Jan/Feb 2002

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Focusing on Life and Law

In 1980, during the first of my interviews with law firms as a third-year law student, I was told by a senior partner in a large firm that when I practiced law, I would have time for just one outside interest, such as hunting or golf or a husband.

But that was it–just one. After 15 years of working in large organizations and trying to change that from the inside, I gave up and started my own firm.

Now, six years later, I have four extremely bright and talented attorneys working for me who also have left large firms in order to have more balance in their lives. And it works. My advice? Think outside the box. Take your practice into your own hands and create a more reasonable lifestyle for yourself. There is no law that says you must bill 150 to 200 hours a month to be a good lawyer. I would submit, balance in life makes you an even better lawyer.

Patti Keesler, Benefits Law Group, P.K. Keesler, P.C., Atlanta, GA

I read the Jan/Feb issue with interest because of its work-life balance focus. However, as a childfree-by-choice-woman who’s wrestled with this issue throughout my career, I was a bit offended at the implication that parents are the only ones who need help balancing work and life.

"Work-life" does not necessarily equal "work-family," and law firms should be careful not to assume that single or childless lawyers have nothing better to do with their lives than go to happy hour.

Work-life guidance should be available to all attorneys, not just parents. Some of us care for elderly parents or have meaningful outside activities other than parenting. Being a parent is just one of many life choices that an attorney can select, and law firms should not be in the position of favoring one choice over another. Rather than trying to be "family-friendly," law firms should try harder to be "life-friendly" and recognize that all of us need and deserve a life outside of the office.

Anna M. Shih, Rader, Fishman & Grauer, PLLC, Bloomfield Hills, MI

I felt moved, or maybe compelled, to comment on the Jan/Feb 2001 issue of Law Practice Management. It contains wonderful, confirming and affirming observations about being a parent and grandparent and lawyer. I have practiced law for more than 30 years in a small firm in a small town. My wife also has what I consider to be a professional position. We raised our two daughters to be loving, productive and, in some cases, driven. (Where did they get that?)

We now have a grandson who is almost two years old. Both of his parents are lawyers in a larger city and faced with parenting and life challenges far beyond what we faced. I think they are terrific parents, but that comes at a cost. I intend to obtain quite a number of copies of the Jan/Feb issue of LPM and distribute them freely to family and friends. Thank you for focusing on "life."

Thomas A. Adrian, Adrian & Pankratz, P.A., Newton, KS


On behalf of the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, I want to especially thank you for publishing articles addressing the issues of addiction, depression and stress included in the Jan/Feb 2001 issue. [See "Confronting Alcoholism in the Legal Profession," by Michael Flaherty and Richard Jacobson, and "Reducing Stress," by George Kaufman.]

Quality-of-life issues are the target of our Commission’s interest, and we applaud your willingness to publish these important articles.

John W. Clark, Jr., Chair, ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs


Send your comments to Law Practice Management, c/o Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, Please include your full name, address and phone number. We reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and space.