Work Life Balance

19
Sep
2016

Work-Life Balance:

Enhance your career satisfaction

Kathleen A. Stoneman, E. Jane Taylor and William McGraw III
Columbus, OH

​The legal profession is extremely rewarding, but its demanding nature requires attorneys to construct their practices so that their profession does not consume their lives. Attorneys are better able to do their jobs when they enjoy their work and are not under prolonged stress. Enhancing your professional satisfaction will help you become a better attorney with a sense of purpose in your career. Here are six tips that will help you remember why you became a lawyer in the first place:

Network with other new attorneys

Attend events and meetups, such as bar association events, where you can get to know other new attorneys and ask them how they are dealing with their struggles. How do they find work-life balance? How do they find clients? Talking with others in your situation will help you invigorate your own practice and better appreciate your accomplishments.

Volunteer

Seeing the difference that you can make in the lives of others is a great way to refresh your sense of purpose and passion in your career.

  • Contact a nonprofit to inquire about service and volunteer opportunities. Be sure to clarify whether the type of commitment that is expected is in time or through financial means. The OSBA offers many volunteer opportunities, from writing an article to serving on its Board of Governors.

  • The state bar and each of the major metropolitan bar associations can help you find opportunities to give back to the profession in a charitable way. Bar foundations often provide grants to law-related entities, offer programming and serve as an outlet for attorneys to connect with colleagues and their communities. Each foundation has a unique mission which guides the organization's work. The Ohio State Bar Foundation strives for access to justice. 

  • Many communities also have foundations that give back and are often looking for attorney volunteers to serve on their boards or committees.

Present at a seminar or write an article

Presenting offers you a new experience that is likely to be very different from your normal routine. Actively participating in seminars or CLE courses can also be a great way to meet new people that have the same interests you do.

You can also collaborate with other professional service providers to host a cross-disciplinary seminar; for example, estate or tax planning seminars with CPAs, investment advisors or insurance agents.

Keep in mind these Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct (OPRC): Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Non-Lawyer Assistant; Rule 5.4 Professional Independence of a Lawyer; and Rule 5.6 Restrictions on the Right to Practice.

  • Click here for more information on how to contribute.​

Be selective in your work

Sort through cases at or before intake to determine which cases you should accept or decline. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many previous attorneys has this potential client used in the case and what are the reasons for terminating the relationship(s)?

  • How long will the case will take?

  • Is the potential client willing to listen to your advice?

  • Are they asking you to be a "hired gun"?

  • Is the potential client realistic in his/her expectations?

Will taking the case place an undue burden on you or your staff, or would it cause you to neglect other matters at work or home? See ORPC Rule 1.18 Duties to Prospective Clients and Rule 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation​.

Try mediation or alternative dispute resolution

Not only can mediation/alternative dispute resolution be a great way to reduce the amount of time that you need to devote to various cases, but also acting as a mediator can provide a new opportunity to expand your skills and experiences.

See ORPC Rule 2.4 Lawyers Serving as Arbitrator, Mediator, or Third-Party Neutral.​

Manage your schedule

Proactively managing your schedule and budgeting your time can reduce stress and help you get everything done on time. Consider arranging flex-time with another attorney in the firm, and schedule "work days" so you will not be interrupted with client appointments. See ORPC Rule 1.3 Diligence.

  • Schedule time to return phone calls and respond to emails. See ORPC Rule 1.4 Communication.

  • Delegate tasks when appropriate. See ORPC Rule 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Non-Lawyer Assistants.

  • Schedule time with your family, your friends and yourself.