One of the hardest things about being a lawyer is the amount of time and dedication it takes to do the job. Whether you are a young associate or a partner, working as an attorney is not a 9 to 5 job. This makes it particularly difficult to find an appropriate work-life balance. And if you are juggling the demands of both work and family, the situation becomes even tougher.
Although finding the right work-life balance is challenging, it is not impossible. In fact, with some ingenuity and common sense, it can be achieved. The 5 tips below will help you find it:
1. Don’t go it alone
Training to become an attorney requires a lot of self-reliance and self-discipline. As a result, many attorneys believe that only they can do the work for their clients or that only they can do everything for their family. In fact, this is not true. Learning to delegate tasks is one of the most important skills an attorney can learn, and, unfortunately, it’s a skill that is not taught in law school. Recruiting staff to help with your legal work will not be detrimental to your practice. Instead, it will help your practice grow to unimaginable heights. Similarly, hiring someone or getting your spouse or partner to help out with family chores, carpools, or childcare will not harm your family; it will ensure that the time you spend together is quality time—not drudgery.
2. Nothing is perfect
Many attorneys are perfectionists at heart. After all, the job is very detail oriented. Letting go of some of your perfectionist ways is key to finding work-life balance. You should not, of course, ever be careless, but you should come to terms with the fact that mastering every detail in your work and family life is impossible. Once you realize this, you can focus on what is most important. For example, when you must file a brief with the court and prepare brownies for the school bake sale, perhaps a store-bought cake or quick mix will fit the bill. No need to kill yourself working and then baking into the wee hours of the morning. Taking these kinds of little shortcuts will not make you less of an attorney or parent. It just makes life easier.
3. Seasons change
Just as fall becomes winter and spring becomes summer, life is constantly changing. Even the most challenging moments do not last forever. It is important to keep this perspective when you are trying to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Yes, there will be times when everything happens all at once—trials, corporate deals, school plays, sporting events, etc. Similarly, there will be times when work slows down and you are free to go to the spa, play golf, or relax at home. The chaos will not last forever, and oftentimes getting through tough moments makes peaceful times even more rewarding.
4. Appreciate the lack of boredom
At times, it is certainly tempting to want to throw in the towel and focus on one thing, either by solely devoting yourself to your career or by quitting your job to focus on your family. Certainly, each choice has its merits. However, though challenging at times, balancing work and family is never boring or unrewarding. Both provide constant stimulation, and tending to multiple priorities means that you’ll never be bored with life—and that’s a good thing.
5. Make technology your friend, not foe
Achieving a balance between work and family is easier now than ever before due to smartphones. Since much of our communication with clients is done via email and mobile phones, we are no longer tied to the office. Many of us can even log into our work computer systems from the comfort of our living rooms. Thus, we are ready to work at a moment’s notice. Despite this convenience, achieving an appropriate work-life balance means turning off devices when we are spending quality time with our families. The ability to focus on either work or family at appropriate times—but not at the same time—is key to achieving balance.
As lawyers, we are fortunate that we can have it all—both a great career and a great family. With the right mindset, some assistance, and a little discipline, work-life balance is not only attainable, but it can also prove enjoyable.