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Has anyone switched from an in-house solicitor role to family law (but also litigation generally)?


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  • Law Student

I am currently articling and am doing mostly solicitor work with a very small amount of litigation. Moving forward I would be interested in doing a bit more litigation, particularly in the family law (and insurance defence) fields. Is this kind of jump common? What kind of steps can/should I take to make this happen? Should I focus on finding an in-house position that does more litigation generally and then expand from there?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Lawyer

If you are still articling, you can make the switch at any time, but be ready to explain why you are making a transition from "Practice A" to "Practice B." More specifically, what makes "Practice B" attractive to you, why you would want to stay, how would you deal with the many challenges in "Practice B" etc.

Family law experiences a lot of associate attrition, particularly in the first 5-6 years. So some firms might want to know whether you would stay if they train you. It's not a field for everyone.

Most articling students straight out of articling don't have much litigation experience anyway. So you would not be behind your peers. If anything, some employers prefer that you do not come with litigation assumptions and teach you from scratch. 

There are few in-house positions in family law (the Family Responsibility Office, Child Protection agencies, Provincial legal aid, family law clinics). Articling with the CAS, the FRO, and legal aid could give you some hands-on and front line experience.

Family law also involves a lot of alternative dispute resolution. If you have experience in mediation and arbitration, that experience would be an asset.

If you have more specific questions, please PM me. I practiced family law exclusively since my call.

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