Is Work-Life Balance he Right Goal?, 0420 COBJ, Vol. 49, No. 4 Pg. 24

Position:Vol. 49, 4 [Page 24]

49 Colo.Law. 24

Is Work-Life Balance he Right Goal?

No. Vol. 49, No. 4 [Page 24]

Colorado Lawyer

April, 2020



It's rare to find an article on lawyer well-being that doesn't talk about work/ life balance. Most of us strive to avoid taking work home so that we can be fully present with our loved ones. But really, how many of us are consistently able to pull this off, and how many of us are left feeling that this is just one more way we're falling short? "Balance" implies that one thing exists in opposition to the other—life versus work. But is there a different way to look at it? This article explores the notion of what I call "intentional integration" of work and home, particularly when children are part of the equation.

Our Power as Parents

Let's start with the premise that we all want our children to grow up to be happy, well-adjusted, able to support themselves, and working in a profession that brings them satisfaction. Most of us are not trying to push our progeny to get into the same profession we're in and, in fact, that happens far less these days than it did a century ago. Nevertheless, research suggests that the professions our children end up in are significantly influenced by how parents shape their kids' values and ideologies.[1] We set an example of what is ultimately important, and that can affect our children's career trajectories.

So how are we influencing our children's views of our profession, and why does it matter? There are many among us who profess a desire to steer our children or loved ones away from law because of our own experiences. If you are one of those people, this article is not meant to be a criticism of that approach, but merely an exploration of why your work experience causes you to feel that way and whether an indictment of an entire career is a productive response. For others of us, we are disappointed that our children seem to rebel against even considering going into law, and we wonder why that is.

Integrating Work and Home Life

My own experience has caused me to think long and hard about this and is why I suggest we shift to a model of work/life integration rather than balance. In the mid-'9Os, I was a newly divorced, newly minted law partner with two girls, ages 4 and 6.1 was struggling to do what I needed to do as a busy litigator while also trying to be the kind of mom I wanted to be—present, loving...

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