How to Promote Happiness, Balance, and Success for Your Legal Team

July 9, 2021

Here at CGL, we are all about promoting happiness and balance for our team. 

Even before the pandemic, we were having conversations about the relationship we as a society have with work. These conversations are now at the forefront for many other employees in the country as well. Because of this greater emphasis on balance in the workplace, the issue of burnout and a lack of work-life balance has been coming up a lot. 

So today we want to share some thoughts on balancing happiness and success with the realities of legal practice. 

CGL’s Thoughts on Burnout

The legal industry is rife with burnout. People have this assumption that attorneys are workaholics. That has become accepted in our society. As a result, attorneys are expected to work long hours. Oftentimes that’s even a requirement to remain on the partner track. 

However, the reality is that your attorney’s wellbeing and health impact the way they practice law. 

One of the problems with burnout is that burned-out attorneys will likely experience physiological symptoms. These may include reduced performance and productivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, lack of creativity, quickness to anger, cynicism, and frustration. None of those symptoms are conducive to an attorney doing a good job. This is a problem because clients (rightfully) expect their attorneys to engage and be sharp. 

Why the Legal Industry Experiences Poor Work-Life Balance

Attorneys are often motivated towards success. They thrive when working on challenging matters because they’re curious and dig into things. The industry and traditional model of legal practice takes advantage of this type-A personality that most attorneys possess. This creates a fast-paced and competitive environment where you’re either outworking your colleagues or falling behind. 

This can be kind of fun and addictive, especially when you’re young, but it’s not a sustainable work model for everyone and definitely doesn’t bring long-term happiness.

CGL’s Principles

To avoid and address these issues, we have three main principles here at CGL. They are:

1. We reduce billable hour targets: this takes away the concept of an attorney’s value being tied to the amount of time they’re working, reduces burnout, and opens doors for creative problem-solving. Our attorneys can be more present and engaged with clients and less overwhelmed by hours and hours of work.

2. Our attorneys have autonomy by being allowed to work from wherever they want to work and whichever hours of the day are most productive for them. We don’t micromanage our team but let them be the grownups they are. This flexibility doesn’t affect the quality of our services, however. We are always responsive to clients and reliably meet our deadlines. This requires thoughtful planning and gives our attorneys the autonomy to build something that makes sense for them, so they don’t get to that place of burnout.

3. We work so hard on our culture: we send around an internal newsletter every Monday on health, wellbeing, balance, and productivity and always try to encourage our team to be open about what they have going on in their lives. This takes constant effort and intentionality from our leadership team.

To learn more about preventing burnout, check out Episode 021: A Winning Recipe for a Happy and Successful Lawyer (and Team!).


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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