By: Kristin Tyler
It’s no secret that the practice of law can be a grueling, demanding career that can consume upwards of 60 hours or more each week.
Constant emails? Check.
Unrelenting deadlines? Oh yes, we are familiar with those.
Long hours? Most definitely. In fact, many attorneys pride themselves on these long hours. These are the “Live to Work” attorneys.
The most recent data from NALP reports that associate attorneys worked an average of 2,081 hours per year in 2014. In 2013, the number was 2,067 at the same offices.
Based on the 2014 average, let’s see how the hours break down on a weekly basis. For purposes of this example, let’s say you take three weeks’ vacation (that sounds great) and two more weeks off due to various holidays and/or sick leave. That would mean you work 47 weeks of the year.
At the rate of 2,081 hours a year, that would mean you bill an average of 44.3 hours a week. Practicing attorneys know that in order to bill 44.3 hours a week, you are most likely at work many hours beyond this to take care of administrative tasks and things such as coffee breaks and occasionally a lunch. Factoring in this time could mean you are at the office upwards of 60 hours a week or more.
When you combine these time demands with the challenges of raising a family, caring for elderly parents, or managing one’s own health, it is easy to see that burnout can be inevitable for many attorneys.
Interestingly, the New York Times reports that about 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that do not require a law license and only 40 percent are working in law firms, compared with 60 percent from the class a decade earlier.
The demands of the profession can lead to burnout if an attorney isn’t careful. Many attorneys entering into the legal profession in recent years simply don’t want to work the traditional long hours that a career in the law has required for many decades.
For many lawyers, the days of “Live to Work” have transitioned to a mindset of “Work to Live.” Attorneys are doing a cost vs. benefit analysis and many are simply coming to the conclusion that they don’t want to spend 2,000+ hours in the office every year.
Attorneys from all different generations are now seeking out flexible work/life schedules – and I’m not just talking about working parents. Attorneys want more time to explore their non-work interests and spend more hours with loved ones. These are the “Work to Live” attorneys.
Despite the demands and pressures, the practice of law can be incredibly rewarding – both personally and financially. Finding the right balance of where and how much you want to work will go a long way towards your own personal happiness and avoiding burnout.
Whether you are a “Live to Work” or a “Work to Live” kind of attorney – Lawclerk.Legal can help you build the type of practice you want to suit your lifestyle. LAWCLERK™ allows busy attorneys to outsource work on a project-by-project basis without taking on the overhead of hiring a full-time associate. Using LAWCLERK™ relieves the expense of hiring an associate such as paying for benefits, additional office space, and equipment. Attorneys can get the help they need – when they need it – without the overhead.
On the flip side, if you are looking for alternative and more flexible work, perhaps joining LAWCLERK™ as a freelance lawyer (called a “Lawclerk”) would be a good fit for you. Working in the marketplace as a Lawclerk gives you the ultimate amount of flexibility to decide when and how much and on what types of projects you want to work.
The traditional legal career is leaving many attorneys dissatisfied, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are a “Live to Work” attorney with piles of work on your desk or a “Work to Live” Lawclerk hoping to travel the world while still making a living – LAWCLERK™ is a marketplace to connect you, help you both make more money, and revolutionize the business of the practice of law.