How to build the law firm you’ve always wanted

One of the benefits of striking out on your own is that you can finally have the law firm you've always wanted. All of those experiences from prior jobs can be distilled into your firm's philosophy, used to create your ideal work-life balance and inform the technological purchases you make. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that you can eventually build the law firm you've always wanted. So many of those first decisions are based on necessity. One of the common complaints from BigLaw lawyers is that the only option is a work-life imbalance weighted heavily in favor of work. The culprits are common enough: long commutes, heavy billing requirements and a need to impress the higher-ups in hopes of access to the partnership track. In that type of culture, it can be difficult to ask for time off or to suggest some type of alternative working arrangement (like once-weekly telecommuting). I think smaller firms tend to have a better track record for some things -- telecommuting seems a little more common, for example. All of my past firms have been understanding on the time off issue. My biggest concern has long been the ability to get two days off with almost zero notice when we get foster care calls. Fortunately, it has never been a problem. My second concern, as most parents know, is being able to call out on days when the kids can't make it to daycare. Somehow it always worked out, but I can't help but feel a bit guilty about taking unplanned time off.

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