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EddieB

Mature student going to Bond come back practice solo?

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Hello everyone!

I recently got my JD offer from Bond but not sure whether I should go.

I had my undergrad from U of T with C+ CGPA 10 years ago and no LSAT score. I understand I have zero chance for any Canadian law school so I applied Bond.

My goal is to get my JD and come back Ontario to open a private practice doing some real estate transactions or immigration stuff. I don’t have any intention to work in a big law firm because it is just not my life style. I’m a mature student with family and kids, I’m not hungry for money, all I want is to have a JD or lawyer title and have a good balance between work and life.

Is going to Bond a realistic option for my circumstance? Will the degree lead me to where I want? I’m not strong in academic will I survive Bond, NCA exam, and Bar exam?

 Any thoughts will be appreciated!

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48 minutes ago, EddieB said:

I’m not strong in academic will I survive Bond, NCA exam, and Bar exam?

I'll refrain from commenting on the rest of this as others here are better placed to do so, but I just wanted to address this. Wondering whether you have the horsepower to get called in the first place is really the wrong concern to have about starting a career in law. This is a career that will constantly involve reading, keeping on top of developments, interpreting information, critical analysis, compliance with Law Society rules, etc. Getting called is the bare minimum and is a low bar (no pun intended). Legal work isn't rocket science but it would be a very unpleasant career for someone who isn't up to the task intellectually, just as it would be terribly unpleasant to be a physically weak mover.

I don't know you and I'm not saying you're stupid. But I am saying that if you are concerned about whether you are capable of the bare minimum level of performance required to be called, hanging your own shingle afterwards should be a far more daunting prospect for you.

Edited by CleanHands
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I just graduated from law school and I'm a very risk-averse person, so take my comments with a sizable grain of salt. Others, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Based on what I've heard from my mentors, solo practice is risky because you're highly dependent on your client list. When you're green it's difficult to build up your network and reputation, especially if you're away from the country during law school. Once you're up and running, you'll also have to pay out-of-pocket costs for Bar membership, software, office space, bad debts, etc. Even before you enter practice, you'll have to secure an articling position (which will be hard given the snooty attitudes many recruiters have towards NCA candidates) or complete the LPP (which, to my knowledge, still carries a lot of stigma in the industry).

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If you're interested in immigration law, consider a career as an immigration consultant. The kinds of clients you'll be catering to as a solo practitioner (meaning non institutional clients) have a hard time distinguishing between lawyers and consultants so there isn't much added value in qualifying as a lawyer if you know you'll be in solo practice.

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Have you built a successful business before? 
 

This is a very very bad idea for almost anyone. The rare exception might be someone who is exceptionally entrepreneurial (with a demonstrated history of small business success). 

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5 hours ago, CleanHands said:

I'll refrain from commenting on the rest of this as others here are better placed to do so, but I just wanted to address this. Wondering whether you have the horsepower to get called in the first place is really the wrong concern to have about starting a career in law. This is a career that will constantly involve reading, keeping on top of developments, interpreting information, critical analysis, compliance with Law Society rules, etc. Getting called is the bare minimum and is a low bar (no pun intended). Legal work isn't rocket science but it would be a very unpleasant career for someone who isn't up to the task intellectually, just as it would be terribly unpleasant to be a physically weak mover.

I don't know you and I'm not saying you're stupid. But I am saying that if you are concerned about whether you are capable of the bare minimum level of performance required to be called, hanging your own shingle afterwards should be a far more daunting prospect for you.

Thank you for your comment! I didn’t mean I’m someone not going to put my effort toward my degree. As a mom of three, I haven’t been working for the past ten years, I feel terrible about myself and not feeling as confident. I see having a JD degree will lead me to a career path and I can go back to the work force and feel the true self again.

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1 hour ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Have you built a successful business before? 
 

This is a very very bad idea for almost anyone. The rare exception might be someone who is exceptionally entrepreneurial (with a demonstrated history of small business success). 

I don’t have any previous business experience. I thought Bond JD won’t get me into any big firm, the only option left would be go solo.

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2 hours ago, msk2012 said:

If you're interested in immigration law, consider a career as an immigration consultant. The kinds of clients you'll be catering to as a solo practitioner (meaning non institutional clients) have a hard time distinguishing between lawyers and consultants so there isn't much added value in qualifying as a lawyer if you know you'll be in solo practice.

Thank you for your valuable comments.

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I spent a decade running a small business and it was two jobs at once: being a lawyer and being a small business owner. Not a good thing to start as you reach middle age unless you have some kind of all consuming passion for it.

This is not a good path for you financially or in terms of time investment. Places like Bond - as with almost any university trying to attract international students - make tremendous effort to get your money. If you can’t get into a Canadian school as a mature student (if you haven’t looked at this yet, do so) then don’t try for law. Foreign law schools don’t give you a good reputation in the legal community unless it’s Oxford or the like. 

The time it would take you to pay off your loans and travel and pay for the NCA, then with a sole practitioner shingle out and all that overhead that requires, has to be something like ten years. You have a family. You have obligations and can’t live off ramen in a studio apartment in the shitty part of town to pay that down.

I get wanting to infuse your life with meaning and recognition and respect and power and law hits all those marks. But in your position, without knowing more, there are better options available. 
 

At this point my best advice is look hard into Canadian law school mature student categories, and write a diagnostic LSAT. 

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10 hours ago, Hegdis said:

I spent a decade running a small business and it was two jobs at once: being a lawyer and being a small business owner. Not a good thing to start as you reach middle age unless you have some kind of all consuming passion for it.

This is not a good path for you financially or in terms of time investment. Places like Bond - as with almost any university trying to attract international students - make tremendous effort to get your money. If you can’t get into a Canadian school as a mature student (if you haven’t looked at this yet, do so) then don’t try for law. Foreign law schools don’t give you a good reputation in the legal community unless it’s Oxford or the like. 

The time it would take you to pay off your loans and travel and pay for the NCA, then with a sole practitioner shingle out and all that overhead that requires, has to be something like ten years. You have a family. You have obligations and can’t live off ramen in a studio apartment in the shitty part of town to pay that down.

I get wanting to infuse your life with meaning and recognition and respect and power and law hits all those marks. But in your position, without knowing more, there are better options available. 
 

At this point my best advice is look hard into Canadian law school mature student categories, and write a diagnostic LSAT. 

Thank you for your advise! I like your realistic thoughts but it is so hard to refuse Bond as they have elective courses to help passing NCA exams. Is it that hard to land with a lawyer job after Bond?

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@EddieB - There is the odd person out there for whom this wouldn't be a terrible idea, but as you've posted more I'm convinced that you are not one of such people. I had suspected as much when you talked about setting up your own shop (with a foreign degree and limited prospects for networking and mentorship) and about desiring a "good balance between work and life." Those are largely contradictory.

Can I ask why you specifically want to be a lawyer badly enough to consider such a rough and challenging path to it?

7 minutes ago, EddieB said:

it is so hard to refuse Bond as they have elective courses to help passing NCA exams.

I want to emphasize yet again that passing NCA exams should be the least of your concerns. Given that you still wrote this after the response you got above, I don't think you are getting this.

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18 hours ago, EddieB said:

Is going to Bond a realistic option for my circumstance? Will the degree lead me to where I want? I’m not strong in academic will I survive Bond, NCA exam, and Bar exam?

 

I won't pussyfoot around it. No. Bond is a predatory school looking to take advantage of people like you. I have friends who got into law school here and are still struggling to find a job, let alone anyone who does an overseas degree from a second rate law school. And as others have said, starting your own law firm isn't as easy as just doing your NCA. It will occupy ALL of your time as you get it off the ground. In addition, where will you get clients? Without clients you won't get money to pay back your schooling and pay your bills. And without mentoring and experience, and I mean YEARS of it, you won't be a capable enough lawyer to ethically serve clients on your own.

On top of all of this, you are a mother to THREE children. When will you have time for this? At least at a Canadian law school you can figure out if you can juggle this career - which is a time eater for the first x years - with your family. I say this as a middle aged mother myself.

If you aren't willing to dedicate all of your time and effort to this career, starting with law school and running through the first portion of your work experience, it's not for you. Don't waste your money. But if you are, apply to a Canadian law school. As a mature student your life experience will give you some bonus points for admission. If you're willing to take a chance on being a lawyer, do it the right way, don't fall prey to overseas scams.

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2 hours ago, EddieB said:

Thank you for your advise! I like your realistic thoughts but it is so hard to refuse Bond as they have elective courses to help passing NCA exams. Is it that hard to land with a lawyer job after Bond?

Your biggest hurdle will be trying to find Articles. It’s a tough market especially if you can’t cast the net to multiple cities or even provinces. 

A mature student with a Bond degree will definitely struggle. Do you have connections to the legal community? Can you connect with a lawyer and see if they would be willing to offer you articles in three years?

The other issue is that the two areas you have mentioned - completely different areas btw - are not part of Bond’s slender “Canadian Law” options. So you are about to get educated on how Australian law approaches immigration or real estate. 

Most immediately, employers will notice this when you look for articles. But from a wider lens, you aren’t even learning the law you want to practise - and you propose to hang you own shingle right away. This could be a disaster for you and your clients. 

Finally your concept of the time investment law will be as a career is way off. Once you have a decade under your belt you can enjoy a decent work/life balance. But as a sole practitioner - I speak from experience - you are going to have to be “on” 24/7 for a good many years so you can learn the ropes and drum up business. Law is not a casual job. It’s difficult and demanding and it requires your full attention. 

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5 hours ago, FortifiedEight said:

do it the right way, don't fall prey to overseas scams.

I wouldn't say Bond isn't a scam. But it is more difficult on the back end and you need to go into it with your eyes wide open to the consequences (and the admission office doesn't highlight those in their materials, that's for true). 

I say this as a Bondie with a solid job in DT Toronto. Now that I'm further into my career no one pays any attention to where I went to school. So it can work. But it is harder to make it work. 

That said. I reiterate the same advice that is littered on my profile: apply in Canada, try for Canada. Any of the "easier" aspects of getting in will be overshadowed by the challenges on the back end. Finding articles will be very difficult. And you'll be paying a massive student loan back at that point. And banks usually charge higher interest on foreign schools. 

I discuss Bond with students on here semi-frequently, if you have specific questions PM me. 

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@driedupwaterparks Was wondering when you'd show up, and I'm curious if you have anything to say about Bond grads immediately opening up their own shop in Canada after being called.

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1 hour ago, CleanHands said:

@driedupwaterparks Was wondering when you'd show up, and I'm curious if you have anything to say about Bond grads immediately opening up their own shop in Canada after being called.

This is really all I do on this board at this point.

I know of one. Sole practitioner in criminal, but they share office space with more experienced practitioners (and are often brought on to their cases). This person has access to mentorship etc. that way so it isn't the same as just hanging a shingle.

To be fair, I think it is a really really tough road for ANY new call to start solo. Whether they graduated top of class at U of T or are a lowly Bond grad.

Edited by driedupwaterparks
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4 minutes ago, driedupwaterparks said:

To be fair, I think it is a really really tough road for ANY new call to start solo. Whether they graduated top of class at U of T or are a lowly Bond grad.

100% right, I was just thinking about the importance of networking, access to mentorship (as you allude to), referrals, etc. Definitely for new call solos that stuff is more important than the reputation of one's alma mater, but it's something that Canadian schools would still better serve people for to at least some extent. I wonder how Bond students could establish such connections if they didn't already have them.

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Just to add: OP - you should know that the real estate law market is very cutthroat. Lots of competition and there are quite a few solo practitioners who will basically close real estate files for peanuts. I articled in real estate and got a glimpse into that market. Not advisable to go into just like that. 

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A degree from Bond would cost you at-least $200k in terms of real cost and opportunity cost. Honestly, you'd be better served taking that money and just putting in the stock market. Taking on that kind of debt to set up a solo firm doing practicing immigration law (which is one of the lowest, if not thee lowest, income earning area of law) is just a bad financial plan.

Ditto with real estate law. Do you have any idea how many $1,500 real estate conveyances you need to do in a year just to pay the bills? lets just say it is a lot more than you'll probably have coming through the door. Another problem with real estate law (especially for young lawyers) is that there is a lot of room for error. When things go wrong a a real estate file, they go horribly wrong. Many lawyers have been disciplined by the law society for just butchering real estate transactions that seemed straightforward, but weren't. 

If I were you, I would get a paralegal license and work as a paralegal. I know paralegals that make upwards of $100k/year and there is no reason why you couldn't pull that off. If you worked as a paralegal in a real estate or immigration firm you'd also be doing similar work to what it is that you're trying to do. 

Edited by shawniebear
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On 1/23/2021 at 4:56 PM, EddieB said:

Hello everyone!

I recently got my JD offer from Bond but not sure whether I should go.

I had my undergrad from U of T with C+ CGPA 10 years ago and no LSAT score. I understand I have zero chance for any Canadian law school so I applied Bond.

My goal is to get my JD and come back Ontario to open a private practice doing some real estate transactions or immigration stuff. I don’t have any intention to work in a big law firm because it is just not my life style. I’m a mature student with family and kids, I’m not hungry for money, all I want is to have a JD or lawyer title and have a good balance between work and life.

Is going to Bond a realistic option for my circumstance? Will the degree lead me to where I want? I’m not strong in academic will I survive Bond, NCA exam, and Bar exam?

 Any thoughts will be appreciated!

I don't intend to be dismissive, but I do want to get straight to the point: everything about this plan screams "bad idea". 

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