Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Editor's Message: The Balancing Act Of Work And Life

By Rena Upshaw-Frazier

The members of the Hillsborough County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division recently tackled a topic that seems to be on the minds of many who work in the legal profession. Balance. I am not referring to whether one can teeter on a single toe for an extended amount of time in a yoga session, though I am sure many have listed that as a goal as well. I am referring to the undefined, ever-changing concept of work-life balance.

Lately, it has been the prevalent topic of many discussions. Does it exist? Is it relevant? Is it achievable? How? Is it worth it? Though the topic seems to be of greatest interest to working women with children, its reach is unlimited. It has drawn attention from all genders, generations, professions, and walks of life.

Understandably, there is a particular interest in this discussion among those in the legal field. A demanding career and schedule are fertile grounds for making “balance” important, yet elusive. Discussions center on the attorney’s unique struggle with meeting billable hours, satisfying client needs, developing business, and providing a service to the community, all while spending quality time with family, keeping in touch with friends, and pursuing personal interests. Portable computers, cellphones, and electronic data ― which provide 24-hour access to lines of communication and information ― have erased the division between work and home. As the proverbial “leaving work at work” diminishes, the question of how to balance it all becomes more pressing.

In response to the significant interest and demand, informative sources have exploded with advice on how to achieve balance. Books and articles have been dedicated to the topic. Sheryl Sandberg famously wrote about “leaning in,” which has led to a great deal of debates and responses, including a noteworthy amount of criticism. Seminars geared toward professionals often offer sessions on achieving balance. As previously mentioned, the attendees at the HCBA YLD’s recent quarterly luncheon discussed how to balance family life with a busy work schedule. The members received words of wisdom and key advice from their speaker, a local attorney.

The interest in and discussion about work-life balance is unlikely to subside any time soon. It is increasing awareness about the needs of those who provide legal services and their engagement and satisfaction within the profession. Although there is a very personal component to work-life balance ― it means something different to each person, and it may change at different stages in that person’s life ― the advice shared among the legal community is invaluable in assisting and informing fellow colleagues. To progress as a profession, we have to address and tackle issues important to the membership. The HCBA does just that. Enjoy the publication!