Taking My Own Advice

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. That’s mostly because I’ve been working hard at taking my own advice this summer, focusing on taking real breaks from my work, scheduling time for fun and doing things I love. Not all the time, mind you. Sometimes I forget what I know to be true about how to maintain a sense of balance in my life and fall off the rails awhile.

There’s that trigger word — balance. I know some of you may be about to quit reading. For many lawyers, the concepts of balance and wellness are anathema to what we do and how we define ourselves. We typically take pride in our toughness, and our ability to function 24/7, all the while scoffing at those who suggest the need for a more balanced approach.

And yet…

At the CBA Legal Conference in Ottawa this summer, I witnessed lawyers, true to form, rushing from session to session, trying to take it all in. But some of the biggest crowds were in breakout sessions focused on topics including time management, mindfulness, balance and wellness for lawyers. In fact, I know that a number of lawyers rushed away from the session on wellness tips I was part of to get to Jeena Cho’s meditation session. (If you’ve not heard of her yet, I recommend to you Jeena and Karen Gifford’s excellent book, The Anxious Lawyer.)

Something is changing in our profession in terms of how we approach our work. It feels like maybe the tide is turning, at least for a growing number of lawyers. Part of the continuing conversation on the future of our profession focuses on the way we have traditionally worked and how it just isn’t working for many any more. I’ve written about that previously in the context of women leaving the profession, but I have come to conclude that this isn’t a gender issue at all. Finding a path to living a life that includes but isn’t limited to work you love is an issue for many lawyers at every stage of practice, regardless of gender or background.

Although the jury is still out on whether or not you can have it all, it most certainly is possible to enjoy a satisfying career in law provided you equip yourself with the proper tools and tricks essential to living a balanced life.




  1. Suzanne Harbottle

    Makes so much sense – thank you Karen!