On the Record: The job market on Bay Street is holding strong

Back in 2016, the job market on Bay Street looked bleak. The largest 15 law firms in Toronto had hired back 184 articling students as first-year associates. In the previous two years, that number sat at 197 and 196. The reason for the drop-off was clear: the largest firms were outsourcing an increasing amount of routine legal work, meaning they didn’t need to take on as many junior associates.

There was no cause for optimism at the time, but something surprising happened. In 2017, those same firms hired back 208 articling students. And at the conclusion of the 2017–18 articling term, they hired back 197, according to exclusive numbers that PrecedentJD collects each year on the Hireback Watch. The market had somehow regained its footing.

But how? To be sure, the strength of the overall economy has played a key role. But two new industries have also buoyed the job market: cannabis and blockchain.

new money alina skyson webThis October, weed will become legal across Canada. In anticipation of that moment, the country’s licensed cannabis producers — there are now 113 of them — have turned to Bay Street with an endless list of legal questions. “It’s generating a lot of regulatory work,” says Adam Lepofsky, president and founder of the legal recruiting firm RainMaker Group. “At first, the profession shied away from this industry. But in the past two years, almost every major firm has launched a cannabis team.”

In that same timespan, we’ve seen the rise of blockchain. The technology — which, in essence, is an ultra-secure ledger that tracks digital information — powers most of the world’s cryptocurrencies. But the technology has also spawned a raft of companies that hope to revolutionize other industries, from retail to medicine. And these companies need legal help with, well, everything. If they want to go public, they need to hire a capital-markets lawyer; as they build up a staff, they need employment counsel. On top of that, it’s not always clear how current technology legislation applies to blockchain. The end result: companies need a lot of advice from experienced lawyers. “The growth of blockchain will directly increase the need for legal advice,” says Usman Sheikh, the national head of Gowling WLG’s blockchain group. “Because of that, more and more lawyers will need to get themselves up to speed.”

The firm’s Toronto office has a team of about 20 lawyers — who work in a range of practice areas, from litigation to securities — that regularly advise clients in the blockchain sphere. In the past three months, the firm added two new associates to its capital-markets group to help meet the ever-increasing demand in blockchain, cannabis and other emerging markets.

Over at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, the blockchain revolution is also on full display. One year ago, several lawyers at the firm dedicated a small amount of their practice to blockchain-related files. “Today, more than 10 people spend a considerable amount of time on these issues,” says Blair Wiley, a partner in the corporate group, who leads the firm’s blockchain practice. “It’s an exciting time. For young lawyers who are ready to embrace the world of new technology, the sky is the limit.”

This story is from our Fall 2018 Issue.

Illustration by Alina Skyson

sponsored content: Hitting the books is good for business

Paula Trattner OPD web

Paula Trattner
Partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Osgoode LLM: Health law, 2014
Year of call: 1999

In 2012, Paula Trattner signed up for the Osgoode Professional LLM — a two-year graduate program that working lawyers can complete part-time — hoping to fine-tune her expertise so she could better serve clients. And, without a doubt, that happened. But the program also connected her to a new set of industry contacts and helped her land business.

Trattner, a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, completed the program’s health-law specialization in order to bolster her practice, which focusses on the health-care industry. In class, she studied alongside doctors, nurses and health-care administrators. “I really connected with some of my classmates,” she says. “These were people with the ability to hire legal counsel and they got to see me in action first-hand throughout the course. I actually gained clients.”

Having an LLM on her resumé has also strengthened her reputation. “When clients introduce me, they always mention it so I know it impresses them,” says Trattner. “It’s a confirmation that I’ve kept current. Clients appreciate that.”

Other professionals who took the program have also become lasting connections. “We still reach out to each other for advice on work-related questions more than three years later.”


Fast facts about the Osgoode Professional LLM

1. Flexible: The program is designed for professionals. Evening and weekend classes let you earn a degree while working.

2. Specialized: Dive deep into one of 14 areas of specialization, including tax, securities, constitutional, criminal, labour, and dispute resolution.

3. Rigorous: Throughout the program, you’ll complete detailed papers on a complex area of law, honing your legal writing and analytical skills.

Osgoode’s Professional LLM is designed with the working lawyer in mind. To learn more, visit the program’s website or call (416) 673-4670.

Spring 2018 cover webThis story is from our Spring 2018 Issue.

The Referral: The book that will help you (finally) clear your inbox

Mara Nickerson

Recommended by: Mara Nickerson, Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP

The backstory: “These days, one of the biggest challenges lawyers face is the avalanche of emails going back and forth,” says Mara Nickerson, a lawyer and the chief knowledge officer at Osler. “It consumes your day.” The facts bear this out: business email users process more than 120 emails every day. But since Nickerson didn’t study email management in law school, she turned to a new book, The Email Warrior, for help.

Making the case: Nickerson heard about the book because she knows the author, Ann Gomez, the founder of Clear Concept — a company that offers workshops to make busy professionals more productive. Nickerson latched onto the book’s practical tips. One of her favourites is the well-known one-touch principle, which has just one rule: act on emails the first time you read them, in order to keep your inbox empty. That might mean sending a quick reply, adding a task to your to-do list or delegating the email to the right person. “It’s so easy to put off emails until later,” says Nickerson. “The one-touch principle forces you to deal with them.”
But keep in mind: this works best if you turn off email notifications and tackle your inbox at set times throughout the workday.

Bonus points: It may be a book about email, but it’s truly a good read. “It’s a breeze and it’s very readable,” she says. “I read the whole thing over a couple of subway rides.”

Where to find it: You can order the book online at clearconceptinc.ca/emailwarrior.

How much you’ll pay: $24.95.

Precedent Summer 2017 IssueThis story is from our Summer 2017 issue.




Illustration by Alina Skyson

The Circuit: 17th Annual Toronto Lawyers Association Awards Reception

What: 17th Annual TLA Awards Reception
Where: Omni King Edward Hotel, Toronto
Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lawyers and guests packed into the Vanity Fair Ballroom at the Omni King Edward Hotel last week to celebrate the 17th annual Toronto Lawyers Association awards.

The 2017 Award of Distinction went to Dale Ponder, the national managing partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, for her outstanding contributions to the profession and to the Toronto legal community.

Meanwhile, Stephen Thiele, a partner at Gardiner Roberts LLP, received the 2017 Honsberger Award. “The TLA’s mandated three pillars — information, education and advocacy — are impeccably represented by Mr. Thiele’s dedication to his legal, political and social community,” said Stephen Mullings, the president of the TLA.

To learn more about the Toronto Lawyers Association, visit the TLA website.

Photography by 5ive15ifteen Studio

On the Record: Why @BadLegalLLP is the one firm you should be following on Twitter

It turns out, being a lawyer is hilarious. At least that’s the only conclusion one can make after scrolling through the Twitter feed of Bad Legal LLP, a bogus law firm whose tweets lampoon the absurdities of lawyer life. The comedy ranges from the light-hearted (lawyers suck at technology) to the pitch-black (most legal careers are soul-sucking). And the anonymous talent behind the tweets is clearly Toronto-based: it pokes fun at Bay Street firms and lawyers that have appeared in this very magazine (see Rob “Centaur,” below). If only all lawfirm Twitter accounts were this interesting.

How Bad Legal’s followers stack up to “real” law firms

WeirFoulds LLP

Aird & Berlis LLP   1,622 followers

Aird & Berlis LLP







Bereskin & Parr LLP

Bad Legal LLP







Torys LLP








Pick of the Twitter

Seven of the best tweets from @BadLegalLLP:

On recruitment

Time to walk around the office and give false hope to articling students I have no intention of hiring back. #motivation

On diversity

Deeply disappointed that only 12/20 Toronto benchers are old white men #LSBencher

On education

Good luck to those writing the Ont. bar tomorrow. It’s a long, pointless test that prepares you well for your long, pointless careers

On work-life balance

Working at our office is exactly like #Suits except we spend 16 hours a day at our computer and nobody works out regularly

On articling students

I am renting out my articling students for use in HOV lanes during the Pan Am Games

On self-esteem

Dear law students, how you fare in the hiring process for summer associate positions is a direct indicator of your worth as a human being

On innovation

So sick of this myth that lawyers don’t understand tech. I can hyperlink with the best of them

Bonus tweet: Other times, the satire on @BadLegalLLP gives way to bad Photoshop, typified in this playful jab at Rob Centa, the managing partner of Paliare Roland LLP.

Rob Centaur





Winter-2015-cover-smallThis story is from our Winter 2015 issue.

Secret Life: Jonathan Hood is a triple threat

It isn’t just that Jonathan Hood’s second race was a triathlon. It’s that it was the triathlon — the Ironman. Maybe you’ve heard of it? In 2012, Hood went from a casual cyclist and runner to completing, in one go, a 3.86-km swim, a 180.25-km bicycle ride and a 42.2-km run in Mont-Tremblant, Que. He finished in 12 hours and 40 minutes, and afterwards he had to throw out his shirt. “It was covered in Gatorade and dirt and sweat all the way through,” says Hood. “It was disgusting.”

Now, the 38-year-old competition lawyer is a regular marathoner, already training to tackle another Ironman in 2017. “When I’m 40, I want to see what I can push myself to do,” he says. The training is intense. He rides his bike to work and does longer trips on weekends. And each week, he runs three times, fits in one session of yoga and at least two gym workouts (luckily there’s a GoodLife in his office building). But . . . how? Well, working at the Department of Justice helps.

“From a competition-law perspective, you can’t ask for a better place to work,” he says. “We get all the interesting cases, while at the same time, it does allow us to pursue other interests outside of work. I couldn’t do all this if I was on Bay Street full time.”

Jonathan Hood PrecedentHe knows this well. Hood used to work at McMillan LLP, and his wife, Mary Paterson, is a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Working at the Department of Justice means Hood has enough time outside work to take care of their seven-year-old daughter and train. But it’s still a sacrifice.

“People ask me, ‘Why do you do it? Do you think you’re going to live forever by doing this stuff?’ And I just say, ‘No. I do it precisely because I’m not going to live forever.’”

Jonathan Hood

Department of Justice, Competition Bureau Legal Services



Winter-2015-cover-smallThis story is from our Winter 2015 issue.




Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth. Hair and makeup by Shelbie Vermette.

Good News From Bay Street: It’s never been better to be a woman in law

The appointments of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s plush Toronto office digs are familiar on Bay Street. There’s the collection of contemporary Canadian art and the lofty view that renders Toronto’s skyline in miniature. Yet it’s the appointments behind the top desks at this firm that differentiate it from its peers. You see, at Osler, women run the game.

When lawyer and business development director Jodi Kovitz counts off women at the top of her firm, she runs out of fingers. The chief executive. Managing partners in Calgary and Ottawa. The chief operating officer and the chief client officer. Heads of litigation, tax, real estate, research, and on and on: all women. “We are committed to women comprising 30 percent of our teams, and we meet that objective as often as possible,” she says. Having women in senior roles is so common, it’s hardly a novelty. As Dale Ponder, the chief executive and national managing partner of Osler puts it, “It really is part of our DNA.”

And while Osler holds itself to metrics and boasts for-women initiatives, really the most impressive thing — the true good news — is that its office culture supports and sponsors women. And elsewhere on Bay Street, this cultural shift is happening as well.

Private practice is not easy on female lawyers, which statistics underscore. Only 35 percent of lawyers in private practice are women. And at the partnership level, women comprise merely 20 percent. In their first five years in private practice, women are nearly 50 percent more likely to leave than their male counterparts.

Gender parity is elusive. Retention is a serious, costly issue. All it can take is a family crisis, a childcare implosion or an inflexible boss to catapult a career into the hinterlands. “Generally, law as a profession doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the support of women,” says Ashleigh Frankel, a lawyer and co-founder of Click & Co., a consulting and career coaching company that, among other things, transitions female lawyers back to the workplace. “At most firms, you come to work and you are a lawyer. Anything you need to juggle your life is left outside of firm life,” she says. “But the landscape is starting to change.”

Women at the top

Optics count, and for women on Bay Street, just seeing other women at the top inspires. This was something heard from both established luminaries at Osler and rising stars like senior associate and Ironman triathlete Lauren Tomasich. “There’s this tradition here of women leaders who are confident, smart and charismatic,” she says. Joyce Bernasek, an “Oslerite” since 2002 and a partner, agrees. “Having women in leadership roles sends the message to me that the firm values women,” she says, working from home when we spoke, to attend her daughter’s school recital. Positive role models beget positive role models.

Dale Ponder

Osler managing partner Dale Ponder addresses an audience of female lawyers and clients at the firm’s annual Women’s Day event

Osler takes an active role in retaining its female associates, with initiatives like the maternity-leave buddy-program that matches partners (both male and female) with associates on leave.

Despite all the good news for women at the firm, Osler is not at gender parity — only 118 of the 288 lawyers at its Toronto office are women. But Bay Street firms are inching closer. As of 2014, Lerners LLP is one of the first major firms in Canada to reach a 50/50 split. “It happened organically,” says Lisa Munro, executive committee member and partner. “I attribute that to the leadership in our firm in the 1990s — it really set the tone,” Munroe recalls. “Janet Stewart was our managing partner. She had good soft management skills and also ran a profitable practice. She was what everyone wanted to be.”

Women have always aspired to leadership roles, but what’s improved about the situation today is that seeing women in leadership roles is not just an aspiration, says Munro. “It’s a law-firm and societal expectation.”

Sponsorship from men

Men make up the majority of warm bodies in private practice, so they need to sponsor women — a notion that is finally starting to suffuse through Bay Street’s corridors. Deborah Glatter, lawyer and professional development director at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, held a seminar last year titled, “Sponsorship: What Powerful Male Leaders Need to Know.”AlthoughCassels has upwards of 25 percent female equity partners,“we’d like that to be higher,” she says.

Her seminar ran top men (and women) at the firm through a Harvard quiz on implicit bias; a talk from Beatrix Dart, an associate dean at the Rotman School of Management; and a roundtable discussion. “One of the powerful men sitting at the table said, ‘Raise your hand if you were sponsored by a man,’ and all of them, including the powerful women, raised their hands,” says Glatter. Usually men have sponsored men, she adds, and that hasn’t helped retention. “Women are just as ambitious as men, but they’re not stupid. They see the male associate being brought along with the male partner and work starts flowing to the associate. Why would you work as hard when your path to success is not clear?”

Her message is getting through, and she proudly reports that recently a partner said he is going to “pound the table” to have his female sponsoree become partner. “The more women become partners here, the more clear it is to female associates they will become partner. They’re not going to stick around if those opportunities aren’t given to them.”

Indeed, at Osler, Ponder says men have been crucial to promoting women at the firm. “Our women have had strong male voices at our firm who have championed their abilities,” she says. “This truth is an important part of our culture and it was also true of my own personal experience.”

Fostering retention

Let’s be honest here: when the loaded diaper hits the fan on the homefront, women clean up. A family crisis, the strain that comes with having children, pressure to truncate maternity leave — all of these contribute to women dropping out of private practice. This was especially true in decades past. “In my experience, women used to quit after having a kid or two,” recalls Tracy Sandler, Osler’s energetic and polished partner who has been at the firm since 1991 and now sits on the executive committee. Sandler took eight-month maternity leaves back when six months was the standard, and made partner while on her second maternity leave. And moves like that set a mom-supportive cultural tone that others benefit from. Mary Paterson, a newly minted litigation partner at Osler with a calm yet commanding presence, took a year of maternity leave as an associate, a relative rarity on Bay Street. Consequently, she pays it forward. “I tell women to take the year. It was the best decision I made,” Paterson says.

Formally, some firms offer in-house support for lawyers with families. And consulting companies like Frankel’s Click & Co. offer seminars and coaching packages, such as “Mat-Leave-to-Meeting,” that help women navigate this transition. But at a macro level, “woman friendly” firms like Lerners or Osler aren’t doing anything gender-targeted so much as managing with humanity: you’re a person, not a lawyer-bot, you will weather shitstorms, and they will support you.

And yet, the reality is that Bay Street does not amply support working parents. Not like more progressive sectors such as tech — your Googles and Facebooks — where some employers offer on-site daycares or subsidies for caregivers. The rigours of the partnership track remain unchanged. Nannies that can accommodate early and late hours are a reality for working moms, as is a “supportive and forgiving family,” according to Sandler.

Lisa Munro

“They told me: ‘We need to see a woman in the corner office!’”
Lisa Munro
Partner at Lerners

This shrug-and-deal-with-it approach is, for now, the norm. No one really seems to have cracked the code for making law firm life much easier on parents, though lawyers aren’t without ideas. “Firms could improve a bit on flexibility and have a more set arrangement where you can work from home,” says Bernasek, in the financial services group at Osler. “Though the commercial reality is that you should be showing up to work on most days, that could improve. If we’re not in our office it doesn’t mean we’re not working.”

At Lerners, Munro remembers an excellent female lawyer who came in to resign when she hit a work-life impasse. “I asked her, ‘Do you like practising law here?’ She said yes. ‘Then I’m not going to let you resign.’” Munro asked her, “Have you thought of a leave of absence?” The lawyer took a leave and now she is back at work and has advanced in her career. “Years go by in a flash,” Munro says, “so when you’re making a long-term investment in people, we think, Let’s make it work.”

The next generation

One of the best pieces of news for women on Bay Street is that, as a new generation of both clients and lawyers rise through the ranks, they bring with them enlightened Millennial attitudes. The old boys’ club, with golf rounds and steakhouses, hasn’t totally gone the way of the Rolodex, but today’s young lawyers of both genders expect equality.

“Men of today’s generation grew up with women in leadership roles,” says Mary Abbott, a partner at Osler in the corporate group. “They think, Of course there will be women at the top.”

Women in law also assert themselves, unlike their cohort of a decade ago. “I was at my desk minding my own business,” says Munro, “and some younger female lawyers came into my office and said, ‘There’s a vacant corner office. You need to go into it.’ They told me: ‘We need to see a woman in the corner office!’” Looking back, the event was particularly meaningful. “It educated me too, in terms of what younger people want to see in the firm.”

There’s a new generation of female lawyers gunning for the top spots on Bay Street — women who are ready, to use Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s groundbreaking term, to lean in. And more than ever before, Bay Street is actually ready for them.

Change doesn’t just happen

Becoming a standard-bearer of the Bay Street women’s movement doesn’t happen overnight. Both Osler and Lerners have a long history of women ascending to the upper ranks of partnership. Here are three standout examples of women who helped pave the way.

Bertha WilsonJustice Bertha Wilson
At Osler from 1959–75

When she applied to law school at Dalhousie University in the mid-1950s, the dean of law replied: “Why don’t you just go home and take up crocheting?” Well, she didn’t take his counsel. Within two decades, Wilson had made partner at Osler (the first woman to do so in Big Law). Then, in 1982, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada — the first woman in Canadian history.

Janet StewartJanet Stewart
At Lerners from 1972–present

Back in the 1980s, Lerners was a small place. Based in London, Ont., the firm housed about 25 lawyers. Then Janet Stewart came along. During her reign as managing partner, from 1991 to 2007, the firm quadrupled in size, reaching more than 100 lawyers.

Jean FraserJean Fraser
At Osler from 1993–2015

Before there was Dale Ponder, the current top lawyer at Osler, there was Jean Fraser — who became the national managing partner at the firm in 1999, cementing Osler’s reputation for promoting women. In fact, she’s always been a trailblazer. In Fraser’s first year of practice at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, she convinced her firm to adopt its initial maternity leave policy.

Cover of the Fall 2015 Issue of PrecedentThis story is part our series on how Bay Street firms are getting better, from our Fall 2015 issue.




Concept photography by Chris Thomaidis.

Going in house: Lia Bruschetta’s view from the top

The cheese guy knows me by name,” says Lia Bruschetta of her frequent trips to St. Lawrence Market, just down the street from the condo she rents near King and Sherbourne. There’s a lot she loves about living on King East (she can walk to work! she’s across the street from Betty’s pub!) but being able to slip down to the market for fresh ingredients is probably the biggest perk for the young litigator, who likes to cook and host friends once a week. Next up, the associate at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, now going into her fourth year, is throwing a get-together for the people she articled with.


Lia Bruschetta's dining room

Wood you? Bruschetta’s dining room is the focal point of her apartment, a space warmed by bright artwork and old teak furniture. She keeps the wood looking fresh with “a three-step process that involves turpentine, two coats of oil and a whole bunch of really fine steel wool.”

Lia Bruschetta's photo collage

Stuck on you Bruschetta used sticky9.com to turn her Instagram photos into magnets ($16 for nine, shipping included), adding a personal touch to her kitchen.

View down King Street

Room with a view Bruschetta fell in love with the cityscape outside her living room window on the first day she moved in. “I had no furniture, just sitting in that little nook, with a bottle of wine, in awe of the view all the way down King Street.”

Lia Bruschetta's bar cart

Called to the bar Bruschetta turned this old medical cabinet into a bar cart, where she stocks her bourbon collection and glassware from the Drake General Store.

Lia Bruschetta - Maya Hayuk print

Colour theory Bruschetta bought this print by Maya Hayuk as “a great way to get a piece of art from an artist that I love without spending a couple thousand or more.”

Plinko game

Game on When Bruschetta picked up this 1922 plinko game from the Queen West Antique Centre, she “fell in love with it, despite the fact that it was covered in rusty nails.” She goes vintage shopping every few weeks, but scours her favourite shops’ blogs in between visits to watch for good finds.













































Lia Bruschetta

“What do I love most? The bones of the place: the concrete walls, the concrete ceiling and the ductwork. It gives it a raw look that makes it fun to play with the space.”


The lowdown: Lia Bruschetta

Firm: Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Area of practice: Litigation
Year of call: 2011
Neighbourhood: King East Design District, Toronto
Home profile: Two-bedroom, 830-square-foot condo rented since March 2013












Photography by Nancy Tong

Defence lawyer Ari Goldkind finishes fourth in mayoral election

Just before midnight last night, after most of Ari Goldkind’s supporters had left his post-election party, held at Andrew Richards Design in Corktown, he sat down on a couch near the entrance and placed his hands on his knees. 

“I’m tired,” he said. 

Three hours earlier, the criminal lawyer learned the final result of his eight-month campaign to become the next mayor of Toronto: he finished in fourth place — earning almost 4,000 votes — with John Tory coming out on top.  

“It’s 11:30. The election’s been done for three hours,” he said. “But you always go through what could have been. What would it have been like if more people heard my voice?” 

Still, it’s hard to deny the progress he’s made since starting his run for mayor eight months ago in total obscurity. “I get recognized all over,” he said. “I’m stopped in the car, stopped in the subway. It’s weird, but it’s gratifying because it’s not recognition for celebrity purposes . . . It’s not like people are recognizing me because I did a line of coke.” 

In the last weeks of the campaign, he said voters approached him on the street to praise his ideas — especially his promise to raise property taxes and add tolls to the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway to fund a $57-billion transit plan. Others had seen him aggressively challenge Doug Ford in the mayoral debates. 

Such stardom stands in stark contrast to the profile Goldkind had a few months ago, when, every time he met someone, he was meeting them for the first time. 

His lead political advisor, Jodi Kovitz, a lawyer at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, who worked with Goldkind for free during her spare time, said it took real courage to run for mayor as a complete unknown. Every weekend, Goldkind would canvass the city, attending events. And every day, Kovitz said, she told him, “This is hard, and you’re doing great. Keep doing it.” 

“I believe in myself, but when you go up to people and they’ve never heard of you, sometimes they won’t give you the time of day,” Goldkind said, noting that those early days were “extremely” difficult.  But the effort usually paid off. “By the end of the conversation, people would say, ‘Can I have your card? I’m going to look you up.’” 

Aside from his grassroots success — he built a network of about 20 dedicated volunteers — Goldkind is baffled that he never garnered more media spotlight. From day one, he said, journalists branded him as a “fringe” candidate who could never win. And, no matter what he tried, he couldn’t shake that storyline. 

“I never understood how my story wasn’t a more interesting story to people,” he said. “I think that anywhere else in North America, somebody would have said, ‘Here’s this young, exciting guy who’s telling the truth, who’s resonating with Torontonians. And he may pull a hell of a surprise.’ That’s a very different narrative.” 

Had the media presented him as a potential spoiler, Goldkind thinks it could have changed the course of the election. And, had there not been so much pressure to vote for Tory — to keep Ford out of power — Goldkind said he would have received more votes. 

In the end, Goldkind has to find a silver lining in the fact that he went from being someone “nobody knows” to “being, by and large, respected throughout the city.” 

Meanwhile, his supporters are far less restrained in their enthusiasm. “There was no reason to believe that he would get this far when I first met him,” said Scott Peterson, a 43-year-old server who started volunteering for Goldkind in the summer. “The fact that he has gotten this far is incredible. He may not be the mayor now, but I certainly hope he sticks around and tries next time.” 

For now, Goldkind won’t commit to anything of the sort in the future. 

But one thing is clear: he is getting his legal practice back into full swing after essentially working full-time on his campaign over the past month. In fact, he’ll be at the courthouse today. He’s starting a murder trial. 

Photo: Sean Robichaud

News: What’s behind the shrinking pool of Bay Street articling jobs?

For students, the hireback stats look pretty scary. Back in 2009, Precedent surveyed the Toronto law offices that hired the most articling students to find out how many they hired back as first-year associates. Each year, we ask again and report those numbers online in our Hireback Watch. Over the last year, the number of articling jobs at the 16 offices that traditionally hire the most students fell from 297 to 282. Worse still, those numbers don’t include students from Heenan Blaikie LLP, which collapsed in February and, of course, won’t be hiring students in the future.

“If I were a law student looking for work on Bay Street, I would not find any of this encouraging,” says Jordan Furlong, legal consultant at Edge International. For the past 40 years, he explains, clients have blindly paid big legal fees for the work of students, at least in part. Now, that era is over: clients want lower costs, and they don’t think students, who spend most of their time completing routine legal tasks, are worth the money. For that reason, Furlong predicts that the number of articling gigs on Bay Street will continue to decline. “Firms everywhere are coming to the belated realization that they, not their clients, have to pay for student training.”

But the shrinking articling pool is only half the story: the proportion of articling students hired back is on the rise. This year, those 16 offices hired back 78 percent of students, up from 73 percent a year ago. In fact, the total number of students hired back remains steady, with 200 making the cut this year, compared to 204 in 2013.

A consistent influx of junior associates “means that firms are still looking to identify and invest in young talent,” says Adam Lepofsky, president and founder of the legal recruiting firm RainMaker Group. Despite the fall of Heenan Blaikie, stable hireback numbers indicate that firms “are optimistic about the next few years.”

Beyond hireback numbers, Lepofsky hopes recent growth in the American legal market — New York and California, in particular — will spill over into Canada within a year. “I’m getting demands from clients in the States that I haven’t gotten in a long time,” he says. “And generally our economy will follow the U.S. economy, especially in the business of law.”

The demand for legal work is hardly drying up, says Furlong. But that demand is not for junior lawyers — it’s for seasoned partners. As firms cut articling jobs, he says they’ll hire fewer first-years. The hireback rate could stay high, but Furlong expects the number of new lawyers on Bay Street to decline. “Firms are still overlawyered.” 

Bay Street looks bearish

In 2009, Blakes, Davies, McCarthys, Osler and Stikemans took on the most articling students at their Toronto offices. Since then, they’ve shed a combined 47 jobs, but the hireback rate at those firms has jumped up by 10 percent.

Toronto Articling Jobs










The biggest players, then and now

Toronto offices with the most students in 2009
Osler — 33
Stikemans — 33
Blakes — 29
McCarthys — 28
Davies — 22

Toronto offices with the most students in 2014
Blakes — 29
Torys — 25
Stikemans, Norton Rose — 20
BLG, McCarthys, Cassels — 19 

For a detailed rundown of all the numbers, check out our Hireback Watch 2014 chart.