I frequently hear young lawyers say that “work-life balance” is very important. Almost every lawyer who is seeking work-life balance wants to spend more time with his or her family. I understand that and I believe it is important. My point is you will never have work-life balance practicing law.

I always argued that instead of seeking balance, seek to identify the priorities in your life and spend your time consistent with those priorities. When I was a young lawyer my top priorities were:

  • My family
  • My work (clients, my own development, client development)
  • My Sunday School teaching and high school youth group
  • My fitness
  • My work with Virginia Tech

I never put an order on them. I just tried to focus on each one. Whenever I was in town, I worked out first thing in the morning. I taught high school and college Sunday School for 20 plus years. I spent Saturday and Sunday mornings working on my own development and client development. I spent Saturday afternoons with my daughter Jill doing whatever she wanted to do (with my gentle hints) on that day. I led the Roanoke, Virginia Hokie Club for several years. I enjoyed doing all of these activities.

If you haven’t read it, take a look at Work-Life “Balance” Isn’t the Point by Christine M. Riordan on the HBR Blog Network. I like each of these points made in the blog post and have added my own comments:

  1. Strive for work-life effectiveness—not balance. (This is planning life based on your priorities)
  2. Define success in all categories of your life. (I find many lawyers that have not defined success in either their career or personal life)
  3. Maintain control. (If you are a regular reader, or you know me, you know I have told young lawyers for years that the first step is to take control and responsibility for your career and life)
I wrote about these ideas in my book: Prepare to Win: A Lawyer’s Guide to Rainmaking, Career Success and Life Fulfillment. I know many of you have read the book and I have heard it helped you discover your own definition of success and priorities. It is available in both a hard copy and for your Kindle or iPad.