The Real Lawyers, Real Lives survey series aims to find commonalities and practical advice on topics that matter to lawyers' well-being. The first survey in the series focuses on Work/Life Balance. You can still participate at this link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/431141/006907913704
Early findings are painting a picture of a well-balanced, integrated lawyer. She is driven by passion, with a clear life vision. This lawyer works quite a bit, but doesn't feel like she makes undue sacrifices. Religion or spirituality is a guiding hand behind her choices.
The ABA Journal published a podcast yesterday entitled "Do Reduced-Hour Workloads Derail Partnership-Track Careers?" (http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/podcast_monthly_episode_8) Here's the description from the ABA Journal:
"Work-life balance is always a hot topic among our readers, but this month our podcast guests were the ones fired up in a heated discussion about the realities of practicing law, raising children and making it all work.
ABA Journal Podcast moderator Stephanie Francis Ward led our guests through a frank debate examining whether reduced-hour workloads derail partner-track careers; how female attorneys can gain more power over their schedules; and whether computer software that simulates client interactions adequately prepares students and underutilized associates to practice law."
I am very excited to be hosting the first women's call for Cutting Edge Law!
In this first hour, we'll create a space where we can support each other and recognize all work/life choices as valid and meaningful.
I'll start the call with my "Five Best Minutes" exercise, and if you like you can prepare yours ahead of time. Even if you're not joining the call, it's fun and can provide insight. Here it is:
Your Five Best Minutes
Focus on the positive
Positive psychologists have shown that making a list every day of three things that went well and why is effective at combating depression, and also improves physical health and energy levels.
Think of a time in the past week where you felt your best. What were you doing? Who were you with? Focus in on the five best minutes.
Now write about it. Be really descriptive, drawing on all the senses to help a potential reader/listener really feel like she was in that moment with you.
Fifty-two percent of employees say that job demands interfere with family or home responsibilities, while 43% say that home and family responsibilities interfere with job performance (American Psychological Association, 2007)(cited in the APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Fact Sheet)
When I read this statistic yesterday, I wondered if the data would be different in a survey of law firms. Based on my own anecdotal evidence, my guess is yes. The design of the workplace and the structure of the workday embed conflict with family responsibilities.
In the spirit of this website, I'd like to ask the question:
What if lawyers were peacemakers in their own workplaces, creating solutions to work-family conflict?
Please chime in in the comments.