The concept of work-life balance or a life without seams doesn’t get much love in the legal profession. Lawyers who strive to balance family and work are often derided as dabblers, losers or faux-lawyers. And while there are many days that I too question whether it’s possible to do everything well, all at once, there are just as many reminders — indeed, two this past week — that a well-rounded life is possible.
First up, this blog post in the Harvard Business Review gives the best selling point for a family-friendly firm that I’ve ever seen. Here’s the excerpt:
[A client questioned whether to hire a small law firm that had advertised itself as a “family-friendly workplace] “What happens when an emergency comes up during my case?” asked the prospect. “How do I know you’ll be able to respond?”
“We can respond better because we have a balanced approach,” explained the attorney. “And here’s why. We prioritize better, are staffed more appropriately, schedule time for long-term planning, and yes, allow for time outside of work for our lawyers to have full family lives. Because my lawyers aren’t chronically overworked, they have the capacity – in terms of time, energy, and mental focus – to respond effectively to your crisis situations. We are much more able to rise to these occasional challenges because we don’t treat every day like a crisis.” He got the client.
Next, it’s always nice to realize that work life balance isn’t exclusively a woman’s issue. After all, when we speak of re-entry into law practice, we frequently assume that it’s women making the return after taking time off to raise a family. So it was refreshing to come across this Q&A profile of Napa Valley estate planning attorney Jonathan Hollister, who spent ten years as a stay-at-home dad raising three children before returning to the law. And not surprisingly, Hollister opted for solo practice as the vehicle for his launch back to law – partly because it gives him some flexibility to work around his family’s demands.
Seems the world is changing after all….