Lifestyle – Law is Cool The law school blog and podcast from Canada Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:10:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 1338880 Having a successful law career and a personal life is possible!!! Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:29:37 +0000 By Carlos Vera

Balancing the professional and personal life could be a difficult goal in the modern life. In some professions this could result almost impossible. One of the most demanding and time consuming professions is the law. In a first place, why law is so demanding?

There is a lot of factors and reasons for that but we can summarize the followings as the possible reasons why lawyers and legal professionals spend so many hours per week working:

  • Financial pressure, debts!!! After law school, a lot of recent graduates keep a lot of debts on their shoulders, so, they need to work and make a lot of money, what is equal to more hours at the office and more cases to take.
  • Competitiveness. If you are a recent graduate you want to be the best on your work, or if you have more years in the legal profession you want to show to the new ones that you know more than them and invest more time to be the best.
  • Client pressure, the clients could be dictators of their time, and law professionals can find clients that can result in a real headache.

Now  we know some of  the reasons, but, what could be possible solutions? Here we have some:

  1. Law firms can have some flexibility about the working hours, so maybe you can slip away for a couple of hours and share with your family an important event and come back later.
  2. Negotiate parental leaving with your boss, you can choose (if you work in a law firm or an office) to work from your home, by digital media, so you can take care of your baby and your home and work at the same time.
  3. Consider what is better for you in any time of your life, maybe at the beginning of your career you are single and you do not care about spending a lot of hours working, but at some point you want the time to build your family, so you can consider work by your own, work in a large or small law firm, or maybe work for the government, which tends to be more flexible with work hours.
  4.  Do not put so much pressure over yourself, if you are trying to be the best mom or dad, the best lawyer at your firm, or take a lot of clients, earn a lot of money, go to the gym and have the perfect body , and be the best friend, the result it is going to be frustration! So, avoid to be the “perfect one” in all the activities of your life.

There is not a magic formula to balance your personal life and your profession, but, in any case, depends of you in try to find what is better for your life and what makes you feel happy and satisfied. We have to say, that nowadays women in law profession feel more pressure to be successful and good mothers, the “superwoman”, so women in law profession maybe need to be more relaxed and do not try to the better than men, just do the best you can and do try to be the best and better than your male co-workers.

Work-balance problem.It is up to the individual. Mon, 23 Jun 2014 00:53:48 +0000 By Valery Turyshev

In my  essay I have summarized the points of view of three lawyers who wrote about a work-balance problem. I agree with their position relating to the issue of how to  balance  work and home. The answer is up to the individual.

By  Jordan Furlong “work-life balance” is a lawyer’s personal choice and responsibility. If money and “prestige” are that important to you, you’ll sign up to work 3,000 hours a year at a law firm, and you can reap the rewards and suffer the personal consequences accordingly.  When we talk about “balance” in lawyers’ lives, we’re really talking about the tradeoff everyone has to make between compensation and lifestyle. If WLB stood for anything, it was for the fact that we all have the right and the obligation to make that tradeoff on the terms we want.

According to Nicole Garton-Jones, it will be up individual lawyers themselves to decide what balance means to them and then make it happen. She supports the position of the pervious writer.

Additionally their colleague Stephen Mabey a law firm should explain to its associates what the economic fallout will be from choices they make to balance what is meaningful to them and their paycheque. But they should not tell an associate what the proper balance is. This is a decision best left up to the individual.

Nicole Garton-Jones and Furlong state that talented lawyers have a good chance of solving this problem because “firms change their working conditions as the talent market dictates” (Furlong). Nicole Garton-Jones adds “more flexible arrangements will be offered to retain scarce and valuable talent. Instead of the lawyers advocating for it, law firm employers will be leading the charge to attract and retain their most valuable asset: their people”.

It is interesting to note that both articles were written by Nicole Garton-Jones and Furlong in 2009. Stephen Mabey wrote his  article in 2013. Work-life balance, says Peter Block in Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters, is “about more balance between engaging in what has meaning to the individual and doing things that are useful and practical, or in a sense, instrumental.”

I think this is a great solution to the discussed problem because a lawyer has an option to make a  decision based on  what   has meaning to the individual. This is a practical and useful approach. I think first it is necessary to set  a goal as to what is important for a person in a particular period of his or her life; whether  to make a career or spend more time outside the work. After that an individual can divide his time between work and home and consequently, to balance his targets in life and time devoted to them. So, a person will avoid a conflict with himself and other people who are not satisfied with his or her life style.

Work and Family – Finding the right balance….for Lawyers Sun, 22 Jun 2014 16:06:51 +0000 By: Tamir Salomon


Finding the right balance between work and family is a tough hill to climb, but it is very much attainable. With the right amount of preparation and vision, we can all find the balance that hangs above our heads. There are several steps to be taken in order to achieve a well balanced lifestyle between work and family, each persons scenario will vary depending on the paths they have chosen.

When it comes to the legal world, the hill becomes higher, the hours become longer and the balance grows heavier on the other side. If we take certain actions towards the struggle, we can overcome what might be one of the hardest struggles in life.


Make a list of the things you need to do, prioritize them in order of most important to things that can wait. If you need to divide the workload between you and your significant other, so be it. Don’t get caught up on missing social events and ‘fun stuff’ you are used to doing. Make little notes for yourself to keep you on the right track.

Don’t always rely on one plan of attack, have a secondary plan in case your first doesn’t go the way you planned. Have someone close to you look after your kids, whether it be family, friend or paid caregiver, to relive some stress and allow you to meet deadlines.

Work-life isn’t about tension between work and life, says Peter Block, it is about doing what is more meaningful, useful and practical in life. It really is up to the individual at hand, whether the job before them is being held to its highest regard, or is their family just as or even more important to them.

The truth is, what is the point of working so hard, if you cannot enjoy your hard work. I think this concept really applies to those who work in larger law firms are opposed to the smaller firms out there. As long as the person is satisfied and is meeting the expectations set out for themselves, the rest should follow suit.

Is Work-Life Balance Attainable? Sun, 22 Jun 2014 14:55:59 +0000 By: Shannon O’Connor

work life

Maintaining a work-life balance has been difficult for numerous legal professionals. The question still remains: can a balance between work and life be attainable within contemporary society?

I believe that it is possible to achieve a balance between work and life. This balance ensures that an individual is able to complete work while doing the activities they love. It is quit a challenging endeavor and comes with multiple obstacles. Ultimately, this balance can be achieved through multiple avenues.

Guidelines for Achieving a Work-Life Balance:

• A work-life balance is more attainable if you run your own practice or essentially you are your own boss
• Rank your priorities in order of importance (family, health, self-actualization, and happiness etc.)
• Set your own goals and timelines
• When you discover what makes you content you will be able to find a way to maintain a balance between work and life
• Make time for your wants and needs
• It’s ok to say no you can’t be expected to do everything

Jatrine Bentsi-Enchill wrote an interesting article Cases and Chaos: Work-Life Balance Strategies for Busy Lawyers. The informative article is regarding the subject matter of work-life balance. The author noted numerous important tips; one important tip is creating time for oneself throughout the week. It essentially means making a date for oneself. I found this tip to be of utter importance. It enables an individual to have time to reflect, decompress, and focus on finding happiness.

Yamri Taddese wrote another enlightening article on the subject matter. Male lawyers join women in seeking work-life balance addresses men joining women’s quest for work-life balance. The author posted numerous tips on how to re-enter the work force, which are helpful and should be kept in mind. Additionally, the author points out that this struggle is not just found among women but also men. The pursuit for a work-life balance is clearly evident between both men and women.

Lastly, Wolf the author of The Tyranny of Performance elaborates upon how the word balance should be replaced with “enjoyment”. Less emphasis should be on “performance” and more focus and attention should be paid towards enjoying oneself and gaining an education.

I agree with all three authors and believe the recommended tips should be incorporated in order to achieve a work-life balance. It is important to reflect, and ask oneself: what would you do if you had free time?

Please find an attached video elaborating upon what I would do with an extra 8 hours a week: The Ultimate Clio Day

Don’t burnout—break out and dance! Sun, 22 Jun 2014 14:50:52 +0000 By Hermione Shou

Like many of us, you are tired, but you keep pushing through life.  As a legal professional or a student with long work hours, you may already be amongst the 1 in 4 Canadian workers who find their lives very stressful due to work and family obligations.

Work-life balance is a simple concept.  However, it can be so hard to execute that instead of dancing your own routine, we turn into puppets, controlled by the demands of life.  It is time for you to break out of this cycle and to control your own show…  But what does it take?  What can your employer and you do to help you achieve work-life balance and avoid burnout?

This issue is not new in the legal world.  In the last decade, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) has developed the Guide to Developing a Policy Regarding Flexible Work Arrangements to encourage work-life balance in the legal profession.

The LSUC has also created the Justicia Project with 57 Ontario law firms to give female lawyers career advancement support, since women may face career challenges if they give birth and go on maternity leave.  Recently, men are also seeking flexible work hours, as found in a study about Ontario lawyers by Queen’s University professor Fiona Kay, and law firms are beginning to accommodate their requests as well.

Despite the fact that firms are implementing solutions for employees, such as alternative work weeks and child-care facilities, it is mainly up to you as an employee to make the right decisions to ensure work-life balance, as a Canadian Lawyer Magazine article suggests.

There are numerous strategies that allow you to dance around your schedule and achieve work-life balance as a legal professional.  However, my favourite are the 6 tips that Julie Stauffer recommends in Successfully Juggling Work and Family: Tips for Lawyers.  Here is a quick summary of it:

6 daily tips to work-life balance as a legal professional

  1. Stay organized by creating and sharing your schedule, as well as prioritizing tasks.
  2. Create a second plan for unpredictable work needs.
  3. Take advantage of technology to complete work outside of your workplace.
  4. Develop supportive relationships with your partner, family, and neighbours so that you can count on their help when you have an emergency.
  5. Allocate “me-time” for yourself to do all of your favourite things with your loved ones.
  6. Stay realistic with your expectations of what you can accomplish to avoid burning out.

Life can get busy—we all know that.  But it is your choice to either continue being a puppet that is controlled by the demands of life or to be a brightly shining star on your own stage.  So, go ahead!  This time around, don’t burn out—break out and dance!  This is your show on your stage.

To get you excited for balancing your work and personal life, I would like to share this neat video with all of you:

Work-Life Balance and Mental Health Fri, 20 Jun 2014 16:31:09 +0000 By- Seyada Mahmoud

It has been reported that 58% of Canadians report “overload” as a result of the pressures associated with work, home and family, friends, physical health, volunteer and community service.

In the legal profession in particular, and according to Jatrine Bentsi-Enchill, J.D. CPCC Esq. Development Institute,  an increasing number of lawyers are experiencing burnout, low productivity, insomnia, and stress related illnesses due to a lack of balance between their work and personal lives. It’s well documented that one of the main reasons lawyers consider leaving the profession is the desire to spend more time on personal and family needs.

It is hard to find the perfect balance unless you set your value and priority. But keep in mind, according to Statistics Canada, employees who considered most of their days to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were over 3 times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode, compared with those who reported low levels of general stress.

Do you find it difficult to balance the different roles in your life? If so, you’re not alone – Take this quiz to see if you’re in balance.

Tips for Staying in “Balance”

worklife balanace

Take control – there are ways to help bring yourself into balance!
At work
• Schedule a ten-minute break every two hours for yourself throughout the day, your productivity and effectiveness will increase
• At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day and be realistic about it.
• Only respond to email once or twice a day.
• Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Don’t be available 24/7.

At Home
• Create a buffer between work and home. After work, take a brief walk, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine.
• Decide what chores can be shared or let go.
• Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
• Create and implement a household budget. Start by setting aside some money from each pay cheque for the future.

In Your Community
• Make choices. Social, community and volunteer obligations pull us in many directions. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say “no” to the rest.

Hard Choices in Life
Here is my view at a glance. Life is full of hard choices. The choice could be which career should I pursue? Should I break up — or get married?! Where should I live? We always have to take big decisions that will deeply impact our lives. So may be someone choses to become a paralegal thinking it is the safest choice because of the fear of being an unemployed florist for example. May be you will have to give up your entire career in a situation where your partner is re-allocated to another city or country and where you are not allowed to practice. And so, in many occasions priority becomes the “balance” of your work-life perception; your priority becomes the source of your enjoyment. And always take an important step towards protecting your mental health by bringing all aspects of your life into “balance”.

A Lawyer’s Work, Life & Work-Life Thu, 19 Jun 2014 19:31:52 +0000 By: Jason E Lau


It is no mystery that the typical day of work for a lawyer is laden with long hours, sleepless nights, and unrelenting amounts of stress. Although lawyer’s work often consumes his or her life, overshadowing both personal and family time, there needs to be a balance between the work and life to create a work-life.

The successful convergence of a lawyer’s work-life comes from two sources: an individual lawyer’s introspective and philosophy and from the externals environment of the firm.


The Lawyer’s Work-Life


Jatrine Bentsi-Enchill, founder and director of Esq. Development Institution, points out that the key ingredient to work-life balance for an individual lawyer is accomplishment and enjoyment. It is important to create positive outputs in a lawyer’s work-life

There are various tips and steps that one can take towards a work balance life:

  1. Create time blocks for yourself
  2. Determine values and priorities
  3. Make realistic expectations
  4. Stay organized

These points also relate to the importance of efficient time management. Derek LaCroix, director of Lawyer’s Assistance Program of British Columbia, emphasizes long-term solutions. The secret is to align one’s work schedule with their personal values, to create both value and pleasure in work.


The Firm’s Work-Life


Another problem stems from the workplace, the mentality and goals of the firm. One undeniable truth of the firm is that their main priority and goal is to make money. The firm expects demands their lawyers’ to provide quality, timely and perfect work.

Firms understand the importance that a balanced work-life will have on performance and have tried to address this issue with “firm generated” solutions, such as:

  • Alternate work weeks
  • Provision of mobile technology
  • Access to child-care facilities

These firm generated solutions do not work. The problem is that these solutions either provide short-term gains or are short lived. These so-called ‘solutions’ further segregate a lawyer’s work and life, rather than integrate them.


Lawyer-Firm Work-Life


Firms need to realize there needs to be a unison between work and life in which they are able to work together with their lawyers to create a cohesive solution and environment in which the two can merge and become simply work-life.

Both the firm and their lawyers should discuss what their goals are and craft programs and set up systems that address the root of the problem and provide lasting solutions.

It is important to integrate a lawyer’s goals of an accomplished and enjoyable work-life with that of a firm’s desire for quality and timely work. This harmony will effectively create a long-lasting and sustainable solution for both the firm and the lawyer’s work-life.


“My Clio Day” Video, which won an honourable mention in the “Clioday” the contest, is below:


Choosing a Path in the Legal Field While Balancing a Personal Life Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:08:46 +0000 By: Ashlin Kenuck

My biggest weakness that I will completely take full responsibility for is my own poor time management skills. Coming into the field of law I knew that this was going to be one of the biggest obstacles I would have to overcome. Time management in the legal field is absolutely crucial to success and longevity in the profession.

After some serious trial and error I have decided that in order to stay on top of everything I must take a very structured approach to my schedule.

Balancing a full time job, full time school, a mortgage, house, boyfriend, family, dogs, friends and baseball, I already want to rip my hair out some days and stay in bed. However, I know this is not an option. Organizing, prioritizing and ensuring I still leave time for myself and my family and friends are going to be the key to my sanity.

Along with proper time management, I know there will be a number of sacrifices that will have to be made in order to ensure my own success. There will not be time to go to the cottage every weekend, or go to the Jays game on a Tuesday night or have a couple drinks with friends on a patio on a warm summer night. The key is going to be finding a balance.

While some people would call legal professionals crazy workaholics, I call it passion and dedication. The question we will all be faced with is how much are we willing to sacrifice for our careers?

Do we choose a big firm that boasts huge clients with endless case work and the ability to grow immensely both professionally within the company and financially? Or do we choose a boutique firm that allow for more flexibility, but may not provide the same opportunities?

It all boils down to what we want out of our professional career and how we can fit that in to maintaining a successful family and personal life. The answers to these questions will come over time through trial and error. We will all find our paths in life with hard work, dedication, perseverance and balance.


Working Hard or Hardly Working?  Finding the Balance for Long-Term Success… Mon, 16 Jun 2014 01:04:12 +0000 By: Ali Golabgir

Avoiding professional burnout and personal resentment is not easy for the legal professional.  Days are long, firms are demanding, but balance is attainable if you put in a little effort.

As a busy father, student, and full-time professional, there are many times when I feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  I skip meals, stay up late and guzzle coffee and energy drinks to keep up with my to-do list.

I have goals for my life and I will work as hard as I need to achieve them, but after six months of non-stop, balls to the wall pressure, reality is setting in.  Life is just too short.

In six months time, I will have completed my paralegal training.  I will be studying for my licensing exam and planning my paralegal career, while working full-time as a construction project manager and running my own business.  I will have celebrated 10 years together with my wife and watched my son turn two.

All these milestones and accomplishments are important.  My professional achievements are sweeter because of the people in my life I share them with.  I work as hard as I do because I want to give them the best life possible.

Legal careers are notoriously demanding, so I know going in that it is going to be up to me to create a healthy work / life balance.  As my wife will certainly agree, I’m no expert when it comes to attaining balance.   But I am motivated.  Here are some of the steps that I will be taking to help balance professional success with personal enjoyment.

  1. I need to make time for myself!  I know that I can’t accomplish my goals if I am burned-out, exhausted, or running on empty.  I will be blocking off some non-negotiable me-time in my schedule to go to the gym, have some R&R, get a massage and hang out with my friends.  When I finish school and start my practice, I’m going to keep myself very organized so that I can get into a good routine that includes adequate sleep, healthy meals throughout the day, and regular exercise.  I know that taking this time out for myself will help me personally and professionally for the rest of my life.   Read more, click here.
  2. I need to make judicious career choices to support my ‘balance’ goals.   Large law firms often expect their staff to put in very long hours, though they may be flexible about when or where those hours are worked.  Smaller firms can be less demanding of your time, but they may offer less flexibility.  Click here for more info.  For me, working as a sole-practitioner is looking like the best option.  It will give me the flexibility to make the most of my professional hours.  I will be able to structure my practice around my other professional commitments and take downtime with my family when we need it.
  3. I need to learn how to say ‘No’.  There will always be more work to do.   There will always be more clients to see or projects to complete.  There will always be people in my life who want to take advantage of my time or my generosity.   At the end of the day, I only need to make myself happy and it doesn’t make sense to burn myself out.  Learning how to say no will be one of my most useful tools, especially as I become more successful.  Don’t believe me?  Read more about the power of a strong, professional ‘No’ here: Click here.
  4. I need to strategically manage my stress.  Going forward, my goal is to keep myself extremely well organized.  If the pressure is mounting, I know that a short break, a walk or some exercise can help me to regain perspective.  I intend to work on my stress management skills to make sure that I don’t burden my family with my professional stress and to ensure that I can focus at the office without being distracted by family issues.  Click here to read more about stress management techniques here.

As paralegal students, we are at the cusp of an extremely exciting, rewarding and potentially lucrative career.  A little time and effort now will reward us long-term with a very satisfying work-life balance.

The Fallency and Impracticality of Work-Life Balance Mon, 16 Jun 2014 00:03:38 +0000

Worklife Balance is impossible By Leo Tam PRLG 722 Sec 101

Posted on:  Jun 15, 2014

Work life balance is the effort to separate pressure from work from interfering with personal lives of individual employees. The ultimate goal of a work life balance is to avoid a burn-out due to excessive work. Work and personal life need not be exclusive, they can be integrative. In fact they can complement one another. It is up to individual employee to interpret work in a positive way.

Work life balance is an individual matter:

According to Stephen Mabey, individual’s burnout is always a possibility despite numerous measures taken by law firms to ensure a proper work life balance. There is no omnipresent plan or one-size-fits-all plan to suit everyone. Difference in expectation(s) usually put employee’s personal life in a collision course with the firm.

The existence of the firm is largely demand/market driven while employee’s state of mind/private life is secondary. Employee’s expectation from the profession usually falls short of the reality. An employee may erroneously and innocently think he/she can do something to the justice system, burnout is a result when an employee realize the impossibility to change or achieve his personal goal. Mabey believes the extent of accommodation to an employee’s personal life rests on the firm’s financial interest. The firm should pass the buck on deciding the actual work life balance to employee after an open and candid discussion with them.

The danger of work life imbalance:

A lot have been said about the dire consequence of work life imbalance: prolonged sadness, family/social alienation and drug/alcohol abuse. Few discussions are devoted to actual split of work and life, partly due to the fact that it is an individual’s responsibility but the most important aspect is the failure to recognize the reality of the commercial society.

There are many professions that demand absolute devotion to their jobs. A commercial pilot is required to make split second decisions in life and death situation under fatigue and high stress environment. Physicians and medical practitioners work long hours and errors in judgement can mean serious body harm or death. When the spectrum of power is in favour of the firm (as in most cases), it is natural for the employee (weaker side) to put his personal life aside. The issue of work life (im)balance is immaterial. A firm’s interest is also an integral part of an individual’s interest in the form of performance package, bonus or higher paid.

Work life and personal life need not be exclusive:

Those who are in control and those who-are-busy-and-don’t-feel-rushed are ones who are able to transform the highly pressured and competitive work to their advantage. The key is to able to allocate the right amount of attention to issues that are important and urgent, unimportant and urgent, important and not urgent or unimportant and not urgent.  Responding to emergency request for child(ren) visit from the opposing party from a custody order is an urgent and important matter that requires an associate to give immediate attention.  Important and not urgent matter is setting of departmental goal for the monthly sales quota.  Unimportant and urgent matters should be put in a number two spot from important and urgent matter.  Responding to enquiries from prospective clients and friends will fit this category.  Trivia tasks such as office administration duties should be the last on the priority list.  The use of personal agenda will be the bedrock of staying organized.  Time is a luxury item for many work place, we always have to make the most out of what is available to use.  A careful management of time by agenda or Eienshower Matrix, will integrate personal life with work schedule.

When the issue of personal life is raised, it is generally referred to family commitments, educational development or personal financial being. Work and personal life can be both integrative when an individual focuses on selective thing(s) that brings him most utility. The key is for him/her to recognize the limit(s) and to specialize on things he is good at. If an individual cherish job satisfaction and respect from the firm as foremost, he will frame it as part of his personal life and therefore becoming an integrative solution. Pressure motivates. A lot of inventions are generated out of necessity.   Connection of real-time communication channels over vast distance to what later became Internet is an invention under pressure.  It is a direct response to the dire threat of Soviet advances in communication and outer-space technology initiated by the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

Although our norms do not emphasize collectivism, a summation of individuals’ interest will make a common good to the society. It is when everyone act in their own best interest that a common good will result. The process may not be desirable but the outcome withstands challenges posted by alternative forms of society over time.

On a separate note, please accept my homemade video on how I spend the extra eight hours offered by Clio: Leo’s clioday