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New Lawyers' Update: Coping With the New Normal

By Mark Daly, Nolan Ciarlo

February 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered the lives of millions of Canadians at work and at home. The changes to our work lives have been particularly drastic for the practice of law, beholden as it is to in-person meetings and paper-based files. As I am writing this article, it has been nearly a week since a second provincial emergency was declared under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. In other words, the new normal will not be changing anytime soon. As we look ahead to continuing our practices in this evolving landscape, I wanted to share some professional and personal tips that have helped me adapt to the changing circumstances.

GO PAPERLESS. This is not just right for the environment; it is the practical choice. There are many arguments to support shifting to electronic or cloud-based storage, but efficiency is a great one. Your files can be available to you at the touch of a few keys, rather than shuttling cumbersome paper files back and forth between your home and the office. At a time when some of us are working from the office, some of us work from home and some of us split our time, switching away from paper files will ensure that you have access to your files wherever you are and whenever you need them.

BE FLEXIBLE. Many areas of the law have been drastically altered by new statutes and regulations enacted because of the pandemic. For those whose practices focus on these areas of the law, it is a good time to be flexible and consider forays into other areas of the law. The need for creative and adaptive advocacy will never change, even if the nature of your practice does.

COMMUNICATE. It is difficult to take the time to speak with your colleagues about the challenges you are facing in adapting to the new normal. It may be even more difficult to admit that you are having difficulties in the first place. It is, however, very important to reach out if you are struggling. We are all in this together and you should not be afraid to reach out for assistance. Your colleagues may have thought of creative solutions to the problems you are facing.  

TAKE BREAKS FROM THE NEWS. Between the bleak daily news reports regarding Covid-19 numbers and troubling news of political turmoil to the south, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the challenges of the world. You can only absorb so much negativity before it starts to bring you down. Take a break and turn off the news for a day. It will do you a world of good to focus on more pleasant distractions for awhile.

CONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY. This can seem like trite advice and is much easier to say than do when we are largely prevented from meeting in person. That being said, it is more important than ever to feel the support of those close to you. Everyone is facing difficulties and being able to vent about it will feel like a weight lifted from your shoulders.

GET OUTSIDE. These days we all seem to be trapped inside, whether that is at home or at the office. Take some time to enjoy the sense of renewal that comes from simply spending time outdoors. Go for a run, a hike, a walk or simply take some time to stand outside and let go of your worries for a little while. The investment of time will pay dividends for your physical and mental well-being.

READ. Expand your literary horizons beyond the confines of the law. It is important to expose yourself to ideas and ways of thinking outside of the narrow school of thought included in legal texts. It will help round you out personally and professionally.

The optimist in me is looking forward to the end of the pandemic, to a time when things return to normal and we are all able to pursue our leisure activities without being concerned about contracting a novel virus or violating the law. Until that time comes, stay healthy, stay safe and look out for one another.

Mark Daly practices civil litigation with Nolan Ciarlo. He can be reached at:

Nolan Ciarlo

One King Street West, Suite Seven Hundred
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
L8P 1A4

Tel: 905-522-9261, ext. 224