That’s a good question.
I felt like I didn’t have too much of a choice since my entire immediate family is in Toronto, but here are some numbers to put things in perspective: My articling salary was $43,000 — $45,000 (on Bay Street it can be around $70,000). My starting lawyer salary with the government was above the median income for Toronto but not great compared to lawyers in the private sector. When I quit that job to work at legal aid, my starting salary was about $40,000 (I was part-time and on contract). I make much more now through various raises and promotions (I’m also permanent, full-time now), but it’s nowhere near six figures. In fact, it’s more like what I was making as a starting associate at my former government job.
I hope that puts things in perspective!