Laurelly Dale: Trials and marathons both require hard work and preparation

Laurelly Dale, 36, is a criminal defence lawyer with Dale Law Professional Corp. in Toronto and Kenora, Ont. In being one-quarter Metis, she has an interest in working with First Nations bands. Ms. Dale is a semi-elite runner using training time to prepare for court and for two more marathons for The Abbott Six Star medal.

The best advice I received was from lawyer Greg Iwasiw: “Ask for help and consult with senior counsel.” Great lawyers talk to one another about cases. I advise junior lawyers, “Don’t let your body go to trash.” In law school, I was malnourished, smoked a pack of cigarettes daily, was addicted to caffeine. When I became a lawyer, I picked up running. Being very Type A, I needed the greatest achievement as quickly as possible. In my first full marathon, I decided I’d qualify for Boston.

An epic disaster. I trained on my own, that morning I was so sick I couldn’t even hold down water; 30 degrees, a super hilly marathon. Passing my mother, she didn’t recognize me because my skin was grey. The finish line in sight, my legs gave out. On the ground, bleeding, medics rushing to me, I put my hands out, motioning, “Stop!” The photos are of me crawling over the finish line. I woke up in the medical tent. The first thing I asked was, “Mom, what was my time?” I missed qualifying by three seconds.

Preparing for marathons and trials both require hard work and preparation, humbling because there’s no room for error. When you win and get out of court or finish a race, no drug can replace that. Running brings me away from being tethered to my trial prep notes; I think about how the judge will respond to submissions, how the witness might answer. You’re always trying to figure out a way to properly convey your defence theory on behalf of your client. Clarity, being able to step away from being in your own head, is very helpful.

Originally published in The Globe and Mail August 12th, 2019:

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