2017 was a year of fighting the good fight, and our members had many meaningful wins that created real impact. They secured grants, hired more employees, and had big, productive collaborations with each other.

We chatted with 18 of them to hear about some of their goals for 2018 and get the lowdown on their great 2017 memories. We’re going to spend the rest of the year telling you about what they had to say.

Next up is Robert Wakulat, Owner of Wakulat Dhirani LLP

For eight years, Wakulat Dhirani LLP has helped clients use the law and creative thinking to foster sustainable social enterprises. More recently, Robert Wakulat co-founded Courage Co-Lab Inc. with fellow CSI member, Denise Pinto, a social enterprise that uses co-design to bring together the collective wisdom of diverse perspectives from people both within and outside an organization, community or system. The aim is to support people of different positions, power, or privilege to be brave in their shared creativity.

What motivated you to start your organization?

The forerunner to WDLLP was my own solo practice, which emerged from a nexus of necessity and passion. The necessity was the challenge of finding meaningful law career options after I finished my articles in the middle of the Great Recession. The passion was that the Province of Ontario had just passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, and I could not imagine working in a legal field that didn’t directly tie into climate change mitigation. The opportunity to be helpful towards individuals, communities, and small enterprises looking to participate in Canada’s first feed-in-tariff program for renewable energy projects was palpably exciting and felt like I was (a very small) part of a global solution to what must be seen as our most serious collective crisis as a species. There was nowhere else I could be. Ultimately, joining CSI expanded my horizons both by attracting a business partner and a larger set of impact-oriented clients.

Courage was founded because it more closely aligns with my desire to actualize my authentic leadership credo: “democratizing creative problem solving for everyday use.” I hope to share the incredible tools and frameworks I have learned from the world of intentional creativity with people and communities who might otherwise never experience the joy of creative flow. With non-judgment and many wild ideas, there is incredible opportunity to explore ingenious solutions to challenges, wishes, dreams, or goals.

Biggest accomplishment for 2017?

I presented a 60-minute Creative Problem Solving lab to a standing-room-only group of lawyers at the Law Society’s annual Solo and Small Law Firm Conference. We had them reflect as they made lists of challenges that were most present on their minds, and then make choices from those lists. At the end of the experience, one woman came up to us and told us that the hour “had changed her life”. It felt incredibly gratifying to know that at least one other person in the legal profession could see the value of separating divergent (read: creative) from convergent (read: critical) thinking.

Explain the greatest challenge or roadblock you overcame in 2017?

I would say the greatest challenge this year is one that has been ongoing for me but became much acuter recently, and that is watching an aging parent progress into deeper stages of dementia. As my dad progresses, each stage requires a different set of skills and energy because his needs and the potential dangers change. Just acknowledging I have greater emotional and time-based needs during this process and asking for help and indulgence from partners, staff, clients, friends and fellow CSI members has opened my eyes to the incredible capacity for generosity and understanding we all possess as humans. It’s been beautiful to re-learn how supportive this community can be.