Work-Life Balance for Women in Legal Profession

December 2, 2011

I have artwork in my office reflecting “Images of Justice-Women in the Law” by Trevor Goring.  One of my favorite prints is that of Iusticia.  Goring has created her as an allegorical figure of justice representing the striving of humanity toward higher civilization. With the scales of justice in her left hand and a double-edge sword in her right, Iusticia could actually represent the modern woman.

When I look at Iusticia through the lens of an attorney, I am reminded that she represents the personification of justice balancing the scales of truth and fairness.  However, when I look at her through the perspective of a working mother, I think about work-life balance.

The United States Department of Labor reports that in 2010 women made up 47% of the total U.S. labor force.  According to the American Bar Association, women make up 31% in the legal profession.  Given those statistics, I imagine that many working mothers (myself included) face this work-life balance dilemma every day.

Some say that we can achieve equilibrium between work and home life, but is that really the quest?  There are plenty of articles discussing this quandary. Most recently, Lesley Jane Seymour, the Editor-in-Chief of More Magazine wrote an editorial titled “Why Work-Life Balance is a Crock”.  Seymour concludes that “[the] reality is that balance only happens over a lifetime—there will be years when you must choose family over work and years when you must do the opposite.”

To that, is a 50-50 split really achievable, or even desired?  Is this “balance” a double-edged sword similar to what Iusticia’s sword might represent – something with both favorable and unfavorable consequences?

As an attorney at Thomson Reuters for over 21 years, I have had my fair share of work v. life balancing acts.  One experience that really stands out is the development and market launch of WestlawNext for small law firms. During this time, my work-life balance would not have steadied Iusticia’s scales.  It was more like weighing a rock and a feather.  However, that time was well spent.

The end result was a product that delivers efficiency, productivity, and profitability to small law firm customers.  To date, more than 25,000 small law firm customers have experienced those benefits.

When I hear customer stories about what WestlawNext has done for them, I especially realize that those extra hours at work were worth it.  I am proud to have been part of a team that has made a difference for our customers so they can pursue their life passions outside of the office such as being a musician, a DJ, a rock climber, or a photographer.

As for me, I balance my time as a working professional during the day with taxiing my three children to tennis, dance and football at night.  I even find time for myself – whether it’s training for an obstacle course race or going to a fitness class.  I like to think that Iusticia would be proud of me.  What would Iusticia think of you?  Please share your work-life balance stories with us. 

And if you haven’t yet experienced the power of WestlawNext, I encourage you to try it FREE for two weeks Let us know how WestlawNext helps you achieve your work-life balance.