Definitely Mabey

Work-life balance up to lawyers, not firms

Lawyers Weekly in Australia recently polled over 500 lawyers and nearly 75 per cent of those polled said "their firm doesn't care about or allow for work-life balance" and drew the conclusion it was the firms' culture not their policies that were the blame.

Stephen Mabey Author

Law firms are, by and large, apparently abject failures in the quest for work-life balance.

The basis for this comment is when one thinks about all the monies and brain power firms have thrown at this nebulous thing called work-life balance and then you see the results of the latest compilation by Career Bliss of the most and least blissful jobswhere “associate attorney” topped the list as the least happy job in the United States (I would be surprised if the results are dramatically different in Canada).

This failure comes despite firms offering “firm generated” solutions including:

  • Alternative work weeks;
  • Top-up of compensation during maternity and parental leaves;
  • Technology to allowing telecommuting;
  • Access to child-care facilities;
  • Child-care at firm meetings of lawyers;
  • Extrapolation of financial results caused by absences for family matters when considering rewards and admission to partnership; and
  • Provision of mobile technology.

The reason for failure by law firms is not rocket science. Work-life balance is an individual's decision not the firm's. In fact, this sense of failure is driven by three truths:

The rest of this article is available in Stephen Mabey's new Book

Book Cover - Leading and Managing a Sustainable Law Firm - Tactics & Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Profession by Stephen Mabey

Available for purchase on BookBaby.



Until next month, as Edgar Guest is reported as to have said:

"You are the person who has to decide. Whether you'll do it or toss it aside. You are the person who makes up your mind. Whether you'll lead or will linger behind. Whether you'll try for the goal that's afar. Or just be contented to stay where you are."

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First Published in Canadian Lawyer April 2013. Copyright © Applied Strategies Inc.

Legal Strategy Consultant