Lawyers and Work-Life Balance

Lawyers and Work-Life Balance


There’s something wrong with this title. Simply because from my long experience in the legal field as Practice Manager for a very High end and extremely busy Law Firm, Lawyers know nothing about balance unless you’re talking about the balance of the scales of justice.

The two words – lawyers and balance, put together – is something of puzzle because Lawyers practice the Law with all their hearts, minds and souls….and everything else is second. Therefore, the see-saw, upon which it is tilted, is in favour of Law – and everything else is on hold; it is waiting; and that includes the domestic life just as much as the social life!

You see, the Law is not a job – it is a profession – and a very demanding one at that! The Law is a jealous mistress that is all consuming and terribly unforgiving. The Law is served, revered, and on occasions it is considered holy and sacrosanct. The Law must be upheld at all and any cost – sometimes even every cost!

We become philosophical and enquire about the nature of law and its universality. General jurisprudence; assuming that Law possesses certain features, it possesses them by its very nature or essence – as Law – whenever and wherever it happens to exist.

Centuries ago the Law was barely detachable from Religion…. that is, all Religions (The ancient Greeks, the conquering Romans, the murdering Moors, - think then of the Templar Knights who committed and suffered atrocities in the name of religion and you must think of the whole world).

Today there is still the unmistakable reference and deference to its alignment with faith, with God and with all that is Holy. However, now Lawyers speak of strategies; of human culture; of philosophical accounts, contemporary legal philosophers, and critical theories of Law yet in the next breath, we are asked to comply with the demands of the Law – whist still explaining its moral validity.

My ever-busy Boss can explain all this over half a gulp of coffee whilst meticulously checking the Pleadings and the bundles before he’s out the door, into the car and on his speedy way to Court. Although, I suppose many Lawyers of his stature can do that; you have to respect it! With respect, I can’t even read a reasonably sized email in that time.

Let’s return to that word ‘balance’ for a moment. Every single Attorney – laid back or intense; an old hand at Law or just starting out; a garrulous person or someone who is taciturn; - is committed to the upholding of the Law and everything that is involved in that.

All Attorneys live, eat, breath and sleep the Law. Some of them might be fortunate enough to arrange it so that they marry and have children – but the family takes a backseat when it comes to taking instruction for and handling a serious matter.

Where are all the Attorney’s friends? Not those fair-weather ones; not those ‘hail fellow, well met’ ones. No, the friends who stand by you through thick and thin, rough and smooth, sad and happy times – where are they? If we look further, we’ll probably find they’ve fallen by the wayside and the Lawyer in question has let it happen, thinking it’s for the best and also thinking they’ll probably let them down again and again in the future – over legal obligations that is.

The Lawyers I know eat on the run. They talk about going home to a good hearty meal but that hearty meal – if it existed – sits around waiting for three hours or so before our lawyer looks at it and decides to declare time of death as they empty it into the bin or just stick it back in the fridge or oven – they’re too pre-occupied to notice.

Don’t let’s be too harsh. These same Lawyers remember anniversaries, birthdays and all the other special occasions that should be celebrated down through the years. They occasionally help with homework and sometimes remember to show up in person for sports events. They invite acquaintances or family over for dinners and pleasant evenings and keep them reasonably well entertained. Even Spouses with simpler occupations don’t always do that!

Yet, have you noticed that when the show’s over; when the Piper’s been paid; and everyone calls it a day and goes home; one Spouse goes to bed and the other one goes into their office in their home, and spends an hour or so going over Pleadings and strategies, before sleeping? You’ll notice that our Lawyer has not been declared as male or female – because it makes no difference. These comments are still valid!

If unmarried, and dating then there are stories of ended relationships; many missed lunches and dinner dates (our Lawyer was suddenly called by a Client who needed urgent attention; or something cropped up at the office, or they were called to Court); eventually, although these would have been true; the other party stops believing them because they all sound the same and happen too regularly. Some people who are living together find the other one moved out because of the Lawyer hardly ever being there either in presence or in mind.

I think it’s vital that the partner of a Lawyer has their own career or a very consuming hobby; or that relationship will never survive. Spending your life waiting for someone who doesn’t show up half as often as they should, is soul destroying for the one who’s doing the waiting. Yet, these partnerships could be amazing, brilliant relationships and marriages; fulfilling and rewarding and everlasting.

There are many Lawyers who achieve this, and live happy ever after lives; but nothing is gained without hard work, and all of these people have very cleverly worked on their relationships and marriages and benefitted because of their commitments made to each other and sacrifices made to achieve their goals.

Hats off to all Lawyers who accomplish a work-life balance! That is a very clever balancing trick – pardon the pun. There Lawyers are wise and have patience, can give and take, and are stable within themselves and comfortable within their own skin.

People like this are a rarity and the salt of the earth. There is a worthiness about them that shines and shows their merit. When these types of people speak, others stop and listen. When they shake you by the hand, they also look you in the eye and you realise their sincerity and honesty. These Lawyers are to be celebrated for their genuine altruism.

The media has been remarkably unkind to Lawyers all over the world and made them to appear little better than members of the press. I always believed you’re supposed to have checked all your facts before writing about them – however, apparently not in this case.

These exceptionally hardworking people who are extensively knowledgeable and use all this legal wisdom on behalf of others less fortunate than themselves who are in need of help. Even when you talk about the very rich and famous – these people also are less fortunate that the Lawyer who helps them because they need help.

Lawyers will never stop helping needy people, to the end of time because it’s in their nature to help others in pain or in need of assistance. They seek the truth in every situation and honour it. You could say that the truth is their compass.  ‘Lawyer’ is at the beginning of the sentence and ‘balance’ is at the end; and in the middle is everything else on this see-saw of life. 

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