I’ve been asked about work-life balance since I launched my virtual law office in 2006. (Yes. I am a mom to two young children and sure, that adds a layer of challenge to life, but I get things done and the kids don’t seem to be deprived or permanently scarred for life, yet.) Many assume that trying to achieve work-life balance is a motivating factor for anyone to set up a virtual law practice. It is certainly one of the reasons why I chose this form of practice, but not the only one. I’ve got a long-term side mission running to increase access to justice and online delivery and tech in law practice is a part of that.
Many of the lawyers that I help to set up virtual law firms, from web-based unbundled delivery to hybrid firms with both traditional and online delivery, want the flexibility that virtual practice provides. It’s great that the technology is available to allow us all to make choices that provide more flexibility, but it’s got to be a choice based on what’s right for us and our clients, and that may not be what works for another lawyer and their practice, their clients or their personal lives.
Anyway, here’s my thought on the exhausting work-life balance debate that Laura Bellow, current Pres. of the ABA re-raised earlier this year, as quoted in the article:
Balance is possible, but it’s BALANCE based on choices that we have made in our personal and professional lives. It doesn’t guarantee happiness. I think it’s a way of coping with the phases we all go through in life. Even with the best of examples and role models, I don’t believe a 20-something man or woman in law school has any idea what his or her 30- or 40-something self is going to want or need. So we make decisions because we have to, without fully understanding the consequences or what will have to be sacrificed personally and professionally later on down the line. That’s just a fact of life. Work-life balance is an attempt to adjust to those decisions based on where we are currently in our lives. And that means different things get sacrificed at different times—in both personal and professional spheres—to make the most people and ourselves happy. That’s the balance.