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  • The YWL Blog provides a forum for writing and discussion on various topics of interest to young women in law. Click on the dark grey icons below to read more or leave a comment. Use the hashtag #YWLBlog and share your thoughts on social media!

    • YWL is now accepting submissions for blog posts. Send your submissions to info@youngwomeninlaw. 

      Please note that the views expressed in individual blog posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of YWL.

        • 05 Dec 2022 10:00 AM | Sandra Buhain (Administrator)

          One of the most common questions I get from students: wait, so you quit your first job as a lawyer? My one-liner response: Yes, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

          My story isn’t all that different from many young lawyers. Since the age of 16, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. The goal was clear and the path was certain. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but there I was - in my robes getting called to the Bar.

          With law school behind me, I got settled in and began taking carriage of my own files. My clients were largely low-income immigrants, and I took pride in the fact that I was doing work that felt impactful. However, after several months of working into the late evening 6-7 days a week, I began questioning my life choices.

          I became short tempered with the people I loved, found myself taking medication to manage recurring stomach ulcers, and barely holding onto any sort of social life. Classic signs of burnout.

          So I did the thing that I’ve never done before - I quit. I quit because I knew there was only one person responsible for my health and happiness: me.

          And you’d think things would get better, but it only got worse. For the first time in my life - I didn’t have a plan. And everyone else around me seemed to have it all figured out. Layer on the ever-present guilt that I was letting down my parents, who sacrificed everything for my education, and of course, the nagging feeling that I was making a massive mistake. Who’s going to hire a lawyer fresh out of law school, with barely a year of experience?

          And yet, it was the best decision I ever made.

          Here’s why: There’s opportunity in not having a plan. It’s simple - if you have tunnel vision about what you think your career is supposed to look like, you’re going to miss the possibilities of what it could be.

          There are people who view their careers as “ladders”, where their career path is based on moving up in the organization. They can clearly see the path ahead of them and understand what it takes to get to the next level. However, I fall into the category often referred to as “mapping”. Like a map, my career is non-linear and I seek interesting roles, companies, and skills. Like traveling to foreign places, I enjoy the challenge and discomfort because I believe this is how I grow personally and professionally.

          By not having a plan, my career has been wide-ranging, and most importantly – fun. I have also met some of the best people, who I consider close friends. Just a quick overview of my what I managed to do without a plan: I worked in capital markets for one of the biggest banks in Canada - without a lick of experience in finance. I was a consultant for a Big 4 consulting firm - without a MBA or accounting degree (don’t get me started on how much I despise excel and Powerpoint!). Funny enough, in the last two years, I ventured back into law and work in-house despite years spent out of practice.

          I say all of this to provide an alternative to the constant pressure many young students (and lawyers) feel during the early stages of their career. There are some folks who know exactly what they want for their career - nothing wrong with that. However, for those who don’t know what their next move is: celebrate the freedom in that. Maybe do the thing you’re not expected to do - or the thing you’re most curious about. If my career is an example of anything – it’s the fact that there’s a world of possibility out there.


          Taslenna Shairulla is an in-house lawyer for Capital One Canada, where she practices corporate/commercial and privacy law. She is also a blogger, who uses storytelling to highlight BIPOC owned brands and businesses. Find her on Instagram: @whattassyknows.

        • 24 Jan 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

          Some people might say that junior lawyers should accept and be happy with whatever salary they are first offered. Some people might say that first-year lawyers especially should take what they get (I was told that by a few people). My response would be lawyers (of any vintage) should always be grateful for a job offer. But being a first-year lawyer does not mean salary negotiation is off the table.

          Negotiating salary can be daunting as a first year lawyer. On the one hand, you are excited to have been offered a job, you want to get off on the right foot with your new employer, and you certainly don’t want to lose this job opportunity when you have come so far. On the other hand, you have bills to pay, crushing student debt, and genuinely hope to be appreciated for the work you will be putting in.

          Let me start by saying that I have been in those shoes. Let me also say that I negotiated my salary as a first-year lawyer. Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Was it nerve-wracking? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Definitely. Based on my experience, below is how I would recommend any nervous first-year lawyer approach salary talks with their future employer.

          Determine the Appropriate Salary Range

          The first step in determining fair compensation is finding out what the salary range is for a first year call at the firm you are interviewing with or a comparable firm. First year salary ranges might be different depending on what area of law you will be practicing too. Both are important to keep in mind.

          Perhaps you have already heard formally or through the grape vine what a first-year lawyer makes at the firm you are interested in. If not, a good starting point is ZSA’s salary guide and legal forums like to get a sense of what might be a fair salary. You can also talk to junior lawyers or recruiters you already know about salary expectations. Your ability to say you looked at X website, talked to Y person, and e-mailed with Z recruiter before coming up with your idea of an appropriate salary will make you more persuasive.

          Determine What Your Strengths Are

          After figuring out what an appropriate salary range might be, it is time to think about what assets or value you bring to the firm. As a first-year lawyer, you might think your lack of experience prevents you from making a strong case about your value to the firm. However, that’s simply not true.

          Some factors to consider when making your case as a junior lawyer are:

          1. Did you summer or article with the firm? Your familiarity with how the firm operates (from intake to docketing to drafting) is an advantage. Prior experience at the firm means you don’t need to be trained or introduced. You have the advantage of seamlessly continuing to work at the firm. 

          2. Do you have specialized experience? Maybe you specialized in something during law school. Maybe before interviewing at this firm, your worked in a niche area of law that the firm is hiring in. In either case, you have a strength that other junior lawyers applying to the position might not have and you should highlight it.

          3. Can you bring a strong reference letter? Getting a partner from your previous firm (especially if the partner or firm is known to your potential new employer) might help push your salary negotiations along. Referring to the recommendation that someone reputable and respected gave for you is one way to argue you should be receiving a salary at the higher end of the appropriate salary range

          4. Is the firm hiring urgently? If the firm is in need of a junior lawyer to step in, they may be more willing to negotiate with you once you have gotten to the offer stage to ensure that you come on board (especially if your ask is reasonable and within the demonstrably appropriate range).

          5. Is anyone at the firm leaving soon? Perhaps the firm you are interviewing with is hiring with a view towards transitioning duties. Maybe someone at the firm is leaving or going on maternity leave. Whatever the case, knowing why the firm is hiring can be also an advantage in your negotiations.

          6. Do you have other offers or opportunities on the table? We all know that rarity increases a commodity’s value. If you truly are considering other options or have another offer on the table, you can leverage this fact in your negotiations.

          In addition to the above, there may be other factors unique to you and your situation that will help negotiations along. My point is that lack of experience, alone, does not and should not discredit any first-year lawyer from negotiating a higher salary that is justified.

          Determine What You Are and Are Not Willing to Accept

          As you enter into salary negotiations, the above should help you get a clear idea about what you are and are not willing to accept. Having a clear idea will help make you more confident in your negotiation and assessment of the offer given to you.

          Also consider whether you are willing to accept a lower salary that comes with other perks. Consider negotiating vacation days, performance bonuses, continued learning costs, billable targets, working hours, office space, etc.


          Now that you know what the appropriate salary range is, what strengths you bring to the table, and what you are willing to accept, it’s time to go to bat. If you are still lacking confidence, try imagining yourself as your own client and advocate! After all, advocating is what being a lawyer is all about right? In its own strange way, job seeking and salary negotiations are an opportunity to showcase to your future employer a taste of your advocacy skills. Your pitch should be one that’s based on research, analysis, and persuasiveness. Any firm that is worth working for (even if they do not end up giving you your desired salary) will appreciate your efforts.


          Author: Grace Tran

          Grace is currently a lawyer at a boutique litigation firm in Toronto with a focus in construction litigation, fraud, and insurance defence. Grace also has a continuing interest in international arbitration. Grace’s passion for advocacy grew as a law student, where she competed in and was named the Best Advocate at two international moot competitions. Grace is also passionate about mentoring law students and writes a blog for that purpose:

        • 05 Jan 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

          Those in sports never think twice about working with a coach; in fact, it usually is considered a given for athletes in order to grow, develop and move forward in their athletic journey.  So…why is it not equally a given for young women in law?  I remember in my 4th year of practice when I felt lost, it seemed unheard of to seek out a coach. Yet, I did, and there was no looking back.  Now, through YWL, you too can engage a coach.  Although there are many more, here are seven benefits you will find in doing so

          1.       Reflecting on some much needed self-discovery

          One of the most exciting “aha” moments in coaching is when you determine that what you do (or might do) aligns so well with who you are and what you believe.  When did you last spend any amount of time thinking about what you really value, what matters most to you?  Having spent many years in pursuit of becoming a lawyer (often undergrad, law school, licensing exams, articling or LPP placements, call to the bar), and then finding and making it in that first role… you likely became disconnected with the “why” of what you are doing.  A coach works with you as you re-discover, or sometimes discover for the first time, what makes you thrive.  When you are more closely aligned with your values, you feel a balance, an ease that is not present when there’s a misalignment, and this helps your choices of workplace, employers, clients and even the type of work in law you might pursue.

          2.       Getting unstuck and moving forward

          At various times in your career (and personal life), you feel absolutely stuck – as if there is a huge boulder in front of you and you simply cannot get past it.  Through conversations with a coach, a couple of things happen. First – you define that boulder: what is it? how is it getting in your way? Second – you explore ways that are right for you to deal with the boulder:  go around it; under it; over it; smash right through it; or…realize there actually is no boulder standing in your way!  This internal work often allows you to better deal, for example, with that new senior partner or make that pitch to a new client or navigate a new workplace.

          3.       Recognizing patterns that are holding us back

          Sometimes it may not be huge boulders in your way, but behavioural or other patterns that you have been engaging in that either never served you well…or have stopped serving you now.  Through conversations with a coach, you begin to recognize these patterns, from how you choose to spend your time (anyone else out there scrolling too much through social media these days?!) or ask for work or respond to feedback from a supervisor or engage in professional outreach or networking. Once these patterns are identified, you work with your coach to bring about new responses that better serve your goals.

          4.       Keeping your goals in sight

          As life moves on and various decisions, big or small, are made, individually you may lose sight of your bigger goals.  Daily messiness can cause you to forget or not focus on navigating to where you want to go.  During coaching sessions, your coach will regularly shinea light and remind you of your stated goals or purpose, bringing you back on track if you have deviated (or forgotten) that ultimate purpose.

          5.       Offering an Accountability Partner

          Most of us are disciplined in our legal practices, but when it comes to other elements of personal and professional goals, we often let things go unless we are held accountable to someone else.  Part of the job of your coach is to check in with you about the status of mini goals you have set or tasks you wish to accomplish.  And they will ask you why you may not have completed them and support you getting on track. Remember, your coaching relationship is a two-person journey, and your coach is there alongside as you move towards your desired goal.  

          6.       Asking powerful questions to motivate and inspire

          Coaches are neither therapists nor advisors.  They listen a lot and then, based on what you have shared, will often ask truly powerful questions that you may not have considered.  These questions will help you think through some of the challenging obstacles you are facing and think through some of the tremendous opportunities available for you to explore.  The look on a client’s faces when a powerful question lands well is incredible for a coach; that sense of “oh wow, I never have considered this!” And remember that your growth does not happen only during your conversations with your coach. Your coach having laid some groundwork for you and asked some significant questions, much of the work you will do happens between your coaching sessions, as you reflect on the conversation while you go about your daily activities.

          7.       Championing and empowering you

          Let’s return to the sports coach/athlete analogy from the start of this article.  You know you are bright, capable, curious and creative.  But sometimes you forget, doubt yourself, question your actions or decisions.  Working with a coach offers you someone who is there for you, with you.  While going through the work of identifying your values, smashing through your obstacles, recognizing unhelpful patterns, reminding you of your goals, holding you accountable and asking you powerful questions…your coach also stands as your champion, encouraging, motivating, empowering and inspiring you to keep being the amazing individual you are.  And let’s face it, we can all benefit from a supportive champion in our corner these days!


           Author: Gina Alexandris

          For over 20 years, Gina has been inspiring and supporting individuals and organizations to strategically define their hopes and achieve their goals. As the Senior Program Director of Ryerson’s Law Practice Program, Gina is responsible for the development, implementation and general management of the new innovative transition year training program for licensing Candidates in Ontario. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring academic excellence and the quality of service and program delivery for participants, and outreach to hundreds of contributing members of the legal profession. Gina was also actively involved with the development and launch of Ryerson’s new innovative law school. With a passion for adult education, leadership and diversity, she completed her Masters of Education in 2012 and received her Coaching Certification in 2017. Gina developed and directed the award-winning Internationally Trained Lawyers Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and spent more than 12 years with Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, first as Director of Career Services, followed by nine years as the Assistant Dean of Student Services. Between 2013 and 2014, Gina was the Director, Strategic Planning and Knowledge Management for the Legal Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Following her graduation from Osgoode Hall Law School, Gina began her legal career practicing family law and civil litigation in Toronto, Canada.

        • 20 Dec 2021 8:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

          Coaching is about discovery, change and achievement. Exciting and heady stuff, right? As a coach for the past 30 years, I can confidently say that coaching is always a two-way street. What the client brings to the process is equally important, if not more important, to what the coach does.

          So how can you as a client maximize your coaching experience and make it most efficient? Here are some suggestions involving approach, preparation and engagement.

          1.   Get Clear. Before the session think about what you hope to accomplish. What are your personal goals? What are your major concerns? Reflect on specific experiences that illustrate your concern or challenges. For example, if you wish to develop a particular skill such as conflict management, remember a time when you had difficulty dealing with a disagreement. How did you prepare, what did you do, what happened, and what did you learn?

          2.    Come Prepared. Make a list of areas you wish to work on. Or, if you can, create a list of personal goals. One client called goal setting magical because goals become more achievable once they are made conscious. If you are uncertain about areas or goals, tell your coach so you can work together on making them clear. 

          3.    Be Open. This includes being honest, even about things that are embarrassing.  The coaching relationship is a safe and confidential place for you to explore, express feelings and test your ideas. It also means being open to change and seeing things in new ways. A great benefit of coaching is discovering new perspectives on challenging issues that enable you to find new and innovative ways of addressing them. 

          4.     Be Responsible. Be ready to take action and do the work. Part of what a coach does is to encourage you to go beyond what you normally think, do or achieve. To help with this a coach will often give you ‘homework’ to complete between sessions. These actions can be challenging but this is where the real discovery and transformation takes place – in your own life.

          5.   Practice Reflection. Coaching involves an action-reflection cycle. Reflection allows you to step back and critically analyse what worked and what didn’t. You can reflect in private and also with your coach.  Reflection plays a key role in skill development and greatly enhances learning. 

          6.    Ask Questions. Perhaps you have heard the adage “the only bad question is the one left unasked”. The more you communicate with your coach, the better able she will be to understand you and to help.  By asking questions, new insights can arise and new perspectives be gained. 

          7.    Have Fun! Neuroscience tells us that we all learn more and remember better when we are having fun. Being committed, prepared and responsible doesn’t mean no enjoyment allowed! Be playful: It increases creativity and enhances our openness. 


          Author: Delee Fromm

          Delee Fromm is an author, lawyer and former psychologist. As a professional speaker and coach, her services cover the arenas of unconscious bias, skill development and career advancement. She is a career coach with the Law Society of Ontario and on the advisory board of Young Women in Law. Her books include Advance Your Legal Career: Essential Skills for Success, Understanding Gender at Work and A Workbook for Understanding Gender at Work (co-authored with Rocca Morra Hodge).

          For more information about her, please go to her website at and her profile on LinkedIn

        • 08 Aug 2021 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

          The time has come in your life to grow your family. Congrats! You might be like me and have every emotion possible. Joy. Excitement. Anxiety. For young women in law, there is the added question of maternity leave. For young women in law with their own law practice (or your own clients), this really does become a huge question mark.

          For me, I have my own practice and the buck starts (and stops) with me. Then the pandemic hit, and then I was expecting and I had to figure out what my firm would look like with a baby in the picture. I didn’t find many resources on how to do it all (as I later learned – no one can do it all). So, I figured it out as I went, and I’m excited to keep this discussion ongoing as there are so many tips we can learn from each other. My baby girl is 4 months old, and I am learning everyday how to be the best lawyer and mom.

          Here are some tips I learned along the way.

          #1 It takes a village

          I am here to tell you the words you already know – it takes a village. I learned very early on that I needed an assistant. This doesn’t surprise you, but law is very administrative heavy. That admin work ties you up from doing other things to grow your business, like marketing, heck even just spending time recharging the batteries.

          I also highly recommend having a bookkeeper who can reconcile your books by the 25th of the month for the previous month to stay compliant with the LSO rules. When you’re in the thick of baby and keeping your practice afloat, your future self will thank you for it!

          #2 Put systems in place

          Do you have systems in place which allow others to jump in if you’re not available? Does your current software need an upgrade? Are you able to work/continue to work remotely? Is there a system and procedures for intake calls, opening new files, sending out Zoom calls, collecting on accounts in arrears – ie. all the fun stuff!

          For me, I switched from PC Law, which was not remote/ cloud based, to Cosmolex. It was an expense, and it took a significant amount of everyone’s time to migrate and then learn the new software. But looking back, it has streamlined a lot of our docketing, invoicing, and accounting. My bookkeeper can log in remotely. Goodbye TeamViewer!

          How can you make your life easier?

          #3 Build your team

          Another decision was growing our team. I hired an associate, not even very mindfully, but I was swamped and had found a newly called lawyer to help me with legal research and finalizing drafts. I was impressed with his skills and realized that having another lawyer, which means having another pair of eyes and ears, was a value add. If things continue in this trajectory, I see the value of adding another junior lawyer. The same reasoning applies. Another lawyer to draft materials, to speak to clients regarding certain issues, and draft correspondences, frees up your time to delegate, market, and spend the cuddle time with your newborn. I get it. Hiring another associate is an additional expense and the future is that big question mark. The truth is you are building a thirty-year career and it is helpful having another lawyer by your side to help ensure your practice runs smoothly as you recover from having a baby (and go to the millionth and one doctor’s appointments).

          Preparing for a time where you will be more hands off forces you to be more efficient. I took the time while pregnant to look at my needs and wasted no time to fill them. This ramp up period helped me to take time away, my next tip.

          #4 How to briefly take time away

          I took a three-week vacation to go to London, England in 2019, and I had serious anxiety about being away. Of course, everything could wait and what couldn’t wait my summer student at the time handled. I hopped on to my emails only a few times. Planning my time away post-pregnancy felt different. I didn’t know how much time I would need, and what I could/ couldn’t do. Of course, there is no right answer. You will soon have two babies – your practice and your human (maybe you have more human babies!) This is a venture into the unknown.

          If you have your own firm, you can decide whether it makes sense to have a cooling off period. For example, we didn’t take on new clients for about four months. You might think it was four months after baby but it was three months at the end of my pregnancy and one month post-baby. I was exhausted beyond belief being so pregnant (and then I was two weeks overdue).  Saying no to new clients allowed us the time to focus on our current clients. My due date gave us a great deadline to move court proceedings forward before my “maternity leave.” This is in quotes because I never really set an out of office reply and to my clients, someone was always around and I was still there making sure they were happy. I will say not taking on new clients during that time permitted me time away. It also gave me time to train my new associate and put all those systems in place I mentioned. We are now back to full speed and forging new relationships with new clients.

          Do I have fomo of what could have been? Yes. It is normal to have that knee jerk reaction that you should be taking on clients. The truth is it makes you a better lawyer to know what you have time for because it means you’ll be focused on your existing files. There is plenty of time for the make-your-year file.

          #5 Power of the Pen  

          I am a huge advocate for printing off drafts, marking them up, and then taking a picture-to-scan to send to my associate or assistant. I find this is the easiest and quickest way to move things along the approval process. My associate sends me one email with his drafts, I print everything and throughout my day I mark it up and send it back. I sometimes draft paper to pen, or in my notes section of my phone. If there is time in my day, it is easier to return to writing in a notebook or writing in my phone then drafting on my computer. I actually wrote my first draft of this blog post in my notebook! Shout out and thank you to my assistant Jessica for typing it up!

          #6 Plan in advance

          It is tempting to have the “I’ll just do it myself” mentality, but this is not sustainable – especially when sleep is a finite resource. Looking at the month or even months ahead, what deadlines are coming up? Impress upon your team what is priority, what are the deadlines and have no hesitation to send drafts back well in time for this back and forth. If there is any aspect that can be delegated - delegate.  

          Plan an extra 2-week lead time to allow for the back and forth of re-drafts. This removes stress of last-minute drafting and re-doing the work. This extra lead time has been a game changer as it only required my feedback along the way which is much less of my time than re-drafting. Your work time, like sleep, at the beginning stages are finite. Last-minute is a thing of the past. It is a win-win-win when you can plan in advance and stay on top of your deadlines.

          #7 Phone-a-friend

          Do you remember the show Who Wants to be a Millionaiire? The ways to get the answer were called “lifelines”. One lifeline is called phone-a-friend. Lifeline is a good word for it! Support during this time is crucial, and the friend you call doesn’t have to be a lawyer. It can be anyone who gives you the confidence and always needed cheerleading boost.

          If you’re stuck on a legal issue, and you don’t have another lawyer to call, there are organizations you can contact. If you head the Ontario Bar Association’s website, go the practice areas section and reach out to someone on the section. Lawyers are always happy to help each other. I’m always happy to hop on a call and discuss estate litigation. There are also resources available for legal research including the Great Library and also the Toronto Lawyer’s Association (“TLA”) (by membership). I work closely with TLA and I can attest that they are a fantastic resource for young lawyers. Reaching out to friends, in any capacity, helps us navigate this new role of mom and lawyer.

          #8 Structuring home life

          What are the ways you can structure your new mom role that allows you to have time to recharge and also get out that case conference brief? What has helped me is having a magic erase calendar on the fridge with my call/ Zoom schedule and all appointments (with colour-coded markers, of course). If everyone is working from home, it helps us figure out where to be and who is doing what.

          Structuring your day so you can co-ordinate schedules will help you carve out some time for the work zoom calls, and personal doctors appointments. I made the decision, for now, to not accept calls before 11AM so I have time to sleep in if the baby keeps me up, to look presentable (if on Zoom), and to read anything and catch up. I also put all my non-work meetings, in my calendar (both fridge and Outlook) so I’m not double booked. One thing I do recommend is weekly video chats with your team to discuss the status of files, marketing, etc. We just started this a month ago and it has been extremely helpful to know where we are at.

          #9 Matt-leave activities

          This new baby phase is A LOT. Especially still maintaining an entire practice. Then there’s a pandemic on top of it. I joined a mom Zoom group and I figured if I meet one person it would be worth it. What I found was a whole resource of friends and activities – and as park hangouts became permitted, most were just across the street from my house!

          I signed up for a baby music class Friday mornings and I look forward to it every week. What activities and people can you meet to keep you grounded, supported, and invigorated?

          Warren Buffet surprised us all when he shares with Bill Gates his really blank calendar. In his words, “you can’t buy time”. This is a monumental time of your life and I hope these tips will help you with this time with your new baby and maintain your law practice!


          Author: Kimberly A. Gale, Gale Law Estate Litigation 

          Kim has honed her advocacy skills in a variety of settings and is a fierce advocate for her clients.

          Kim is a pioneer in the legal community and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the field of law. She had envisioned becoming a barrister from a young age as she enjoys solving problems and negotiating. In 2007, she attended Western University and graduated in 2011 from the media program. After working in shipping and logistics and marketing, she worked as an assistant to an estate litigator in 2013. Kim enjoyed working in this area of law and pursued her dream of going to law school with the plan to one day open her own law firm. In 2015, Kim graduated from City University of London and worked as a paralegal at a Bay street firm equivalent in the UK. She returned to Toronto and completed her equivalency exams, barrister and solicitor exams and articled with the same estate litigator. In January 2018, Kim was called to the bar and launched Law For Millennials and NCA Network while working at a boutique estate litigation firm. In January 2019, Kim launched Gale Law.

          Kim's experience and peaked interest in estate litigation began in 2013. She has worked on dependant support applicationsdisputes over who should be estate trustee, and capacity issues relating to will challenges. Kim is passionate about helping clients solve their legal issues.

          Kim is founder of legal blog Law For Millennials, diversity and inclusion group NCA Network, and law firm Gale Law.

        • 12 Jul 2021 8:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

          It is that time of year again, when Big Law firms can breathe after wrapping up another summer student recruit, and those students who were successful during the recruit can celebrate and start thinking about their "3LOL" year. 

          However, while there is a lot for those students to be excited for, there are many other students who were not offered a summer position during the recruit and are left asking a very important question: "What now?" 

          Ask any student director at a Big Law firm and they will tell you that some of the most heartbreaking moments in the recruitment process are the inevitable emails and phone calls from unsuccessful students asking where they "went wrong." The tragic part is that often there was nothing "wrong." These students are the same before and after the recruit regardless of the outcome: smart, talented and successful, with a promising career ahead of them. 

          While law schools do a great job of preparing students for the recruitment process, students who are unsuccessful in securing a position are often unsure of what to do next. Many of these students are left with the feeling that just because they did not get a summer student or articling position at a Big Law firm, that "door" is closed to them forever. 

          As two associates at a Big Law firm, who did not get hired here during their summer or articling recruits and took a "non-conventional route" to get to where we are today, we can safely say that nothing could be further from the truth. 

          Neither of us had any connection to Fogler, Rubinoff LLP prior to being hired. After not obtaining a summer position at a Big Law firm, both of us went on to summer and article at fairly small boutique firms. Both of us used that opportunity to obtain hands-on experience, enough so that when we did apply to our firm down the road, our resumes stood out. There was no magic to it. We worked hard, taking what we could from our experiences, so that when the time came and we had an interview, we could have something worthwhile to talk about. 

          In fact, we are not the only ones who came to practice at our firm through "non-conventional" methods. Here are some stories from our colleagues who also carved their own paths: 

          My first "legal" job was as a summer student at a boutique firm in northern Ontario where I practiced wills and estates law. Although I was grateful for the opportunity, I learned that area of practice was not for me and started looking for new opportunities in corporate law. I was fortunate to then complete my articles at a private equity firm. Traditional advice would have told me that I needed to article at a Big Law firm or my goal of becoming a corporate lawyer would be a done deal (no pun intended). However, during my articles, I gained insights into what's important for business professionals and what it feels like for a "client" to engage with external counsel. I also met an amazing mentor, who pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone. He encouraged me to take the Canadian Securities Course while articling, which peaked my interest in securities law, and ultimately to apply for a role as a Securities Associate at Foglers. Through my experience, I've learned that, regardless of the path you take, staying true to who you are and recognizing your values, strengths and weaknesses will lead to success. Surround yourself with people who inspire, motivate and push you to be your best, whether it be mentors, colleagues, friends or family. This will lead you to success and satisfaction in your role as a future lawyer, whatever that might look like. – Jennifer A. Humphrey, Securities Associate, 2018 Call 

          I was dead set on landing a summer position through OCIs. When my phone didn't ring at 5pm on offer day, I was devastated. I let that define me for my entire 2L year. Nine months later, I dove into the articling recruit, which allowed me to hone in on firms that appealed to my interest in litigation. I landed an articling position with a boutique firm, which provided with a fantastic articling experience. Unfortunately, I was on the hunt for an associate position not far into the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, I was hired into Foglers' litigation department. I was led to this opportunity entirely through my network: recruiters and lawyers that I had kept in touch with over the course of my job searches, who then connected me with new connections. My advice to disappointed 2L students who hope to end up at a Big Law firm is to stay in touch with as many people as you can and leverage those relationships. You are more likely to land a position through a connection than through a formal job posting. Not only will strong networking potentially land you your dream job, but you will benefit professionally from having made those connections. Lawyers and colleagues are usually happy to pass your name along or chat. Don't be afraid to ask. – Adam Varro, Litigation Associate, 2020 Call 

          My best advice is to stay the course, even if things don't work out at first. Following the linear path and landing a student position through a recruit is great, but there are lots of other opportunities for young lawyers. Your work experience, the people you meet and the reputation you build for yourself will be increasingly more important once you're outside of law school. Not everyone's path is linear and no two journeys are the same. – Sasha Kraus, Wills and Estates Associate, 2014 Call 

          While each of these associates had a slightly different story, they shared one commonality: they did not give up in the face of adversity. If working at a Big Law firm is your dream, then there is no reason why you cannot continue to work towards it. 

          So Where Do You Go From Here? 

          The answer is simple, you keep pressing on. While your summer or articling position might not be what you had hoped for, knowledge and experience are never wasted. Use this time to: 

          • Develop your legal skills and work on your experience; 
          • Reach out and build relationships with lawyers and mentors; and 
          • Keep working hard and working on yourself. 

          Eventually, you will find a great position where you can excel at and be happy. We hope that this article shows that you are not alone; there are many associates who are building successful careers in Big Law firms who came from other paths outside of the formal recruits. 

          So, if you were not successful during this summer recruitment process, take a breath. As you can clearly see, there is life, and success, after this if you just keep moving forward. 


          Authors: Rachel Fielding & Alexander Evangelista (Fogler, Rubinoff LLP)

          Rachel Fielding and Alexander Evangelista are both litigation associates at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP. 

        • 12 Jul 2021 9:00 AM | Anonymous

          A few years ago, I was part of the Law Placement Program (LPP) which placed me in a small IP law firm in Ottawa specializing in Trademarks. My goal was to work in IP law, my dream come true. However, my hopes were dashed at the end of my time there. The firm was run by a sole practitioner and they did not have the budget to keep me. This left me devastated.

          At the time, I had circled to a dark place. However, upon reflection I realized that there were a lot to gain from this experience.

          Here are some of my tips that got me through the ‘fire back’.

          1)      Rest

          You’ve been working hard, so just take a break! You have the rest of your life to work so enjoy the time off. Take care of yourself. You will find a position, I promise.

          2)      It’s Not You

          Let’s face it, you’re incredible. You endured three years of one of the most challenging subjects in the world and everyone knows it. This is only a minor setback in the grand scheme of things. Articling and work placements are only short term.

          After any job, you can always find another. Do not take this business decision personally and move on.

          3)      Be Open

          When I was not hired back at the firm, I was narrow minded at the start. I was motivated to find a career in IP law and didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to achieve this.

          But soon after, I began working at a legal tech firm which seemed to peak my interests similarly to IP law. In this position, I worked with people in varying fields and gained insight into the needs of legal professionals. I had the chance to dip my toes in sales, marketing, design and the ‘coding world’. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

          I also found an opportunity back in law in a completely different, real estate law. With nothing but my old notes, I was surprised to learn that not only was I interested in the topic, but also good at it.

          If you are struggling to find clarify after articling or your LPP placement, remember there is always a place for you.

          You just have to find it.

          Learn more about dealing with hire back, and join us for our Life After Hireback Event on July 13th. You can register here:

          Author: Anonymous

        • 09 Jun 2021 8:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

          I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a beautiful country with the Iguazu Falls in the North and incredible glaciers in the South, full of natural resources. At an early age, I was determined to become a lawyer and work in my father’s law firm. Although I did several internships with my father’s firm as well as other firms during my years at the University of Buenos Aires Law School, I met my future husband Roberto (Uruguayan) at the age of 17 and my destiny changed dramatically and for the best. He graduated from the University of Leeds (U.K.) as a textile and chemical engineer and was hired by DuPont in Argentina. I made it clear to him that I would graduate as a lawyer and raise a family while continuing to practice law. And I did just that! While in law school in Argentina I raised my first child and graduated in 1974 as a lawyer while expecting my second child who was born one month later.

          As my husband’s career progressed, he was appointed as the President of the first Levi Strauss & Co subsidiary in Argentina and as a result, my professional career became more exciting. The exposure to the LEVI’S trademarks and my contacts with several companies’ Intellectual Property (“IP”) legal counsels inspired me to look into the IP practice especially in the areas of trademarks and copyrights. I recall so many issues that captivated my attention. At the time there was an organization called Agencia Ayacucho located in Buenos Aires, very well known for registering famous trademarks without the approval of the legitimate owners.  I visited its principal for an interview and was shocked to be welcomed by several columns of well-known magazines such as VOGUE and ELLE. Ayacucho was instrumental in creating companies that registered famous and new trademarks in Argentina. Designs and combinations thereof were offered for sale to the legitimate owners in the US and Europe for substantial amounts of money. This Agency became familiar with the new trends and trademarks that appeared in the worldwide market and could register these trademarks. Argentina and many other countries follow the principle of first-to-file which establishes that the right to a trademark belongs to the party that first applies for it. The earliest filing date prevails over the date when the mark was first used in commerce. Nowadays, companies maintain watch services and are more vigilant on improper filings on a worldwide basis that permits them to file oppositions or cancellations. Although the laws have adopted the concept of “notoriety” to challenge these registrations, the court cases could take a long time in deciding these issues, especially if the legitimate owner does not own trademark registration in the first-to-file country.

          I became aware of the many instances where the LEVI’S trademark and logos were copied with exact duplications or confusingly similar terms or designs. Many stores have seamstresses in the back dedicated to sewing the LEVI’S trademark when a customer required this particular product. In addition, somebody registered ROBERT LEWIS for jeans and used ROBERT in small letters and LEWIS in a prominent manner creating obvious confusion in the Argentinian marketplace. Counterfeiting and trademark infringement was rampant at the time and I was more and more immersed in learning how to prevent these actions. 

          After a few years of both working in Argentina, my husband got a great offer from Levi Strauss that resulted in our moving to their Latin American Headquarters in Florida, United States of America. Although I was excited, I was also sad to leave my family and friends but as an ambitious woman, I felt that this could be a great opportunity for me as well. The big break came two years later when we were asked to move to San Francisco, where Levi Strauss’s main Headquarters is located. During my time here I took a lot of courses in International Law at the University of San Francisco where my interest in IP law continued to develop and I worked on improving my English.

          (Diana pictured in the middle, with Pony and athletes)

          As a woman and immigrant, it was not easy to develop an IP practice, as it was a field dominated by men, but drive and determination made the difference for me. Due to another great opportunity, my husband and a former VP of Levi Strauss decided to form a company in New York City in the athletic footwear sector that became quite successful in the 1980s. The company was Pony International, Inc, which quickly became a famous manufacturer of athletic footwear and apparel and was eventually sold to Adidas.  We moved to New York City and my friends in San Francisco asked me: “why are you leaving this beautiful city”. My answer was: “I missed pollution!” I grew up in Buenos Aires which had plenty of it. I handled the protection of the PONY brand and the Chevron Design on a worldwide basis and also got the chance to meet famous sports figures who were interested in the protection and enforcement of their names and likeness. 

          I got my first job in New York City at Haseltine, Lake and Waters, a firm dedicated to the protection and enforcement of IP on a worldwide basis. My mentor at this firm was the famous professor Eric Offner who introduced me to the various authorities on IP. Many members of the firm taught me about trademark practice and prosecution at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and also, in foreign countries. I got to correspond with many foreign practitioners. Soon I learned that the best foreign contacts would be made by attending IP Conventions. I recalled hearing that the USTA (United States Trademark Association) was organizing a Convention in San Francisco. I was not selected by the firm to attend since senior lawyers had priority over me. I figured out that the only way to attend this Convention was by organizing my trip as a vacation, paying for the registration fee and staying with my friends in San Fransico. It was the beginning of a successful career. There were 800 attendees from all over the world, very few of whom were women. At the end of the USTA Convention in San Francisco, the professional ladies made their mark and were known and respected by the male population who remembered us by our first names. I was able to meet the most prestigious IP lawyers from various countries. Many of them became family friends and loyal colleagues. Soon thereafter, I learned that ASIPI (Inter-Americanx Association of Intellectual Property) was looking for new members from the United States. I became an active member of this organization and was selected as the US representative for several years.

          The USTA was renamed and it is now known as INTA (International Trademark Association). Their current annual meetings average more than 10,000 attendees.

          (Diana pictured second from the left, with her family)

          Looking for more opportunities while working for Haseltine, Lake and Waters, brought me to a subject that the US companies were desperate to understand and deal with. All developing countries (including the Latin American countries) and some industrialized countries were enacting new stringent transfer of technology laws that required the approval by their Governments of transfer of technology/IP license agreements for the remission of royalties abroad.  The subject was quite complex because many of the countries did not have proper translations of their applicable laws or any understanding of the Governments’ behavior as to the ultimate decisions. After discussing the matter with Mr. Offner, I became the person in charge of the negotiations and lectured on this matter. The first was organized by the Fieldstone Press at the Waldorf Astoria.

          I handled plenty of negotiations with authorities of various countries about the reasons why the agreements were justifiable as well as the remission of royalties to the licensors. I will never forget a comment from a male lawyer with the Mexican Transferring of Technology Office that questioned the need for Maidenform’s Mexican licensee to pay a royalty for the technology involved in the construction of a bra. We proved that there was plenty of innovation and technology in designing and constructing bras and the license agreement was approved!

          A few years later, Eric Offner, decided to leave Haseltine and form his own firm. He invited me and my friend Perla Kuhn (a lawyer also born in Argentina) to join him. It was a challenge for me to leave the security of Haseltine and start something new. However, it was the right decision. While working at this firm I had my third child and also raised my nephew that was a high school student and lived with us. After 19 years of working together, Offner retired and Perla Kuhn joined a large corporate law firm in Wall Street. Since I wanted to remain in an IP boutique, I contacted George Gottlieb, a founder and senior member of Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman. I knew him and his wife socially and admired his ability to handle IP litigation and give creative solutions to many important clients. I also liked the GR&R patent department at a time where sophisticated patent lawyers were very much on demand in the electronic and digital world. I reached an agreement and brought my practice and clients to GRR.  I have been very happy with this firm since 1997.

          (Diana is pictured second from the left, during her presentation for Oscar de la Renta)

          The most important thing through my career has been witnessing the increased number of IP professional women as patent, trademark and copyright lawyers, agents and paralegals. I mentored several IP female students and lawyers and have enjoyed seeing their successes and helping them along their way.  We have long discussions about how women need to multitask at so many levels, which is difficult and exciting at the same time. 

          The opportunities and challenges come and go but we should remain alert and interested in progressing in our respective careers. It has not been easy for an immigrant like me to get to this point but the United States is certainly full of opportunities!


          Author: Diana Muller, Counsel to Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, P.C.

          Diana Muller is a recognized expert in international trademark and copyright law, worldwide licensing, and in the transfer of technology and security interest agreements. Her work with sports marketing firms, sports agents, and professional athletes has also made her a driving force behind the creation of programs, here and abroad, for the protection of the names and likenesses of famous sports figures and entertainers.

          Ms. Muller has written and lectured extensively on such topics as licensing, trademark developments, foreign investments, and the protection of intellectual property rights in developing countries. She has spoken at the New York Women’s Bar Association and the National Conference for Women in Business, on the subject of careers in entertainment and fashion licensing. Ms. Muller has been a guest lecturer on intellectual property at New York University and at Inter-American Association of Industrial Property (ASIPI) conventions where she has given talks on sports licensing IP licensing, and the protection of images in Costa Rica and Mexico. She is also actively involved in ASIPI’s Trademark and Administrative Committees.

          Ms. Muller has taken part in panel discussions for many institutions and publications, such as at the inaugural Women’s Wear Daily Legal Roundtable on Protecting Intellectual Property, where she spoke about the financial losses companies face when they fail to see global counterfeiting as a serious threat.

          Ms. Muller is the president of the Entertainment Law Committee of ASIPI. She has been involved in the preparation of a Seminar on IP in the Entertainment Industry in Puerto Rico in 2017 and a webinar and article involving IP legal protection of video games. Ms. Muller has assisted in the protection of IP rights in the hospitality business including, restaurants, hotels, spas as well as wellness and health industries.

        • 20 Apr 2021 7:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

          The saying “the days are long, but the years are short” could easily apply to the first few years of practice for lawyers. Despite the inevitable long days and nights, your first and second years of practice go by in a flash – you are learning lots of new skills, taking on many different types of transactions and files for the first time, and working with new lawyers with different styles. The learning curve is steep and, at times, can be exhausting, but these years serve an important purpose – figuring out how you want to shape your career.

          Many candidates find that by the time they have reached third year, they now have refined their goals about their career path; you may have a better sense of what you enjoy, what you don’t, and what direction you’d like to take your career in the years ahead. You may have also noticed that a lot of the job postings out there specify that magic 3 to 5 years of experience – it’s no coincidence. Not only are you ready for the next step, your next employer is ready for you too.

          If you’re feeling like a change, it’s a great time to explore your options, as mid-level associates are often in high demand. Before you start plugging “legal” into every job search engine you can find, here are some ways to make your search more efficient and more successful.

          Narrow It Down

          Before you start your search, take the time to figure out what you are looking for. This is not to say you should have a singular focus or job title in mind at the outset, but you can save a lot of time during your search, as well as the pain of making an impulse move, if you have some direction. To figure this out, consider the following:

          • What have you learned so far?
          • What are you good at?
          • What do you like doing? (This may not be the same as what you’re good at)
          • What do you enjoy about your current role?
          • What don’t you enjoy?
          • Why have you decided to look elsewhere?
          • What kind of environment are you looking for? Consider the size of the team, and support available

          There are no right or wrong answers - some people might value more flexibility over salary. Others may want a larger platform with more sophisticated deals, understanding that this may mean a less flexible work schedule. Whatever you value, it’s good to know your “must-haves”, your “nice-to-haves” and your “deal breakers” before you start looking. Now you can weed out the roles that aren’t a fit early on.

          Think Practically 

          The past year has made many of us realize that there is a lot more to a job than the actual substantive work. The pandemic has forced us all to adapt to new ways of working and the silver lining has been increased flexibility that we previously have not seen in the legal profession. The million dollar question is, of course, how will working look under the “new normal”? While no one can answer this yet, it is important for you to consider the practical points as well, such as:

          • What salary range are you targeting?
          • What geographic location are you considering? How open are you to commuting or moving?
          • How important is title to you?
          • Do you need or want remote/flexible working on an ongoing basis?
          • Do you need or want a certain level of mentorship? Or are you open to taking things on more independently?

          Update That Resume!

          Now that you have some direction, it’s time to update your resume. Proper resume drafting is an entire blog in itself (check this blog out for our best tips!), but the crucial point is that it should be tailored to the job you’re seeking and should highlight your skills accordingly.

          Think of your resume like a newspaper: what needs to be “above the fold” to catch the eye of a hiring manager? Draw attention to the experience and transferable skills that match the direction you’re heading, and understand that your resume is not carved in stone. As you start reviewing job descriptions and applying to suitable roles, you should consider if your new and improved resume highlights what you need for each particular role. If it doesn’t, change it. It’s worth the effort early to hopefully move on to the interview stage.

          While you’re updating your resume, don’t neglect your LinkedIn account. Make sure your job history, with details regarding your area of practice, is up to date and consistent with your resume if you’re looking to make a change.

          You’re now ready to start your search! Stay tuned for our next blog which will explore our best tips for mid-level jobs search and an update on current hiring trends.


          Author: Melanie Shields 

          Melanie is a Recruitment and Communications Consultant with The Heller Group. She is involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations. Melanie is also responsible for the corporate communications related to The Heller Group.


        • 25 Feb 2021 9:14 PM | Anonymous

          Every February, we commemorate the accomplishments and sacrifices of notable figures in the Black Community. Black History Month is a time to educate and re-educate ourselves on significant milestones, from the abolishment of slavery to raising global awareness on police brutality. Names of most notable figures that come to mind include Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. However, there are also many remarkable women who, through their social activism, have and continue to pave the way for women's rights. This year, I would like to give recognition to a few of these remarkable women.

          Rosa Parks

          Rosa Parks is best remembered for refusing to give up a front seat on a segregated bus during the 1950s in Montgomery, Alabama. It is unknown whether Ms. Parks' stance was an act of protest or simply a personal reaction to stand her ground, but Ms. Parks' actions (and subsequent arrest) inspired the local Black Community, including Martin Luther King Jr., to protest bus segregation. As a result, a U.S. Supreme Court found bus segregation in Alabama unconstitutional in 1956.

          Ida B. Wells

          Ida B. Wells founded the first suffrage group for Black women in Chicago called the Alpha Suffrage Club. Even though Ms. Wells had the support of a number of white women advocating for a woman's right to vote, Ms. Wells and other Black women were banned from participating in the historical 1913 women's suffrage parade. Ms. Wells and her allies wrote letters to the event organizers to allow for the Alpha Suffrage Club's participation in the parade. They finally agreed to allow them to march in the back of the parade. Ms. Wells refused to march in the back; instead she stood side by side with her white co-suffragists. Ms. Wells will be remembered for her unwavering dedication not only to moving the Black Community's demand for civil rights forward, but also for her participation in the eventual legalization of women over 21 to vote in Illinois.

          Ernestine Eckstein

          While pushing for recognition of basic civil rights for all citizens, Ernestine Eckstein also played a significant role in the advancement of LGBTQ rights. Ms. Eckstein was involved in a variety of civil rights groups including the NAACP, but will be remembered for being the first Black female to be a member (Vice President of the New York Chapter) of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian civil and political rights organization. Starting in the 1960s, Ms. Eckstein was one of the first Black women to argue that LGBTQ rights are civil rights.  

          Amanda Gorman

          Through the power of a five-minute poem recited for the world to witness, Amanda Gorman's words have, and will, continue to leave a graceful mark on this world. By way of art, Ms. Gorman illustrated varying degrees of social issues through persuading her audience on the importance of acceptance, resilience and looking within. Being the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration, she has inspired women of colour to carry forward her message through their own work of art and activism.

          To mark the end of Black History Month, I implore you to take time in learning more about Black History and the impact it has on where women are today. You can do so through reading books, embracing pop culture and art, and having open discussions on anti-racism.


          Author: Farrah Rahman

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