Civil Litigation

Alternatives to secondment beneficial for small firm lawyers

Although it can be difficult to participate in a traditional secondment when working for a smaller firm, there may be opportunities to take part in an unconventional experience that yields many of the same benefits, Toronto civil litigator Sarah O'Connor tells Lawyers Weekly.

Although O’Connor, principal of O’Connor Richardson Professional Corporation, explains that working for small boutique firms has allowed her little flexibility to participate in the types of secondments that larger firms can manage, she has taken on work for larger firms who were looking for in-house help with document review.

“I did it during slower periods,” explains O’Connor, adding that the contracting firms allowed her some flexibility to continue serving her own client base.

“I fit my schedule around what the firms needed, and they were very helpful — if I had a court date I could take the morning off.”

Although O’Connor tells Lawyers Weekly that the experience was unconventional, she says it did yield many of the same benefits as more typical secondments.

“Coming from a small firm, it was good to meet other lawyers,” she explains.

O'Connor adds that the experience also opened her up to cases that she wouldn't have otherwise come across, such as multi-million-dollar litigation lawsuits.

While O’Connor says she would consider another secondment with little hesitation, she adds that the experience of life in a larger setting has helped her determine her own career aspirations.

“I like small firm environments,” she says. “I don’t think I could be an associate in a big firm.”

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