Balancing the workload of being a parent and a solo lawyer can be incredibly difficult, but a virtual law office can help.
Ask any solo lawyer what it takes to be successful as a lawyer, and you will hear, “You have to put your heart and soul into it. It takes hard work, determination, and love of the job.” Ask any mother or father what it takes to be successful as a parent, and they will say the same. Therein lies the conundrum for working parents who also run a solo law practice.
Milwaukee lawyer Katherine Perhach believes that this dilemma is especially true for women who are solo lawyers. She states:
“Women attorneys seem to be particularly challenged in their efforts to “have it all.” The need to deliver top of the line client service, regardless of the time of day, the need to develop and maintain client relationships, plus billable hour requirements and 60-70 hour work weeks don’t lend themselves well to raising a family.”
Old Style Thinking in a New Style World
Why is it all so difficult? Perhaps a recent Huffington article explains it best:
“The workplace as it exists – particularly the legal world in which this woman works – is a 1950s model set in a 2012 world. It assumes that workers can do their jobs (billing 1800 to 2000 hours of work each year) with no distractions, because there is someone (traditionally a wife) at home to sort out the rest of their lives.”
Guess what? That assumption is dead wrong. It is time for a serious reality check.
The Dilemma of Choice
Limping along with this old-style model of what having a career entails makes for a wildly unbalanced work/life balance. Seeking to find the right mix of dedication to a law career and quality parenting for a child or children, parents often believe that constant sacrifices of one or the other must be made. And like the proverbial rock and hard place, neither choice is completely satisfactory.
Perhaps the better way of looking at the situation is to consider, not what must be given up, but what can be gained. Why not think outside the box and find a solution that that doesn’t require any sacrifice?
The Virtual Law Office: The Solution for the Solo Lawyer/Parent
Thanks to ever-growing technology and new ways of thinking about life/work balance, a working parent need not put their solo law firm on hold while raising kids. Many parents find that it is possible, and in some cases preferable, to work from home the majority of the time. In this way, they can care for the needs of their family while maintaining a successful law practice.
One of the largest impediments lawyers face when working from home is the lack of a proper meeting place for client consultations, the reluctance to share one’s private living space with clients and fellow attorneys, and the stigma that often accompanies having something less than a posh office address.
A virtual office solves all of these problems. With access to well-appointed day offices and conference rooms for client consultations and a dedicated delivery address for all correspondence, you can do the bulk of your work at home and schedule office activities around the needs of your family.
Additionally, a live receptionist can field your calls. When you need to return a call, you can do so from anywhere, though the call will appear to be from your virtual office address.
And if you share a virtual space with other solo law firms, you will have the added benefit of collaborative communication with colleagues in similar circumstances.
The Bottom Line
There is no perfect formula for achieving a great work/life balance for anyone, including working parents. However, by using creative thinking and leveraging available technologies you can find the right strategies that work best for both your professional and personal lives.