VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 3/30/2010
Can I Get My Money Back? Youve probably heard it said that one should learn to pick their battles. Im sure its meant to be a wise admonition designed to prevent you from engaging in activities that might create more frustration and aggravation than you really intend to undertake. What it doesnt say is exactly how much research you should do before you pick a battle. The "learning" curve is often only possible after youve initiated "the battle." After three years of law school and few prospects for employment, I find myself remembering that I was counseled by friends to simply enjoy my early retirement and invest the money I eventually spent on law school. As of this writing, that advice might have prevented the ongoing battle I appear to be losing. Three months after graduation, the only insight I have with respect to law firms is that they are not the most accommodating nor inviting institutions to 50 year old disabled law graduates needing to article. In fact, they may be the least accommodating institutions I have encountered in my 12 years of having multiple sclerosis. Articling can be a demanding endeavour for the extremely motivated. One must be prepared to devote long hours and numerous lost weekends in an effort to rise above the merely competent. People in my age group may be reluctant to need to prove anything in particular by punching 60 or more hours a week with a firm, relying instead on an otherwise strong resume whose depth and experience might likely create a niche into which they can fit. One problem Ive encountered in that area is the difference in value resume experience means to an articling committee as compared to a more senior partner with a firm. Generally, articling committees in larger firms are looking for candidates willing, and likely able, to punch those hours mentioned earlier, almost as a demonstration of the clerks commitment to what has gone before. Senior partners may want the same thing, but the few I have spoken to also made specific references to a long list of resume experiences they consider as valuable. The articling committees have largely ignored those experiences, even to the point where I felt the need to be somehow apologetic for having had such a varied career. During my third year interviews, I went so far as to shave ten years off my work history, and consequently enjoyed the best interviews I had during the three year interviewing process. A senior partner I spoke with expressed the view that my resume was the strongest he had seen, and he couldnt understand why I wouldnt be hired on that basis. He also went on to say that he was not involved in the hiring process, leaving that endeavour in the hands of the articling committee. It appeared to be the law firm equivalent of, "dont call us, well call you." These and a myriad of other interview experiences have led me to question whether or not my biggest barrier isnt my age, as opposed to a physical disability that restricts my movements. I cant answer that one. It does appear ironic to me that law firms can seem to get away with a substantial degree of either age or disability discrimination, or both. Unfortunately, raising the "discrimination" cry would only tend to put people on the defensive, and its nearly impossible to prove. Consequently, one would be well advised to avoid raising a claim that could get their butt sued for defamation. I can say I was asked by a large Halifax firm the following question: "So, tell us why we should hire someone your age?" It was the only time I ever felt the urge to play the age card by beginning my response with, "Well, son....." I didnt get the job. Trying to secure an articling position is only the end result of the law school process, as well as the next step in passing and being called before the Bar. There doesnt seem to be a process for people like myself who are willing, able and ready to practice, once the Bar courses are completed and the exam is successfully passed. You have to article to get into the Bar courses, and you need to pass the exam. The problem is, if theres some sort of fraternal mentality to actually securing an articling position, older and/or disabled students are operating from a distinct disadvantage by not being in a position to meet any traditional and seemingly fraternal mindset of what constitutes a suitable articling clerk. Again, the very institution is its own irony. Here is a profession that educates and encourages its practitioners to seek out and redress the wrongs in our society, yet they appear to do so in a traditional and tried manner that is very much closed to older and disabled students. My bottom line at this juncture is that learning this lesson cost me $48,000 and three years of my time. It is neither time nor money well spent, wouldnt you say? There are separate articles I could do on the LSAT experience, the evaluation process at law school, and indeed, the entire culture of law school and their seemingly firm-driven operation. Together, an illumination of these aspects of law school training from the perspective of those of us subjected to its ironies might do more to correct the apparent inequalities existing in the attempts to become practitioners than letting the system try to correct itself. Law seems to have just as many people engaged in its practice intent on maintaining the status quo as any other profession. It should, in my opinion, be leading the way in breaking down attitudinal barriers, rather than being no different, nor better, than any other aspect of our society.
Pages to are hidden for
"Can I Get My Money Back"Please download to view full document