Sari is a civil litigation lawyer at a small firm in Toronto.
What is your morning routine?
It’s evolved over the years. I usually pick out my clothes for the week on Sunday to ease my morning decision-making. After a few snoozes, I get up a little after 7 a.m., check the weather and walk out the door by 7:30. I bike to work in the non-winter months. Right now I walk the 25 minutes to my office. I love it.
I’ve been listening to Q107 for over 13 years, no matter where I’m living. My morning commute is complete if they play Fleetwood Mac or Tom Petty right before entering the office. Once I’m there, I have breakfast and a strong coffee that my lovely coworker makes by the time I arrive. I go through my emails and then the rest of my day starts.
Tell us about your career path.
I didn’t take a direct path to end where I am now, but one constant was my interest in health and human rights. I did my undergraduate degree in international development and law, with a focus on health and justice in developing countries. I studied human rights for my Masters and I was working at a human rights organization when I got into law school. There I got involved in the students’ health law association and spent my summers doing HIV advocacy. After law school, it seemed natural to work at a personal injury firm so I could help clients suffering physical and psychological injuries, and fulfill my interest working with vulnerable, often marginalized people.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
As a female lawyer, I think I face the same challenges many women face by virtue of being a woman in the workplace. These challenges are magnified in a profession that was once populated mostly by men. Law is notoriously and historically a difficult profession for women. I notice a marked difference in treatment between myself and my male colleagues by superiors, other lawyers and clients. I’m still trying to find a way to change the perception and narrative of an authoritative, motivated and determined female lawyer.
While I can’t say for certain whether the perception of female lawyers is changing, I do feel there is a lot of support and leadership from other women in law, and there is definitely space to share our experiences. Though our experiences as female lawyers are products of our own feminist ideals, work environments and the areas of law we practice, it’s startling how similar and common our experiences can be.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
I wouldn’t give advice to be the next me. I would advise every young girl to be the next YOU. Be the BEST you. What helped shaped me may not be helpful advice for others. Generally, I would say be kind, find support and mentorship, and make smart choices. Be unique. Stand in your truth. And listen to the 2 Dope Queens podcast.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
When I’m at the office, I try to stay focused on my tasks, do a good job, and enjoy it. When I’m not at the office, I don’t feel I can ever completely separate from my job. Sometimes when I’m not thinking about work, a thought will pop into my mind about something I need to do on a file, a client I need to connect with or an email I need to send. I can’t usually turn these thoughts off. I tend to stop what I’m doing, deal with the issue and then return to what I was doing. It’s not ideal, but it seems to work for me.
When I’m not at work, I like to do activities that are departures from what I do as a lawyer. I like creating projects with my hands, so I’ll paint, sew, knit, or play an instrument. I also like to be active outside. These creative and active outlets are relaxing and exciting for me and help me feel productive. Since they require a completely different set of skills than those I employ as a lawyer, I can make the distinction between my work life and my personal life.
What inspires you?
I’m often inspired by people with vision, discipline, and execution, and by people who challenge conventions and question norms. Spontaneity and live music also inspire me – especially when combined.