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Work-Life Balance in the Legal Profession

A lot of the time, a successful career means making sacrifices, and those in the legal profession probably know this better than most. Long hours are generally an expected part of the job, especially the higher up the ladder you go. As Maureen Brady, division manager for the Legal Solutions-Permanent Placement Division of legal placement firm Hudson, puts it, “Most lawyers really can’t complain about being paid £100K to £200K [a year] and not put in some sweat equity.”

However, as we take a closer look at other professions, there is a growing trend towards trying to find a greater work-life balance, whether it’s the ability to work from home, more flexible measures, or more robust leave policies that allow workers to practice self-care and spend more time with their families. So, is this hitting the shores of the legal profession yet? Somewhat.

Part of the reason why some past measures at work-life balance in large law firms have failed is due to mentalities and situations endemic to the profession. For example, part-time schedules had trouble catching traction due to something called the “flexibility stigma” the idea that reduced schedules often equals lower competence in the eyes of many. Even if it’s not explicit, no one wants to hamstring their career potential due to their choice in schedule. In addition, we need to note that some of the data regarding schedules may not be accurate, as many lawyers have been underreporting billable hours for a while.

In some cases, to get around this issue, we are seeing creative measures like hiring two part-time lawyers to take one person’s workload. In addition, more lawyers themselves are setting personal benchmarks and goals before they even go to a firm. If you’re one of them, it works to your benefit to communicate this in interviews with law firms. If you’re a member of the HR department, be ready to have an answer when your prospects ask about your work-life balance initiatives.

However, even if it’s a tougher fit than it may be for other fields, it’s clear that many legal firms understand what a draw work-life balance measures are, and are trying to make them work. In some cases, on top of letting the lawyers get out relatively early, there are also many events and programs designed to make the experience more entertaining. There is also a practical side to this as well—as the fast pace of law can make lawyers more prone to burnout, and anything that staves the tide is a good thing.

Implementing work-life balance measures and policy is essential to retain the top talent in any field, even one as fast-paced as the legal world. In order to make sure you are doing all you can to excel in this area, consider getting a consultation from Symphony Legal. On top of helping your legal firm or business with people management, we also offer a variety of other services, from compliance to in-house training for your staff.