Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Work-Life Balance » In Love with Your Law Job?
In Love with Your Law Job?

In Love with Your Law Job?

An Open Relationship with Your Work Is Possible -- and Even an Asset

Is it possible for attorneys to passionately pursue both their vocation and their avocations?

For lawyer Thomas Tuohy, it’s not only feasible to engage in his chosen avocation of community involvement, it’s a necessity. “If someone does not choose to have both a life and a law career, they will not be much of a lawyer,” says Tuohy, a Chicago attorney who hung a shingle in 1982 shortly after graduating from law school. Tuohy’s extensive community involvement includes founding Dreams for Kids, which creates programs for children who are isolated by disability.

“Community-minded” may not be the descriptor that first comes to mind when people think of lawyers, but it does describe a large fraction of the legal profession.

“When I need help on a community project or money for an organization, I know there’s a huge cadre of lawyers out there who are happy to help,” says Lauren Rikleen, a senior partner with Bowditch & Dewey LLP in Framingham, Massachusetts. “When you need to get something done, it’s always the lawyers that step up first.”

So how do you balance your legal vocation with your devotion to the greater good? It helps to start early.

Early Career Decisions Make a Big Difference

“A lot of these decisions will be made in law school,” says Bradley McGavin, director of contingent recruitment at staffing firm Hudson Legal in Los Angeles. “The real decision is what kind of law you practice.”

If, for example, you become a litigator who spends months at trial without a speck of discretionary time, it will be hard to devote any personal resources to community or family.

Some lawyers will tell you that large firms, with their high and increasing demands for billable hours, are no place for a community activist. But it may not be that simple.

“At small firms you don’t have as many resources, so you have less power to delegate to a secretary or other staff,” says McGavin. Ultimately, the managing partners’ attitude toward associates’ and partners’ community activities may be more important than the firm’s size.

Alternative Legal Careers Make Sense for Renaissance Men and Women

Some lawyers will balance their professional and community interests by finding an alternative setting for practicing law or otherwise exploiting their expertise. They may, for example, turn to an alternative arrangement such as working on a contract basis.

“When you’re in the middle of a contract engagement, your hours may be about the same as at a firm,” says McGavin. “But you can work three or four months and take a month or two off. Still, you have to be cautious about how long you work on contract; if you stay out of firms too long, it will be very difficult to get back in.”

Also, alternative legal careers like teaching “can be a fantastic option for people,” says McGavin.

Making Something Happen in a Big Firm

Being committed to community involvement doesn’t mean giving up the dream of success in a large, prestigious law firm. “You have to pick the big firm that allows you to have a balanced life,” says Tuohy. “Look at what pro bono work they do; will they let you do it?”

Rikleen has managed to integrate her professional and community interests. “I worked with my firm to create a subsidiary, the Bowditch Institute for Women’s Success, through which I could consult professionally,” she says. “Now a lot of my volunteer activity is focused on women’s issues.”

But doesn’t a deep commitment to outside causes impose a limit on what a lawyer can accomplish professionally? Not necessarily.

“Community involvement shouldn’t be an impediment; if anything, it’s a plus,” says Rikleen. “It should provide you with many opportunities to show your firm how it’s enhanced your skills, for example, as a leader.”

Indeed, some attorneys do their best rainmaking when engaging with the larger community. “I had to be out in the community to generate the first client that I got in my career,” says Tuohy.

Latest Jobs

Parker and Lynch
Posted: 07/23/2014
New York, NY, 10017
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 07/23/2014
New York, NY, 10017
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 07/23/2014
Deerfield, IL, 60015
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 07/23/2014
Deerfield, IL, 60015
Parker and Lynch
Posted: 07/23/2014
Syosset, NY, 11791

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.30.40-204
eTrustLogo