We Can Have It All — With a Sustainable Balance
We found it so on point, that the week we launch our female-owned law firm, that Anne-Marie Slaughter, a pioneering female leader, published her piece: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” in the Atlantic Monthly. Her article adeptly tackles the reasons why a work-life balance is so hard to achieve for many female leaders – and most importantly – the solutions to finding that key work-life balance. Anne-Marie, found herself leaving her post as director of policy planning at the State Department because the culture of her workplace left little room for family life – but she doesn’t regret her move – because she has found balance.
At the Sustainable Law Group we have thought deeply about how our law firm can empower us, and our clients, to “have it all.” Many of the solutions proffered in Slaughter’s article are working for us: we are not driven by billable hours unlike many other law firms, we work remotely utilizing the benefits of modern technology, we have generous sick-leave and family-leave policies and most importantly, we cultivate a culture that embraces family as much as we do professional success. We make simple efforts such as leaving room in our partner meetings to catching up on how our families are doing and include family-time in our shared work calendars. These simple practices allow us to be more present and available for our clients during working hours, motivate us to be as efficient as possible, and engenders a positive collegial work environment. All of this benefits our clients tremendously: our clients do not feel that they are a “billable” number, but rather a part of our community and extended family. Our clients feel we are real, approachable and understand their needs. We are so approachable that our clients do not hesitate to tell us when they are not available due to their family obligations. We’ve even had clients bring their kids along to meetings from time to time and they are never made to feel that its not professional or that it will hinder us from having a productive meeting.
Ultimately, “having it all” comes down to how we, as professionals perceive our roles in society. If our goal is to be helpful to our clients and to make a difference in this world it cannot come at the expense of our families who empower us to achieve those goals. Instead, by valuing our personal time we garner the strength and energy to help our clients succeed. In so doing, we succeed ourselves.