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How important is maintaining a healthy work/life balance and more importantly- how can this be improved?
It’s fair to say that life within the bigger firms is not a utopia of intellectual stimulation with the perfect work/life balance. You struggle to find time to fit in any of the “hobbies and interests” that grace the bottom of your CV and juggle family life outside of the office. The reality is a regime of hours and often difficult targets to meet. The regular networking and socializing takes up too much of your time and becomes quite the opposite from the appeal of the glossy brochures and high tech websites.
Achieving work/life balance in law has always been a struggle. A recent survey by a LexisNexis and the Law Society stated that that the level of commitment required to reach the very top of the legal profession makes it difficult to have a family. Around 80% of women blame the demands of the job. With more women than men entering the profession, the survey states that less than 20% of equity partners are women. Many firms recognize this and are doing what they can to facilitate changes adopting the commitment to flexible working options. Many firms recognize that failure to retain their best talent does not do their clients justice. It is unrealistic to allow clients to access an individual 24 hours a day, and those that put in long hours are rewarded with additional holidays during quieter periods.
Getting that balance is also about having an environment that helps lawyers manage stress. Work/life balance should be about attempting to have clear cut lines between work and leisure. Build downtime into your schedule. Try and plan your week making a point to break off to meet with friends or family. Create a realistic goal like trying to leave the office earlier at least one night per week. Exercise is a sure fire way to boost your energy levels and allow you to concentrate. Research shows exercise helps you be more alert and have that all-important time to yourself. Be disciplined about maintaining those hobbies or interests, work out whether you’re an early starter or a late finisher, it’s not sustainable to do both.
If you are experiencing a lack of work/life balance in your current firm and would like to discuss options available to you, contact BCL Legal on 0845 241 0933.