Articles From the Team
Solicitor jobs and work-life balance
Throughout our years at college and university, we work towards a future: a dream job, plenty of money and a fantastic lifestyle. What a lot of us fail to think about at this point is the pressure our ‘dream job’ can mount on us, and subsequently, how to handle it.
Many young lawyers feel the pressure to do well at work and in some firms, the culture is to do long hours, but need this be the case? There’s a growing problem of lawyers burning out before the age of 30, don’t be one of them!
Research shows that working longer hours doesn’t necessarily lead to better results. What we need to do is work smarter and more productively in the hours available to us, rather than spending hours doing overtime because the culture of our workplace expects or dictates it.
As a private practice solicitor, you probably have chargeable hours and fee targets. Provided you’re hitting these with high levels of productivity during the day, no employer should categorise you as someone who isn’t pulling their weight because you leave the office at 5.30 p.m. In fact, they should be commending you for what you’re producing in the hours worked. However, very often, it comes down to the demands we put on ourselves: to do everything and more, rather than the demands imposed by the employer.
Throughout my career as a legal recruitment consultant, I’ve never found a direct correlation between the hours a lawyer puts in and the results they generate.
If you’re working at a firm that causes you to obsessively worry about your performance and future, then perhaps it isn’t the right firm for you. In the long run, overwork can unintentionally sabotage your career, so make sure what you take on is manageable. If you’d prefer to work a four-day week (whether or not you have children) or leave the office early on certain days, you can negotiate them into a new employment contract. If you’re using a legal recruiter, stipulate what you want from the outset.
Exhaustion, stress, lack of motivation, frustration, cynicism and trouble concentrating are all signs you’re overworked, so listen to your body and look after yourself. Most employers will be sympathetic if you’re experiencing difficulty in your role – be honest and open with them.
If you’ve already undertaken internal talks with your employer and feel as though your situation’s unlikely to change, there are steps you can take to ease the pressure you’re feeling. Get in touch and we can have a confidential discussion about your career and options, and how to better balance your life to make sure you avoid burnout.