The question of whether or not a lawyer can have a work-life balance is one that’s often debated. Work-life balance is defined as equally prioritizing personal and professional activities in an individual’s life. Based on the definition of the term, it’s easy to see why this question is up for debate. Lawyers notoriously work long hours and have heavy workloads. Time outside the office is often spent researching cases and preparing for court. Personal life may feel non-existent as the line between work and free-time blurs. Although the work-life balance of lawyers will likely look very different than the balance found in other professions, it’s still possible to achieve it. However, the key to achieving it lies solely within you. You’ll have to create your own definition of a work-life balance, but we have some tips to help.
Current Conditions of the Lawyer Lifestyle
Being a lawyer can affect your physical and mental health and overall well-being, which is why finding a lawyer work-life balance is so important. The 2016 study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs brought the mental health struggle to light. The study revealed:
● 21 percent of lawyers have alcohol abuse problems.
● 28 percent of lawyers struggle with varying levels of depression.
● 19 percent of lawyers have symptoms of anxiety.
Because of this study and the information revealed, Bar associations are encouraging an open dialogue regarding substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and lawyer suicide. According to a John Hopkins University study, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed when compared to people in other jobs.
Personal Injury lawyer work-life balance
Some issues your law practice may face that stem from a poor lawyer lifestyle include increased in sick leaves, missed deadlines, large backlog, resentment, burnout, unhappy employees, low productivity, and lost profit.
On the other hand, implementing work-life balance options has many benefits for the entire firm, including retention of talent, reduced costs associated with recruiting staff, and increased productivity due to reduced stress levels.
How to balance work-life as a lawyer
The first step to attaining a balance between your career and your daily life outside the job is evaluating what’s working and not working in your life. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
● What do I enjoy in my life currently?
● What is not working for me?
● Where is causing me pain?
● What would I like to change?
● What does a successful life look like?
● What does a happy and fulfilled life look like?
● What is standing in the way of my happiness?
● What steps can I take daily to feel more satisfied?
Maybe you decided you prefer working from home instead of the office. Maybe you are overwhelmed with the amount of work and should delegate some of the most time-consuming tasks to an assistant. Maybe you need to utilize technology such as cloud based personal injury case management software to handle some of the work you do manually. Whatever you determine you need, take some steps to change the things causing you the most stress.
Although the individual steps you’ll take to find a lawyer work-life balance are based on your unique goals and situation, here are some easy tips that can apply to any lawyer.
● Set goals for yourself and your firm. Clearly state what you hope to accomplish.
● Manage expectations. Lawyers are ambitious, but you’ll want reasonable expectations of what you can do.
● Start talking about work-life balance at the firm. It’s important and something many lawyers avoid bringing up. Open up the discussion.
● Build a schedule that works for you. Some lawyers prefer a hybrid work schedule. If you want to spend more time at home and less time in the office, CloudLex can help you monitor the office remotely. Thanks to technology, you can literally work from anywhere.
● Set boundaries. The boundaries tell people how you expect to be treated and what you will not tolerate.
● Make a concrete effort to set aside time for yourself each day.
● Strategize to manage stress and anxiety in the workplace. Brainstorm ways to better deal with your stress levels. Although it’s a high-stress career, you don’t have to live in a state of constant stress.
● Utilize technology resources. Modern technology can be used to maximize automation. Applications can assist in administrative processes, research, reporting, etc.
● Stay ahead of the emerging work-life balance trends. Things change and evolve constantly.
● Take a break. It’s ok to take a break or a vacation. Give yourself free time to relax and unwind.
Lawyer work-life balance is a journey. You won’t necessarily get there overnight, and that’s perfectly fine. You can take steps to start prioritizing your personal life, health, and well-being. Resources are available to help you.