Articles From the Team
Alternative careers for solicitors – do you need one?
Work-life balance is a phrase that is discussed so much in the legal industry it has almost become a cliché. Solicitors talk about it, stress its importance and sometimes joke about their failure to achieve it.
Working in the law can take its toll, potentially causing burnout and impacting your quality of life. Most solicitors have experience of asking a colleague or being asked by a colleague “how they’re doing” and getting some variation of the response, ‘Busier than ever, enjoying it even less than before.’
Sarcasm is the lowest form of whit but here it is the unfortunate reality of a legal career. However, all is not lost, if you’re struggling with the work-life balance you may want to place blame for it elsewhere but the truth is, you’re complicit in your own destiny because you’re the one making decisions.
Before we proceed, it’s important to caveat that everyone is different and some people may live for the action of taking on big cases or deals and living at the office.
For those who are not, too many people being pulled along by the current, unconscious of their choices but once you realise you are out of sync, in need of a change or are simply unhappy then my advice would be to follow these steps to help achieve the perfect work-life balance:
1) Define your priorities
It’s going to be tough to find the right balance if you aren’t sure exactly what’s important to you. So, take a seat, grab a coffee (or something stronger) and take a look at how you want to spend your time; make a list, make a mind map, brainstorm, talk into a recorder. Do whatever works for you.
2) Set boundaries
Once you have completed number 1, be clear with your boundaries - do you want to take your kids to sports practice on a Tuesday? Then never work late on Tuesdays and let people know why. Do you to train in the mornings? Let people know, and plan your day accordingly. But most importantly, do not waver from the commitments you put in place.
Tell your manager how you’re feeling; you might be surprised just how they react…? It should be ‘we want to keep you; maybe we can work out some agreement?’ Clear communication allows these types of situations to work themselves out and if they aren’t prepared to come to an arrangement maybe you need to find somewhere else…?
4) Know Your Employer’s Policies and Build Relationships
Many firms are now more progressive with how they handle their employees’ time. Look into the options available for leave, sabbaticals or flexi-time, and take advantage of it.
5) Use Technology to Your Advantage
Look around for technological tools that can streamline processes and save you valuable time.
6) Organise Yourself
Being well organised is another way to counteract the all-consuming aspects of your legal career. Having things straight and clear in your brain should allow you to carve out more time in your schedule to go golfing, to go to the pub with your Dad, to practise Yoga, or whatever the case may be.
At the end of the day, a work-life balance is hard to achieve particularly in an industry that has many stresses and strains pulling us in different directions. A work-life balance and a successful career aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive; it’s about fitting the pieces together in a way that works for you.