What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance involves setting boundaries with your work so it does not overwhelm the rest of your life.  It can also involve treating your personal life as an equal priority.  Real satisfaction requires fulfillment in both of these areas.

Challenges for Lawyers to Achieving Work-Life Balance

    • Workplace challenges, such as billable hour requirements and volume of work
    • Competing demands of work and family priorities
    • Psychological effects of chronic stress due to intense, high-demand work, leading to burnout or compassion fatigue
    • Physical health effects of chronic stress, such as hypertension
    • Adversarial nature of the profession
    • Attitudes and behaviors inherent to the profession, such as workaholism, pessimism and perfectionism
    • Increased vulnerability to depression and anxiety disorders

Strategies for Achieving Work-Life Balance

There are ways to more effectively manage your career and personal life:

    • Values and priorities. Knowing what really matters to you can help you structure your life in a way that supports the goals you want to accomplish.   
    • Identify what’s getting in the way.  Often there are implicit or explicit beliefs we hold that impede our ability to achieve our balance-related goals.  Consistently putting the needs of others before our own, or feeling we must meet the expectations of others, are a few.  Perfectionism, workaholism and fear of change can also be barriers.  
    • Become a Peak Performer. Research shows that “peak performers” generally set more manageable goals for themselves, and thus experience a more frequent sense of success. 
    • Collegial Support.  The sense of connection and support of other lawyers - your peers - is a necessity.  They will understand your experiences, allow for debriefing and are often your best resources. 
    • Self-care.  Getting enough exercise and sleep, as well as eating properly, require active attention.  Enjoying vacations, hobbies and interests outside the law is crucial to well-being as well.  A program of self-care is not only good for your health, it allows you to enjoy a higher quality of life. 
    • Create Accountability.  Having some accountability built into activities of all kinds makes ongoing participation more likely.  In the same way, it’s helpful to schedule special family times and make regular ‘dates’ with friends.
    • Social and Family Relationships.  Strong relationships with family and friends is a significant element of a meaningful work-life balance.  Structuring your life effectively to allow for opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends is the key to keeping this part of your life vital. 
    • Create a vision.  Crafting a vision of a more balanced and fulfilling life can be a powerful tool in helping you achieve your goals.  In considering how to create this vision, ask yourself: what would a more balanced life allow you time to do? What parts of your life are being underemphasized?  

Additional Resources

Article: Get Back to the Basics to Find Balance in Life