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The pros and cons of . . . Practising/working in Regina

|Written By Helen Burnett

Regina, entertainment law, the GTA beyond Bay St., securities law.

Practising/working in Regina


ERIN KLEISINGER • McDougall Gauley LLP

PROS:

•The chance to be a big fish in a small pond. “The reality is that in a smaller centre like Regina, you’re going to have an opportunity to make an impact in your area of practice in a way that you might not in a larger centre, [where] you’re just going to get diluted by the number of lawyers that are there,” she says.

•Regina has many large corporations, financial institutions, government, developers, entrepreneurs, and fewer lawyers to act for them than in other provinces.

•A lower cost of living than in other centres and the opportunity to earn a very good living.

•Because of the size of the bar, as a young lawyer you’re exposed early on to significant files and given the opportunity to contribute to them in a meaningful way. There is also significant quality and diversity of work for younger lawyers.

•Quality of life is high, as lawyers can work long hours, but the commuting times are short and there is a certain pace.

•Collegial legal community. “Our Regina bar is very collegial, we have terrific bar functions. The nice thing is that a lot of the judges tend to attend those and socialize with the practitioners, which may be [more] unusual than some of the other centres,” says Kleisinger.

•Getting to work with other excellent lawyers from across Canada, as there are no national firms that have offices in Saskatchewan, firms in the province get a wealth of agency work, which allows them to collaborate with practitioners from every province.

CONS:

•The B- team perception, where occasionally some counsel in larger centres when doing the agency work seem to have the impression that the caliber of lawyers in a smaller centre like Regina is second rate. “Usually it doesn’t take too long for you working on a file with them to realize that there’s some depth of legal talent here in Regina,” she says.

•Depending on the type of law that you want to practise, the market may not be broad enough to allow you to entirely specialize in that area. While lawyers might have areas of expertise, they often have a more general practice then you might see in the larger cities.


TONY MERCHANT • Merchant Law Group

PROS:

•A smaller bar and a bar in more convivial circumstances with judges means that things aren’t oppressively businesslike and judges get to know and like the counsel and counsel get to know and work with each other.

•Court and chambers are more personal and friendlier.

•Happier circumstance of work in many ways.

•Can see the respect and camaraderie that builds up within the legal community; a less aggressive world.

•Commuting time is very short.

•“As a professional, the small-town or medium-town pluses are that you sort of have a sense of everyone. It also makes the practice more efficient,” says Merchant.

CONS:

•Always have the worry that you’re a big fish in a little pond, but there are tradeoffs between big and small.


Practising entertainment law:

DAVID ZITZERMAN • Goodmans LLP (Toronto)

PROS:

•Entertainment law is a fun area of practice, because the area is very topical, and an enjoyable area to practise in, as you get to combine your interests with your legal skills. “If you have an interest in entertainment, and you go into entertainment law, then you can really enjoy what you’re doing,” he says.

•The bar is relatively small and fairly friendly and includes a number of ex-musicians and actors who have become lawyers.

•The market has grown a lot over the last 20 years in film, TV, and new media.

•As technology changes, entertainment lawyers are right in the centre of it. “When we do contracts with broadcasters for TV shows, for example, we have to deal with internet rights, and who’s going to get to download or stream the show and in what jurisdiction,” says Zitzerman.

CONS:

•The bar is relatively small, so it can be hard to break in. There are only a few large firms that have entertainment groups and most of the rest of the entertainment lawyers are in boutique firms or sole practitioners, however, there are also a lot of positions within the industry.

•Dealing with artists can be a double-edged sword; on the one hand you deal with many brilliant, creative people who are stimulating and interesting to work with, but on the other hand, there are some “unethical, slimy people” in the industry, as well as a few prima donnas.


RON HAY • Stohn Hay Cafazzo Dembroski Richmond LLP (Toronto)

PROS:

•The industry itself is really interesting. “Often times, clients are creators, artists, that sort of thing, and perhaps a little more certainly creative and potentially [more] interesting than other industries,” says Hay.

•The industry and the entertainment bar are relatively small in Canada and there is a real opportunity to get to know many of the players.

•The practice lends itself to be done in a boutique firm.

•Dealing with new and emerging producers that would not be used to using legal services, not sophisticated legal users, needing to walk them through the process, can be refreshing.

•There is an opportunity for a range of size of client.

•It is an industry of relationships, and there is an opportunity to deal with individuals rather than corporate entities.

CONS:

•Managing expectations of clients, juggling and dealing with the stress of competing demands from various clients.

•This is an area of law that a lot of young lawyers would like to get into, but it is not so easy to get into — it’s a relatively small bar.


Working in the GTA  beyond Bay Street


HEATHER WHITTEN • Wilson Vukelich LLP (Markham, Ont.)

PROS:

•One big bonus of working beyond Bay Street is that the targets are significantly less than they are downtown, but the pay is not that far off and there is a flexible bonus plan.

•A flexible regime with lower or different hours allows you to focus on other interests outside of work in the evenings. “They don’t really care when I come in or when I leave, as long as I’m meeting my targets,” she says.

•Clients are mainly closely held corporations and entrepreneurs, so you’re dealing with people more on a one-on-one level.

CONS:

•There is a common misconception that the quality of the work, articling experience, or junior lawyering experience is somehow inferior outside of Bay Street, but is not true.


Practising securities law


CAROLINE MINGFOK • Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP (Toronto)

PROS:

•You get to work with lots of lawyers from different areas, such as tax and corporate.

•Getting to work with international firms. “A lot of our practice is mining clients who are in different areas of the world, so you also get to work with international lawyers,” she says.

•Great opportunities to transition in-house.

•When you do transactions, you see the beginning and the end and you see your product being produced.

CONS:

•Compared to something like litigation, where you always get to go to court, which is a big draw for students, in the corporate world, you don’t really have a courtroom-type environment other than if you’re closing a deal.

•Compared to something like litigation, where you always get to go to court, which is a big draw for students, in the corporate world, you don’t really have a courtroom-type environment other than if you’re closing a deal.


JEFFREY READ - Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (Vancouver)

PROS:

•It’s stimulating work — you’re in the process of creating something, either a new business or providing capital to expand a business.

•Usually dealing with very intelligent and highly motivated clients.

•Most younger lawyers would find it exciting, although with most specialties there is a fairly steep learning curve. “I think I would caution younger lawyers not to become too specialized too early in their career, but seek exposure to a broader corporate/securities practice,” says Read.

CONS:

•Work-life balance can be a bit of a challenge, often deadlines and timetables are imposed upon you. “From time to time, if you’re involved in a securities offering, or a takeover bid or a merger transaction, the clients and the other parties will have expectations as to how long it should take, and there will be times when you may need to work on weekends or at night, but by and large, that isn’t the norm,” he says.

•The securities markets are fairly cyclical and you will have periods where the demand for pure securities law services is not as high, “which is why it’s important to have a broader skill set than just securities law,” says Read.


RENAUD COULOMBE - Ogilvy Renault LLP (Montréal)

PROS:

•La pratique de valeurs mobilières permet à l’avocat d’être au coeur des grandes transactions, d’accompagner le client dans des transactions très souvents sophistiquées avec des enjeux d’affaires très importants.

•Travailler avec des gens sophistiqués et intelligents.

•Caractère international associé avec la pratique de valeurs mobilières, qui est considéré très “sexy.”

CONS:

•ça ne convient pas nécessairement a toutes les personnalités, parce-qu’un bon avocat en valeurs mobilières aura un bon sens des affaires, en plus d’une bonne capacité à porter une grande attention aux details.

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