A Word from Catherine Sas, QC, Chair of the Work Life Balance Section
by Catherine Sas, QC
What is Work Life Balance?
In my view, work life balance is about working smarter to make sure you never feel like you are giving anything up. When all you know is work, your contribution at work is not as rich, nor is it as valuable. It is not about working less, or getting paid more for working fewer hours. It’s about working more effectively and more efficiently so you never feel like you are sacrificing life for work.
Why do lawyers need it in their practices?
The statistics for the legal profession are grim, to say the least.
- Lawyers as a group are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general public.
- Lawyers rank highest in major depressive episodes among 104 occupational groups.
- 70 per cent of all lawyers will have an alcohol problem in their career.
Those are just three of the many statistics that I could offer you about the realities of our profession.
Couple that with the Law Society’s own statistics in their Annual Report for 2008:
- Regardless of the gender split, there are 30 per cent fewer lawyers aged 25-30 years practising law in 2008 than there were in 1998.
- In the 61-70 year old category, there was a 225 per cent increase in lawyers practising between 1998 and 2008.
Simply put, there are fewer lawyers entering the practice of law and those of us who are here are going to have to shoulder the workload. We are going to have to be smarter about how we handle the demands of practice, the needs of our families and our health and personal needs.
Furthermore, while there are fewer lawyers joining the profession, it is well documented that there are significantly increased numbers of lawyers leaving the profession within the first few years of practice. From a business perspective, if law firms are going to survive, lawyers are going to need to promote work life balance, not just for their firm’s survival, but also for their own personal survival.
What is the Work Life Balance Section?
The Work Life Balance Section is devoted to raising awareness about more efficient ways of practising law within the context of one’s personal goals and ambitions. We feature events on various topics of interest that address as broad a range of issues as possible to inspire, encourage and provide support for lawyers.
PHOTO: Sue Connaghan of Pushor Mitchell LLP receives the 2nd Annual Work Life Balance award from Wally Oppal, QC in the company of award sponsor Antonio Zivanovic of Corporate Occupational Solutions; Catherine Sas, QC, WLB Section Chair; and Helena Clift, Law Practice Management Section Chair.
This article was published in the February 2010 issue of BarTalk. © 2010 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.