Jump to content
poshspice

Government Work

Recommended Posts

I'm curious to know what it's like working for government as a lawyer.

What kind of position do you have (i.e., do you work for a Bureau, DoJ, etc)? 

How did you get your position, if not through a summer OCI job?

Does anyone have experience with the government job pool post FC/FCA clerkship? 

What is your work-life balance like?

What's the salary like?

Is it advisable to grind out a couple of years in private practice and then decide?

Lots of questions, I know... But I'm genuinely curious as someone who has only worked in private practice as a student. I don't enjoy the politics at big firms, and I find that it can be a bit toxic. While the work is interesting and the pay is great, I feel like life's just to short to do something that gives me immeasurable anxiety everyday. Something that I'm really thinking a lot about lately is work-life balance. I want to do litigation, and I want to know if a legal career in government allows for pursuing my career dreams while also living a more balanced life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My spouse is a government lawyer for Ontario. He says it's mostly in-house solicitor-type work. Lots of agreements to review and prepare. Lots of email questions. If you check out the job postings from the Ministry of the Attorney General you can get a general sense of what those work look life. For government of Ontario, most civil litigation work is done by Crown Law Office-Civil.

He articled there and then moved to a different Ministry within the same government to become a permanent counsel. He's now at a third new Ministry doing a one-year secondment because he wanted to experience and learn some new stuff.

From what I can observe, his work load is decent. He can turn work off after work most of the time.

Pay is good. Pension is good. Not as good as the big laws in downtown Toronto, but better than mine (mid-size firm associate).

Getting in is just a lot work for the interview. I saw him studying for the interview like it was a law school exam. Also need three references.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a civil litigation counsel for a major municipality. I was hired back after articling. Salary is comparable to other government offices, I think (never looked too much into it). Decent but not private firm levels. You can check out public sector salary disclosures to get a rough idea. The pension is great, or so I'm told. It's a "dee bee".

On the whole, work-life balance is better compared to my peers in private practice, and some of our more senior lawyers who came from firms have told me the hours factored in their decisions to move. That being said, there are times you have to bust your tail and work just as hard, sometimes for months in a row. By no means is it a 9-6 gig, even for the most senior counsel. And it's still a stressful job, at times.

I really enjoy not having to deal with the business side of a practice, and being able to focus just on the legal work. I don't have to worry about getting clients or schmoozing; I'm a cog in the machine and I do the work that lands on my desk. Obviously, you still need to know how to manage relationships and maintain trust, and when you're dealing with politicians it's a uniquely delicate dance. And there's always budgetary pressures which leads to things like our dockets being scrutinized for efficiency. But on the whole, my problems arise from the legal work and strategy, not extraneous stuff.

Sort of connected to the previous point, another thing I like is that my work is not dictated by money. As government, the bottom line is (or should be) the public interest. Yes, economics are a consideration, of course. But where a private party might not spend $15,000 to fight a dubious one-off $5,000 claim all the way to trial (opting to settle and avoid the headache), we can't simply pay out to get rid of an unmeritorious claim, even if it's way cheaper to do so. A public body is always in the crosshairs, and it would set a bad precedent to make nuisance settlements. All of that to say, I like being able to conduct litigation on principle.

In regard to office politics, my office is very collegial and I couldn't ask for better people to work with. I often wonder how they managed to foster this culture. Office politics are not a thing. If someone joined our group and started trying to play those games, they would stick out like a sore thumb. But I can only speak for my office.

Speaking for my group again, it would be very difficult to get in after a couple years in private practice. Our new junior lawyers are all hired directly from our articling pool. All the external hires I know of were at least eight years out. The only exception is a fourth-year call who was hired in a couple years ago, but he is in a very specific practice area we needed (and we actually advertised for a 10+ year call).

So, litigation for the government should offer better work-life balance (again, it's relative), and I mostly don't have to deal with the extraneous anxiety-inducing stuff you want to be rid of. Whether it can fulfil your career dreams is harder to answer.

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for your responses, and I sincerely apologize for the delay in thanking you. I really appreciate these responses!

It has been a rough couple of months and I continue to be very uncertain about what I want out of my legal career.  Maybe government might be the way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Recent Posts

    • I don't think they weigh your cGPA too heavily. My cGPA is pretty tragic but I have a strong L2 and a sub-par LSAT and was waitlisted last cycle. I know that's not an acceptance but I really do think they prioritize your L2, and favour a strong upward trend. (I have friends who were accepted over previous cycles with lower cGPA's but strong L2's as well). 
    • I was accepted by Western this cycle with with a 3.08 cGPA and a 3.65 L2 (and a 167 LSAT). Mind you, I also have 2 masters degrees and got an A- average in both (both were course-based). I think cGPA does matter, but they account for how long ago your undergrad was and what you've done since then, and whether you've proved that you could probably do better if you were given another chance (and ergo succeed in law school). 
    • Hi, are there any LLM applicants for the year 2021/2022 who received an admission e mail from Dalhousie? My application was completed on 31st March 2021 and waiting for a reply from the University. Just wondering whether any one of you guys have an update.    Thank you!!!
    • There are a lot of municipalities in Canada. City of Toronto hires a few articling students (most of their lawyers are former articling students and they rarely hire from outside though), along with Region of Peel, York Region, and some others I've seen. For federal government, there is only really the DOJ Legal Excellence Program. The municipalities also hire junior lawyers and I've seen quite a few postings in York Region and the surrounding areas. The process is a lot faster than the federal government which can take over a year from the time you apply. The federal government rarely hires junior lawyers outside of its articling students and federal court clerks. And you often see mid-level lawyers applying for LP-01 positions with the federal government and going through a written exam and interview processes just to end up in a waiting pool. I know people who applied in 2019 for the most recent DOJ LP-01 recruitment process and were put into a waiting pool which is scheduled to expire soon, after which point you have to apply all over again. So getting your foot in the door is a lot harder than it is for municipal and provincial. Certainly, getting into provincial is easier than municipal as there are a lot more legal positions available as well. 
    • Hey I'm a bit late here but I can give you my personal experience. It is quit the contrary of what your expectations seem to be. I did 3 years CEGEP and a 4 year Undergrad (just because I took my time). I spent some time managing a restaurant, then started a law certificate in the evening, then law school. I thought I would be disadvantaged because my background was so far away form the classic path to Biglaw. I will be 28 when graduating. I just did my Course aux stages and got 4 offers, while having a 3.65 GPA. First, they don't care about your age. If you have done anything productive in the past 10 years, it will be a great advantage to you in the interviews, because you might have more to say than anyone else. Find a way to highlight your maturity/leadership or whatever it is you have developed while others were in high school. I had a lot of misconceptions about a supposed prejudice towards older candidates, but I can assure you they don't really care. Get involved in whatever gets you going and be passionate about something. Good luck!

×
×
  • Create New...