On Your Mind — There’s a LOT Going On


On Your Mind — There’s a LOT Going On

"What is top of mind for you in your work these days?” Throughout the year, CBABC meets with lawyers in all kinds of practice settings in every part of the province and asks this question. It is important for your association to know what’s keeping you up at night, what challenges you are meeting and the successes you enjoy. We meet with managing partners, associates and articling students. We might also see you at your firm or a local bar association event.

Listening to your answers helps CBABC provide important context when we represent you in our advocacy submissions and meetings or enhance programs. The reality of day-to-day practice, business development and operations help us tell the story of why reforms are needed or new programs make sense.

Some of the things you tell us are about business, namely the shortage of trained legal assistants, the prohibitive cost of technology and information management systems you want to incorporate to develop efficiencies, and your desire for the Law Society to confirm which programs comply with the Rules and Code. You tell us you are short on time for business operations because client demand for services is high. Some workplaces have people tasked with solving these problems. Other set-ups require lawyers to not only provide legal services but also tackle the business side of things. A big gap in preparing lawyers to practice is teaching the basics of the business of legal services. Even if you are going to hire other professionals to assist you, you still need to have a basic understanding in order to be successful. And associates would benefit from greater transparency from employers so that they learn and contribute solutions given their generations’ affinity for technology. Your observations help us advocate for change in law schools and at the Law Society.

You also tell us about the profession. For example, the introduction of No Fault means some personal injury lawyers have retired, but many more are entering the fields of family law and estate litigation. Those lawyers must rapidly learn the law and develop new skills. This change also requires experienced and new members to those bars to make new relationships with each other. Maintaining connections and civility is key to our profession, something that CBABC helps with through Sections.

You highlight the need for more criminal defense and family law lawyers in every corner of the province. Programs like REAL have modestly assisted in maintaining legal services in smaller communities, but more needs to be done to encourage law students to pursue this field, and critically, to support the small firms who can hire and build criminal defense lawyers. Without the balance of the criminal defense bar, the rest of our criminal justice system would be compromised. CBABC is part of the conversation to develop systemic solutions to this problem.

Professional concerns also include what will happen when we have a single regulator of lawyers, notaries and paralegals and how lawyers will maintain self-regulation. Mental health of lawyers is still top of mind with examples of anxiety, overwork and burnout shared frequently. And helping the COVID cohort of new lawyers learn to engage in person whether with clients, supervisors, partners or judges requires dedicated attention.

In March, CBA and Thomson Reuters re-leased two reports, The State of the Canadian Law Firm Market and Canadian Government Lawyers Benchmark Report. Over 300 lawyers from a range of private practice settings and 70 government lawyers participated. In brief, lawyers are optimistic but see many challenges ahead. Lawyers and their workplaces need to focus on meeting those challenges with purpose.

CBABC is building our next Strategic Plan and your honest, frank answers to our question will help us continue to support you successfully practice law in this ever-changing, always demanding time.