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Looking Out for Your Health and Wellness at OsgoodePD

January 18, 2022

Cathie George

We don’t need to tell our students about the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The senior executives, mid-career and internationally trained lawyers enrolled in Osgoode Professional Development’s Professional LLM courses typically have years of practical experience juggling the varying – and often competing – demands of clients, colleagues, friends and family. Many students even take their courses on a part-time basis, attending evening and weekend classes so that they can continue working while earning a degree that will boost both their legal skillset and their value to employers.

But with so many responsibilities, it’s easier than ever to cross the line that divides “feeling busy” from “feeling overwhelmed.”

Wherever our students are on the mental health continuum, Iva Keighley, OsgoodePD’s Student Success & Wellness Counsellor, is available to support them.

Preventative Measures

The more in-touch students are with their emotional state, the more proactive they can be about their self-care, allowing them to deal with issues before they get out of control.

The list of problems that students come to us for help with is a long one, and may have everything – or nothing – to do with their status as a Professional LLM candidate, depending on the individual.

Osgoode Hall Law School - view of atrium inside library

In addition to the exam stress and culture shock that every student in a new city struggles with, our team are available to support those dealing with addictions, family-related anxiety or medical conditions impacting on their mental health.

Despite societal progress, cultural or personal beliefs sadly often remain a barrier to help for students who fear they will be branded “weak.”

“If you share these beliefs, I am inviting you to reconsider them and seek support when you need it as you do not need to suffer in silence. Asking for help will never be considered a weakness,” Keighley says.

Crisis Management

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid a breaking point, but a mental health crisis should never spell the end of your studies. When things become too much, our students are able to request a leave of absence for up to two terms at a time, free of tuition.

With a little extra space and a little less pressure, they can concentrate on getting better and restarting their LLM whenever they’re ready.

From Lawyer to Therapist – Learn More About Iva’s Journey


After graduating from law school and articling in Belgrade, Keighley practised international estates and probate law before making the move to Canada in 1998.

Working as a legal assistant for a local immigration and criminal lawyer gave her some familiarity with the Canadian legal system, but this was long before the development of bridging programs for internationally trained lawyers, and Keighley decided she would need to switch direction.

“I wanted a career that would allow me to help people in a different capacity while staying connected to the legal profession. That decision brought me to where I am today. I work with law students at Osgoode and I provide post-injuries vocational evaluation services for law firms,” Keighley say

“Students appreciate the fact that I was in their shoes, that I understand the demands of legal education and pressures related to managing one’s career/personal life while in law school. In my current work, I am pragmatic and solution-oriented. I believe my previous legal training has positively influenced my current approach when assisting clients overcome their personal and academic struggles.

CATHIE GEORGE is a Recruitment Coordinator of the Professional Graduate & International Programs at Osgoode Professional Development.