So you've been working at your law firm for a few years now, have mastered the art of document review and motion writing, have learned how to surpass your annual billable hour requirement and are becoming a good lawyer. The problem is that you're stressed out. You long for summer vacation, don't get enough exercise and lose sleep at night thinking about your upcoming deadlines and whether you've propounded the right discovery.
Well, you don't have to live like this. There are many ways to maximize your professional career while still maintaining that "life-work balance" we've all heard about and strive for. From one eager associate who wants a "life" to another, here are a few ways that I've managed to attain that balance at Kirby Noonan Lance & Hoge, and it all boils down to "work hard, play hard."
Work hard and efficiently. I know it could take you 12 hours to review those documents, especially if you wander around the office chatting up fellow associates and check in with ESPN all day long. Or it could take you six committed hours so you can out of the office at 5 p.m. and go for a run on the beach. I am fortunate that the firm provides us with a gym membership, so it's easy to pop downstairs for a spin class at lunch or yoga after work. Exercise is a great stress reliever, especially since our job can be so sedentary.
Enjoy your work environment. As young associates, we don't always get our pick of the cases we want to work on. But we do get a choice as to who we work with and what kind of environment we create for ourselves. Talk to the partners whom you respect, can learn from and whose company you enjoy. Do great work on their projects so they choose to work with you in the future and you never get stuck with that cranky old guy no one wants to work for. Also, take the time to get to know your colleagues outside of the office. At KNLH, we have quarterly firm dinners where all the attorneys get together to try a new restaurant. The associates plan monthly lunches or dinners with our significant others. It's a fun way to build teamwork and friendship at the office. If you enjoy going into the office every day, your life gets a lot easier.
Take a vacation. I know it can be hard to squeeze in a vacation with all your deadlines, billable requirements and a hefty student loan bill. But getting away from the office for even a short time works wonders on your mind and body. Since 2003 (when I started earning a paycheck), I've set a personal goal of going somewhere new every year. It's something I look forward to every year and it's a great to see what’s going on in the world around us when we're too busy on a daily basis to notice.
Work hard, play hard. Focus on producing quality work efficiently in an enjoyable office environment, so that you can afford to spend time outside of the office doing whatever it is that makes you happy.
Submitted by Micaela P. Shelton for Kirby Noonan