The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Michele Hollins

Don’t stop believing

September 12 2014 12 September 2014

If someone told you that you could be unbelievably happy practising law, would you believe it?

I’d understand if you said no: You’ve probably heard lots of talk about stressed-out lawyers, killer workloads and clients who demand 24/7 service. But I can tell you that it is possible to be a happy, healthy lawyer — and you’re already halfway there.

My predecessor, Fred Headon, made connecting with students a priority during his time as president. He heard first-hand that law students, articling students and associates place a premium on work-life balance. Everyone expects to work hard and put in long hours when it’s required, but at the same time most expect to have a life — a good life — outside of law. That means having time for family and friends, fitness and hobbies, travel, self-care and all the other components of a full and satisfying life.

You probably expect the same. And to some extent, that sets you apart from what has traditionally been the norm in the profession. Law firms were built around a model that rewarded the number of hours worked. Being lawyers has often meant working punishing schedules that left little time for family or friends, never mind looking after ourselves. 

While the struggle to find that elusive work-life balance won’t ever likely disappear, at least we are now talking about it as a desirable and realistic goal. One of my objectives this year is to reinforce the importance of wellness in the legal profession. This involves more than coping with stress: It means paying real attention to your physical and mental health. It also means asking for help when you need it — plenty of resources are available, including the CBA’s Legal Profession Assistance Conference which offers lawyers, judges, law students and their families help with personal, emotional, health and lifestyle issues. In fact, joining the CBA can be the first step to finding a community that will support your goals.

A life in the law can be enjoyable. Find the balance that’s right for you.

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Michele Hollins Q.C. is the President of the Canadian Bar Association. / Michelle Hollins, c.r. est la présidente de l'Association du Barreau canadien.

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