To be or not to be a weekend warrior; that is a tough question.
Yet it's a question every lawyer must answer sometime in his or her career. The difficult answer too often is "yes" because attorneys don't always have a choice. Being a weekend warrior is part of the business of law.
An Inescapable Burden
The law is a jealous mistress (mister?) and requires a lot of attention. This certainly can include nights and weekends, especially for litigators. Even if a trial attorney isn't at the office on Sunday, that lawyer is thinking about the next day in court.
It is an inescapable burden, like a heavy briefcase chained to your wrist. Some clients actually expect you to be available 24/7, and their problems can weigh on your mind at all hours.
Attorneys don't burn the midnight oil; it burns them. Sleeplessness, alcoholism, divorce, cats and dogs sleeping together ...
When Will It End?
The light at the end of the tunnel does not have to be an oncoming train. Maybe you just have to get out of the way.
Some lawyers change careers, while others take control of theirs. Carolyn Elefant, who has a national practice with clients in different time zones, says it is possible to not work weekends and nights. She writes that lawyers can create a "Client Expectation Policy," advising clients that their time is limited to regular work hours.
"There's nothing wrong with a law firm gently explaining its preference to avoid weekend meetings if that's the firm's preference," she says.
Changing Careers While Practicing Law
Elefant, who writes a blog about such practical issues, notes that some lawyers actually prefer after-hours work. She hosts conference calls and webinars for clients on the weekends to free up her regular working hours.
An "after hours" law firm would be ideal for lawyers doing document review, she suggested. They could meet with clients who prefer to come in after their work days, she said, and also do contract work for other law firms that want to be accessible after hours.