Work-Life Balance In Law School Internships
One of the great things about law school is that you will encounter classmates with a broad range of experiences and identities. That diversity also extends to prior work experience. Some students go straight from undergrad to law school; some students take a year or two off; and some students enter law school as a second career. No matter what your work experience looks like, it is always important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This can be easier for some than others. If you are worried about how to establish and maintain a work-life balance when you have a law school internship, try following these tips!
Work-Life Balance In Law School Internships
1. Set boundaries
The best way to maintain a healthy work-life balance is to separate work and the rest of your life! As a law student, perhaps in your first “real” job, you may feel like you have to give 110% of your time and effort to your role. You should obviously do your best to be an effective and reliable employee. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be required to give up all semblance of a personal life. You’ll be nervous about making a good impression; you might even be thinking about whether your summer role can turn into future employment. We understand this can be stressful. The best tactic is to communicate with your employer about your respective expectations. This will go a lot farther than always being willing to run yourself down.
Unplug when you’re not at the office
One of the best ways to set boundaries to establish a work-life balance is to unplug from work when you aren’t working! Unless you think it is needed or appropriate, make it clear that you won’t be in contact with work after you leave the office. Many employers understand that you are a law student with many other responsibilities. Because of this, they likely won’t be hounding you via cell phone or email late at night about work. If you suspect that may be a problem, try communicating to your employer any reservations you have about this. It can be especially hard to maintain a work-life balance when you don’t have a work-provided cell phone or computer. Figure out what you need to do to be a good employee while maintaining your own personal boundaries. Most importantly, make sure you communicate these boundaries to your employer!
One of the best ways to ensure you keep your work and personal life separate is to not let the two blend if possible. By this, we mean, if you are going to take a lunch, just take a lunch! Don’t order food and devour it quickly at your desk while you try to do some legal research. This is a great way to ensure you ruin your lunch and any product legal research time!
Instead, go for a quick walk to a lunch place near your office, enjoy your food (maybe with a co-worker!), then come back to the office. There’s no need for an hour lunch every day (unless that’s standard where you work), but even taking 20 minutes to recharge will guarantee you’re ready to keep working after! Even if it’s not lunch, if you are not working, make sure you are not working! That means that when you are working you should put your phone away and avoid personal business. Your work-life balance will benefit if you direct all your focus to one thing at a time rather than half your focus on two things at the same time!
Finally, to make healthy boundaries to establish your work-life balance, communication is key. Many law students working in summer or semester-long roles that may lead to future, full-time employment. Obviously you want to be the best employee possible, and you want to learn from your experience. Speak with your supervising attorney and co-workers about creating a schedule for yourself. That way people will know when they can expect to contact you.
2. Make time for your health
Sometimes maintaining a schedule can be one of the best ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance. You should schedule time for things that make you happy and keep you healthy! This includes spending time with friends and family, cooking healthy meals and exercising. For example, try scheduling a work out class a few times a week after work. Not only is this healthy, but it will push you to complete your work in a timely fashion, so you can get to the class on time! Or perhaps you know that in order to cook dinner and get a good night’s sleep, you need to leave the office by 6 P.M.
Make this a goal each day. Sometimes this might not happen, but the important thing is that you make your health a priority. Unhealthy habits will make you groggy, inattentive, or even caused to get sick. None of these things will make you a good employee. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your work!
3. Be reliable!
Many people, especially hard-working law students erode their work-life balance trying to be the best employee possible. Obviously it is important that you work hard and produce high-quality work. It is also important that you spend adequate time in the office building relationships and trust with your co-workers. As a student intern or summer associate, this means you’ll make a good impression with your supervising attorney and other people you work with. This can lead to full-time offers in the future or an excellent recommendation for another job.
Either way, being someone your employer can count on doesn’t mean pledging your life to the office. Being someone your co-workers can count on is what is most important. You can be that person while still setting boundaries for yourself. Perhaps you’ll even encourage people to do the same. Being reliable is far more important than being willing to do anything for your job at the expense of your own health!
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