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Support and resources aplenty

Editor’s Desk
|Written By Gail J. Cohen

Even if you’re just starting law school and picking up Canadian Lawyer 4Students for the very first time, you’ve likely already heard about how hard it is to get articling positions and find associate jobs once you’ve completed your law degree. So it might be that you’re questioning your career path and looking into the crystal ball of your future wondering if it might be your own shingle you’ll be hanging up once you’ve jumped through all the hoops required to be allowed to practise.

Lawyers fresh from the call to the bar are not the only ones these days thinking of striking out on their own. Life in Big Law is not for everyone and I have friends who, even after a decade or more in practice, are now considering opening their own shop. Younger lawyers with the entrepreneurial spirit may not want to work for others. And, of course, others are just looking for options because it can be tough out there if you don’t get hired back after articles.

Well, if you find yourself in any of these places in your career, 4Students is at your service. We talked to a number of lawyers across the country who have recently launched their own practices and there are tips galore for doing so yourself. While the idea of it may seem daunting, if you’re methodical and organized, it’ll work out. The two outstanding bits of advice I gleaned from the lawyers quoted in the article — and what I think will be the keys to a successful career launch — are: take advantage of resources from law societies and bar associations and don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow lawyers — you’ll be surprised at how willing they are to help.

On a more sombre note, this edition tackles the issue of mental-health problems and how they’re dealt with in the legal profession. Even starting in law school, the profession’s history of acceptance and support for mental illness has not been stellar according to our article “Breaking down the barriers.” Law schools and the profession as a whole are becoming more aware of and open to helping sufferers, even though there does continue to be a stigma for anyone perceived as not fully together. Despite that, and much like the key aspects I mentioned from the article on starting your own firm, there are lots of resources out there to help law students and lawyers in trouble and it’s important to know that asking for help is not going to be the kiss of death for your career.

The overall message, then, seems to be if you need help, reach out and get it, as there is a lot of support out there at all levels of the legal profession.