The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and Work, by George W. Kaufman, is a resource that provides law students and attorneys with advice for making the most out of one’s legal career without completely sacrificing his or her personal life. Through a series of personal anecdotes, famous quotes, practical advice, and thought exercises, the author guides the reader through three different sections to achieve this goal.
In the first section of the book, the author provides advice for reflecting on the reasons that caused one to pursue a career as a lawyer. This advice is followed by a discussion about one’s first job after graduation and how to handle common challenges, expectations, and disappointments that typically accompany such a job. This section concludes with advice for how to evaluate potential jobs and decide whether one is well suited for them.
The second section aids the reader in considering more critically the highlights and lowlights of law practice. In particular, there is a chapter devoted to recognizing tangible and intangible benefits common to most lawyers amidst typical drawbacks. Additionally, this section discusses the importance of pursuing passions outside of the workplace to keep from becoming consumed by one’s job. Finally, this section concludes with a chapter on how to recognize stress, how stress impacts lawyers in particular, and how to cope with it.
In the final section of the book, the author guides the reader to engage in particular exercises designed to help lawyers keep healthy work-life balances. After an explanation of how to identify and prioritize one’s values, the author touches on the topic of how the body and mind interact. Specifically, the book discusses the effects of workplace stress on the body and offers tips for how to take better care of one’s body. The final two chapters demonstrate how to write a vision statement (essentially a summary of core beliefs about one’s self and one’s overall life goal) and an action plan (a strategy for achieving one’s vision statement).
Overall, this resource would be helpful for anyone – students and practitioners alike – seeking to manage the stresses of everyday work life while maintaining happiness in his or her personal life. The writing, content, and thought exercises require a substantial amount of reflection at times, but they are well-organized and seem as though they will yield helpful results for those willing to put in the time and effort.