Making It Work: How Cornell Wright does it

Cornell Wright

Partner, Torys LLP
Year of Call: 2002

“My general principle is that I never want to be better at my job than at being a dad,” says Cornell Wright. In addition to being — by any reasonable accounting — a totally badass Bay Street mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer, he is father to three youngsters ages seven, five and three. At the modern, beautifully appointed Torys offices, Wright in person is dapper, attentive and exudes both integrity and intensity.

In addition to meeting client demands, he sits on the board of directors of the National Ballet of Canada and the Loran Scholars Foundation.

Oh yes, and he’s a soccer coach for his kids’ teams.

Wright manages life during epic deals (like Loblaws’ $12.4-billion acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart) by looking at the big picture. “You can’t assess balance as day-to-day, or even week-to-week,” he says. “It’s about juggling, planning and being flexible.” Wright doesn’t just accept help, but solicits it. A personal trainer shapes his Friday morning workouts at 6:45. A well-read colleague — “My tutor,” he says — suggests books to fuel his reading habit. And Wright deputized his father-in-law to help with Thursday’s 6 p.m. soccer coaching.

On the home front, he and his wife — a vice-president at a PR firm — make parenthood and careers flourish concurrently with help from their nanny. “She’s a problem solver, and she is as committed to her role as we are to ours,” he says of the family’s much-loved live-out caregiver.

These days he puts more emphasis on fitness. “I didn’t think about it until two years ago,” when he turned 40, he says. “I decided I should be more deliberate about it.”

At first, he joined the theoretically handy gym in his office building, but quit it for one near his house at Yonge and Eglinton. “I’ve had to experiment,” Wright says, but he’s settled on three workouts each week: an evening swim, the Friday training session and a weekend run.

But it’s not the proverbial all work and no play. He celebrated a recent birthday, his own in fact, by surprising the kids with a trip to Disney World.

Cornell Wright, Torys LLP The lowdown

Start time: 7:30 or 8 a.m.
End time: 7 or 7:30 p.m.
Weekly hours: 60 to 80
Sneaky snack: “I keep candy at my desk”
Sanity-saving domestic weapon: The caregiver who has been with the family for six years, and parents on both sides of the family who help with after-hours childcare
Lunch: Out with clients, and he orders something healthy, like salad and fish
Prioritizes: “Putting my kids to bed. I get itchy to go home at 7:25 p.m.”
Clark Kent-Superman moment: Changing from suit into soccer coach uniform in underground parking lot





This story is part of The Precedent guide to getting it all done, from our Spring 2015 issue.



Photography Daniel Ehrenworth

Making It Work: The Precedent guide to getting it all done

Precedent Spring Issue 2015 CoverLet’s face it: in order to a lawyer (and a damn good one at that), it means that you are making a commitment to a profession that demands a lot of time and energy. But that doesn’t mean you want to sacrifice the rest of your life.

So how does it all get done?

You’ve got to be resourceful. You’ve got to let some things go. And you’ve got to work hard to achieve balance.

Find out how some of Toronto’s most productive lawyers are killing it at the office and making time for their hobbies, vacations, families, fitness and even sleep. Don’t believe us? Check out the stories below:


Angela Chaisson

How Angela Chaisson finds time to go for lunch with her firm every day

Cornell Wright

How Cornell Wright finds a way to make it to soccer practice

Bindu Cudjoe

How Bindu Cudjoe makes time for friends, family and annual vacations








Unfiltered advice from lawyers with kids

Shelby Austin

Learn from Shelby Austin’s day planner

healthy lawyer

How to keep your job from killing you







Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth

Illustration by Naila Medjidova