To The Readers of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
According to WorkLifeBalance.com, “the best work-life balance is different for all of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.” Work-life balance has been a topic of much interest over the last several years, and here at NYCLA we have been discussing what it is and how to achieve it during different parts of your career.
Many wonder how I balance my personal life with the demands of my legal practice, as well as the demands placed upon me as head of Arnold & Porter’s New York office and president of NYCLA. I try to achieve this balance by treating my personal obligations the same way I treat my client obligations. As an experiment, I suggest that you place on your calendar every Wednesday evening dinner with your spouse, your family or your significant other, and aim to keep that appointment just like you’d keep any appointment with a client. Of course, you may inevitably get pulled away by a court or client crisis, but if you prioritize your personal life the same as you prioritize your client obligations, you will maximize your life’s enjoyment.
I also recommend spending time with your fellow lawyers outside the context of your client work. There are many bar association-related activities where you can socialize, even with the lawyers who may be your adversaries in pending cases. Establishing relationships with your peers will lead to better communications and better results for your clients in terms of efficiencies, cooperation, and the like.
Bar association-related activities can also provide a welcome outlet for your hidden passions. As for me, I like to sing with my fellow lawyers in musical performances that are held a few times a year, or at a local karaoke bar. It certainly can relieve stress to belt out a Neil Diamond classic.
Achieving work-life balance in some ways gets easier as you advance in your career, but it also can create more stress. As you attain more seniority, it is important that you learn to delegate work to those with whom you work and to trust that they will get the work done. If you insist on doing everything yourself, you will be needlessly stressed, and your client work will suffer.
If you’re not already a NYCLA member, I encourage you to visit nycla.org/joinus to join our community with more than 9,000 attorneys, judges, academics and law school students, and get involved in activities that can help you achieve coveted work-life balance now and in the future. I also encourage you to tweet me @NYCLAPres and share how you achieve work-life balance.
Stewart D. Aaron