Canadian Lawyer InHouse

Oct/Nov 2008

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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FEATURE B A L A N C E can be a misnomer The pursuit of the elusive work-life balance has taken many lawyers from private practice to in-house positions in search of greener pastures. The perception that going in-house offers a less demanding professional life — no billable hours, unreasonable clients, or managing partners — is often just a perception. By Heather Capannelli tice, to constantly perform at an exceptionally high standard, to not make mistakes, and certain- ly to not admit them, creates a culture of secrecy in the legal profession about the struggles of life that others oſten talk about freely. It's a culture that goes L from the courtroom to the boardroom, which forces in-house law- yers and those in pri- vate practice alike to wonder why they're the only ones coping with money troubles, relationships, ag- ing parents, and raising kids. The result is oſten a soul- searching journey to find the holy grail of the new millennium — the "work-life balance." The pursuit of this elusive prize has taken many lawyers from private practice to in-house positions. The perception that going in- awyers do not get sick. They do not get stressed out. They do not become drug addicts or alcoholics. Law- yers are not affected by depression and anxiety, nor do they have financial problems or troubled relationships. At least that's the front they put on. The pressure on lawyers, both in-house and in private prac- house offers a less demanding professional life — no billable hours, unreasonable clients, or managing partners — is oſten just that: perception. On the surface, the hours are regular and the work is always there. But the experts say the pressures are very much the same whether you're a Bay Streeter, a sole practitioner, or in-house counsel, and achieving work-life balance is always challenging. "I have not found any measur- able difference in terms of the impact of lawyers' struggles on their lives, whether they're in-house coun- sel, in private practice, in legal publishing, or researchers," says Doron Gold, a case manager with the Ontar- io Lawyers' Assistance Program. He says that billable hours are just one issue that lawyers deal with, eliminat- ing them by taking an in-house position removes only one stressor among many. OLAP is a con- fidential provincial program, for judges, lawyers, law students, and their immediate fam- ily, that provides professional counselling, peer support, as- sessment, and referrals to spe- cialized programs and centres. "We sometimes like to think that C ANADIAN Lawyer INHOUSE OC T OBER 2008 23

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