In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer Joleen Louis shares how the flexibility that comes with being a solo has shaped her career, life, and her business.
One of the most attractive aspects of being solo is the ability to have a flexible schedule. Especially now that I have become accustomed to this level of flexibility and freedom, I don’t think I could ever give it up.
In fact, looking back, it’s was one of the factors that made me (and several of my solo friends) decide to start our practices and become our own bosses.
This flexibility has positively helped shape my career, life, and my business in several ways. Here’s how:
Work Life Balance
Despite working longer hours and having more to stress about, I feel less stressed as a solo because I have more control over my work/life balance. It feels more manageable when I am the boss and I know what needs to be done, versus working for another firm and having little control over the amount and type of work that you are responsible for.
I previously wrote about how the flexibility of a solo schedule allows me to seamlessly integrate my work and personal life. In that article, I discuss how as a solo I realized I can’t keep work and personal life completely separate.
I have to be accessible outside of the 9-5 time frame to complete all of my lawyer and business owner tasks.
But one of the greatest benefits of being a solo is control of our schedule. That control along with integrating work and personal life makes it easier to create a balance based on your individual life
Ability to Work Around my Energy Level
Another great benefit is the ability to work around my energy levels. As long as I don’t have court I can get my work done whenever I please.
I write best early in the morning so it’s not unusual for me to start working at 5:30 a.m and end my day by 1 or 2 p.m.
But sometimes I get late night burst of energy and I can stay up all night working and sleep in the next day.
Not having to force work into certain time slots throughout the day helps me do my best work on my body’s schedule. And because of that, I feel I am much more productive with my “work time”.
Ability to be There for Those for Love Ones
If I was working for someone else I certainly would not be able to leave or travel whenever I really need to. Recently my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and without the flexibility that comes with being a solo, I wouldn’t have been able to help my mom through her chemo.
Being my own boss allows me the flexibility to fly to Ohio whenever I needed to. Since my office is cloud-based, I can easily continue working even while I away.
It also makes my relationship much easier. My boyfriend lives in Boston and I can easily arrange my schedule to work from there or limit the amount of work I have to do when he is here.
Ability to Work Wherever I Want
I love being out in the sunshine, so it’s very difficult for me to stay inside in the summer. Since I control when and where I work, I can decide to work from Coney Island or a park when I need to be outside.
It’s amazing what I can get done in a couple of hours when I am motivated by spending the rest of the day uninterrupted at the beach.
I’m also afforded the flexibility to travel as often as I would like, which is always a plus.
Ability to Work Around my Clients Schedules
One of the greatest ways flexibility has shaped my practice is the ability to work around my client’s schedule. Since I’m not restricted to “business hours” I can meet with clients on evenings, weekends, and even holidays.
This is something that not many traditional lawyers or firms can offer, so it puts my practice at a great advantage. Your clients will notice when you are working hard to make the legal process convenient to them.
Depending on how you use it, a flexible schedule can be a blessing or a curse. But if you find ways to use it to make your life easier, it can be one of the most effective tools to run a productive law practice.