Work-Life Balance, not just a plea from us Ms. JD bloggers

One of my favorite blogs, The Juggle, has a post today about young doctors that are looking for some work-life balance and steering clear of jobs where they would be expected to be on call at all times in the life.  At the end of the post, Sara writes:

Despite the downsides, this industry shift toward family-friendly solutions was probably hard to imagine just a few decades ago. Might there be a similar shift on the horizon in other industries, like consulting, i-banking, or big law?

Now, as I just said, The Juggle is one of my favorite blogs.  But, wake up and smell the movement already.  I am sure the readers of Ms. JD know that there is a real swell of exasperation with the lack of work-life balance for Big Law attorneys.  Women lawyers, are everyday choosing career paths with better work life balance.  What we need is better work-life balance on all paths.

A good comment on the post's comment string says:

“…and they say, ‘I’m not doing this, I’m not doing that,’” which makes the older doctors realize they’ve been had. It’s not this generation’s fault that the older docs were duped into working long hours for little reward.  No, “We’re not doing it,” and we’ll get paid just fine working a job with reasonable hours, zero call, and family time.



And I was totally disheartened by the sheer number of posters who thought doctors who dared to want a balanced life were selfish or not devoted to their patients. My husband has spent the last 8 years (with one more to go) doing med school, residency and now fellowship. He is clearly devoted to medicine and his work. If he wasn't, he could have made way more money if he'd gone to law school, or b-school, or gotten a PhD and gone to work for a drug company. But he also wants our son to get to see his dad more than he saw his own (also a doctor) and I am very happy that he's chosen a specialty that has the potential for a reasonable work-life balance.
I suspect that women (and probably some men) in BigLaw find similar push-back to their desires for a more balanced life. It really bothers me that this desire is seen as "selfish" somehow.


Sad to say there's more hope for doctors than for lawyers. This was a debate in Australia and the UK back n 2001 (the only quick link I can find is here: but it was widely reported). Unfortunately it is still an issue ( ) though it is getting more recognition.
 The thing is that at least after their residency, doctors (and even more, dentists) HAVE broken the nexus between long hours in private practice and professionalism. I know a lot of GPs and specialists who work reduced hours in group clinics and their patients wouldn't even know, let alone care. Unfortunately this disproportionately affects young doctors, often with young families.
Whereas in law it is all the way through. I never saw any indication that the hours got any more flexible in firms after the first few years.
Perhaps if we make some headway with doctors where the public can at least conceptualise the risks of a chronically fatigued doctor, we have some hope of convincing them overtired and family-deprived lawyers aren't doing the best job they can either.
I think the "its not fair" argument is right, but it won't work. The business case is that extreme hours is a way to increase employer liability, so why not reduce hours and get a better quality of work?
 Then again maybe I'm too hopeful.

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