You probably thought that becoming a partner, especially one with your own clients, would finally give you control over your own schedule. This, more time to spend on the other things you care about. So why are you stuck in the office late at night and never have free weekends? Did you expect a better work-life balance?
Whether it’s to see your family and friends, volunteer for a cause you care about, or simply get to the gym once in a while, you probably have something you wish you had more time for. How can you achieve better work/life balance and still be a law firm partner?
All law firms aren’t the same. Sometimes moving your practice to a different firm can make a dramatic difference in your lifestyle. Here are four things to look for:
1. A FIRM CULTURE THAT VALUES WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Do you work at a firm where partners “complain” about the late nights and weekends they work? Are they are really bragging about how many hours they bill? Then maybe you’re just at the wrong firm. Work-life balance is not valued at this firm.
Firm culture may be the most important factor on this list. No matter how much you promise yourself that you’re going to try to leave earlier so you can do things you care about, it’s hard to ignore the raised eyebrows or pointed comments when you actually do manage to get out of the office at a reasonable time.
Luckily, for every law firm where the partners try to one up each other with how hard they’re working, there’s another where they’re proud to leave early to coach the Little League team, train for a marathon, see the school play, or volunteer for a cause they believe in. You just need to find the firm that values these things.
2. YOU CAN PUT THE RIGHT TEAM IN PLACE TO HELP YOU LOG FEWER HOURS YOURSELF
Are you working long hours simply because there’s no one else to help you? Is it at the point where getting new work from your clients because it just means another late night? Are you doing work that’s more suited for a junior lawyer but there isn’t one available to help? You should talk to firm management about hiring additional associates or other support for your practice.
If your firm refuses to hire additional associates when you need them, or your firm has tried but can’t attract the talent, then you’re always going to be working too hard. It may be time for look for a firm that will have the right team to support you. You can actually get home in time for dinner.
3. CROSS-SELLING OPPORTUNITIES MAY HELP YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE EARLIER
Do you work at a firm where partners jealously guard their clients and won’t introduce you to any of them, even though those clients could really use your expertise? Or a firm where your partners aren’t interested in taking on work from your clients when it’s outside your practice area and won’t even come to a pitch meeting with you? If so, you’re at a firm that probably hasn’t figured out how to incentivize partners to cross-sell.
Moving to a firm with better cross-selling opportunities and appropriate ways to compensate for them, can make a significant difference in your work/life balance. You can earn money for work that you bring in for other groups, as well as the work they refer to you. That extra compensation from “low hanging fruit” may mean you have more time to spend with family and friends and less time to frantically network for new clients.
4. BETTER TECH AND NO FACE TIME CAN HELP YOU GET TO IMPORTANT EVENTS
Does your work not count unless everyone sees you at the office? There are many firms that don’t care if you’re in the office at all. They only care that your work gets done and your are clients happy.
Or do you work at a firm that doesn’t care as much about face time, but has technology so far in the dark ages that you can only get your work done when you’re physically sitting at your desk? Many firms have recognized the value of technology and have remote access and that’s comparable to sitting at your desk.
If you were at a firm that down played face time and had the technological resources to free you from your desk, you could work from anywhere. Then you could attend all of the important events in the lives of your family and friends, without sacrificing client service. Maybe it’s time to think about finding a firm like that? One that provides the tools to achieve work-life balance.
If you feel like there’s room for improvement in your work/life balance, Gillman Strategic Group can help you. Please contact us and set up a call to hear about the alternatives for getting more of your life back. There are firms at value work-life balance.
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