I tend to give (mostly solicited, sometimes unsolicited) advice to other lawyers on how to deal with the stresses and challenges of working in the legal profession. Some of that advice has been (in no particular order):
The thing that has not been working for me is this blog.
Once a joy and an outlet for my stress, something I looked forward to writing each month, has now become a bit of a chore, that dreaded item that falls to the bottom of my To-Do list, causing me grief.
I’m not exactly sure why I feel this way now.
I could chalk it up to any number of reasons.
It could be because this pandemic has wreaked an emotional toll on me, with working from home, kids in online school, not seeing family and friends…
It could also be that my freelance lawyer & law clerk business, Flex Legal, has grown significantly in the last six months - which is great, don’t get me wrong - but it is taking up all my time and energy.
I probably should have stopped writing months ago, but I am not “a quitter”. I’ve always placed great importance on being someone who follows through on a commitment. I want others to know my word is good, you can trust that I will do what I say I will do. It’s one of my top values in life. But this value can also be my downfall. I once stayed in a job that was causing me severe mental stress because I was not a “quitter”. In my younger days, I stayed in relationships I knew were not right because I was not a “quitter”. And, I stayed writing this blog because I promised myself, I would write at least one blog post a month, and I always follow through on a promise. And I have.
I started this blog back in 2014 when I was unemployed after spending 7 years at one firm and 7 months at another. I was at a crossroads in my career. That is when I decided I would give “freelance lawyering” a shot. I did some research and designed my own website for this new freelance practice and read somewhere that a good way to get traffic to your site was to have a blog. So, I thought, why not? My first post was called: “Is Legal Ghostwriting Unethical?”
Since that time, I have written one or two blog posts a month, including posts on case comments, book reviews, summaries of legal events, EDI issues, legal career advice - basically anything and everything related to being a lawyer or law. I also started a successful blog series on Women Leading in the Law, when I was tired of reading about women leaving law, and wanted to read about women leading in law instead.
I could never really anticipate which posts would be popular, I just wrote about things that interested me. Surprisingly (or not), my most read blog post, with over 10,000 unique page views is: “What are a Lawyer’s Professional Obligations When Leaving a Law Firm?”
It has been a fun seven (!) years, from when my mom was the only one reading this blog to winning the top CLAWBIE award (the “Fodden Award for Best Canadian Law Blog”) in 2017, to being contacted by the CBC to use my “influence” (ha!) as a blogger to share news about a CBC radio documentary on Justice LeDain, and being mentioned in an article in a national newspaper.
I have learned a lot about myself, other lawyers, and the legal profession through writing this blog, but I keep hearing the words in my head from one of my favorite childhood books by Dr. Seuss … “The time has come, the time is now, … ‘Erin C. Cowling’ will you please go now?!”
The time has indeed come, and the time is now, to say goodbye (or at least press the pause button) on this blog. Before I sign off, I want to say thank you.
Thank you to my mom for being the first to read these posts.
Thank you to everyone who has signed up for my emails and read and commented on my posts (even you trolls, you know who you are).
Thank you to everyone who has emailed me directly when something I have written has struck a nerve.
Thank you to the 74 amazing women who took the time to answer my questions for the Women Leading in Law series. This was a huge accomplishment and I’m glad it brought a spotlight to so many talented women lawyers across Canada. Keep up the great work.
And thank you to you for reading this and making me feel like I am not alone in this crazy and amazing profession.
I may be saying goodbye to this blog, but I am not going anywhere. You can read more about freelance lawyering and other insights about the legal profession over at our Flex Legal blog. You can also always reach me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org , or on Twitter @Cowlingerin & @Flexlegalnet and on LinkedIn
Erin C. Cowling is a freelance lawyer, entrepreneur, legal career consultant researcher & writer, and President and Founder of Flex Legal Network Inc., a network of freelance lawyers.