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pele24

Overtime pay/ vacation/hours

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7 minutes ago, georgecostanzajr said:

Don't know where you work, but you should be able to offload some of those mechanical and tedious tasks to your assistant, assuming you have one.

@pzabbythesecond said annoying*; that’s not necessary the same thing as “mechanical”. 
 

It appears that you haven’t even graduate from law school yourself. When you do start articling, I would caution you not to attempt to “offload” assignments from your principal onto your firm’s support staff. 

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7 hours ago, pele24 said:

Unlike in Europe, there is no life/work balance in Canada. But why lawyers and articling students are not entitled to (and not only lawyers but other professions):

  • minimum wage
  • daily or weekly limits on hours of work
  • daily rest periods
  • time off between shifts
  • weekly/bi-weekly rest periods
  • eating periods
  • overtime pay
  • sick leave, family responsibility leave or bereavement leave, if taking the leave would be professional misconduct or abandoning your duty
  • public holidays or public holiday pay
  • vacation with pay

Salary in small firms does not allow you to have comfortable life, but you are asked to work long hours and sacrifice your life for that small salary. Noone cares whether you have a family and kids, you have to be in the office for at least 10 hours. 

Why are many lawyers forced to work long hours without getting paid well for it? 

Why is it legal to be overworked and not be compensated for it? How it happened that this modern slavery became a norm? 

 

Idk, I’m glad there aren’t limits on the amount of hours I can work, there is rarely enough time to get everything done as is.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, TheScientist101 said:

@Diplock nailed it on the head. 

I always tell students at my firm that they have to find an area of law that they absolutely love. Being a lawyer is a lot of work. For myself I'm almost always at least thinking about something at work, but that's okay because I really love it. Sometimes I get asked to do things that are annoying or tedious but as I become more senior, those kinds of jobs are less common and I can focus on the parts of my work that really excite me. 

Simply put, if you don't love the area of law your practicing, then you're going to hate your life. If there isn't anything about law that you like, then maybe look at a different profession or transitioning your legal experience into another non-law role. 

The "do what you love" advice is repeated to people from like middle school onward, but it's a tough ideal for most. Most people will never be able to match their work with their passions. Many don't even have passions that can be translated into work. They great majority of lawyers will never work within an AOL that they love. Many don't even like the law. 

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

@pzabbythesecond said annoying*; that’s not necessary the same thing as “mechanical”. 

It appears that you haven’t even graduate from law school yourself. When you do start articling, I would caution you not to attempt to “offload” assignments from your principal onto your firm’s support staff. 

It appears you didn't read my statement correctly, because I said some of those mechanical and tedious tasks. My statement did not relate to all tasks that he may have found "annoying", but only those that were mechanical and tedious.

I'm not sure where you work, but students are encouraged to give mechanical tasks to their assistants (where I work). That's what they're there for. In almost every assignment there are mechanical components. Otherwise you're wasting the clients money billing them $200-300/hr doing menial non-legal tasks such as formatting, copy/pasting info, etc.

Also, thanks for the great insight stranger, but I'll take my principal's advice, an experienced lawyer who has practiced in my area of interest, over a random lawstudents.ca member's unsolicited advice.

Edited by georgecostanzajr
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23 minutes ago, georgecostanzajr said:

It appears you didn't read my statement correctly, because I said some of those mechanical and tedious tasks. My statement did not relate to all tasks that he may have found "annoying", but only those that were mechanical and tedious.

I'm not sure where you work, but students are encouraged to give mechanical tasks to their assistants (where I work). That's what they're there for. In almost every assignment there are mechanical components. Otherwise you're wasting the clients money billing them $200-300/hr doing menial non-legal tasks such as formatting, copy/pasting info, etc.

Also, thanks for the great insight stranger, but I'll take my principal's advice, an experienced lawyer who has practiced in my area of interest, over a random lawstudents.ca member's unsolicited advice.

You're not done law school so you don't have a principal. And you're telling off a seasoned lawyer in @QuincyWagstaff. Just stop.

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While I agree OP indulged in gross hyperbole, I don't entirely agree with @Diplock (my perspective is former FT small-firm associate, now only PT lawyer and FT a non-law career).

There are professional requirements leading to hard work, long hours, and uncertain schedules. For instance, a criminal or family lawyer (and others of course!) may have genuinely urgent client needs like arrests, emergency custody issues, etc. Those are endemic to the profession.

But, there are also employer or client requirements that aren't "necessary" or part of the profession per se. Like some firms (thinking US examples I've read about, I'm sure Canadian ones also), imposed deadlines like requiring 24/7 availability and responses to all emails within 30 minutes or whatever, even if not urgent. Because the employer dictates and/or the client expects that. That's not being on call 24/7 because urgent legal issues come up, but because of non-legal factors. And in other non-legal non-professional jobs, being on call or requiring out-of-office responses to communications does (or should, I'm not giving a legal opinion!) lead to compensation for on-call time, even if not called upon. Or let's say a partner has a matter due in 2 months, but they're going on vacation in a week, and kind of want to look at it before then, so they tell an associate to do something over the weekend. That's not legal urgency, that's non-legal urgency, even if the partner doesn't look at it until back from vacation and the associate could have taken more time...

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20 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

The "do what you love" advice is repeated to people from like middle school onward, but it's a tough ideal for most. Most people will never be able to match their work with their passions. Many don't even have passions that can be translated into work. They great majority of lawyers will never work within an AOL that they love. Many don't even like the law. 

I agree, to a point, but while it's true that many people may not have wide latitude to "do what they love" the community of people who already made it into the legal profession is pretty well-advantaged, here. I don't think it's unreasonable to offer this advice to legal professionals, and I don't think it's unrealistic to follow it either. If you show me someone with the resources and the capability of attending and graduating from law school in the first place, that's someone who could be doing almost anything else instead of practicing law if they wanted to. Are you really telling me all these talented people, with all their options, can't find anything else they'd like to do with their productive working lives? Man, that's incredibly sad.

"Love" is perhaps a strong word. I don't expect that many people will or should be utterly in love with their jobs. But some degree of enjoyment and appreciation, at least. If you don't have that now, you should be looking for it. We're not talking about subsistence level farmers who were born into limited options here.

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14 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

You're not done law school so you don't have a principal. And you're telling off a seasoned lawyer in @QuincyWagstaff. Just stop.

This varies by province. I was a temporary articled student and had a principal both during summer employment and a clinic during law school.

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2 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

This varies by province. I was a temporary articled student and had a principal both during summer employment and a clinic during law school.

Doesn't really matter in the context of who he was speaking against with some pretense of authority. And this poster tends to do that.

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Just now, pzabbythesecond said:

Doesn't really matter in the context of who he was speaking against with some pretense of authority. And this poster tends to do that.

Well, that aside, just to be clear you're incorrect about law students not having principals.

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I just hid a post that quoted from a private message. If the person who wrote it agrees to it being posted I will unhide it. 

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35 minutes ago, Diplock said:

If you show me someone with the resources and the capability of attending and graduating from law school in the first place, that's someone who could be doing almost anything else instead of practicing law if they wanted to. Are you really telling me all these talented people, with all their options, can't find anything else they'd like to do with their productive working lives? Man, that's incredibly sad.

I wrote out a big long screed in response to this, but thought better about it and decided to spare you and everyone else.

Instead I'll keep it short and sweet and just say that I know firsthand that it's simply not true that those capable of attending and graduating from law school must have other good prospects. I can't argue with you about that being "incredibly sad," but it is true.

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Diplock said:

I agree, to a point, but while it's true that many people may not have wide latitude to "do what they love" the community of people who already made it into the legal profession is pretty well-advantaged, here. I don't think it's unreasonable to offer this advice to legal professionals, and I don't think it's unrealistic to follow it either. If you show me someone with the resources and the capability of attending and graduating from law school in the first place, that's someone who could be doing almost anything else instead of practicing law if they wanted to. Are you really telling me all these talented people, with all their options, can't find anything else they'd like to do with their productive working lives? Man, that's incredibly sad.

"Love" is perhaps a strong word. I don't expect that many people will or should be utterly in love with their jobs. But some degree of enjoyment and appreciation, at least. If you don't have that now, you should be looking for it. We're not talking about subsistence level farmers who were born into limited options here.

Love is a strong word and I was responding to that word. It is also why I used the term passion in my response. 

I don't love my job and there is nothing about it that I love, but there are some aspects of it that I like. I don't read love vs. like as a minor difference. 

Personally I do better when I abandon any notion of finding my vocation or "calling" in life and I instead focus on the necessity of shouldering responsibility through my work and what that means for the people around me. For me at least, if I was determined to find work that I "absolutely love" I would probably become quite depressed. I would agree that most lawyers would admit to finding some degree of enjoyment or appreciation, at least, in what they do, but that did not seem to me to be what TheScientist101 was getting at.

Also, a surprising amount of people go to law school almost by default in our country. They aren't driven by any real clear desire to be a lawyer. You can apply to law from any background, there are schools everywhere, you need to be smart but not a 3.95 GPA wunderkind. For a lot of people with good grades and no idea what to do, it seems like a reasonable next step so they take it. And then once they are through law school the power of time and sunk costs makes it pretty hard to not do the profession even if they aren't finding any passion in it. 

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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As lawyers, our duties to our clients and the Court are of the highest consequence. We are not merely workers. We carry on a profession. Being a member of a profession means that your professional obligations may not be undermined by complaints that you have insufficient lunch breaks. As lawyers, we give ourselves to service and, as long as we enjoy the distinction of practicing law, we wear our professional obligations at all hours. If you are not prepared to serve this ideal, then you do not belong as a practicing member of the bar.

But it is not all bad news. In exchange for the sacrifices we make as a body of professionals, the society we serve grants us a substantial living, personal privilege, and, frankly, more political and social power than any other group.

Finally, one of the many privileges we enjoy as lawyers is the ability to carry on practice on our own without working as anyone's employee. Anyone who chooses to accept employment, and thereby navigate the natural tension between the employee/employer relationship and our obligations as lawyers, has to accept this or move along to something else.

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10 minutes ago, Mountebank said:

As lawyers, our duties to our clients and the Court are of the highest consequence. We are not merely workers. We carry on a profession. Being a member of a profession means that your professional obligations may not be undermined by complaints that you have insufficient lunch breaks. As lawyers, we give ourselves to service and, as long as we enjoy the distinction of practicing law, we wear our professional obligations at all hours. If you are not prepared to serve this ideal, then you do not belong as a practicing member of the bar.

But it is not all bad news. In exchange for the sacrifices we make as a body of professionals, the society we serve grants us a substantial living, personal privilege, and, frankly, more political and social power than any other group.

Finally, one of the many privileges we enjoy as lawyers is the ability to carry on practice on our own without working as anyone's employee. Anyone who chooses to accept employment, and thereby navigate the natural tension between the employee/employer relationship and our obligations as lawyers, has to accept this or move along to something else.

If anyone failed to stand to attention and salute by the end of the first paragraph, then I regret to inform you that you're a dirty communist. 

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Part of what I take issue with in the “love v. like” debate is that the distinction is too often placed on the enjoyment of the content and substance of the materials read day in and day out, and not enough on the enjoyment in tasks performed. I suspect the former is what a lot of us consider as “loving” our jobs, and finding enjoyment in the work we do. When we’re talking about those poor lot that hate what they do as lawyers, we’re automatically associating the misery with a lack of stimulation and intrinsic enjoyment in digesting the content and philosophical underpinnings of the law as an art.

Where I see the “like” side falling is on the enjoyment of the functional aspects and somewhat extrinsic qualities of being a lawyer. The ubiquity of having put in a hard day’s work, attention to minute details (it’s a bit of a prerequisite), and the logical puzzles and strategizing inherent to every area. I’m inclined to put the human impact in this category, because I’d argue seeing outcomes and results can trigger “love” of the law/profession more often than the inverse.  

What I suspect happens to a many is that applying to law school is less about “what do I do with my good grades and decent work ethic?” and is more about a problematic conflation of enjoying the content of undergrad with the enjoyment of the work ethic that earned whatever grades were necessary for to get into law. A sort of expectation that the good time will keep-a-comin’. This is where the trouble of the “professional” lifestyle comes into play, because there’s a lot of motivated people whose work ethic – in an area they were passionate about – doesn’t translate into adopting work ethic a mode of life in the context of law. In other words, circumstantial passion is confused with general passion for work ethic; the latter being a quality I would argue is necessary to be a career lawyer and not being a member of the “how many years until you’re out?” echo chamber.

Of course, lots suggest a person should work their way into an AOL where they can leverage the energy of passion into drive and work ethic,  but I can sympathize with those who are lost in the fray, having been disillusioned by the process and realization that law requires both. What’s a shame is that it’s damn near impossible to “teach” this perspective to someone, for someone to learn that working hard at something you already love is easy but the path you’re taking is going to lead you somewhere where love of the ethic is demanded over passion.

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3 hours ago, Mountebank said:

As lawyers, our duties to our clients and the Court are of the highest consequence. We are not merely workers. We carry on a profession. Being a member of a profession means that your professional obligations may not be undermined by complaints that you have insufficient lunch breaks. As lawyers, we give ourselves to service and, as long as we enjoy the distinction of practicing law, we wear our professional obligations at all hours. If you are not prepared to serve this ideal, then you do not belong as a practicing member of the bar.

But it is not all bad news. In exchange for the sacrifices we make as a body of professionals, the society we serve grants us a substantial living, personal privilege, and, frankly, more political and social power than any other group.

Finally, one of the many privileges we enjoy as lawyers is the ability to carry on practice on our own without working as anyone's employee. Anyone who chooses to accept employment, and thereby navigate the natural tension between the employee/employer relationship and our obligations as lawyers, has to accept this or move along to something else.

I strongly disagree, at least to the extent you take it (and recognizing you're distinguishing between partners or sole practitioners and employed lawyers).

There have been lawyers who were nursing mothers denied a break to express because the judge didn't want to take a break, lawyers denied a chance to go to the bathroom and soiling their clothes, etc. I've known people who for health reasons HAD to take meal breaks. At the time I did bar ads there was a teaching component, with mandatory attendance, and one pregnant woman was told if she had to attend an obstetrical appointment that was missing mandatory attendance (she escalated and eventually they changed the rules). To snidely dismiss lunch breaks as unprofessional is more than ridiculous; and it shouldn't require medical reasons to take a break (indeed, given the billable hour, if taking breaks makes one more productive and saves the client money, in a non-emergency/legally urgent situation, is it ethically problematic to work crazy hours, taking more time to do the work because tired?). To take a different example, long hours of residents contributes to medical mistakes; to argue for more reasonable hours is not just about the professional, but about the quality of work.

Now, if you mean that sometimes the demands of the profession are overriding, one may have to miss a break or cancel a vacation or whatever, especially during a trial, I wholeheartedly agree. But to repeat my point from before, distinguish between what the practice of law requires in the way of sacrifice, from what judges, officials, employers, or clients demand that is not necessary for the professional practice of law but is an unreasonable exercise of power.

Also, there is a discriminatory aspect, that lawyers - including but not limited to mothers or those with health conditions - who do excellent work but may not put in the face time, may wrongly be perceived as lesser lawyers even if more efficient and delivering a better work product, due to the billable hour. Not just gender, I've read about US wrongful dismissal cases by Orthodox Jews who observed the Sabbath - and it wasn't necessary to the job, it had more to do with bosses wanting them available Saturdays because that's when they (the partner) wanted to work.

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5 hours ago, epeeist said:

While I agree OP indulged in gross hyperbole, I don't entirely agree with @Diplock (my perspective is former FT small-firm associate, now only PT lawyer and FT a non-law career).

There are professional requirements leading to hard work, long hours, and uncertain schedules. For instance, a criminal or family lawyer (and others of course!) may have genuinely urgent client needs like arrests, emergency custody issues, etc. Those are endemic to the profession.

But, there are also employer or client requirements that aren't "necessary" or part of the profession per se. Like some firms (thinking US examples I've read about, I'm sure Canadian ones also), imposed deadlines like requiring 24/7 availability and responses to all emails within 30 minutes or whatever, even if not urgent. Because the employer dictates and/or the client expects that. That's not being on call 24/7 because urgent legal issues come up, but because of non-legal factors. And in other non-legal non-professional jobs, being on call or requiring out-of-office responses to communications does (or should, I'm not giving a legal opinion!) lead to compensation for on-call time, even if not called upon. Or let's say a partner has a matter due in 2 months, but they're going on vacation in a week, and kind of want to look at it before then, so they tell an associate to do something over the weekend. That's not legal urgency, that's non-legal urgency, even if the partner doesn't look at it until back from vacation and the associate could have taken more time...

This reflects my point as well. There are expectations from employers that you should be available all the time, that you stay late and come early, but these extra hours are never compensated. You pretty much work extra hours for free and you are expected to do so. 

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5 minutes ago, pele24 said:

This reflects my point as well. There are expectations from employers that you should be available all the time, that you stay late and come early, but these extra hours are never compensated. You pretty much work extra hours for free and you are expected to do so. 

No, you might work those evenings and weekends for free. What happens at your annual evaluation? Do you not negotiate a raise based on the hours you've billed? Do you not get an annual bonus, based at least in part on your billings? 

 

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