New Lawyers' Update: Coping With the New Normal
By Mark Daly, Nolan Ciarlo
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Daly practices civil litigation with Nolan Ciarlo. He can be reached at:
King Street West, Suite Seven Hundred
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
905-522-9261, ext. 224