These days, more and more firms are being classified as "lifestyle" law firms. Before you ask, no, this doesn't mean that there's an abundant supply of Xanax in the break room (at least, there shouldn't be).
Well, what does it mean, then?
Generally speaking, lifestyle law firms try to maintain the importance of quality of life. They strive to recognize that lawyers have a life outside of their job, and do what they can to help maintain work-life-balance. This ultimately means less of that firm culture where the firm becomes your entire life, and more of a firm culture where the firm is only part of your life, and you still are able to maintain the core of who you are outside of work. Here are some "lifestyle" perks that you can find at certain firms:
- Limited hours. Billing is often the bane of a lawyer's existence. You know this, we know this, everyone knows this. But, it shouldn't be the be-all end-all to an attorney's life. Thus, many firms put a cap on the in-office work hours that are required to help encourage a better balance. Some matters are pressing, yes, but others can wait.
- On-site therapy sessions. Most health insurance policies cover social therapy sessions to some extent, but some firms go further by hiring an on-site psychotherapist to help. While firm retreats are one way to go, other firms try to stay in-house to make their fixes. Sure, it's a general policy to leave your personal life at home. But, from divorces to depression -- your personal life still never really leaves you. A workplace that recognizes this is focused on their employees' overall well-being.
- Swag. While material goodies obviously are not the crux of what ensures quality of life importance at a firm, it's always a nice little perk now and then. This ranges from a surprise box of chocolates on Valentine's day to a free pair of movie tickets once a month.
- Open door policies. The often still very archaic world of lawyering comes with an obvious pecking order. Many firms are doing what they can to slowly but surely change this, or at least strip away the intimidation and feelings of inferiority toward more comfort, openness, and inevitably, productivity. Open door policies are a common way to reinforce open communication and thus ease unnecessary work-problems (that then lead to general stress). Again, there's no such thing as a stupid question (stupid people, however ...)
You can still incorporate one of these ideas or any other related ones to your firm without needing to tag it under the "lifestyle" category, of course. It's not necessarily about what your firm's culture is labeled as. But, anything that leads to less turnover and happier workers means more productivity. That, regardless of what kind of firm you are at, is always a good thing.
- Vault's list of best "lifestyle" law firms according to associates (Law Professors' Blogs)
- Top 5 Ways to Avoid Attorney Burnout (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Will Relaxing Make You a Better Attorney? (FindLaw's Strategist)