This week’s featured question: How difficult is it for you to attain a work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?

This week’s featured question is answered by Chambers ranked private practice lawyers and leading in-house counsel from all over the world.

Lori Cohen
Shareholder; Chair, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device & Health Care Litigation Group; Co-Chair
Atlanta office, Greenberg Traurig

“Work-life balance is a blending of time and priorities; I have always had boundless energy and required very little sleep so that allows me to cover significant ground in a given day. Admittedly, however, many people would look at my life and say that I do not have work-life balance and they may be right from an objective standpoint but it works for me and I am always fulfilled and excited by my life. I’m up at 6 a.m. reading the online newspaper and scouring industry trade publications for pertinent news stories, some of which I send to clients so they can keep abreast of the issues too. I travel a lot of the time and have a crazy, hectic schedule which I thoroughly enjoy.

I work hard and have sacrificed a lot for my career, but I always remember to find time for my personal interests as a way to reenergize and reward myself for the hard work. I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan, and I’ve seen nearly as many Rolling Stones concerts as I have trial wins. During the Rolling Stones European tour in 2007, I took an all-girls trip and invited our client to see the Stones in concert in Dublin and London. “Sympathy for the Devil”, a painting by Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood, hangs in my office, and the business cards on my desk are held by silver-plated lips in the likeness of Mick Jagger. This is just one of my many passions outside of the practice of law.”

Eva Krogh
Legal Director EMEA Channel
Dell Corporation Limited, UK

“It is easy these days with encouraged remote working and flexibility – at Dell we encourage our employees to work remotely as long as the job gets done. That means I can pick up my children from nursery on time and simply log on again in the evening or take calls on the run. We manage our own time and priorities and in fact I very much believe this promotes loyalty, responsibility and a great work ethic. Of course there are times when there are not enough hours in the day but in a fast moving environment that is not a surprise.”

Heather Durston-Hillyer
Winchester office, DAC Beachcroft LLP

“DAC Beachcroft has always been an incredibly flexible employer which I believe is key in retaining dedicated and talented lawyers who still wish to achieve a work life balance even though they have children or for other reasons. As a mother of 2 young children, I have taken advantage of that at various times throughout my career, whether that has been to work from home or to work part time.

I once heard a high profile woman working in journalism say that you can have a career and children, or a career and a social life, or children and a social life but you can’t have all three at the same time. It is still the case that we cannot have it all and something has to give. For me, because it is my choice to have a career and a family, I accept time for myself comes last on the list and when I am at work, that is my priority and vice versa when I am at home with my family. I am quite focused on switching off from work as I am driving away from the office to then put my family hat on. To do otherwise, I find, means accomplishing neither role very well. I am also well supported by a husband who views my career as of equal importance to his own.”

Helena Diniz Ribeiro Klem

Legal Director
UOL Diveo S.A, Brazil

“It is difficult. I recently became a mother, and I love being a mother as much as I love being a top notch attorney.  Accordingly, I have tried to balance my professional demands with the pleasures of being a mommy for a beautiful daughter and a wife to a loving husband. I have taken steps to ensure that I can manage both demands: professional and mother. I have endeavoured to achieve this goal by establishing clear work expectations in connection to my time at Diveo while at the same time making myself available to work remotely as much as possible. Advances in technology, and a more understanding culture at Diveo has allowed me to balance my personal and professional time a bit better. Nonetheless, I still find myself wanting to spend more time with my family.

Helena Tetzeli
Florida office, Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli & Pratt, P.A.

Honestly, it has not been that difficult. Firstly,  my work schedule is very flexible.  Secondly, I do not have children, so I am able to devote non-work time to my interests and my family (my husband and parents and siblings).  Thirdly, my husband owns and runs his own business and so he understands the demands of my career and is very supportive. Finally, I really love my job, so I am not too worried about my work and non-work life overlapping.”

Suzanne Julieta Berrios de Tablas
Head of the Intellectual Property
Consortium Centro America Abogados, El Salvador

“For me work is a very important part of my life because it motivates me every day to think that I have the privilege of attending commercial business matters that are of great importance for a company; and being able to work for different companies protecting their intellectual property rights; gives me a great satisfaction. My work is performed with the passion I have for Intellectual Property and that is why I enjoy it so much. In my personal life, I have a husband and 20-year old daughter who I both love and care for;  balancing my high professional commitments with all aspects of my personal and family life are made with great dedication and with the vision to always grow as much as possible, making a bigger effort every day to succeed.”

Eileen McMahon
Partner and Co-Chair of the IP and Food and Drug Regulatory Practice
Torys LLP

“Frankly, it was harder when I was younger. I worried more. I didn’t have a mentor, so I was finding my way by gut feel and hard work. And some of my career moves meant that I didn’t have the luxury of maternity leaves. My worry was that no one had my back. I didn’t think I could check out of my practice for three or four months on a leave as a part-owner of the business ‒ I needed to stay in touch. So I worked during my leaves. For the first two decades of my career, my focus was work and home. That’s it. No hobbies. My husband is incredibly supportive. Mark has been my right hand, my rock; he knew I was ambitious and he did everything he could to support me along the way. Now that our kids are in university, work-life balance has become easier.”

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