Work/life balance is not career-limiting for lawyers
In an increasingly mobile and fast-moving world, many industries have started to embrace the concept of workplace flexibility, seeing it as mutually beneficial to both the employer and the employee, writes Meda Royall.
Lawyers are rightly questioning why the legal industry should be any different, and are demanding the flexibility that many of their clients now have. Most importantly, they want to do this without stigma or risk of limiting their careers.
During my years of working in traditional law firms, I witnessed the gravitation towards a colder, transactional practice of the law. Lawyers would spend at least 12 hours at work each day, which was mainly due to the billable hour fee structure enforced.
As a result, I saw so many promising lawyers burnt out due to balancing long hours at work with being primary caregivers or merely because they didn’t have a life outside work. Worse still, some lawyers were pushed out of the profession for requiring flexible arrangements that allow them more time to care for their children.
Increasingly, lawyers are looking to take control of their own careers. Some are turning to sole practice, but sole practitioners quickly discover how lonely it can be.
More importantly, they find themselves suddenly void of administrative support – a crucial part of successfully managing client relationships on a daily basis.
Fortunately, some legal organisations are embracing a new type of work practice, and are finding that allowing lawyers a life outside work is better for everyone.
This industry-disruptive model permits lawyers to act as sole practitioners while providing them with administrative, compliance, paralegal, billing, marketing and psychological support as part of being registered with a firm.
In this way, lawyers can maintain a passion for their careers and still develop professionally while working on the move, meeting with clients at various locations unrestricted by an office and business hour operation.
Lawyers need to embrace the trend of work/life balance that is emerging across the workforce, whether it be by proactively enabling change within their firms, or finding a business model that better suits their career goals and family life.
Flexibility makes for a more engaged, passionate, motivated and driven lawyer, which in turn results in better work and more opportunities for career advancement.
Meda Royall is the founder and CEO of Your Law Firm, Australia’s first law franchise with a focus on work/life balance and client relationships.