people exit and go into consulting, finance, policy, etc. I don’t know why this wouldn’t be a factor in making a decision to go to law school. It was definitely a factor in mine. 

Thank you very much that was really helpful! :)

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1 hour ago, Hegdis said:

First and most important thing: Canada is not the US and the two countries aren't comparable in terms of educational opportunities and employment prospects for lawyers. So where ever it is that you're reading this stuff, make sure it's specific to the Canadian market.

Second thing: a lot of lawyers are self-employed. Once you are Called (ie have your degree plus fulfill your articling requirement plus pass the bar exam(s)) you can hang your own shingle doing whatever you want. Obviously this is a terrible idea if you don't know what you're doing, and I would in general not recommend it for first and second year Calls, but "become employed" needs to be filtered through this lens. You can always be employed. Whether you can always have some one else sending you a paycheque every two weeks is different.

Third: the areas of law aren't saturated - the geographical areas are. So the Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal markets etc are saturated - as in there's incredible competition via sheer volume of other lawyers vying for the same work. But if you move to a small city, or a town, or even a quasi-rural area and you're willing to drive around a bit, there is LOTS of work to go around.

If, to you, "law" means prosecuting gangsters or working behind a mahogany desk on the 40th floor or consulting with the graphic designer for the Oilers on some copyright infringement of the logo, it's extremely competitive and very difficult to get to that level of work. But if you're thinking of working with a smaller group of lawyers helping people get divorced or write up their wills or plan their small business expansion, or if you want to defend people who get into bar fights or drive drunk, the odds are good you'll find reasonable prospects of doing this work anytime, almost anywhere.

This was very informative! Thank you!! :)

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Hegdis said:

But if you're thinking of working with a smaller group of lawyers helping people get divorced or write up their wills or plan their small business expansion, or if you want to defend people who get into bar fights or drive drunk, the odds are good you'll find reasonable prospects of doing this work anytime, almost anywhere.

This is exactly what I am hoping to do when I graduate. :) 

Edited by robobrain
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To add on to what other posters have said, I worked for a major political party for a while before law school. Many of my higher ups were lawyers, but they were there after many years of practicing law and they started working in these positions after realizing that they didn’t want to practice law. I wouldn’t generally suggest going law school > policy job and I’m not sure that it’s very easy to go that route. It makes more sense to get a MPP in that case. In fact, I think I realized I wanted to get a JD precisely because I didn’t want to do what they did. 

Get a law degree if you want to practice law. If you don’t, look at other options that will get you to where you want to go. 

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, navyblue11 said:

Only if you make it your primary reason of going to law school. I see it more as an upside as opposed to a main motivator, and I never suggested it should be viewed as anything else other than that. In fact, I strongly recommend against viewing it in anything other than just an upside/downside scenario. 

Nope, wrong again. 
 

This is myth; a law degree alone, without some experience practising/being Called, is unlikely to have a net positive effect on your employability.

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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49 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Nope, wrong again. 
 

This is myth; a law degree alone, without some experience practising/being Called, is unlikely to have a net positive effect on your employability.

so true

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