How to find a Balance between Life and Law
Endless research, stressful deadlines and some very long hours. The legal industry can seem all consuming at times. Whether starting in law school or working in a top firm, it is no secret that a career in law is onerous and relentless. However, long gone are the days when working ridiculous hours is seen as the solution for burnout. Thankfully, we don’t just ‘push through’ being highly exhausted anymore.
Instead, finding a balance between life and law is now understood to be integral to achieving prolonged success in the industry, but more importantly, it reduces the onset of mental health issues.
So, what does a work life balance look like?
Health Direct defines a good work life balance as having ‘harmony between the different aspects of your life’. This means that your professional life does not interfere with your personal life, and vice versa.
It is often not as easy as simply dividing the different hours in your day to different purposes. Naturally, workload in the legal industry or similarly, during your university studies, will ebb and flow. Unfortunately, there will be times when you have to put in longer hours. On the other hand, there may be events in your personal life that require significant amounts of time. For example, your favourite sporting team may have an important game or a family member may need your help. It's about balance, allocating the right amount of time, to the right area of focus – but don’t stress, this is no easy task.
Many readers of this article would have likely experienced this – a perfect life and law balance just does not exist. Despite this, we should never stop striving for a realistic balance. A balance that can be achieved long term, rather than each day.
How do I find this balance?
Prioritise your health. How your mental, physical and emotional health is tracking should always be your main concern. This may take the form of participating in regular exercise, meditating, or finding time to see a health practitioner, for example a psychologist. Incorporating simple actions in your day to improve your overall health will enable you to concentrate and perform better at work.
Nurture the relationships that matter. Spending quality time with your loved ones can help to put work into perspective and highlight that there is more to life than law. It can be difficult to allocate time to your friends and family, but it should always remain a priority.
Set boundaries. The highly competitive nature of the legal industry often manifests itself in an obsession with work. How frequently do you find yourself thinking about an assignment when hanging out with friends? Have you ever struggled to sleep because your mind simply won't stop racing? It is crucial that you set boundaries to work, ensuring that it doesn’t creep its way into the other aspects of your life. This may take the form of designating specific hours for work, compared to specific hours for personal hobbies, or family time.
Understand how your brain works. This one will take time. If you can notice the patterns leading to burnout or what specifically makes you stressed, you are much better placed to put in practices to avoid these feelings.
A career in law can seem like a never-ending, uphill battle. Despite this, a work life balance is ultimately your best friend in the face of stress, fatigue, and pressure. This is not something that can be implemented in a single day, but rather takes years of small and actionable steps. Take your time, and find that balance.
Written by Jacob Arnheim