Denise Howell offers a great perspective on work/life balance in this American Lawyer article: On Life Support:
Even though we live in an age of million-dollar profits per partner and record-high salaries and bonuses for associates, large firms lose 80 percent of law school hires within five years, according to The National Association for Law Placement. It costs firms somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000 to replace attorneys who don't work out, according to Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law at Hastings College of Law.
And the replacements are becoming scarce. In a recent ABA member survey, only 44 percent of respondents said they'd recommend the profession to others. The animosity doesn't stop at passive nonendorsement. Disenchanted lawyers are busy warning off the uninitiated via every channel available-chronicling the pitfalls of large firms and the profession in general. The result: Law school applications are down nearly 7 percent from 2006, when they were already down more than 5 percent from 2005.
Family time must bear some of the cost of this attrition. The Families and Work Institute has found that younger workers are more "dual-centric" (attaching equal importance to career and family) and less work-centric than in decades past...
If firms are to get serious about fostering environments of "reasonable balance," they may need to look back before they can move ahead. In the 1970s, my dad, who was a partner at a respected California firm, made sure that our family spent most of each August river rafting, and that we took some fishing trips during the rest of the year. In 1963, the ABA considered 1,300 billable hours full-time. This Kennedy-era approach and my dad's insistence on being a dad seem far more suited to the mind-set of the twenty-first century legal workforce than today's firms have yet to recognize.