Does Work-life Balance Help Lawyers Serve their Clients Better?
Reading a recent essay in the Bermuda Sun got me thinking about the importance of work-life balance not just for lawyers, but for clients. Let me explain.
In this deeply personal account of her successes and failures in living a balanced life, Joy Pimental, executive vice president of marketing with the Argus Group, tells how she has tried to balance the time she spends on career and volunteer work with the time she gives to her family and friends. Often, however, Pimental seemed to be forgetting to care for herself, always focusing on others' needs. She recalls, "I never put myself first; I would have felt selfish if I did."
In the early 1990s, she discovered what she calls a "profound truth": to care for others, she first had to care for herself. At that point, she started to make a higher priority of her health and emotional well-being and let go of her concerns about selfishness when they did arise. Today, Pimental is concerned with leaving the world a better place. To that end, she values her personal time and time with friends and consciously seeks balance in her life. That's because work-life balance doesn't just happen; achieving it "requires attention and work, much like a beloved garden or an important relationship," as she puts it.
While Joy Pimental is a businesswoman rather than an attorney, her story holds an important lesson for us lawyers: we really do need to take good care of ourselves. Pursuing work-life balance is one important way we can care for ourselves well.
After reading and reflecting on Joy Pimental's experiences, I began to ask myself a few fundamental questions about work-life balance. Since nearly everything I've read (and written) on the topic emphasizes the benefits of work-life balance for attorneys, I decided to take a more client-focused approach and consider what clients might stand to gain from working with more "balanced" lawyers. Here are some of the questions I'm pondering.
Will living a more balanced life allow me to do better work for my clients? If so, what are some of the potential benefits for clients?
If I don't live a reasonably balanced life, could my lack of balance harm my clients? If so, how could clients be harmed? What could I do to prevent such harm?
These are big questions and I don't presume to have the answers to them. However, even though I'm just starting my inquiry about a client-centered rationale for work-life balance, I'm convinced these are questions worth considering. Perhaps the issue is not work-life balance at the expense of first-rate client service, but work-life balance as a prerequisite to first-rate client service.
By Steve Imparl, guest blogger