Lawyer work-life balance is a tough and tricky slope to figure out, but it’s definitely achievable. Lawyers are usually busy. They’re inundated with meetings, court appearances, and investigative tasks. As such, it’s not unusual to get buried in a pile of paperwork and activities.
The guide below shows you how to cultivate work-life balance as a lawyer. It also answers questions such as, “Do lawyers work on weekends,” or whether lawyers can work from home, and if there are companies that cater to a healthy work-life balance. Read this career guide and see how it can help you reach a stable footing in this legal career.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance refers to happiness in relation to professional lives. It entails that you’re not overly stressed and that you still have time to do activities outside of your responsibilities. A healthy work-life balance allows for proper recuperation and ensures that a lawyer isn’t overworked.
What Does It Mean to Have Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance means you’re spending enough personal time outside of your work. Life is about fun, family, and being happy. Successful lawyers know that they’ve achieved a work-life balance if they have adequate time for work and life at the same time.
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important for a Lawyer?
Work-life balance is important for a lawyer because it’s the only way they can achieve positive emotional health and mental equilibrium. Many lawyers who overburden themselves experience burnout and fatigue.
Achieving work-life balance as a lawyer gives you the opportunity to make friends, strengthen relationships, and spend time with your family. Too many times, lawyers get stressed from work, and that leaves them with no social time for their families and friends. Without work-life balance as a lawyer, they can’t enjoy what life has to offer.
Lawyer Job Responsibilities
To help you get acquainted with the work inside the legal industry, here are some examples of a lawyer’s tasks and responsibilities. This list doesn’t represent what law professionals do, but the basics of a day in the life of a lawyer.
Provide Legal Advice and Guidance
Lawyers don’t have to be in court all the time. Some lawyers act as a consultant that gives out legal advice. An example would be a corporate attorney who helps companies adhere to regulations. It’s easier to achieve attorney work-life balance if the job doesn’t involve litigation.
Prepare Cases for Court Review
Successful attorneys who handle criminal cases or divorces prepare documents to keep the case moving. For example, they file pleas, injunctions, and motions for appeals on a case-by-case basis. Although they have paralegals, lawyers have to ensure that the paperwork is at par with their expectations.
Attend Court Hearings
If the day calls for a court appearance, the lawyer has to attend hearings. At certain periods of time, it’s also the task of successful attorneys to do the talking on behalf of the client in a court hearing.
Investigate and Gather Evidence
Lawyers have to gather evidence to support their cases. For example, in a divorce settlement, a lawyer has to present documents that support claims like alimony, child support, and splitting of the assets.
Lawyers need to advance the best interests of their client base. On top of appearing in court cases, the lawyer has to tell the client what best course of action to take. For example, the lawyer can tell the client that it’s better to take the route of a plea bargain than take the case to trial.
How Many Hours Do Lawyers Work?
Lawyers work the full 40 hours a week, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and most law practitioners work beyond the 9-5 work hours. According to a 2021 Statista report, there are over 1.32 million lawyers in the US. Expect that most of these work full-time and sometimes even on the weekends.
Furthermore, according to the BLS, lawyers who work in private practice or some of the biggest firms typically work for additional hours. Lawyers work long hours because they have many duties and responsibilities. They have to meet clients, review case files, investigate witnesses, prepare the case, and so much more.
Do Lawyers Work on Weekends?
Yes, lawyers work on weekends sometimes. Although the government is closed on weekends and there’s no court hearing, a lawyer will use this time to meet clients, review the evidence, and prepare their documents.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Lawyer
- Turn-off emails: You should turn off your email notifications and make this a daily routine. Don’t look at your phone or read company emails. If something is too important, your superiors will call you.
- Make time for family: Set aside time for your family and friends. Go to a park, watch a movie, or have a barbecue party on the weekend.
- Take care of yourself: Make sure you exercise and maintain good health. Make this a personal goal for yourself. Do mindfulness practices like deep breathing or meditation to relax. Also, make sure to get quality sleep.
- Set clear boundaries: Set strict working hours and follow them daily. Take breaks when you’re feeling burned out or overwhelmed. Overworking may result in reduced productivity and high levels of stress.
- Build meaningful relationships: Build a network with people in the same industry. Find online communities where you can ask questions and get support. This way, you have people you can talk to who understand your situation. You can let off steam with the same professionals, and this should reduce your stress.
Law Firms With the Best Work-Life Balance
Law firms with the best work-life balance can be found in the list below. These are some of the top companies hiring lawyers not only because of their reputation but also because they understand the stressful situations that legal professionals go through. They’ve enacted initiatives that promote a healthy work-life balance for law practitioners.
DWF Group PLC
- Headquarters: United Kingdom
- Locations: 31 offices spread globally
DWF Group PLC offers various legal services in finance, dispute settlement, contracts management, employment, and pensions, to name a few. The company supports lawyers’ work-life balance by allowing them to work from home. It provides desks, chairs, and computers to lawyers who want to work remotely.
- Headquarters: United Kingdom
- Locations: 25 offices in 11 countries
Juniors fresh from law school and trainees at Fieldfisher work at a balanced pace. Despite the company’s megafirm status, there is no culture of stress. The rookies work less than 10 hours a day.
Those who work here say that they can practically count the days they worked after family dinner with only one hand. The goal is only seven billable hours of work per day, which is really achievable in any industry.
McDermott Will & Emery
- Headquarters: United States
- Locations: 20 offices in the US, Europe, and Asia
This firm specializes in health care and tax. It has more than 1,000 lawyers worldwide, and its senior management is best known for being forward-thinking. The lawyers have 25 billable hours for wellness, while many other law firms include wellness as part of their non-billable activities. Employees here receive exemplary benefits, plus the work environment is not toxic. What lawyers love the most is the flexibility and the competitive bonuses.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
- Headquarters: United States
- Locations: 15 offices globally
This firm has about 740 lawyers. It has been around since 1885, specializing in litigation and transactions. Employees at this firm are happy because the company offers good pay, benefits, and firm culture. It promotes culture toward flexibility, diversity, ethics, and excellent human relations.
Clifford Chance US LLP
- Headquarters: United Kingdom
- Locations: 34 offices globally
This law firm has a grasp on banking, finance, litigations, real estate, and pensions. Employees are happy because the work environment promotes support and engagement. In addition, people who work here attest that upper management is professional and supportive. It has mechanics in place to support work-life balance.
Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Lawyers?
Yes, it’s possible to achieve a work-life balance for lawyers. A lawyer can work with firms that promote healthy work-life balance. Also, it’s important to schedule time with your friends and family. Championing boundaries between your professional and personal life can entail good mental health and positive job satisfaction.
Lawyer Work-Life Balance FAQ
Yes, lawyers work from home. They know that there are times when going to the office is unnecessary, so they rather take their work home to prepare reports for the court and study how to approach the case.
Yes, lawyers are paid well. According to PayScale, the average salary for a lawyer is $88,130 per year. Moreover, the top 10 percent of lawyers get compensated for around $157,000. While the bottom 10 percent have an average pay of about $53,000. Take this into mind if you want to become a lawyer.
There’s a positive job outlook for lawyers and their profession. According to BLS, the job outlook for lawyers is about nine percent, which is as fast as the national average. Furthermore, the data posits that there’ll be 46,000 job openings every year, on average, over the course of the decade.
Being a lawyer can affect your personal life negatively or positively. A lawyer’s career path usually involves long and grueling hours of analyzing legal information. In any case, the practice of law affects your social life with your family and friends. That lack of balance can take its toll on your relationships with others.
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