What you donâ€™t learn in law school
Fall 2017 PrecedentJD.com inside Meet the Bay Street lawyer who puts in 300 pro bono hours fighting human trafficking Career advice from a top female partner Improv: The OCI prep you didnâ€™t know you needed
PLUS: Spotlight on mental health in law school
Start right. Were you the neighbourhood lemonade stand mogul? The President (and proud lone member) of the eighth grade Pre-Law Society? You might just be ready for Osler. We’re creative, collaborative thinkers — who are proud to work on the most groundbreaking law in Canada. You’re passionate about becoming a great lawyer. We’re passionate about giving you the best start to your legal career — with innovative work and access to the best people. There’s no better place than Osler. Your time is now. Visit oslerstudent.com
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt llp Toronto Montréal Calgary Ottawa Vancouver New York | osler.com
Because you donâ€™t learn everything in law school.
Hit the Ground Running at Bennett Jones
On the cover Photography by Vicky Lam
Think there are too many lawyers? The job market is in the midst of a decade-long slump, all while law students are graduating in record-high numbers. So the answer must be yes, right? Not even close by Daniel Fish
I never wanted to settle for something I didn’t love. Chris Burkett, p.11
8 EDITOR’S NOTE
I’m looking for a lawyer. Are you up for the challenge?
9 OUR PEOPLE
How our contributors decided what to do with their lives
REQUIRED READING 11 CAREER
The corporate lawyer who spends 300 pro bono hours a year representing survivors of the sex trade
Bay Street (finally) goes on a hiring spree
How taking an improv class will help you land your dream job
EXTRA CREDIT 31 WELLNESS
It’s no secret that law school can trigger mental-health problems. But why is that? And what can you do?
Why fashion isn’t frivolous
Once you start making good money, don’t make this mistake
Want the perfect career? Not gonna happen. But Lisa Borsook, the executive partner at WeirFoulds, tells you why that’s okay
PrecedentJD Fall 2017
A new pair of glasses helped me see a new way to practise law PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Paul Attia Raquiya Austin Lisa Borsook Rosemary Counter Katherine Laidlaw
MARKETING & DIGITAL PROJECTS MANAGER
Lauren Parrott ART DIRECTION
The Office of Gilbert Li ADVERTISING DESIGNER
Caroline Versteeg ACCOUNTING
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS & ILLUSTRATORS
Jason Gordon Vicky Lam Wenting Li Alina Skyson
DIGITAL IMAGING SPECIALIST
Paul Jerinkitsch Imaging FACT-CHECKER
Martha Beach PROOFREADERS
Braden Alexander Christina Cheung Alexandria Chun Anna Maxymiw
PrecedentJD is published annually by Law and Style Media Inc. and is distributed across Canada at the following universities’ law schools: Dalhousie University, Lakehead University, McGill University, Queen’s University, Thompson Rivers University, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Université de Montréal, University of Manitoba, University of New Brunswick, University of Ottawa, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Windsor, Western University and York University, as well as Ryerson University’s Law Practice Program. 2 Berkeley Street, Suite 205 Toronto, ON M5A 4J5 Phone: 416.929.4495 Email: email@example.com Website: PrecedentJD.com PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 41484021
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I USED TO HATE SHOPPING FOR GLASSES. I’d wander through a store, not sure what was in style. Worse still, it was never clear how much the lenses would cost once my new prescription was added into the mix. So I always put off getting a pair, choosing instead to stick with my out-of-date specs, even as street signs and movie screens went out of focus. But not anymore. I just bought a new pair of glasses (pictured up there in my editor’s photo — like ’em?) at Ollie Quinn, a new store in my Toronto neighbourhood. The whole shopping experience was better. Rather than walls of expensive namebrand glasses, the store has a small selection that they design in-house based on the latest eyewear trends. As long as your prescription is fairly simple, they’re all the same, affordable price. It’s brilliant. When I walked out with my new glasses, I felt confident that I’d chosen just the right pair. Why am I telling you this? Because I want to buy legal services the same way I bought these glasses. As a small-business owner who runs a legal-media company — which includes Precedent Magazine, PrecedentJD and The Precedent A-List — I often need basic legal advice. If I don’t already know a lawyer who can help (and thank goodness I often do), I dread hiring one. I’m never sure where to turn. And no lawyer can ever tell me how much her services will cost. So I end up with super-deluxe, supercustomized advice I can’t afford. Sometimes, I avoid going to a lawyer at all and just hope for the best. Remember how my glasses have a pretty simple prescription, so I can buy them in a simple, affordable way? Well, my legal needs are basic, too: employee contracts, trademark applications, lease negotiations. But no one is selling me legal services in a simple and affordable way. This brings us to the million-dollar question we pose in our cover story, “Think there are too many lawyers?” (p.20). A lot of people, maybe even you, think the answer is yes. But from where I sit, often with no lawyer to call when I need one, the answer is no. Sure, the market for traditional law jobs is tight, but plenty of people need legal help — for example, in family, estate and small-business law — but can’t afford name-brand prices. It’s absurd to claim there are too many lawyers when so many people need one. I guarantee that if, once you’re a lawyer, you come up with a better way to deliver legal services to regular people, you will land clients. In fact, once you’ve been called, come see me. I’ll be sporting great glasses and looking for a lawyer like you.
Printed in Canada by Renaissance Printing Inc. Made possible with the support of:
Melissa Kluger Publisher & Editor email@example.com
PHOTO BY IAN PATTERSON
Not many careers move in a straight line. People land one job, then move to another, looking for what makes them happy. It’s a difficult process. So we asked our contributors how long it took them to figure out what they wanted to do
“Quite a while,” says Sissi Wang, the online editor at PrecedentJD. “During my undergrad, I studied engineering and wanted to be a research scientist. But in third year, everything changed. I no longer wanted to work in a lab.” Her curiosity about people motivated her to earn a master of journalism at Ryerson University. Upon graduation, she specialized in business reporting. And in this issue, she wrote about the burgeoning Bay Street job market (“Trendspotting,” p.16).
Raquiya Austin runs her own corporate and entertainment law practice in Toronto. Before law school, she spent six years in the retail-fashion world. So her current gig is the perfect mix of her talents in fashion and in law. “But it still took a lot of introspection,” she says. “I didn’t figure out what I wanted to do until a few months after articling.” Austin also runs a style blog, so it’s fitting that her piece in this issue argues that lawyers should care about fashion (“You are what you wear,” p.34).
“I’ve wanted to be a photographer since I was a child,” says Vicky Lam. “Perhaps I’m stubborn, because I stuck with it. I’ve now been a photographer for 10-plus years.” But it took her time to decide what sort of photographs she wanted to take. Only after a few years did she settle on still-life photography. Her stunning work graces this issue’s cover, which distills our big feature (“Think there are too many lawyers?” p.20) into a single, striking image.
REQUIRED READING IT TOOK A COUPLE MOVES TO FIND WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR. Chris Burkett, an associate at Baker & McKenzie LLP, in the firm's all-new innovation space
Chris Burkett is a Bay Street litigator who fights for human rights! by Daniel Fish photography by Jason Gordon
TO WORK ON BAY STREET, do you have to abandon your social-justice values? It’s a cynical question, no doubt. But it’s one worth asking. After all, the interests of society don’t always mesh with the priorities of profit-minded corporations, which dominate the client rosters of Toronto’s largest law firms. And yet, the answer is no: you don’t have to sell your soul to work on
Bay Street. Chris Burkett, an associate at Baker & McKenzie LLP, is living proof. He spends hundreds of hours helping survivors of human trafficking and advancing the rights of workers overseas, all while hitting his billable-hour targets each year. PrecedentJD sat down with Burkett to find out how the hell he pulls it off. $
Let me get this straight: you’re an associate on Bay Street who spends 300 hours per year offering pro bono legal advice to women fleeing human trafficking. And the partners let you do that? Well, just like anywhere else, they didn’t let me do it on day one. First, I had to show that I had the goods, which meant doing quality work and meeting my billable-hour quotas. I’m a general litigator, so I still spend most of my time on labour arbitration, employment suits and fraud cases. But as long as I’m billing the right number of hours, I can take on projects I care about. How did you start working with survivors of human trafficking? Our managing partner, Kevin Coon, has a close relationship with Covenant House, which offers housing and social services to young women who’ve escaped the sex trade. He told me they were looking for an on-call lawyer. I jumped at the chance. Why does Covenant House need an on-call lawyer? Many people don’t realize this, but vulnerable women, born and raised in Toronto, are constantly targeted by traffickers. They are forced, through
threats and physical abuse, into the sex trade. When they break free, Covenant House is there to provide support. And they do great work. But these women often need legal help. If they’re scheduled to testify against their trafficker, for instance, I’ll prep them for court. Some face criminal charges — for drugs, theft or assault — so I’ll serve as their defence counsel. Sometimes, a trafficker will rack up significant Visa bills in a woman’s name, so I’ll negotiate debt relief. Meanwhile, in your corporate practice, you help businesses develop human-rights policies. Tell me about that. In the past few years, there’s been a spike in litigation against Canadian companies whose overseas suppliers had violated the human rights of their workers. The courts used to throw these cases out. But, recently, judges have made it clear that companies have some legal responsibility to safeguard the well-being of workers in their supply chains. Once I noticed this, I started to tell the firm’s clients that if something goes wrong at a supplier — say, a factory collapses — they will be vulnerable to a lawsuit.
AS LONG AS I’M BILLING THE RIGHT NUMBER OF HOURS, I CAN TAKE ON PROJECTS I CARE ABOUT.
What’s your legal advice? For one thing, that it’s more important than ever for companies to have robust human-rights policies. So if they don’t have one, I will help them write one. I also help them rewrite contracts they have with their suppliers, to make sure they include clear rules about workers. Sometimes the rule is as simple as, ‘When people come to work for you, you can’t withhold their passports and travel documents.’ I’m sure you realize that, one day, a company will call you after a supplier has done something terrible. The company could have prevented it, but didn’t, and now faces a lawsuit. Will you take the case? A lawyer should be able to advocate from both sides, so yes. But I’d also do my best to reduce the risk that it would happen again. I’d make them write a human-rights policy and audit their suppliers. That’s how I could make peace with it. Look, I know lawyers get a bad name. I mean, how many lawyer jokes are there? But I never forget that my wife and I have three young children. I want them to know I’m a lawyer and feel proud. jD
Timeline of a Bay Street human-rights lawyer
2005 As a 2L, Burkett lands a summer job at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto.
2008 Burkett begins work as an associate at litigation-boutique Lenczner Slaght LLP.
2006 Midway through his articling term at Stikeman Elliott, Burkett opts
2010 He quits to become a Crown.
“I still hadn’t been thrown into the fire
of the courtroom,” he says. As a Crown, that finally happens. “On my second day, before I had even signed all of the paperwork, I conducted a domesticassault trial.”
2011 Burkett moves to the employment and litigation groups at Baker & McKenzie. Why did he make the change? “I felt like practising as a Crown was too narrow. I wanted to be entrepreneurial.” At Baker & McKenzie, he carves out a niche helping corporate clients adopt human-rights policies. “It took a couple moves to find what I was looking for because I never wanted to settle for something I didn’t love.”
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
Chris Burkett Associate, Baker & McKenzie LLP — Year of call 2007
1999 Burkett moves from Toronto, out of the hireback process. “It wasn’t his hometown, to Kingston to study at the right fit,” he explains. “I wanted to Queen’s University. He majors in history. be on my feet in court, and that’s hard to do early on at a big firm.” Burkett 2002 Burkett interns at the public decides to apply for a Fox Scholarship, defenders’ office in Washington, D.C. which, every year, sends two recent He helps the lawyers prepare calls to London, England, to train as Year call their cases, mainly by Year interviewing litigators. He’s selected. ofofof call Year callcallYear of call Year of 2007 2007 2007 Year of2007 call 2007 witnesses. 2007 Year of call call2007 During that year in London, ar of 7 2007 Year oflaw call school at theYeUni2003 He starts 200 he shadows both a veteran barrister 2007 versity of Windsor. and a seasoned judge.
Alison Hayman is a partner in the intellectual-property group at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
In one case, a yoga business applied to register a logo that looked a lot like the logo of one of her clients, an American fashion brand. Hayman wanted to resolve the case without a lawsuit. So she offered the yoga company a deal: it could use and register the logo, but not with products that her client also sold, like clothing or bags. “We had to negotiate with them to carve back what they applied for,” says Hayman. In the end, both sides agreed.
Q How do you make sure your clients aren’t infringing on the trademarks of other companies? It starts when a client comes up with a new product or marketing campaign. Hayman reviews the proposed taglines and logos. Then she runs a trademark search to see if the mark is available for use and registration. If it is, she files a trademark application with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). It takes about six months to get a response. At that point, the application has either been accepted or CIPO will raise any objections. If there are issues, Hayman will work with the client to revise its application or she will work to persuade CIPO to accept the application.
MEET THE EXPERT
WONDERING WHAT AN IP LAWYER DOES? In the world of business, nothing matters as much as having a powerful brand. That’s why trademark lawyers, like Alison Hayman at Cassels Brock, are so important
Q What is most challenging about your job? “It’s a very deadline-driven role,” says Hayman. “We have to move so many files through the registration process. We live and die by our deadlines list.” On a typical day, Hayman has carriage of hundreds of files and does work on five to 20 of them.
Q What are the hours like? “My hours are nine to six and evenings as necessary,” says Hayman. “I try to avoid the weekends, but if you’re on something that’s timesensitive, you have to deliver.” On average, What makes certain logos — like the Nike swoosh or Apple’s iconic partly eaten apple — she works 55 to 60 hours a week. so powerful? In short, they transcend the meaning of the symbol itself. “In the case The good thing is, she can plan her time of Nike and Apple, those logos signal a certain level of quality,” says Alison Hayman, well, since the trademark office sets specific a partner at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. So those pictures wouldn’t mean much deadlines. “That’s attractive to people if the businesses behind them didn’t make great merchandise. who are looking for a field that’s not so But those logos are valuable for another reason: no other companies can use them. boom and bust — like mergers and acquisitions — but very steady.” If a shoddy shoemaker sold footwear with the Nike swoosh, the symbol would no longer mean high quality. Fortunately, global trademark laws prevent such things Q What sort of person would be well-suited from taking place. And so do lawyers like Hayman. Hayman is an intellectual-property lawyer, whose practice focusses on trademarks to trademark law? “Someone who’s a creative, critical thinker,” says Hayman, in retail, sports and fashion. Companies rely on her to protect their brands, and to make sure they’re not infringing on the trademarks of other businesses. Here, Hayman “who really enjoys going deep into a problem and finding ways to solve it. But breaks down how she does all that. also someone who can easily move between tasks, as there are usually numerous files Q How do you protect a company’s tradeshe says. “But I’ll review the documents requiring attention all at once.” marks? In extreme cases, Hayman says that my colleagues in the litigation group To learn about how you can build a career at Cassels Brock she takes legal action against businesses prepare and attend court with them.” & Blackwell LLP, visit cbbstudents.com. And for straightwhose logos or taglines resemble those But that’s a last resort. Most of the time, up explanations of what expert lawyers in other practice of her clients. “I don’t stand up in court,” she can reach an out-of-court resolution. areas do, check out PrecedentJD.com/MeetTheExperts.
The job market on Bay Street is hot. Will it last? by Sissi Wang
IF YOU WANT TO GRAB a law stu-
The spectacular now dent’s attention, mention the Bay Street job market. After all, for This firm-by-firm breakdown of Bay Street’s articling-student job market a decent chunk of them, working shows that, in the past year, the overall hireback rate has soared there is the ultimate goal. And over the past decade, as the pool of jobs Hireback Number Hireback Number Firm has shrunk, it’s been particularly of articling rate rate of articling easy to obsess over this subject. students in 2017 in 2016 students But — surprise! — this past year’s in 2016 in 2017 job numbers were terrific. For the 2015–16 articling term, the 16 Bay Bennett Jones 16 93% 18 67% Street firms that have historically Blakes 32 86% 24 96% hired the most students took on 255, according to exclusive numbers BLG 21 70% 19 89% that PrecedentJD collects each year. Cassels 17 88% 12 100% But for the 2016–17 cohort, those same firms hired 259 students. Davies 11 90% 14 89% This figure sat at 325 in 2009, but Dentons 14 69% 12 64% a small increase, after years of decline, matters. Department of Justice 4 100% 10 100% What’s more, those firms hired Faskens 12 82% 12 100% back 218 of their articling students as first-year associates. That’s a Goodmans 13 100% 15 93% huge increase over the 188 students Gowling WLG 16 60% 13 62% they hired back last year. “The economy is picking up and McCarthys 20 94% 20 89% firms are busier,” explains Shannon McMillan 11 60% 12 92% Leo, the director of associate and student programs at Cassels Brock Norton Rose 20 63% 17 75% & Blackwell LLP. Cassels, in fact, Osler 16 93% 20 100% had a banner year: it hired back all 12 of its articling students, reportStikemans 17 87% 24 100% ing, for the first time, a 100-percent Torys 15 100% 17 94% hireback rate. Because firms are busy, adds Leo, they need associates Total 255 82% 259 89% to meet the current demand. Which raises a delicate question: is the legal market about to take off and create jobs for students The main reason, he explains, lawyers. Neither one carries the is that large law firms will continue same salary or secretarial overhead.” along the way? Don’t count on it. to outsource — both to technology One good year in the legal market, Jordan Furlong, founder of the and low-cost centres — routine legal-consultancy firm Law21, sees he insists, will not disrupt this legal work, such as document review “irreversible” trend. this year’s uptick as an anomaly. and due diligence, that they once “Unless firms continue to bring Over at Cassels, Leo is optimistic in enough work to profitably feed assigned to students and associates. about the next 12 months, but she their associates,” he says, “I expect “The model is changing,” he says. makes no promises about the following year. “I would love for this that, in three years’ time, the overall “Rather than having an associate For more number of first-year associates year’s hireback results to be a conwho’s making 80 to a 100 grand detailed hireback at these firms will once again be in a year, many firms will turn to softtinuing trend,” she says. “But it’s numbers visit ware programs or good freelance steady decline.” hard to predict.” jD PrecedentJD.com
Seat of your pants
How learning the art of improv will help you ace your upcoming job interview
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
by Stephanie Philp YOU’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE. With every intention of impressing the stranger sitting across the desk — basically, the gatekeeper to your career — your throat tightens. The lawyer looks at you, waiting for an answer. But you haven’t planned for the question she just hurled your way. Panicked, you squeak out a stock answer that you memorized. It’s good, but it’s to a different question. You’ve messed up. What you may not know is that learning the basics of improv, the think-on-your-feet brand of theatre, can help you avoid this disaster. We asked two experts to explain
how taking a class will help you stand out in an interview. You’ll learn how to manage your nerves. Recruiters look for candidates with confidence and poise. They’ll count that nervous tick — anything from playing with your hair to “up-speak” (which makes every statement sound like a question) — as a strike against you. “Everyone has ‘tells’ when nervous,” says Lori Pearlstein, founder of PlayWorks, an improv company in Toronto. Tells appear when you overthink every move. But improv (and interviews) won’t go well if you’re stuck in your head: you have to be ready in the moment. Improv will help you get there, says Pearlstein. An integral part of every class is the warm-up. For instance, Pearlstein might ask a group to tell a story by having each person invent one line at a time, without taking a pause. “Instead of freaking out, you can just be yourself. You stop overthinking.”
Should you warm up, then, before a job interview? Absolutely, says Joey Novick, an improv teacher and entertainment lawyer in New Jersey. “It’s like putting a weighted ring on a baseball bat: once you’re at the plate, the bat feels lighter.” Try to take three minutes before your time slot to loosen up your body. Something as simple as rolling your shoulders and counting slowly to 10 out loud could soothe some pre-show jitters. You’ll learn how to listen. As a law student, you’re used to memorizing your body weight in caselaw. But if you prep for an interview in the same way, you’ll end up robotically reciting pre-written responses. Don’t do that, says Novick. “Law school can juice the people skills out of students.” Improv will teach you to embrace the risk that comes with not knowing what’s next. It’ll mean showing up for your time slot ready for conversation, not an interrogation. jD
Want to land a great job? Take the Law Practice Program Top firms are hiring LPP candidates. Hicks Morley partner Simon Mortimer explains why Simon Mortimer is a senior partner at Hicks Morley LLP, a leading labour and employment firm in downtown Toronto
That associate is Hossein Moghtaderi, a law grad from the University of Ottawa. Mortimer served as his formal mentor. When he was a 3L, Moghtaderi considered a career in politics. So, after law school, he found work at the federal Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. But after a year, he decided to article. “By then,” he says, “I had missed the opportunity to follow the traditional Bay Street hiring process.” At first, Moghtaderi planned to pound the pavement to find an articling job. That is, until he looked into the LPP. “I saw how many firms take part in the program,” he says. Names like: Koskie Minsky LLP, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP and, of course, Hicks Morley. Moghtaderi signed up, and his choice paid off. So what does Mortimer, a top legal employer, think of the LPP today? We sat down with him to find out. Your firm, Hicks Morley, has taken on three LPP candidates for work placements. How did they perform? They were great. They had drafting and legal-research skills that we could put to use immediately. What sort of law students, in your experience, enroll in the LPP? There are so many reasons that someone might take the LPP instead of articling. Some law students, for instance, spend their summers pursuing careers outside of law, in business or politics, that are fascinating, but prevent them from taking part in the traditional articling recruitment. There are excellent candidates in the program. So it’s a worthwhile complement to the articling system? Absolutely. I think the program has a valuable role to play in the training of new lawyers. It gives every law grad the chance to get called to the bar.
When Simon Mortimer first heard about the Law Practice Program (LPP), he was, in his own words, “a bit of a doubting Thomas.” It was four years ago, and Ryerson University had just announced that it would offer a new path to licensing in Ontario. Mortimer, a senior partner at Hicks Morley LLP, was skeptical that it could be as effective as articling. But as he read up on the program, his attitude changed. “I was impressed by what Ryerson put together,” says Mortimer, “in particular, the fact that the program would focus on practical skills.” The LPP begins in the fall with four months of online and in-person training. The program then concludes with a four-month work placement. In each of the past three years, Hicks Morley has offered a placement to an LPP candidate. And this past year, the firm hired its most recent candidate back as an associate.
Do you have a message for law students who are considering signing up for the LPP? In my view, it’s clear that the LPP offers practical training that helps transition candidates to the practice of law. Students should also know that, one year out of law school, no one will care if you articled or took the LPP. It’s that simple.
The Law Practice Program at Ryerson University is a rigorous eight-month training program that equips law-school graduates with the practical skills they need to become great lawyers. To learn more, visit ryerson.ca/lpp.
Great lawyers start here.
Learn more â€” ryerson.ca/lpp
by Daniel Fish
photography by Vicky Lam
THINK THERE ARE TOO MANY LAWYERS? Not exactly. There are just too many lawyers vying for the same clients. Look a little further and youâ€™ll find markets that traditional law firms have left empty
SECOND CUP JOEL MILLER was dreading retirement.
It was 2014, and he had practised family law for close to five decades. At that point, he sat atop the family-law practice
group at Ricketts Harris LLP, a downtownToronto litigation firm. He felt like his career in private practice had plateaued and that he couldn’t accomplish much
more. And so he decided, at age 72, to retire. The thought of retirement filled him with concern. Miller worried that, without work, he’d be lost. “I never had any hobbies,” he says. “I don’t golf. I didn’t really want to spend all my time reading and watching Netflix. Retirement looked like a big, black hole.” Around this time, the legal scholar Julie Macfarlane, a law professor at the University of Windsor, published an exhaustive study on the wretched state of the family-law system. Miller, out of curiosity, picked it up. The numbers were shocking: they showed, with precision, that 64 percent of family-law litigants across the country have no lawyer. In downtown Toronto, Miller’s home turf, that number rose to 73 percent. Miller was gobsmacked. “I’d been charging clients $650 an hour for 47 years,” he says. “I never really cared about the self-reps. I mean, I saw them in court and sometimes I argued against them. But I had no real interaction with them. When I read the report, I was struck that there was this whole world I’d never noticed before.” The sheer number of Canadians working through family court on their own was one thing. But what really caught Miller’s attention is the fact that people who represent themselves have a modest amount of money. In fact, 43 percent earn more than $50,000 per year. And 53 percent hire a lawyer at the outset of their dispute, but can’t afford the ballooning fees. “These people are not broke,” says Macfarlane, on the phone from her office. “Most of them have some money to spend. It might be $1,500 or $5,000. And they are desperate to spend that money. They hate being on their own.” On reading that section of the report, Miller could hardly contain his excitement. “It became clear to me,” he says, “that the demand for lawyers is palpable.” This conclusion cuts sharply against conventional wisdom, which has it that the legal job market is shrinking. That prediction has some merit. Back in 2008, the largest 16 firms in Toronto hired 323 second-year summer students. This past summer, they hired 257, a 20-percent drop. (Worse still, this figure doesn’t include the 2013 collapse of Heenan Blaikie LLP, whose Toronto office took on about 15 students each summer.) One central cause of this hiring slump is the rise, in the past decade, of outsourcing: most large law firms now farm
out routine tasks — such as document review and due diligence. In the coming decade, this should continue to suppress the appetite that large law firms have for new lawyers. Meanwhile, the economic forecast is stormy. A major study on the future of jobs, published in 2016 by the government of Ontario, predicts that the demand for lawyers is about to crater. The main culprit, according to the report, is the fact that the Canadian economy continues to grow at a sluggish pace. Unless that changes, large corporate clients will have less money to spend on legal advice. There’s more bad news: as the traditional job market continues to flounder, the number of new law grads has skyrocketed. In the past decade, the number of first-years at Ontario law schools has risen from 1,234 to 1,549. The number of foreign-trained law grads looking for work has also soared. In 2007, 199 international students had their law degrees accredited in Canada. In 2013, 730 students received accreditation. So what does all of this mean? “Over the 10-year period until 2025,” the Ontario government’s study concludes, “there will be 1.6 new licensed lawyers for every new practicing position.” If this comes to pass, the number of new law grads will outpace the number of new lawyer jobs by close to 16,800. This disaster is avoidable — if the legal profession can find a way to sell its services to the huge number of Canadians who are starving for help, but can’t afford what traditional law firms offer. “If we actually did this, we’d also be doing what the public needs and actually wants,” says Macfarlane. “Wouldn’t that be a radical step?” Much of the unmet legal need is, of course, in family law. But that’s a tiny sliver of the problem: in any three-year period, 12 million Canadians encounter a legal issue, but 20 percent take no meaningful action to find a solution. Miller sees in such statistics an ocean of potential clients. “I assumed I wasn’t the first person to think this way,” he says. “So I went looking for a lawyer who had brought a for-profit solution to the table. But I couldn’t find one.” He had heard people call for more legal-aid funding, but he didn’t think that was necessary. After all, most people looking for a lawyer have some money. “I was shocked! It made no sense that no one tried to figure this out.” At that moment, he knew how to spend his retirement.
THE COMPETENCY PROBLEM MILLER HAS SPENT the past two years designing a brand-new law-firm business model, one that provides legal advice to Canadians at a cost they can afford and generates a decent income for the practising lawyer. To hear the details, I decide to visit Miller at his home, a duplex in Toronto’s upscale Moore Park neighbourhood, which he shares with his wife, Linda Miller. It’s a bright summer afternoon. He opens the door wearing brown loafers, blue trousers and a loose-fitting pink sweater, and he sports a white beard and moustache. He looks like a Texas oilman on vacation. Miller steers me to his basement home office. On one side sits his desk; on the other, there is a lounge area with a coffee table. I take a seat on the couch, and Miller makes for a rocking chair. In conversation, Miller toggles between pithy one-liners and long digressions. He salts his speech with phrases like, “I’m sorry for prattling on, but this is important” and “I know I’m explaining this in a roundabout way, but there’s a good reason.” He spent his 47-year legal career, he tells me, repeating the same mantra to his clients: If you give me your purse and your problem, I’ll give you my solution. “That was the equation,” he says. “I never gave a fixed fee.” If a client asked Miller for a quote, he would refuse. “I would say, ‘I understand why you’re asking. I would, too, if I were in your place. But the reality is, I don’t know how much it will cost. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know how the
other side will react.’ Every lawyer knows this speech.” Not only did Miller recite these words — he believed in them. If he felt he needed to conduct several hours of legal research before a hearing, he didn’t hesitate to do just that. If he thought it was essential to reread the affidavits, he would. “For most of my career, I controlled how much time I spent getting something done,” says Miller. This often led to sticker shock: clients would get the final bill and gawk at how Miller spent his time. In Miller’s defence, he was simply following the traditional-lawyer handbook, which dictates that lawyers must be thorough and take no shortcuts. “It says that there’s a minimum amount of work that a lawyer must do,” he explains. “Otherwise, the lawyer is incompetent.” But Miller has come to see that philosophy as one of the root causes of the access-to-justice crisis. In his view, if lawyers want to make themselves more affordable, they must be comfortable doing less work. The problem, then, is not just that lawyers cost too much per hour — it’s that they spend too many hours on nonessential tasks. “This terrifies the profession,” admits Miller. “It goes against how we have practised law for centuries. It goes against what the law schools teach and how law societies come up with best practices. But the way I see it, we have two choices: we can say ‘tough luck’ to the poor, or we can change our best practices.” Miller has chosen the latter.
BETTER, FASTER, CHEAPER MILLER IS NOT out to save the world.
“I didn’t come to this from a saintly place,” he says, rocking gently in his chair. “I’m not an access-to-justice missionary. I’m delighted if I can help people, and I’m having fun. But I’m also serious. I’m trying to solve the really difficult puzzle of providing affordable services.” His solution: legal coaching for selfrepresented litigants in family law. “At the core of it all,” he says, “I offer strategic analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of the story someone intends to tell the judge, and how to deliver that story effectively.” Say a client has an upcoming custody hearing. Miller can edit her factum and help craft a speech that she can deliver in the courtroom. The process might take place over the course of two onehour (or longer) phone calls. “I’m trying to develop an efficient, affordable service,” he says. “I don’t necessarily need to read every document or consider every alternative option that the client might have.” But what about the underlying jurisprudence? How can he pass on that information in a couple of hours? “Ninety-five percent of the time that there are two self-reps in family court, it’s a law-free zone,” says Miller. What wins cases is not caselaw, but a grasp of what will persuade a judge. Miller offers up, as an example, what he might tell a client who wants the court to strip her ex-husband of his visitation privileges. “Her plan is to go
to the judge and say, ‘He knows that every Tuesday night I go out for dinner with my friends, and he deliberately arrives at 7:50 to make me late. I’d like you to cut off his access.’” This, he says, is a losing argument. “No judge will care that she’s missing drinks with her girlfriends.” So Miller would then ask the woman to further explain why she’s so upset by her ex-husband’s tardiness. That’s when she tells him that “it breaks her heart to watch her kids sitting by the window for an hour, waiting for their father, knowing she’ll have to explain to them that, even though he’s always late, he still loves them.” That is the winning argument. “But it never occurs to
her to look at it from the children’s point of view.” Miller can pinpoint which parts of her story will curry favour with a judge. No caselaw necessary. Most people, adds Miller, can represent themselves pretty well with the right help. “But the perception many lawyers have of self-reps is that they have low IQ, they’re dirty and that they have contagious diseases,” he says, hyperbolically. “We lawyers can be incredibly arrogant people.” Miller agrees that family law can get thorny, in particular when it comes to couples whose assets are tied up in complex financial instruments, such as stock options and multiple properties. But these are “rich-people problems” — and the rich can afford a traditional lawyer. Most family-law disputes involving self-reps, he insists, are over custody and basic support payments. None of which involve complex law. There’s still the matter of money. Miller bills in chunks of time as he always has — he charges $350 for a one-hour call, and $600 for two hours — but with one big difference. “Clients control how many hours I work, not me,” he says. If they purchase an hour-long call, Miller works for an hour. If he wants them to buy more hours, he has to prove to them that his advice is worth the money. On average, says Miller, his clients, who often occupy the low- and middle-income brackets, buy $2,500 worth of coaching sessions over the course of their disputes. “These are people who could never afford to go to a downtown lawyer,” he says. “It’s stunning that lawyers are comfortable scrambling for the smallest pool of clients.”
“It is sinful, embarrassing and disgraceful how inadequately law school prepares its students to practise as lawyers.” JOEL MILLER
ENOUGH TO GO AROUND MILLER IS NOT COMPLETELY ALONE.
A handful of other lawyers target those who can’t afford traditional legal advice. Take Mark Morris and Lena Koke, who founded Axess Law, a four-year-old law firm that sells $99 wills out of 10 Walmarts in southern Ontario. They knew the stats, which showed that 56 percent of Canadians don’t have a signed will. And so, rather than lamenting this fact, they hired a software developer to help write a program that guides lawyers through the will-writing process, making a will easier and faster to draft. “We saw
a massive pent-up demand, but no supply,” explains Morris. “We’re not stealing anyone’s clients, but instead selling to people who would never have hired a lawyer in the first place. We’re expanding the pie.” He likens those in the legal profession who are “screaming about job losses in the corporate legal market” to coal miners in the American Rust Belt. “I understand why former coal miners are so upset: their industry has collapsed, and that’s horrible. But if they only looked to California, they’d see the burgeoning
clean-energy industry, which is adding thousands of jobs. This is a perfect analogy to the legal industry: lawyers are just as bad at being creative and looking to the future.” In Canada, Axess Law is one of the few tech-savvy law firms that serve the middle class. But such firms are common in the United States. Both LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, for instance, have become major players in the American market. Using templates, these firms help people create legal documents, such as leases and employment contracts. (They charge fixed fees.) It’s fair to assume that similar companies will, in due time, break into Canada. Setting aside legal tech, a coterie of lawyers across the country offer what’s called “limited-scope” legal advice. Such lawyers never have full carriage of a file. Instead, they help self-represented litigants — in, say, family law or smallclaims court — write factums and other legal submissions. “I’m never the lawyer of record,” says James Cooper, a GTA-based sole practitioner whose practice consists of limited-scope work, or unbundled services, in civil-litigation matters. “If I draft something, clients file it in their name, not mine.” From her office in Red Deer, Alta., Victoria Foster, a fifth-year family lawyer, sums up her solo practice this way: “I’ll do whatever my clients want me to do.” Sometimes, she helps them draft a factum, leaving them to make the court appearance. Other times, she edits and refines their written submissions. “My goal is to offer services, of any kind, to people who don’t qualify for legal aid but don’t have the money to pay for a full-scope lawyer.” Could junior lawyers, targeting the unmet demand for legal advice, build profitable practices like these ones? If only it were that easy. Major systemic barriers stand in their way. The highest obstacle may be student debt: according to a recent survey, third-year law students in Canada carry, on average, $71,444 of it. Paying that down often takes priority over starting an innovative access-to-justice practice. “I’m from Kitchener,” says Patrick Schertzer, a 3L at the University of Windsor and a vice-president of the Law Students’ Society of Ontario. “When I walk around the city, I see tech startups on every corner. Are we seeing the same thing in law? No. And I think debt is the main reason. CONTINUED ON PAGE 27
What else can you do with your law degree? If you’re worried about the crowded legal market, don’t be. Your law degree can help you launch all kinds of careers. Meet three former lawyers whose legal training has helped them thrive in other industries by Rosemary Counter
President & CEO, Supreme Pharmaceuticals Toronto, Ontario
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada Ottawa, Ontario
CEO, 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
In what might be a record, 29-year-old John Fowler practised corporate law for “a robust 90 days.” But only because, after three months as an associate at Torkin Manes LLP, a major job offer came his way. When he was articling, Fowler founded his own medical-marijuana company, 7Acres. He then sold it to Supreme Pharmaceuticals, one of Canada’s largest medical-marijuana producers, and helped facilitate the deal. Impressed by his work, Supreme asked him to be its president and CEO. Fowler accepted the gig. “I left a good Bay Street job,” he says, “and went back to making my mom worry at night.” These days, she’s likely worrying less. Since Fowler took charge of the company in 2014, he’s helped it grow into a $200-million business (up from $30 million) with 75 employees. Fowler, who went to law school at the University of Ottawa, says his legal training comes in handy all the time, especially when he has to make hard decisions about his employees, whose careers he can make or break. “In law school, you learn to identify risks, and then mitigate them as best you can.”
After she finished law school at McGill University, in 1999, Catherine McKenna says “it all gets a bit confusing.” At first, she and her husband moved to Indonesia, and she got a job at a law firm in Jakarta. Two years later, she went to work at the United Nations and helped negotiate a treaty between Australia and East Timor over the disputed Timor Sea. And in 2002, she moved to Ottawa and spent three years at Stikeman Elliott LLP. Over the next decade, McKenna’s resumé continued to expand: she founded the charity Canadian Lawyers Abroad, worked in-house at the Canadian Real Estate Association and ran the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. But McKenna, now 45, never seems to tire. So it’s no surprise that, in 2014, out of “frustration with the government of the day,” she decided to run, as a Liberal, for federal office. After she won the seat in Ottawa Centre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made her the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. From day one, the killer negotiation skills she acquired in law came in handy, especially when working on negotiations for the Paris Climate Agreement.
Shawn Moen, who grew up on a small farm in southwestern Saskatchewan, says he was “drawn to law intellectually.” But it was never his main passion. After he graduated from law school in 2005, at the University of Saskatchewan, he worked as a corporate lawyer for eight years, in private practice and in government. But in the fall of 2013, he quit his job and went travelling. (On the way out the door, several colleagues told him that, secretly, they wanted to do the same thing.) Moen ended up in Wellington, New Zealand, where he started volunteering at a brewing company. “I got a ton of experience in the art of making beer.” After a year abroad, he moved back to Saskatoon and founded the city’s trendiest new brewery, 9 Mile Legacy, with a long-time family friend. “It has been just incredible to build something from the ground up,” says the 35-year-old. His legal training serves him well — in negotiations and conflict resolution, of course, but also in stress management. “Law is a demanding mistress,” he explains, “and so is starting a business.”
If we want to spur on innovation, we need to lower tuition and offer massive debt relief.” But even if student debt vanished, would new lawyers know how to perform limited-scope work or become a legal coach? Not a chance. “To properly do what I do,” says Miller, “a lawyer would need to spend at least three years inside family court.” Foster, broadly speaking, agrees. Only after articling and working for a year at a small family-law firm did she feel comfortable striking out on her own. “I was constantly in court, with excellent lawyers training me,” she says of her time at the firm. This is a difficult problem to solve: with the traditional job market on the decline, firms can’t afford to hire and train every new lawyer. In the face of this reality, Miller believes law schools must overhaul their curriculums. “It is sinful, embarrassing and disgraceful how inadequately law school prepares its students to practise as lawyers,” he says. “Law school should teach practical skills, like how to speak in court, how to draft a factum, how to negotiate and what judges care about.” To be fair, some law schools have added practical-skills training to their programs. But by and large, theory trumps practice. “This makes no sense,” says Darrel Pink, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. “In medical school, students work handson with patients in the second week. Whenever I ask why law school isn’t like that, it doesn’t sit well. Law schools always reply, ‘We’re not a training ground for lawyers. We teach them legal thinking.’ Well, I haven’t bought that for a very long time.” There is one obvious solution to all of these problems: a group of seasoned lawyers, who have attained financial stability, could start a law firm — structured around legal coaching and limited-scope retainers — and hire a fleet of junior lawyers. “That’s the ideal scenario,” says Macfarlane. “And some days, I feel like such a thing could happen. But on most days, and you’ve caught me on one of them, I’m deeply pessimistic.” What makes her so gloomy? “I’ve been meeting with family lawyers, trying to persuade them to take up legal coaching and offer flat fees,” she says. “The pushback is enormous. They’re apoplectic.” The burden to change, then, falls to the youngest lawyers. At the moment, they’re on their own.
THE SECRET FORMULA
WITHOUT A DOUBT: the barriers to innov-
ation are real. But Miller is convinced that you, a soon-to-be lawyer, can overcome them and build a practice that taps the unmet legal demand in Canada. Here’s his road map to pulling it off.
To start, says Miller, you don’t have to worry about the sagging articling market, at least in Ontario. Now that the province offers the Law Practice Program — in English at Ryerson University and in French at the University of
LOOK TO THE NORTH How the faculty of law at Lakehead University graduates practice-ready lawyers In economic terms, the legal market makes no sense. On one hand, we have millions of Canadians who need legal help but can’t afford a traditional lawyer. And, on the other, we have hundreds of junior lawyers looking for work. Economic theory suggests that new lawyers should see in those millions of people a sea of potential clients, to whom they could sell legal advice at a cheaper rate. But that’s not happening. Why not? Because new lawyers, even if they wanted to do that, don’t know how to practise law. After all, they never learned in law school. The four-year-old faculty of law at Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ont., is trying to change that. “All our courses are practical-skills based,” says Angelique EagleWoman, dean of the law school. “From day one, students learn how to deliver oral arguments, conduct bail hearings, draft contracts and write opinion letters.” That curriculum is bolstered, in third year, by a four-month work placement. On graduation, students don’t have to article. As soon as they pass the bar, they’re lawyers. By churning out practice-ready grads, explains EagleWoman, society no longer has to rely on senior lawyers to subsidize the practical-skills training of recent calls. And it means grads can practise right away, as sole practitioners or junior associates, and serve those in need. The plan is working. Its first class graduated in the spring of 2016 and within five months 48 of its 58 graduates had full-time law jobs. Thirty-three were working as associates, mostly in northern-Ontario cities, such as Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. “I’m delighted with these numbers,” says EagleWoman. “In our region, we need more lawyers doing good work. And so far, that’s what we’ve been able to achieve.” — DF
Angelique EagleWoman, dean of Lakehead University’s faculty of law
“No one is fully prepared when they start something new.” MARK MORRIS, AXESS LAW
Ottawa — you can get called to the bar without having to scrounge for an articling position. Miller also thinks you could apply his general principles to a range of practice areas. On top of family law, you might practise as a legal coach in, say, the criminal or small-business areas. Most startups would swoon over a lawyer who could offer quick, affordable edits to their contracts or trademark applications. But to do that, you’ll need experience. “If no one will hire you, then spend as much time as you can in court,” says Miller. “Watch what other lawyers are doing. Make an assessment about what techniques are successful. Listen to judges. Become a spectator in the arena.” Next, volunteer at a legal clinic. (In fact, do this now.) There are clinics dedicated to virtually every practice area. Beg them to let you work for free. “I know this sounds horrible,” says Miller, “but this is the workaround.” Once you’re ready to get started, launch an efficient, affordable practice. If you want to be a family-law coach, like Miller, copy his formula: sell your advice in one-hour blocks at a fixed-fee of about $300 (or, for that matter, much less). Maybe you want to take on cases in smallclaims court: you could draft statements of claim and let your clients appear in court. No matter what, though, never do more work than the client needs. Don’t let your mistakes get you down. “No one is fully prepared when they start something new,” says Morris, of Axess Law. “I’m probably not supposed to say this in an interview, but it’s true: in the initial stage of developing a business, you let a lot of people down because the promise is there, but the capacity to deliver isn’t. But after three years, and listening to customer feedback, we’re now delivering a stellar product.” On the business side, keep costs down. “I can picture one to five young lawyers
renting space on the second floor of a warehouse, with minimal overhead,” says Miller. “You can work as a legal coach from anywhere. All you need is a computer and a phone.” There’s also the matter of where to set up your practice. In one sense, it doesn’t matter: the entire country is swarming with people who need help. But the demand is most acute in small communities. The British Columbia branch of the Canadian Bar Association, for instance, is desperately trying to funnel new lawyers into rural areas. It even maintains a database of “high-needs communities” — those with fewer than one lawyer for every 1,000 people — so that lawyers know where their expertise is in need. (Seventeen towns, from Tofino to Dawson Creek, sit on this list.) So you may want to strategically set up shop in a small town, where the pool of potential clients is the deepest. To land clients, start with a website, and market yourself, for free, using social media. “And then do your damndest to introduce yourself to every lawyer at the courthouse,” says Miller. “Walk into every single small firm. Ask them to send anyone who can’t afford full-service legal advice to you.” When Miller looks back on his career, he can barely believe how he once practised law. In the old days, when he landed new clients, he would sit with them and take down their basic information: age, income, assets, birthdate. He billed $650 an hour to do this work. His current clients type this information into an online form on his website. So does Miller regret his past? “No,” he says flatly. Remember, he’s no saint. But he does regret not making this change earlier: he’s never had more fun practising law. “I wish I had decades of vigorous years ahead of me. I am filled with anticipation for a growing number of people doing what I’m trying out.” jD
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EXTRA CREDIT WHEN LAW STUDENTS AREN’T MASTERING THEIR LIVES, IT’S TANTAMOUNT TO FAILURE IN THEIR MINDS. Doron Gold, staff clinician at Homewood Health
I’m not okay
Mental-health issues, such as depression and anxiety, often hit law students hard. Charlotte was one of them by Katherine Laidlaw illustration by Wenting Li
attacks a few times a week. “I remember feeling like everything was halfway through her second semes- spinning out of my control,” she says. ter of law school at the University Her pulse would skyrocket and she of Toronto, and her mind was would hyperventilate. “I felt like I unravelling. The nights full of read- was headed straight towards a crash ing caselaw and writing research that I couldn’t do anything to stop, memos were growing longer. no matter how hard I tried.” Her sleep suffered. Charlotte was One night in March, she tearfully desperately trying to maintain begged her supportive father to the A grades she’d always earned. take her to the emergency room. “I told him I couldn’t handle it, As finals neared, she had panic CHARLOTTE KNEW SOMETHING WAS SERIOUSLY WRONG. She was
FIRST YEAR QUICKLY SAPPED THE ENTHUSIASM OUT OF ME. I FELT LIKE I WAS BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL — WE HAD LOCKERS AND EVERYONE WENT TO THE SAME SIX CLASSES. I DIDN’T HAVE A LOT OF AGENCY OVER WHAT I WAS LEARNING. I FELT LIKE I WAS ON A TREADMILL, JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS.
that it was too much,” she recalls. “I felt like everything was so out of control.” He drove her to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. On arrival, Charlotte spoke with a psychiatrist in the emergency department. “Something is wrong with me,” she said, “and I need help.”
It turns out, law school is a big part of the answer. Before becoming a law student, Charlotte, who grew up in Toronto, had never struggled with anxiety. Though she’d suffered through bouts of depression in high school, she was still functioning: getting out of bed, going to school, eating proper meals. By 18, her depression had lifted, and it stayed away throughout her undergrad. Charlotte (who asked that we But then she went to law school. not use her real name) is far from “First year quickly sapped the alone in her experience. Ample enthusiasm out of me,” she says. “I felt like I was back in high research suggests a connection school — we had lockers and everybetween lawyering and mentalhealth issues. One study, published one went to the same six classes. I didn’t have a lot of agency over in 2016 by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, found, after what I was learning. I felt like I interviewing 12,825 lawyers, that was on a treadmill, just going through three in five of them suffered the motions.” from self-reported anxiety. Nearly Charlotte worked hard, though. half had lived with depression And her first-semester grades were at some point during their career; excellent, earning her a summerone in 10 had experienced suicidal job offer at a Bay Street firm. But it thoughts. didn’t make her happy. “There’s In Canada, similar research is scant. so much groupthink in law school,” she says. “I came in saying I wanted But a 2012 survey by Ipsos Reid to practise labour law and represent found that close to 50 percent of workers. And then, just because I lawyers have suffered from some sort of anxiety. So what’s going on? did well on my exams and all these
Bay Street firms wanted me, and everyone else wanted a Bay Street job, I thought I wanted a Bay Street job. I did this crazy one-eighty in the span of four months.” By second semester, Charlotte felt like she was drowning. That’s when she had a breakdown and made an emergency trip to CAMH, where she was diagnosed with anxiety. After that night, she went through a two-week outpatient anxiety program, which gave her the tools to manage crises, recognize symptoms and calm herself down. The staff started her on a carefully monitored medication regime. They also recommended that she contact the counsellor services at the University of Toronto (which she did) and work with her family doctor on further treatment. Shortly after, Charlotte deferred her first-year exams to August and took a one-year mental-health leave. During her time off, she spent six months at a Legal Aid clinic, helping workers file insurance claims. She returned to law school the following September. What happened to Charlotte is not uncommon. For law students, even the smallest of problems can feel enormous, explains Doron Gold, a staff clinician at Homewood Health, which runs the Ontario legal profession’s free and confidential member-assistance program. Even the prospect of a bad exam, he says, can throw students into a tailspin. First, they worry that a poor grade will cripple their chances in the legal job market. Then they remember their student debt and panic, fearing they’ll never pay it off. All this over an exam they haven’t yet taken. “When law students aren’t mastering their lives, it’s tantamount to failure in their minds,” says Gold. “Really, it’s just human vulnerability.” On her year off, Charlotte began a regimen of talk therapy. When she went back to law school, she graduated with honours. After graduation, she articled in a government department, and now works there as a junior lawyer. On the job, she’s encountered a new set of stressors. Nine months into her career, the intense workload led to another breakdown and a six-week mental-health leave.
These days, she’s back at work, and her employers listen more closely when she tells them she’s overwhelmed. But she still suffers from symptoms of anxiety. “I wish I could say that it’s something that will just go away,” she says. “But it’s something I’ll have to manage for the rest of my life.” Looking back on Charlotte’s story, she did one of the most important things right. Once she identified that she had a mental-health problem, she sought help. We spoke to two mental-health experts to get their advice on how to stay healthy in law school and beyond. Don’t squander your leisure time. In your spare hours, eat right, sleep, exercise and hang out with supportive friends and family, says Joanne Clarfield Schaefer, a stress-resilience coach and former Bay Street lawyer. If you’re still
struggling to manage negative thoughts, she suggests a timed braindump. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and then write down (or say out loud) the worst-case scenario of whatever is causing you grief. Allow yourself to mull it over for 10 minutes, and walk away once the timer goes off. “If you say it or write it out, it loses its power.” And, she adds, don’t watch stress-inducing, suspenseful shows like True Detective or Law and Order: SVU before bed — listen to a comedy podcast, or watch something that’s guaranteed to make you laugh.
of these questions, Doron Gold suggests making an appointment with your university’s counselling service. Some Canadian law schools — such as Osgoode Hall, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria and the University of Windsor — have their own inhouse counsellors.
Consider leaving law. If, after landing your first law job, you find yourself unhappy, Gold says you should try to identify why. If you feel isolated from your co-workers, consider requesting a desk change. If you’re feeling Seek professional help. Are overlooked, consider moving to a smaller firm. If your work isn’t you feeling so overwhelmed that you’re out of control? Are you with- lining up with your values, condrawing from relationships? Are sider changing the type of law you smoking pot to get through the you practise. But if those changes day? Are you so stressed that you’re don’t work, evaluate if law is the right path for you. “The law is having trouble getting out of bed? Are you self-medicating with drugs not the Mafia,” says Gold. “You can or alcohol? If you answer yes to any get out.” jD
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If you’re a fashion newbie, here are the three corporate-fashion blogs to mine for inspiration by Raquiya Austin Corporate Style Story
Ladies, if you want to dress like a Bay Street powerhouse, check out U.K.-based blogger and lawyer, Cyran. Both her Instagram feed @corporatestylestory and her website corporatestylestory.com showcase her bold, elegant style. And she effortlessly transitions between professional and casual outfits. A few years back, Sergio Ines’s girlfriend started to post pictures of him in his best outfits to Instagram. His offbeat-yet-dapper style became an instant hit. Today, the South African runs his own blog whatmyboyfriendwore.com and Instagram feed @whatmyboyfriendwore. He finds the perfect balance between contemporary and classic. If you need ideas on how to accessorize, he adds great flair to his professional attire.
Strictly Legal Fashionista
Raquiya Austin, pictured here in her favourite outfit, thinks fashion sends a powerful message to the world
across on paper. You are about to launch a legal career, full of job interviews and networking events. Yes, it’s a bit superficial, but in high-stakes situations, you can use fashion to your advantage. Hate fashion? So how can you build a wardrobe that, Here’s why you shouldn’t on one hand, makes you feel confident, and, on the other, conveys your personalby Raquiya Austin ity to the world? You’ll have to take time IF YOU’RE A LAW STUDENT who thinks to develop your own personal style. fashion is frivolous, or perhaps even Before I went to law school — these days, a waste of time, I have a message for you: I run a solo entertainment-law practice — it’s not. How we choose to present ourI spent six years in the fashion industry, selves to the world matters. Think back. as a retail manager and wardrobe stylist. Have you ever worn a favourite outfit And I’ve learned that there’s only one on a special occasion, and noticed your way to discover your fashion identity: you confidence rise? Did you move with have to experiment. an extra dose of swagger and speak with My style journey began through observation. I read magazines like Vogue, particular poise? That’s fashion at work. InStyle and even GQ. I also walked around The moment we put on something we the mall, looking at advertisements love, we feel better about ourselves. You can also think of what you wear as and trying on different pieces. My goal was to learn what fit, accessories, colours a visual resumé, a way to communicate something about yourself that won’t come and textures suited me. If you’re trying STYLE
You are what you wear
You can also read my style blog, strictlylegalfashionista.com. There aren’t many Canadian lawyer-fashion bloggers, so what I offer can’t be found anywhere else. I regularly update it with advice posts and pictures of my best outfits. Every season, I put together a lookbook that highlights current trends in fashion for men and women. Find me on Instagram at @strictlylegalfashionista.
on an outfit, don’t be afraid to talk to the store staff. Quite often, they know their stuff. At the end of it all, I cultivated a sense of style that I like to call “classic and colourful.” When I became a lawyer a year ago, I refused to let the profession kill my style. So when I wear business suits, they’re always bold, either in colour or pattern. My favourite outfit, for instance, is a blue denim slim-fit suit. It puts me at ease and makes me look fearless, which mirrors the attitude I bring to my practice. In law, norms are changing. There is no longer a strict ban on colour. If you’re most comfortable wearing black and navy, that’s fine. But if you want something more, I encourage you to experiment with colours and fabrics. Stay true to yourself: that’s the whole point of fashion. jD Raquiya Austin is a Toronto-based lawyer who runs her own corporate and entertainment law practice. She writes about style on her blog, Strictly Legal Fashionista, and for PrecedentJD.
PHOTO OF RAQUIYA AUSTIN BY CHRIS LEDREW WITH MAKEUP BY CARLA SAUNDERS; PHOTOS IN SIDEBAR COURTESY OF CORPORATE STYLE STORY, WHAT MY BOYFRIEND WORE AND EBTI NABAG
What My Boyfriend Wore
Those who shine,
shine brightest here.
Jennifer Vermiere Director, Professional Development 604.631.9147 firstname.lastname@example.org
With that in mind, here are three principles to follow that will help you on your way to financial — and, thus, professional — freedom.
Lawyers just want to have funds
Once you land that first law job, you’ll start making good money. This is how to handle that transition like a pro
Pay yourself first. What do Warren Buffett, Tony Robbins and my immigrant dad have in common? They all espouse this approach in spades. It’s the simplest way to manage your money: for every dollar you earn, set aside a predetermined percentage that goes directly into savings and investments. The earlier you put this system into place, the better off you’ll be, by a long shot. (Compound interest is a beautiful thing.) I would suggest putting away 20 percent of each paycheque. But if you really can’t, then start with 5 percent, and every time you get a raise, keep bumping up the percentage until you are, indeed, sending the first 20 cents of every dollar you earn to savings.
by Paul Attia
THE FAMOUS BOXING TRAINER
Cus D’Amato said it best: “Fear is like fire.” It can keep you warm, or it can burn you. The same can be said of money. It all depends on how you manage it. As a law student, a host of great career options lie ahead. I know it may not feel like it, with student debt piling up and a difficult job market, but many of you will land well-paying law jobs. And when you do, you will, not unlike professional athletes, go from zero to hero quickly. One thing they don’t tell you in law school is that how you manage that wealth will affect how satisfied you are with your career. This is the proverbial “Golden Handcuffs”
dilemma. It describes a strange paradox: earning copious amounts of money won’t give you financial freedom. Once we make more money, we tend to spend it all, and then we can’t imagine making any less. This puts us at risk of working in jobs we dislike because we think we have no choice. Your law degree can lead to many terrific careers. And, if you want the power to choose the job you want as opposed to the one you have to have (in order to pay your bills), you need to exercise financial wisdom once you get that first law job. The less dependent you are on a significant income, the more freedom you’ll have to build the career you want.
If you think you need to work at a big firm in order to pay down your debt, you’re wrong. In Ontario, staff lawyers at Legal Aid earn, on average, $87,000 a year. That should be enough to pay it off in good time.
Reward yourself when you do well. Finally, the fun part. I’m not advocating that you eat nothing but ramen noodles while billing hardearned hours on Bay Street. I’m saying eat them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Kidding!) You’re going to work hard for your money, so you should enjoy it. Once you hit your savings goals, you can have fun with the rest. But be strategic. Pay yourself first. Then, as the ceiling rises, keep the floor steady. And enjoy a lifetime of professional freedom. jD Paul Attia is an assistant Crown prosecutor based in Toronto. He writes about family, fitness and money for Precedent. Follow him at @PapaAlphaBlog.
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
When you raise the ceiling, don’t raise the floor. This one is hard. Exercising restraint is always difficult, at least at first. When your salary rises, as it undoubtedly will, don’t raise your expenses with it. You will be tempted to. Don’t. If you do, you’ll continue to be living paycheque to paycheque. That’s no fun, regardless of how big that paycheque is. And worst of all, if you ever want to leave that job for something that pays less, your bad habits won’t let you.
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The balancing act
To succeed in life and in law, you’ll have to keep plenty of balls in the air at once. So don’t get down when, inevitably, you drop one
NOTHING IN LIFE IS CERTAIN. It’s full of surprises and challenges. And even if you have the work ethic and ambition necessary to succeed in law, the road ahead is bound to be unpredictable. For instance, when I was in law school, I was certain I would be the greatest litigator ever. As it turns out, I’m a real-estate lawyer and my career has been the best ride I never expected. I have served as the managing partner of a downtown Toronto law firm, cultivated a great legal team and, all the while, raised two incredible boys. And here’s another thing: whatever you end up doing, you likely won’t do it perfectly. To succeed, I had to learn to be practical, to prioritize, compartmentalize and delegate. Practising law also taught me (among other things) a lot about luck, timing and resilience. Every day, of the many balls you’re trying to juggle, you will drop one or two. You are not going to be the best friend, mother, daughter, colleague or whatever else, each day. I’ve missed hockey games and football games and swim meets. When I introduced myself to my children’s teachers over the years, they always said it was nice to “finally” meet me. I was, I suspect, the last of the parents to make an appearance. Despite all this, my boys turned out to be independent and hardworking. They are trying to live with integrity and purpose. I like to think they learned how to do this from watching their parents work.
One of the most important things you can do is determine what matters most to you. I’ve never missed an event that was truly important to me or to someone I love. By that same logic, I don’t bother to do the things I don’t like to do. I am not a good cook. I will never be a good cook. There is so little time, and what you have of it flies by at the speed of light. (That’s the same speed at which my children eat, which might explain why I totally lost interest in cooking.) I’ve learned that life is made up of a series of small decisions that, over the long run, make a significant difference to the quality of your life. The legal profession is facing challenges — technological, political, societal and economic — that are enormous. It is no longer acceptable for lawyers to just master the law; they must understand the business of practising law as well. But at the end of the day, we should try not to forget why we went to law school in the first place — to help others, particularly those who are less advantaged and those in the profession who are coming up behind us. Because when you look back at all that you have accomplished in your career, decades from now, those small victories and kindnesses will be the ones that you remember and (likely) value most. jD Lisa Borsook is the executive partner of WeirFoulds LLP. Between 2007 and 2012, Borsook served as the firm’s managing partner.
ILLUSTRATION BY ALINA SKYSON
by Lisa Borsook
the best ‡ get better §
Where* do well-rounded law students go to become top-tier advocates? Lenczner Slaght. We are focused exclusively on litigation and advocacy, and so are our students. As a Lenczner Slaght student, you will attend trials, motions, appeals, arbitrations and hearings before a wide range of courts and regulatory tribunals. Our focus on real-world experience is how the best § law students grow into expert litigators. We are looking for students whose drive, resourcefulness and leadership abilities are already evident in their professional and personal lives. We expect students to have a keen interest in litigation, demonstrated through participation in debates, moots, clinics and other opportunities to begin honing advocacy skills. In addition to high academic standing, we want those who are enthusiastic, engaging, confident, and civil in all their dealings. If that sounds like you, we at Lenczner Slaght will help you get better ‡ both inside and outside the courtroom. Our highly experienced lawyers teach by example, encouraging you to learn the basics of litigation and then build your advocacy skills from there. We don’t simply offer students more opportunities to gain firsthand courtroom experience – we insist on it.