In an editorial in today’s Star, Roy Romanow and Tony Gagliano describe a new report (pdf) by the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) which suggests that Canadians have even less time than before, despite our efforts to create a society with more leisure time. Romanow is the Chair of the CIW Advisory Board and offers an introduction to the report.
They point to several key factors:
- technology allowing us to carry our work home
- client expectations for service at all hours
- suburban sprawl leading to longer commutes
- globalization and urbanization forces
These trends are likely to affect legal professionals as much, if not more, than the general public. But I wonder if there isn’t a better way.
Technology can be used to your advantage, by chipping away at emails periodically during commute and down-time. Client expectations can be managed, especially for non-priority files that are not facing deadlines.
Suburban sprawl poses its own unique challenges though. Most young lawyers I know in big cities prefer to live in the central core, near to their workplaces. But cost of living and need for more space with expanding families often eventually push them to the fringes as well.
In Canada’s biggest city – Toronto – law firms and Bay St. businesses are currently getting creative with work responsibilities to accommodate G20 travel restrictions. They include telecommuting to encourage employees to stay home, and flexible work schedules.
Although the last factor, globalization, has the potential to wreak havoc on client communications during off-hours, this can be a factor assisting lawyers as well. Off-shoring legal services and legal support systems can help save clients money and provide overnight results.
Romanow and Gagliano state,
The world will continue to evolve rapidly, and Canada will change along with it… All it requires is imaginative ideas and responsive public policy…
It’s time we, as a society, adopted a broader view and recognized that our well-being depends on much more than our economic productivity… It’s time we all enjoyed the kind of personal fulfilment and leisure that Canadians once dared to imagine was possible for ourselves and for future generations.
Can lawyers dare to imagine the same kind of fulfillment? I think it’s possible, if not with a little creativity and innovation.
Companion documents to the report include: