Canadian Lawyer

October 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 51 of 59

50 LEGAL REPORT LITIGATION summer, she adds. "It means they also lost out on the social aspects of getting to know other students in their group in the same way that you would if everyone were having their summer together." Still, the firm is continuing its weekly drinks get-together (albeit less often and remotely), which helps to welcome students to their new vocation. And firms have been supportive of their lawyers and staff, litigators report. "There's been a strong emphasis on making sure people have downtime, and partners have been asked not to intrude on people's weekends," says Cheryl Woodin, a partner at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto. "We've been asked to give people time off, mentally and emotionally, because we need it more than ever right now. Our firm, and maybe others, have tried to be sensitive to that. The burn rate working from home is high, you're getting back your commute time, but you're also trying to do a lot more in many circumstances." The isolation factor is also wearing, although lessly," she says. "That was the court at its best." xxxSampson also points to a new tool that will allow lawyers to search an online database rather than sending a processor to the court- house. "All of that, specific to litigation, it's certainly a silver lining. In some ways . . . this way of working from home is not the 'by choice, flexible working from home' that represented an accommodation," she says. At the same time, she says, "Now that we've demonstrated that we can successfully work remotely, this goes to the question of ensuring a more equitable treatment. Working from home or remotely isn't only a women's issue. It has been done by everyone and successfully. The caveat is that I don't think it's the be-all and end-all going forward." That's due in part to the difficulties of mentoring, and for young lawyers in being mentored, as everyone works remotely. "For women and other underrepre- sented groups, mentorship is particularly important, and that's hard to obtain and provide with everyone working from home," says Catherine Beagan Flood, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto. "A lot of training is observing litigators with more experience, and with team members isolated, there are fewer opportunities for that type of learning." Many of her firm's students who are from outside Toronto or attended school outside Toronto didn't even move to Toronto for the "It's amazing how quickly lawyers and their clients have adapted to working the way we do, and the courts [as well]." Cheryl Woodin, Bennett Jones LLP

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