March 10, 2011 Articles

Not All Law Firms Are Caves

Good firms where lawyers can attain work-life balance do exist.

By Danielle M. Kays

Virginia Woolf recognized the detriment of the crushing pressure of professional occupations:

[This makes] us of the opinion that if people are highly successful in their professions they lose their senses. Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures. Sound goes. They have no time to listen to music. Speech goes. They have no time for conversation. They lose their sense of proportion—the relations between one thing and another. Humanity goes. Money making becomes so important that they must work by night as well as by day. Health goes. And so competitive do they become that they will not share their work with others though they have more than they can do themselves. What then remains of a human being who has lost sight, sound, and sense of proportion? Only a cripple in a cave.

So many firms discount, or even ignore, the importance of work-life balance to their attorneys, and their attorneys, in turn, are required to make work their only priority. Because of this, after years of sacrificing sight, sound, and sense of proportion, many attorneys reject “cave life” and leave the practice of law entirely—understandably choosing their marriage, personal values, or well-being over their job. Yet, lawyers have options other than working for an inflexible firm and sacrificing their personal lives or giving up on their chosen profession. Good firms where lawyers can attain work-life balance do exist.

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