Mental Health Awareness Week: Managing Mental Health as an Early Lawyer

In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada, the LESA blog spotlights our very own Legal Content Writer, Susan Emam. Susan graduated from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law in 2022. She received admission to the British Columbia Bar in 2023 and is currently a Staff Lawyer at the Okanagan Thompson Legal Clinic. She predominately practices civil litigation, employment law, and human rights law. As Legal Content Writer for LESA, Susan keeps a pulse on legislative changes, Court updates, and notable community events and writes articles for the LESA blog. In this article, Susan shares her tips, as a newly called lawyer, to effectively manage mental health in the early years of practice.  


I know first-hand how challenging managing mental health can be as a law student, articling student, and newly called lawyer. I hope that the tools and techniques listed below can benefit others who are just starting out in their career.


  1. Connect With Peers

Reaching out to the legal community and connecting with other lawyers who are also in their early years of practice has afforded me the opportunity to find like-minded people and a sense of community.

At times, pursuing a career in law can feel isolating, challenging, and competitive.  As an introvert, I also know how difficult it can be to say yes to networking events. However, when I do attend those events, I realize that there are other lawyers of my vintage who share similar experiences. It has been an amazing way to establish connections in the industry.

Attending LESA’s Practice Foundations programs (targeted at lawyers within their first five years of practice) is also an excellent way to meet fellow lawyers.

If you aren’t someone that enjoys networking events or large groups, I’ve found that connecting with lawyers on LinkedIn and through Facebook groups is another way to expand your community.

  1. Find Good Mentorship

As we all know, it is especially important to find good mentorship early in your career. Having a senior lawyer with whom you can freely ask questions and bounce ideas is helpful for regulating anxiety, stress, and clearing doubts you may have.

I was lucky to article with a great principal who provided me with invaluable mentorship. She continues to be someone I can go to when I am feeling overwhelmed with my files, or unsure about how to approach an area of law that’s new to me.

You can also connect with senior lawyers in your practice areas on LinkedIn and through practice-specific Facebook groups.

  1. Enjoy Your Time Off

I have learned that when I’m not working, it’s extremely important to enjoy my time off and to stop thinking about my files.

Taking a break at the end of the day to spend time with loved ones, eating something nutritious, and getting a good night’s sleep is immensely beneficial in the long run to regulating stress and anxiety. I have found when I have the evening off, I can go into work much more refreshed and energized, and ready to tackle my files from a different angle.

  1. Do Something That Fuels Your Soul

Building on the last point, I’ve found that doing an activity/hobby that I find interesting and fun really helps me enjoy my time off and turn off my “work brain”. Since articling, I picked up pottery and Latin dance as hobbies—two things that I now love to do in my off time. I’ve found it to be so satisfying to excel and improve every week in both, and it has also been a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

  1. Find Movement in Your Week

As we know, legal practice often requires sitting down for most of the day in an office setting. For this reason, it’s so important to fit in some form of movement into your weekly schedule to manage both your physical and mental wellbeing.

Oftentimes, I find that I forgo exercise entirely in favour of relaxing at home, especially when I’ve had a mentally exhausting day at work. However, every time I make the effort to find movement I find that my stress levels and anxiety are much lower and that I’m able to get a good night’s sleep. I really enjoy going to spin classes a few times a week but when I’m not feeling up to it, I enjoy going on evening walks with my partner. Whatever it is that you enjoy, finding a way to fit it into your schedule a few times a week will immensely benefit your mental health in the long run.




LESA thanks Susan for sharing her perspective on the potential challenges new lawyers may face as they begin their career in law and for her tips and suggestions on how to cultivate ongoing mental health and well-being. We wish everyone a restful and enjoyable week!

If you are interested in LESA’s Practice Foundations Series, we have an upcoming program designed to support practitioners who want to start doing AGTA work or who want to revisit the basics. “Practice Foundations: Adult Guardianships and Trusteeships” will explore foundational topics. This program offers discounted pricing for newly called lawyers. Join us in Edmonton on May 28 or register to attend online via livestream.

New Lawyers Price: $472.50 (for those called within the last five years)


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