New Zealand Law Society - Balancing Work and Life: A Practical Guide for Lawyers

Balancing Work and Life: A Practical Guide for Lawyers

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Reviewed by Sharron Wooler

Goodness knows how the author managed to find time to not only write this book, but to provide a webinar on its many learnings! I have struggled to fit in writing a review.

The second sentence of this book says it all: “Our profession is littered with chronically stressed people leading unhappy lives” – aimed at lawyers, its highly practical and helpful approach will benefit others too.

Yes, you can “have it all”, once you have worked out what your own priorities are – what’s essential for a happy life? What are your personal deal breakers? The trick is to write it down and rank it, prioritise what matters and be prepared to change to get the balance that works for you.

Lots of great contributors generously shared their personal experiences and thoughts. It’s handy to see how many people struggle to fit in everything they want to do in a day, or have taken on the challenge to make balanced life possible.

Best quote: “Subscribing to the view that we should work in our passion is merely a road to discontent in your career.” (Better to develop a career that supports your real passions in life.)

From someone who hates “self-help” texts: this was not a bad book at all – there are helpful and practical sections on managing time, overcoming procrastination and finding your niche; the advice is pragmatic and could be easily applied.

What I enjoyed was the section on marketing – most of us have this as a pet hate, but having read this I realised that much of what I naturally did incorporated marketing: this immediately relieved the pressure to do more marketing and for that alone the book has saved weeks of angst.

It has some thoughtful comments about working and personal ethical values, and some good tips about the use of mentoring. We should all do more of this. Another plus is the comprehensive chapter on tackling the imposter syndrome – including about how incredibly common it is among the legal profession in particular, and some clear pointers on making it go away.

Lawyers will enjoy the practical pointers on how to make a career in law work for them, and everyone would probably benefit from a close reading and application of the chapter on stress.

So: how does it stack up? Really, really well. It is clearly set out, the language is plain and readable, there is no psychobabble or handwringing. Best of all, if the tips and hints were applied, real benefits would result.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. This is actually a book that I think you would enjoy reading and find worthwhile across the whole firm, and at home. Give it a go. On the basis of the book I’d even recommend attending the webinar.

Balancing Work and Life: A Practical Guide for Lawyers, LexisNexis NZ Ltd, January 2015, 978-1-927248-02-7, 392 pages, paperback and e-book, $50.00 (GST included, p&h excluded).

Sharron Wooler is an associate at Cooney Lees Morgan in Tauranga. She was admitted in June 1999 and has over eight years’ specialist experience in resource management matters. Sharron also has a background in infrastructure funding, judicial review and general planning issues.

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