Lawyer work-life balance doesn’t have to be an oxymoron

lawyer work-life balanceWhen you think of professions with a healthy balance between workload and personal time, lawyer probably doesn’t top the list. However, lawyer work-life balance does not have to be an oxymoron. It is possible to achieve it.

First, as we all know, it’s next to impossible to achieve perfect balance in all aspects of life every day. That’s not your goal here. Rather, your goal should be to arrange your professional life in a way that allows you to be human.

So, what does work-life balance mean?

Friends and family

For many lawyers we know, lack of time for family and friends ranks among the most common complaints. You are either burning the midnight oil at the office, or you’re too exhausted when you come home to enjoy family time or to muster the energy to meet friends.

When you achieve work-life balance, time for the important people in your life becomes a priority. You might even block off specific work-free time each week to dedicate to those people. Most importantly, you should be able to carve out this time without feeling pressure or guilt from your job.

Time off

More than half of Americans don’t take their allotted vacation time. A survey by Glassdoor revealed fear as the primary reason we’re under-vacationed:

“They fear getting behind on their work (34%), believe no one else at their company can do the work while they’re out (30%), they are completely dedicated to their company (22%), and they feel they can never be disconnected (21%).”

Sound familiar? For lawyers, I would add “fear of never making partner” to that list. The pressure to compete and perform, without a break, can be intense.

However, if you skip your vacations, you could also miss out on a number of benefits. Taking time off can actually improve:

  • Heart attack risk
  • Energy level
  • Overall happiness
  • Productivity and workflow
  • The economy
  • Your management ability

So, taking time away from work (and, please, really try to disconnect) can actually boost your professional performance. More than an escape to decompress, a vacation recharges you and leaves you more prepared to take on the next challenge in your work.

Hobbies and interests

Law is not a hobby. We know you’re good at your job, but it’s time to expand your horizons.

When’s the last time you hiked a trail, went to great concert, or even sat down with a good novel? Making time for hobbies and interests can also help you recharge and do better work.

According to Psychology Today:

“Left to our own devices, we often opt for passive leisure—TV and web surfing are at the top of most people’s lists. And, sure, we all need to veg out from time to time. But we are so much more invigorated by active leisure, the sort of thing psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow activities. If you’ve ever lost yourself in a sport, art project, or other challenging, absorbing activity, you’ve experienced flow. Time flies, self-consciousness disappears, and you are fully immersed in the activity at hand. Hobbies, especially those that stretch our skills, foster this desirable and increasingly elusive state.”

Having a life outside work also just makes you a more interesting, and happier, person. Your brain and your body need a break from work, and finding flow in a personal passion can help you feel more refreshed.

Satisfaction in your career without burnout

Ideally, work-life balance leaves you feeling more satisfied with both your professional and personal life. When you have more time to experience a full life outside of work, it can make your work more enjoyable as well.

For lawyers, one of the best ways to achieve better work-life balance is working as an independent practitioner. Running your own law firm allows you to:

  • Take on clients and cases that fit your skills and interests best
  • Make personal time a priority in your schedule
  • Structure your practice in a way that fits your needs and values
  • Connect with other independent lawyers who share a similar mindset

In the next few blog posts, we will take a deeper dive into lawyer work-life balance. Specifically, we will look at how running an independent law practice can help you achieve it.

To learn more about LawBank and our co-working and office space for lawyers in Denver, contact us