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Articling Burnout (Pandemic)

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Current Big Law articling students - What are some tips / advice you have for dealing with burnout? It’s been a long 7 months siloed off alone working these nuts hours ... 

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Taking vacation days to unwind and re-energize. Talking to friends/family. Acknowledging that this is a tough situation and I am doing my best. 
 

hang in there! It’s the last stretch and you’re not alone on the burnout front. 

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3 hours ago, Nayaab02 said:

Taking vacation days to unwind and re-energize. Talking to friends/family. Acknowledging that this is a tough situation and I am doing my best. 
 

hang in there! It’s the last stretch and you’re not alone on the burnout front. 

You have time between deals to take vacation days??!

 

A bunch of people in my class are billing close to NY levels consistently, wondering why we aren't in NY making 3x salary...

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I've been trying to practice gratitude by writing things down that I'm grateful for everyday: good health, a job, higher paying job than most working in the Canadian market, firm pays lso fees, health benefits, paid sick days, fresh water, nespresso, good smelling shampoo, beautiful sunrises, gorgeous sunsets.

I also been practicing meditation through the Calm app and one thing they emphasize is instead of comparing ourselves on what we could have (I.e US big law salaries) we should try and do downward comparison so we realize how much we actually have. Examples, UK big law pays less, one of my family members in accounting works 70-80 hour weeks for half the pay that I'm getting, my sister was working double jobs/min wage/no health benefits before covid and now the hours got cut in half and she would love to have work. My friend lost his job and is still struggling to find one. Here's an example we don't think of everyday: lots of people still have to walk miles to get clean fresh water. I have to walk 13 steps to get water.

I found this tapers the "my life is so unfair" loop in my head, which I do get a lot, but I like to just keep thinking back to how fricking blessed and excited I felt when I landed this job.

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4 hours ago, kindersuprise said:

Examples, UK big law pays less,

... but you enter law school right after high school.

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34 minutes ago, MountainMon said:

... but you enter law school right after high school.

  1. Actually, it can take an extra year or two compared to Canada to be considered a solicitor in the UK so ...and u don't get paid much for the training either:
  2. Three-year undergraduate degree (+ 1 year GDL conversion course if required)
  3. One-year Legal Practice Course (LPC)
  4. Two-year Professional Skills Course.
  5. Two-year law training contract in a law firm.
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15 minutes ago, kindersuprise said:
  • Three-year undergraduate degree (+ 1 year GDL conversion course if required)
  • One-year Legal Practice Course (LPC)

So.... 4 years. The length of the typical undergraduate degree.

17 minutes ago, kindersuprise said:
  • Two-year Professional Skills Course.
  • Two-year law training contract in a law firm.

It’s my understanding that these are done simultaneously much like accounting and CPA designation and of course you’re being paid during the training contract.

19 minutes ago, kindersuprise said:

and u don't get paid much for the training either:

Better than having to do an extra 3 years of school entirely unpaid. And from a brief search it seems that big firms in London pay very similar to typical articling salaries for training contracts.

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I think you missed what I was trying to say in my first post. Something I learnt was upward comparison really is the thief of all joy and instead (even though it's hard), try and focus on all the good things you have (always look on the bright side of life). monty python GIF

You can spend all day pointing out how you have it way harder than other people but would that really make you feel better? I think it just adds to the burnout, anxiety, stress...

**I will say that things such as abuse, mistreatment, illness are different cases entirely.

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26 minutes ago, kindersuprise said:

I think you missed what I was trying to say in my first post. Something I learnt was upward comparison really is the thief of all joy and instead (even though it's hard), try and focus on all the good things you have (always look on the bright side of life). monty python GIF

You can spend all day pointing out how you have it way harder than other people but would that really make you feel better? I think it just adds to the burnout, anxiety, stress...

**I will say that things such as abuse, mistreatment, illness are different cases entirely.

I don’t disagree with you there. Just wanted to point out that UK biglaw doesn’t necessarily pay worse. I’m out of my element here anyways so I’ll bow out.

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21 hours ago, CTerror said:

You have time between deals to take vacation days??!

 

A bunch of people in my class are billing close to NY levels consistently, wondering why we aren't in NY making 3x salary...

Same ... Associate pay needs to go up big time 

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16 hours ago, kindersuprise said:

I've been trying to practice gratitude by writing things down that I'm grateful for everyday: good health, a job, higher paying job than most working in the Canadian market, firm pays lso fees, health benefits, paid sick days, fresh water, nespresso, good smelling shampoo, beautiful sunrises, gorgeous sunsets.

I also been practicing meditation through the Calm app and one thing they emphasize is instead of comparing ourselves on what we could have (I.e US big law salaries) we should try and do downward comparison so we realize how much we actually have. Examples, UK big law pays less, one of my family members in accounting works 70-80 hour weeks for half the pay that I'm getting, my sister was working double jobs/min wage/no health benefits before covid and now the hours got cut in half and she would love to have work. My friend lost his job and is still struggling to find one. Here's an example we don't think of everyday: lots of people still have to walk miles to get clean fresh water. I have to walk 13 steps to get water.

I found this tapers the "my life is so unfair" loop in my head, which I do get a lot, but I like to just keep thinking back to how fricking blessed and excited I felt when I landed this job.

This is great. Perspective is everything! 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, CorporateAlligator said:

Same ... Associate pay needs to go up big time

I'm just an articling student, but billing 12, and generally working 16 hours a day just doesn't seem sustainable. At least we have an end date to look forward to. If I was an associate with no end in sight I would've left to either a job where I get much higher pay for the same hours, or a little less pay for substantially less hours. At least I'd know what a weekend feels like again.

I've also heard that students who have literally quit their articles halfway because of the amount of work.

That said, I don't know if this is just normal and students are supposed to bill 180-200 hours a month consistently and we're just a bunch of whiny babies, or if we're being worked abnormally hard. Perhaps some associates can chime in here.

Edited by CTerror

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, CTerror said:

That said, I don't know if this is just normal and students are supposed to bill 180-200 hours a month consistently and we're just a bunch of whiny babies, or if we're being worked abnormally hard. Perhaps some associates can chime in here.

It gets better. It's not just the hours, but the expectation of responsiveness you have while articling, generally being less familiar with law work, not having the power to delegate and having less insight into the bigger picture of the file that makes articling hours "feel" worse. I think (hope?) you'll find that in a lot of practices, that same 180-200 hours feels much more sustainable once you become an Associate. 

Edited by OzStudent

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On 4/8/2021 at 7:38 AM, kindersuprise said:

I also been practicing meditation through the Calm app and one thing they emphasize is instead of comparing ourselves on what we could have (I.e US big law salaries) we should try and do downward comparison so we realize how much we actually have. Examples, UK big law pays less, one of my family members in accounting works 70-80 hour weeks for half the pay that I'm getting, my sister was working double jobs/min wage/no health benefits before covid and now the hours got cut in half and she would love to have work. My friend lost his job and is still struggling to find one. Here's an example we don't think of everyday: lots of people still have to walk miles to get clean fresh water. I have to walk 13 steps to get water.

The person who laid the foundation of knowledge for the vaccines currently saving the world never made more than $60K in a year.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/health/coronavirus-mrna-kariko.html

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8 hours ago, CTerror said:

I'm just an articling student, but billing 12, and generally working 16 hours a day just doesn't seem sustainable. At least we have an end date to look forward to. If I was an associate with no end in sight I would've left to either a job where I get much higher pay for the same hours, or a little less pay for substantially less hours. At least I'd know what a weekend feels like again.

I've also heard that students who have literally quit their articles halfway because of the amount of work.

That said, I don't know if this is just normal and students are supposed to bill 180-200 hours a month consistently and we're just a bunch of whiny babies, or if we're being worked abnormally hard. Perhaps some associates can chime in here.

Your numbers don’t add up. 
 

Billing 12 hours a day, even without working weekends, would mean far more than 200 hours a month. 
 

180 hours a month means billing slightly more than 8 hours a day with weekends off.

In my articling 200 was a push, but 180 was manageable. I disagree with ozstudent though, I found it far easier to record those numbers as an articling student than an associate.

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8 hours ago, CTerror said:

If I was an associate with no end in sight I would've left to either a job where I get much higher pay for the same hours, or a little less pay for substantially less hours.

But do these jobs really exist?

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, CTerror said:

I'm just an articling student, but billing 12, and generally working 16 hours a day just doesn't seem sustainable. At least we have an end date to look forward to. If I was an associate with no end in sight I would've left to either a job where I get much higher pay for the same hours, or a little less pay for substantially less hours. At least I'd know what a weekend feels like again.

If you think the hours aren't sustainable and you are gonna burnout, I don't think increasing the salary is necessarily the answer. For sure for the next few years it might be but once you start wanting to settle down with family, you will find that you start measuring your happiness/sanity/motivation/burnout in leisure hours rather than $$$. A 2018 study was done that found that:

'The ideal income point for individuals is $95,000 for life satisfaction and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being. When people earned more than $105,000, their happiness levels decreased."

...adjusted for inflation and Toronto rate I believe that number is higher but it's not as simple as US to CAD currency conversion since everything around us is measured in CAD. Either way, if your making Bay Street rates, increase salary isn't what's gonna get you a fulfilling life, instead more time with loved ones, cool experiences will.

I really think to reduce burnout/turnover rate in big law, firms should reduce the hour requirements and hire more associates to support instead of just simply increasing pay and indirectly increasing expectations to unsustainable and unsatisfactory levels. I'm sure if you do a cost benefit analysis of lowering billable hours (and subsequently lower burnout rates) vs the cost to replace/train a new person everytime someone decides to quit because they have had enough, it will even out.

Edited by kindersuprise
Updated the study
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jaggers said:

The person who laid the foundation of knowledge for the vaccines currently saving the world never made more than $60K in a year.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/health/coronavirus-mrna-kariko.html

I think that article means she never made more than $60,000 a year during her time at the University of Pennsylvania, which ended in 2005 when she left to found RNArx. When UPenn sold the exclusive licence to her patents and didn’t promote her to faculty, she left to become a Senior Vice President at BioNTech. 

She’s now the Senior Vice President of BioNTech whose job it is to see mRNA vaccine and drug development, so if she’s making less than $60,000 a year she’s very, very undercompensated. 

Not to take away from the point of your post 😛 I’m just annoyed by how that article is deceptively written. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois

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11 minutes ago, kindersuprise said:

If you think the hours aren't sustainable and you are gonna burnout, I don't think increasing the salary is necessarily the answer. For sure for the next few years it might be but once you start wanting to settle down with family, you will find that you start measuring your happiness/sanity/motivation/burnout in leisure hours rather than $$$. A study was done that showed that once you hit 70k, your happiness levels off....adjusted for inflation and Toronto rate I believe that number is 110k but someone correct me if I'm wrong. Either way, even more money than that isn't what's gonna get you a fulfilling life, instead more time with loved ones, cool experiences will.

I really think to reduce burnout/turnover rate in big law, firms should reduce the hour requirements and hire more associates to support instead of just increasing pay and indirectly increasing expectations to unsustainable and unsatisfactory levels. I'm sure if you do a cost benefit analysis of lowering billable hours (and subsequently lower burnout rates) vs the cost to replace/train a new person everytime someone decides to quit because they have had enough, it will even out.

I don't think 110k is that in today's Toronto market if you're someone who wants to own a home with the family. Even assuming your spouse makes the same, you won't afford a big enough and nice home in Toronto for that comfort you're referring to.

Sorry. Just my daily rant about Toronto (and Canada in general) property prices.

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Just now, pzabbythesecond said:

I don't think 110k is that in today's Toronto market if you're someone who wants to own a home with the family. Even assuming your spouse makes the same, you won't afford a big enough and nice home in Toronto for that comfort you're referring to.

Sorry. Just my daily rant about Toronto (and Canada in general) property prices.

Yea it might be higher.. Honestly though don't get me started on the real estate...its a huge issue in itself that needs to go higher than our employers to fix...aka the government (but doubt it will). How on earth are we young ones suppose to buy something in Toronto on our own, who knows

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