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fies as you do. Build routines that work for your body and personality,
and then monitor to see whether you are feeling exhausted or energetic,
unhappy or happy. No one else can put the oxygen mask on you, and you
cannot help others (clients, colleagues, loved ones) without it. That said,
these suggestions may take years to actualize and require upkeep.
LY: I agree that it takes time. Be brutally honest with yourself. I know the
road to practice feels like you’re just jumping through yet another hoop
that they (whoever “they” are) set in front of you. I jumped through them
too. Once I stopped to examine what I really wanted to use my productive
years for, I knew a change was imperative. That’s the moment I needed
trusted mentors and, as Tina said, confidants for wisdom. Seek out
trusted people inside and outside the profession now, so that, if or when
that moment comes for you, you already have the support network in
place to guide you.
WT: The first Chinese Canadian lawyer was called to the bar in 1945; that
was only one or two generations ago. We are slowly but surely making
our way to positions of power and influence in the profession. We are also
changing minds about what a traditional “advocate” looks like. These are
positive and hopeful steps. Yet, we need to not only celebrate the few of
us that become successful, make partner, or are appointed judges, but
also those working diligently to serve our communities. We need to, on a
grassroots level, support mentorship of diverse, BIPoC lawyers. We need
to encourage those platforms that traditionally have forgotten us—boardrooms
of Big Law, mainstream legal publications and oft-inaccessible
courtrooms—that we are here. Finally, we should acknowledge that we
can be advocates in different ways and that there is no such thing as a
perfect advocate. We’re all learning, still.
Tina Parbhakar is a Punjabi woman with the privileges of being Canadian
and living on unceded, traditional Indigenous territories. She was previously
a civil litigator for the Province of British Columbia and is the equality representative
for the CBABC. She is channeling her elder brother—an educator,
feminist and one of the most intelligent and strong individuals she knows and
looks to for guidance.
Wei William Tao is a second-generation Chinese Canadian. He serves as a
Canadian immigration and refugee lawyer practising with Edelmann and Co.
Law Offices and was formerly chair of the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Communities
Advisory Committee. His Chinese name Wei refers to Victoria, the