October 2006

Blackberry I am reading two things at the same time, and they prompt this question.  Do mobile communications devices primarily enhance or impede work/life balance?  That was the question that Korn/Ferry asked business executives.  The answer, reported in Law Firm Inc. was that 77%  say the devices enhance balance, while 18% say the devices impede the balance.  I have not seen data on how lawyers answer this question, but anecdotally, I hear many complain about always having to be “on-call” for their clients.

Anyway, at the same time I am glancing through Law Firm Inc., I am reading an article from LawPartnering.com about lawyers partnering with clients.  The former GC of Olin Corporation says that partners (lawyers and their partner clients) “are connected 24/7 by the use of technology” and calls are returned “within minutes.”

So what’s the right answer to the work/life question?  Law is a service business.  If you don’t want confront the demands created by being in a service business, then find something else to do.  But having said that, these mobile devices allow one to be hiking in the mountains but still accessible for a critical call, as happened to me this summer.  Neither my wife nor my kids would have preferred that I be stuck in my office.  My partner Kirk Hartley routinely handles important calls while being a soccer dad, something he would not be able to do if he couldn’t take the call away from the office.  Those who complain about having their “off hours” interrupted really are conceding that they would not have been accessible in the first place.  Those who put clients in second place are going to find out that they don’t have to worry about the problem any more.  Those like my friend Dan Hull who live 24/7 for clients will find their client focus richly rewarded.