If you are a woman in law, we will work with you to design a career and life management programme specifically designed to meet your unique needs.
Whilst our services are particularly beneficial to law firm lawyers, they are also intended for in-house lawyers, sole practitioners and barristers. The pressures of a legal practice are not confined to large law firms nor are they caused solely by law firm culture. The nature of law (it’s bigger than all of us) and the fact that law is a service profession cause stress. Our aim is to help women in all areas of law and at any stage in their career empower themselves to create fulfilling careers and lives. Read on to find out about the areas we address and how we can help.
Traditional law firm culture, with its focus on billable hours and bringing in new business is inherently incompatible with individual lives, needs and responsibilities. Law firm culture must shift to better accommodate women. At the same time, Women in Law encourages women to do their part by taking control of their lives. Every woman’s career in law is her own and cannot be reduced to a stereotype. That said, we have observed certain aspects of a woman’s experience in a large law firm that appear to be universal. We have set out a composite of that experience below and appreciate some elements will resonate more than others.
When you accepted a position at a top law firm, you knew you were signing up for long hours and hard work, but you were ambitious and ready for a high-powered career. In the beginning, pulling an all-nighter to complete a high-profile transaction or case was acceptable – even exciting. The challenge, the novelty of it all, a sense of camaraderie with your colleagues and let’s not forget the salary, compensated for the personal sacrifices. A desire to achieve, a regular shot of adrenaline and a genuine interest in the law propelled you through the tougher times. However, as time rolls on, you start to feel that a life characterised by long, and more significantly uncertain, hours isn’t much of a life. The quality of your work varies. Intellectual stimulation isn’t guaranteed. Your motivation ebbs and flows. Stress is the only constant. Billable hours, targets, demanding clients and technology contribute to the all-consuming nature of your practice. You have a love-hate relationship with your blackberry which somehow can take precedence over your personal relationships. And whatever happened to your hobbies? The situation becomes even more untenable when the time comes to start a family (assuming you’ve had time to find a life partner). You look around the firm and don’t see any ‘super-rolemodels’. ‘Having it all’ and ‘work-life balance’ seem like impossible dreams in the law firm reality. Your law firm hired you because you were multi-faceted, but paradoxically you may feel like you’ve morphed into a one-dimensional billing machine. Disillusioned, you leave your firm before realising your full professional potential. Or, you can’t see any other options and remain stuck in a career that seems incompatible with a life.
If you make it to the senior associate or partnership level, you may find your work intellectually and financially rewarding, but feel that there is just too much of it. Maybe you suddenly realise you’ve been pedaling on the professional services stationary bike and wonder if you’ll ever arrive at your desired destination. It’s taken tremendous strength to get this far – but now you feel more tired than inspired. In addition to losing your balance, you may have lost a part of your self along the way. Although your career has been a ‘success’, an underlying sense of disappointment remains. Professional rewards arrive at a cost.
As lawyers with over 35 years combined experience in law, we have a deep understanding of law firm culture and the complexities of life as a lawyer. In short, we get it. The sense of responsibility conferred on lawyers, combined with a work environment defined by hyper-competition, conflict, uncertain hours and a lack of autonomy often make it difficult to find joy in the profession. That said, there are steps you can take to enhance your quality of life, to find greater satisfaction and meaning in what you do, and to simply have more fun.
We will work with you on a one-on-one basis to devise a career and life management strategy that works for you. Every woman is different, and we will help you design a program specifically tailored to meet your unique needs. There are no quick-fixes, but we will help you take steps to feel better immediately and to improve your quality of life over the long term. And if you are already satisfied with your career and life, we will support you in taking your performance and well-being to the next level.
Some of the areas we address are:
Balanced living: Goal-setting, vision-crafting, clarifying values and beliefs, personal growth, emotion management, positive thinking coupled with positive communication and action, increasing self-awareness, embracing the present, mindfulness, levity and laughter.
Work-life balance: alternative ways of working, time management, prioritising, boundary-setting, addressing perfectionism, overcoming procrastination, the power of hobbies, creating community, self-care.
Stress Management: identifying internal and external causes. Creating practical solutions and identifying coping mechanisms: relaxation techniques including meditation, contemplation, mindfulness, deep-breathing and yoga.
Confidence: understanding what you want for your life and career, creating your personal brand, assertiveness training, enhancing self-belief, overcoming fears and self-limiting beliefs, self-promoting without arrogance.
Relationships: strategies for building and maintaining healthy relationships at and outside of work, how to deal with demanding colleagues and clients.
Communication: mindful communication, affirmations, networking strategies.
Motivation and Performance: professional development (substantive knowledge and soft skills), removing mental interference, focus, visualisation, detachment, identifying mentors.
Leadership: finding inspiration, becoming fearless, risk-taking, speaking up, cultivating optimism and confidence.
Career Transition: within law, identifying new career paths outside law.
Personal Finance: owning your finances and your future, striking a healthy balance between spending and saving.