"Work-life balance" assumes lawyers have an option to neatly balance the responsibilities of law practice with life outside of work. Attorney Deanne Koll says focusing on being a happy lawyer may be more achievable.
Dec. 18, 2019 – “Work-life balance” assumes lawyers have an option to neatly balance the responsibilities of law practice with life outside of work. But New Richmond attorney Deanne Koll says focusing on being a happy lawyer may be more achievable.
“There are realities in private practice,” Koll said at the 2019 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (WSSFC) in October. “I don’t think you can change those realities.”
How do you find happiness in your work? Do you strive for work-life balance? And if so, how is it going?
Koll, an attorney at Bakke Norman Law Offices S.C., says lawyers should stop putting a square peg into a round hole. “We should just accept the realities and move forward from them,” Koll said. “You can’t change the fact that clients demand 100 percent all the time. You can’t change certain things about practicing.
“All you can do is work within that framework to do something different,” she said. Koll, who gave a full presentation on lawyer happiness at WSSFC, said there’s research on how to be happier at work, and it has nothing to do with work-life balance.
Her number one tip was “embrace the craziness.” She says lawyers can stop apologizing for doing the work that clients expect. “Just embrace it and say, ‘this is what we’re doing.’ I’m not going to feel bad about taking my laptop on vacation.”
Koll also says lawyers can’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, to talk about the bruises and move on. “There’s other research on what makes us happy,” she said. “Let’s try and do those things because we are never going to achieve this ‘zen’ that doesn’t exist.”