Balancing the other 'scale' of justice : nurturing work-life balance in the legal profession
University of British Columbia
Master of Laws - LLM
The pursuit of work-life balance (WLB) is a prominent topic in academic research and media reports, with many scholars and commentators describing the challenges faced by members of the labour market in balancing their employment duties with their personal responsibilities/desires. The crisis is very pronounced in the legal profession, with its institutional culture that places employment interests above family obligations and personal desires. Vanquishing this crisis is imperative not only because of its negative effect on lawyer health, but also because the number of women practicing law in British Columbia is declining, even though there are more females than males in Canadian law schools. This thesis determines that nurturing WLB within the legal profession requires the following: (1) Law schools must not only "teach law," but also "teach how to practice law" by initiating courses, workshops, and legal clinics that help students be more prepared for the rigours of the profession; (2) Alternative billing options to the billable hour system--which compensates lawyers and determines whether they are "partnership material" in firms--must be found because of its entrenchment of work-life conflict in the profession; (3) Legal employers must learn from the best practices of organizations that are adopting innovative initiatives and successfully promoting WLB among their workers. Furthermore, they must encourage, rather than stigmatize, the use of these strategies, including flexible work arrangements (FWAs), part-time arrangements, compressed work-weeks, flex-time (i.e., time off for the provision of family care), tele-commuting (i.e., working from home), and job sharing; (4) Lawyers must create, administer, and utilize the various workplace initiatives aimed at WLB--such as workshops, wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements, etc.; and, (5) Professional organizations (such as bar associations and provincial law societies) must aid legal professionals in their pursuit of WLB by encouraging the use of FWAs, alternative billing options, and technological advances that promote employment flexibility. While a cultural revolution will not occur overnight, the insights in this thesis will facilitate the legal profession's cultural transformation into a pro-WLB institution that helps its members successfully fulfill the many demands--professional and personal--they face in society.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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