Posted by Jay Kamlet on Nov 02, 2017
Work-life balance can be elusive for lawyers, but it’s possible
Long hours at work seem to come with the territory for lawyers. If you have your own firm, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. Work-life balance doesn’t have to be an out-of-reach myth. You can create it.
Make work-life balance part of your culture
Especially if you are a mid-career lawyer who has left a big law firm, it can be difficult to break away from the traditional law business model. You might be used to logging 10-hour days and working weekends, but a small law firm doesn’t have to operate that way.
Do you want both a successful law business and a successful personal life? Then make work-life balance a part of your firm’s culture from the start. Take it seriously even you are building your business alone at first. If you do add staff later on, continue that commitment.
Healthy businesses follow a sustainable growth curve, and small law firms should be no different. Take on enough work to earn a living, but not so much that you burn out before your first year is up.
Bottom line, sustainable growth is not just about your business. It’s about you as a whole person.
Put a different way, you want your business to grow, but you also want it to sustain you. For most of us, that means we need more than money. We need down time, fun, relationships and something to keep our interest other than our business.
Many entrepreneurs in all fields fall victim to the fear of missing out. What if that next phone call is a huge case? What if a competitor gets it first?
The problem with this fear, however, is a loss of control. And control and autonomy is exactly what many independent lawyers want to achieve when they launch their own firms. In addition, staying connected to business 24/7 is a surefire way to exhaust yourself or worse.
Studies show that lawyers have higher rates of depression and alcoholism than others. Long hours and pressure to be available all hours can take part of the blame.
If you run your own law firm, you have the power to change that by setting boundaries. Post office hours, and schedule meetings and answer calls and emails during those hours. Schedule personal time with family or for yourself, and stick to it.
While there might be times when you need to be available to handle urgent cases, reserve those times for true emergencies. Don’t make it a habit to answer calls outside of work hours when it’s something that can wait.
Invest in efficiencies
One way to set yourself up for work-life balance success is by streamlining your processes. Some examples include:
- Use quality case management software
- Outsource some functions, such as accounting or marketing
- Collaborate with fellow lawyers to increase your reach
- Work remotely as needed
- Consider a co-working space or shared office for better focus
Streamlining core business processes gives you the time and space needed to focus on practicing law and serving clients. If you can use your work hours productively, you will feel less temptation to stay on the clock longer than necessary.
While work and life might never been in perfect balance, you can make improvements that give you time and energy for a personal life.
Learn more about LawBank’s collaborative work environment for independent lawyers. We offer co-working space for lawyers at two locations in Denver, as well as private office options.