By: Dhanvir Sohal
What is Work-Life Balance?
The author of a book, Peter Block, defines work life balance as “about more balance between engaging in what has meaning to the individual and doing things that are useful and practical, or in a sense, instrumental.”
The studies by Nicole Garton-Jones, briefs that work related duties such as managing multiple clients, fixing a serious problem and keeping up to date with the new laws amounts to high stress along with managing family goals and dealing with health issues.
I think these work and personal life requirements imposes a time constraints on lawyers for being unable to manage all of them at the same time such as work and family responsibilities, thereby, leading to high anxiety and stress. A study shows that flexible work schedule is considered an important factor that retains men as well as women’s in the legal profession.
A study by Stephen Mabey, discusses that the following as the reasons for the failure to balance a work-life balance, all amounting to individuals’ discretion to choose their lifestyle
1) The licensed lawyers must understand that firms they work for are there to undertake profitable business opportunities, not to accommodate for their personal needs.
2) The “Reality Check“- The article briefs that individuals often choose the legal profession by considering factors such as financial success, to bring positive changes in society and the development of intellectual intelligence. But, many professionals are astonished as they encounter the downsides such as high stress, long hours, client pressure and a highly competitive environment inside the firm and the industry, which leads them being unable to find the time to fulfill their personal life commitments, leading to stress and work-life imbalance.
I think the second cause is the one that needs to be addressed thoroughly as it becomes the main motive for many to pursue this profession, such as financial success. However, I think the downsides that are associated with the profession such as high stress and tight time constraints, are often overlooked to the benefits. The sudden exposure to the unexposed shortcoming causes high job burnouts. So, addressing the above causes would definitely exclude the amount of stress and create a more balanced approach in work-life.
The studies does propose some solutions to create a more balanced approach to work-life, as follows:
I. Choosing to work at a smaller firm or at a government office could increase availability of work flexibility
II. leave the legal profession altogether
III. Join an innovative firm which offers advantages such as virtual offices, value pricing, and online legal services.
IV. The study suggests that programs such as the parental leave program can reduce the amount of stress
V. As per Fiona Kay, lawyers could make an effective use of factors such as such as mentorship and educational programs, availability of part-time jobs, counseling programs
I think the third one is particularly a good option since it can save a lot of time, thus, reduce stress and create a more balanced work-life. Thereby, the implementation of the above proposed solutions could match the work-life balance requirements of some more closely than others. I think most of these proposed solutions would address the causes of this imbalance and result in balanced work-life, granting more time to be engaged in the activities that are useful and meaningful to each one.
If I, being a lawyer, achieve this balance, this is what I would do with my additional time: