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L&E in a Big Law Firm (NRF, Fasken) vs. Boutique (Hicks, Filion, SK) - Pros/Cons?


frozenbananas

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frozenbananas
  • Law Student

Hi - I'll be articling in a big law firm in Toronto but my interest is in L&E. I am attracted to L&E for the mixture of advocacy opportunities and the subject matter being interesting.

I know Hicks is over 100 lawyers so they are still "big law" but when I say boutique I mean in the sense they only do L&E.

For anyone with knowledge of this space:

1. Do you think young associates get better training (particularly in oral advocacy) by working at a place like Hicks or Sherrad Kuzz over NRF or Fasken?

2. What are some advantages at being at a bigger firm like Fasken over Hicks? I know Fasken has the most highly regarded L&E group for big firms, but I wonder at the skill development and training level, what do associates get out of being at a Fasken over a Hicks?

3. What are some advantages at being at a boutique firm like Hicks over Fasken? 

4. Is there a significant difference in pay between these firms (i.e., big law vs. boutique L&E)?

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Jaggers

Ask about their rotations. I think all the big firms will have you rotate through L&E as well as other groups when you summer/article. A boutique would obviously be all L&E. I don't think there's really any major difference other than that, and your other rotations are all mostly teaching you the same skills anyways, since you're just learning the basics of legal practice at that point. There certainly wouldn't be any difference in skill development or training between Hicks and the big full service firms.

 

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Dinsdale
  • Lawyer

You will do a rotation at all large, full service firms.  Depending how extensive their L&E practice is, some firms might lump L&E into a more general litigation rotation.  It's hard to generalize about your question because articling experiences can vary widely.  It is probably trite to say, but you'll probably get a more intense L&E focussed experience at a Hicks-type firm, and a broader based corporate-commercial experience (not a bad thing at the articling stage, IMO) at a full service firm.

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frozenbananas
  • Law Student

If it helps, we have a rotation program, and you are able to rotate in "Litigation" which is then broken up into (General Lit, IP Lit, L&E) and you mainly service one of those sub-lit groups so you can focus on L&E specifically if you want. I guess my question is more so within those first 1-5 years of practice, do boutique L&E lawyers get trained better, or get more exposure than say the same year of call L&E lawyer at Fasken.

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Jaggers
18 hours ago, frozenbananas said:

I guess my question is more so within those first 1-5 years of practice, do boutique L&E lawyers get trained better, or get more exposure than say the same year of call L&E lawyer at Fasken.

No, the opportunities would be the same.

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Rashabon
  • Lawyer

An L&E lawyer at a full service firm might develop more skills relating to servicing M&A transactions (maybe Jaggers can weigh in on that too) but I would imagine as it relates to core L&E issues, workplace investigations, etc., all the big L&E shops will have similar opportunities.

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leafs_law
  • Lawyer
On 4/4/2024 at 2:47 PM, frozenbananas said:

Hi - I'll be articling in a big law firm in Toronto but my interest is in L&E. I am attracted to L&E for the mixture of advocacy opportunities and the subject matter being interesting.

I know Hicks is over 100 lawyers so they are still "big law" but when I say boutique I mean in the sense they only do L&E.

For anyone with knowledge of this space:

1. Do you think young associates get better training (particularly in oral advocacy) by working at a place like Hicks or Sherrad Kuzz over NRF or Fasken?

2. What are some advantages at being at a bigger firm like Fasken over Hicks? I know Fasken has the most highly regarded L&E group for big firms, but I wonder at the skill development and training level, what do associates get out of being at a Fasken over a Hicks?

3. What are some advantages at being at a boutique firm like Hicks over Fasken? 

4. Is there a significant difference in pay between these firms (i.e., big law vs. boutique L&E)?

I started trying to answer your questions but it was going to take forever to do it properly. If you DM me your phone number, I will give you a call and do my best to cover what I can based on my experiences. @Jaggers, who has already provided some answers, has a ton of relevant experience (he even provided me with some mentorship, advice, and a cool learning experience when I was an articling student, now way too long ago [am I old !?!?]).

 

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Jaggers
On 4/5/2024 at 12:36 PM, Rashabon said:

An L&E lawyer at a full service firm might develop more skills relating to servicing M&A transactions (maybe Jaggers can weigh in on that too)

It's possible you will get that experience, but you won't like it. It's boring as hell. The amount of that work coming in depends on the firm, but is less in the mix in the top L&E firms. In a firm like Osler, the employment law group exists mostly so that they can help out the big corporate clients, while in a firm like Fasken or NRF, the big companies come to them specifically for L&E work. The firms in the top tier for L&E will provide a very similar experience for the first six or so years of practice (at least in terms of the work, not necessarily culturally).

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  • 1 month later...
QueensDenning
  • Articling Student
On 4/9/2024 at 10:26 AM, Jaggers said:

It's possible you will get that experience, but you won't like it. It's boring as hell. The amount of that work coming in depends on the firm, but is less in the mix in the top L&E firms. In a firm like Osler, the employment law group exists mostly so that they can help out the big corporate clients, while in a firm like Fasken or NRF, the big companies come to them specifically for L&E work. The firms in the top tier for L&E will provide a very similar experience for the first six or so years of practice (at least in terms of the work, not necessarily culturally).

Can you elaborate on the difference in experience for 6+ years post call?

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