Scheherazade at Stay of Execution responds to my post below about one partner's thoughts on work-life balance at a big law firm. She relates a conversation from when she spent a summer as an associate at a big firm:
The junior partner I was talking to said, "Well, work doesn't have to be your whole life. If you've got something -- maybe you want to tuck your kids in at night, or maybe you play the violin and you want to keep practicing it once a week, or maybe you get up early to swim -- and you are very careful and disciplined, you can make room to keep doing that one thing you're passionate about. You have to make accomodations to do it-- get up early, bring work home -- and nobody says it is easy, but you really can do it if you are committed. But you only get one thing."Coincidentally enough, I had a similar conversation with a partner at one of my callback interviews. He was saying how the firm really likes its associates to keep a balance in their lives -- I believe his language was something in the vicinity of, "we tolerate, and even encourage our lawyers to keep something in their lives outside of work, whether that's going to the gym for an hour every morning, or playing in a pickup basketball game once a month, or occasionally reading a book for pleasure. It's definitely good to have something you do outside of the office, and makes you a more interesting and well-rounded person inside the office too." I mean, the sentiment was nice, his intentions good -- but his examples of interests outside the office just seemed so small and insignificant -- "occasionally reading a book" -- that it undercut the point he was trying to make, and made me very, very frightened.
I thought a lot about that conversation. I thought -- this work is pretty interesting, I like doing it. But is this work, plus only ONE THING in my outside life, interesting enough to keep me stimulated and happy and balanced, the kind of person I want to be?