Jan 13, 2021 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM - An Introduction to Mindfulness for Lawyers and Holistic Approach to Wellness
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1T3

This program contains 2 hours of professionalism content.

Through a series of 8 sessions, this program will introduce participants to a variety of wellness concepts and techniques. Each week we will explore key aspects of mindfulness, supporting evidence for its benefits, and an array of practices intended to focus the mind and relax the body.

The aim is to help lawyers manage work and life, and to improve overall well-being with a view to developing sustainable legal careers. The sessions are intended to build professional competency and resiliency to help lawyers withstand the pressures and stress in their lives. Participants will learn techniques to enhance awareness and stress management skills, and to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The secular curriculum is designed around evidence-based research on mindfulness, with a focus on the legal profession. The program was created by a lawyer and long-time yoga practitioner and draws on various teachings and traditions. It also features guest speakers who are lawyers with their own mindfulness-based practices.

The program is open to all lawyers and experience levels. The emphasis will be on cultivating a confidential, inclusive, and safe space for lawyers to learn about mindfulness and wellness, and to facilitate a dialogue and sense of community. The motivation of this program is to create a support network where we can explore the problems common to our profession and develop practices to help us to cope, and ultimately thrive, during these challenging times. At the very least, participants will learn more about themselves and walk away with additional ideas and practices for their wellness toolkit.

Program details

Wednesday, January 13 to March 3, 2021
30 minutes each Wednesday for 8-weeks
Seating is limited - 16 people. Register early!
12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
ZOOM - 2 step registration. You will receive the details to join in your confirmation email.

This program contains 2 hours of professionalism content.

Registration Fee:

  • Members: $80.00 + HST 
  • Member Licensing Candidates and New Calls: $40.00 + HST
  • Friends of the TLA: $120.00 + HST 
  • Non-Members: $120.00 + HST

No refunds after January 6, 2021. An administrative fee of $25.00 will be applied to all cancellations.  

Program Descriptions

This session will introduce participants to the concept and mechanisms of mindfulness. It will also consider reports on well-being, and specifically the April 2016 LSO Mental Health Strategy Task Force Report, highlighting common issues with which legal professionals struggle.
Participants will also be introduced to a focused-attention practice, and simple stretches for areas prone to tension.

Week 2 will provide an overview of the neuroscience behind mindfulness, the various parts and functions of the brain, and identify legal skills that mindfulness can help to improve.

We will practice breathing exercises to help calm down our nervous system and enable us to bring our pre-fontal cortex back online after a triggering event. Rather than simply reacting, participants will learn about the physiological benefits of taking a breath, and how it can provide time to process information and respond rationally.

Following the sessions that introduce the research and science behind mindfulness, session 3 will take a critical look at mindfulness. The session features Mitchell Rose, a chartered mediator and lawyer, who has also completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. Mitch and Alisha will explore questions such as, can mindfulness really help those in high stress professions? How do I find the time? And, what if I cannot sit still?

Participants will hear personal stories that answer these questions and learn strategies for implementing mindfulness into a daily routine. This session will also build on the previous week’s discussion on legal skills that can be enhanced through meditation, and address any lingering doubts that participants may have about the benefits of mindfulness. For those that still have their reservations, Mitch will offer insight into other forms of resilience training, such as Stoicism.

With foundational research and a critical assessment of mindfulness behind us, week 4 delves deeper into the more serious issues affecting the legal profession. The session features UWO law professor, Thomas G.W. Telfer, certified mindfulness facilitator, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate. Dr. Telfer will discuss the general topic of mental health in our profession and share his personal story, as well as how he introduced mindfulness to students. Dr. Telfer will also lead a 5-minute meditation practice.
The purpose of this session is to increase awareness about mental illness and to facilitate a dialogue about these not-so-uncommon challenges. The aim is to help destigmatize mental health issues and explore the ways in which mindfulness may offer preventative and/or management strategies.

In week 5, we will explore the concept of emotional intelligence (“EQ”), why it is essential to good lawyering, and how we can use mindfulness to develop EQ.

Through critical thinking exercises, this session will help participants identify EQ traits and the legal skills that we can enhance through the development of EQ. We will also look at ways in which we can maintain and possibly expand a daily mindfulness practice.

As lawyers, we often focus so much on work and productivity that we neglect the things most essential to our health and well-being. This session will feature Sharon Vanin, lawyer, certified mindfulness meditation teacher, certified yoga teacher, and holistic nutrition expert, who will provide an overview of the connection between nutrition and wellness. Sharon will share ways to improve digestion and the body’s absorption of nutrients, general tips on healthy eating, and lead a mindful eating practice. The intention is to enable participants to understand their power to make healthier choices that can optimize wellness.

For many, it is difficult to relax when our bodies are in pain. Likewise, when we experience tension in the body or chronic pain, this can negatively impact our mood and our ability to work. This session will introduce participants to the somatic experience and explore how calming our body can also calm our mind. Our guest speaker, Daniel Wiener, is a lawyer, certified yoga teacher and long-time meditation practitioner. Daniel will discuss the ways in which yoga and meditation can facilitate a mind-body connection, and potentially empower individuals to gain awareness and control over their body and mind. Daniel will also introduce participants to stretches for areas prone to tension, which can help us to relax and rest.

Our final session will explore why lawyers need resilience training and how mindfulness can help. We will discuss what resiliency is, and how it can help us to respond meaningfully, recover from setbacks, and rise again. Through the critical thinking exercises in this session, participants will learn how to reframe judgments, manage worries, and develop an attitude of gratitude.


Alisha E. Athanasiou - Read her bio

Alisha E. Athanasiou is the principal of Athanasiou Law Professional Corporation, founder of Jam and Yoga, and creator of the Collaborative Learning Network.

Alisha graduated from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law in 2013 and started her firm in Toronto in 2014. Since then, Alisha has successfully settled cases against national banks, insurance companies, and government agencies, and in many instances was able to reach a settlement in the early stages of the file. Alisha takes a client-focused and resolution-oriented approach to litigation, and endeavours to resolve her clients’ matters in a timely and cost-effective manner. To help balance her busy schedule, Alisha relies heavily on her yoga and meditation practices.

A long-time yoga practitioner, Alisha is also working with other professionals to bring mindfulness programs to the Toronto bar. She has recently started “the Collaborative Learning Network,” an initiative intended to offer peer support to lawyers, and “Jam and Yoga” (www.jamandyoga.com) a non-profit initiative, which offers pay-what-you-can mindfulness sessions and donates it’s proceeds to local community organizations.

Over the past 16 years, Alisha has learned an array of mindfulness techniques from a variety of teachers in North America and in Northern Thailand. Alisha completed mindfulness facilitator training through the Mindfulness Without Borders program and is one course away from earning a certificate in Foundations of Applied Mindfulness Meditation through the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies. Currently, Alisha is completing Compassion Cultivation Training through the Compassion Institute. Since 2018, Alisha has been a volunteer tutor with the Pathways to Education Program, and spends her spare time cooking, hiking, and reading.

Mitchell Rose - Read his bio

Mitchell Rose is a Lawyer-Settlement Counsel, Chartered Mediator, and Arbitrator of civil disputes. He is the principal of Mitchell Rose Law and Rose Dispute Resolution in Toronto.

Mitch graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1993 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995. He received his mediation training from Stitt Feld Handy-University of Windsor (2004 and 2005) and Harvard Law School (2012). Mitch is a frequent speaker and writer on employment law, dispute resolution and mental health topics, including for the Toronto Lawyers Association. He currently serves as the Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the Ontario Bar Association.

Mitch can be found at https://mitchellrose.ca/, on Linked In (https://ca.linkedin.com/in/mrpc) and on Twitter (@SettleWithMitch).

Dr. Thomas Telfer - Read his bio

Dr. Thomas Telfer is a Professor at Western University, Faculty of Law.

He has published widely in the fields of bankruptcy law and commercial law. Professor Telfer also has an interest in mindfulness education.

In 2017, he introduced a highly successful non-credit mindfulness course to first year Western Law students and the following year he received the Leadership in Wellness Award of Recognition which recognizes Western faculty members who promote the mental health of their students.

He has recently been awarded a three-year Teaching Fellowship at Western to develop mindfulness and mental health education initiatives.

In the fall of 2019, Professor Telfer offered Mindfulness and the Legal Profession as a new upper year academic credit course at Western Law.

He is a frequent speaker on mindfulness. He has delivered workshops for lawyers, judges, students, professors and doctors. Stories about his mindfulness work have appeared in Canadian Lawyer and on CBC Radio.

Sharon Vanin - Read her bio

As a lawyer since 2006, Sharon Vanin has supported health sector executives, practitioners and policy makers enhance their legal and business strategy to be world-class leaders delivering excellence in patient care, clinical education, research, innovation and public protection. Some of the organizations she’s helped include hospitals, community health centres, health professional regulators and associations, and government health service agencies.

Amidst the challenges of 2020, Sharon decided to take a huge leap and pursue her life-long passion of nutrition. She will be graduating as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Spring 2021 and will be launching a consulting practice dedicated to helping women come home to their true selves through an integrative wellness journey rooted in personalized nutrition, mind-body connection and self-compassion.

While in nutrition school, Sharon quickly became a trusted legal adviser to her classmates and colleagues who sought practical and relatable legal support tailored to their unique needs as wellness business founders. Recognizing an unmet need in the market, Sharon decided to combine her legal background and her emerging career as a nutritionist to create a niche legal practice, Thrive Legal Care, which is dedicated to helping wellness entrepreneurs run thriving businesses. Although this was a very unexpected twist in what she thought was a transition away from law(!), Sharon is thrilled to be launching her practice in early 2021.

Sharon has a JD degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, Master of Health Science-Health Administration degree from the University of Toronto and an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in life sciences, health systems and the social determinants of health from Queen’s University. She is a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with training from David Nichtern through Tibet House US (NYC) and Jeff Warren (Toronto). She is also a Certified Yoga Teacher with training from Ahimsa Yoga (Toronto) and Downward Dog Yoga Centre (Toronto).

Daniel Wiener - Read his bio

Daniel Wiener was called to the Bar in 2011 and after spending some time practicing at some of Toronto’s premiere family law litigation firms and commercial leasing boutiques he decided to move his practice to Newmarket to practice exclusively in the area of Family law and commercial leasing.

Daniel strives to balance a pragmatic and results-driven approach with compassion and care for the difficulties and obstacles that clients experience during the family law process. Daniel works to develop creative and resolution oriented legal strategies to assist his clients in dealing with the full range of family law issues, including child and spousal support, property division (including complex business structures, pension division, and family trusts), high-conflict parenting, and child protection.

Daniel also lived in India and Nepal for nearly four years studying and practicing Buddhism and yoga. He is a traditionally trained meditation and yoga instructor trained in a variety of yoga and meditation styles including traditional Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga and mindfulness, concentration and vipassana meditation. He has been a practicing Buddhist for many years and has been teaching full and part-time for almost a decade. Daniel holds a number of yoga teacher training qualifications with schools recognized by Yoga Alliance, including his 500 RYT.

Daniel’s philosophical approach is that through yoga and meditation one is empowered to gain awareness and control over their own body and mind. This can result in the ability to reduce stress, depression, sleeplessness and anxiety. With long-term practice individuals can alter their thinking patterns and can achieve true long lasting happiness and contentment.


The views and opinion expressed by speakers are their own and may not represent the views and opinions of the Toronto Lawyers Association.

This organization has been approved as an Accredited Provider of Professionalism content by the Law Society of Ontario.

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