Work/Life Balance

Lawyers Wrestle with the Constant Pull of 24/7 Technology

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Photo by Lee Thompson

Last summer, Cincinnati estate planning attorney Aaron Byrd took a vacation … from technology.

Byrd, 33, hadn’t planned it that way. When he first headed out with his wife, in-laws and two young sons on a rented houseboat on Lake Ouachita near Hot Springs, Ark., he was hoping for at least intermittent coverage on his firm-issued BlackBerry. But as the week went by and the bars on his phone faded while he swam and fished, Byrd did something experts say lawyers should do more: He disconnected.

“I was just completely relaxed,” says Byrd, an associate at Greenebaum Doll & McDonald who typically carries his BlackBerry on family travels. The Arkansas vacation was a stark contrast to the previous summer, when Byrd spent a family trip to New York City checking for new messages on the hour.

The same technology that has freed attorneys from their physical office space has also tethered them to clients around the clock, perhaps thwarting work-life balance as much as it helps.

More than four-fifths of lawyers use a BlackBerry or other smartphone while away from the office, according to the 2009 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, up from 67 percent in 2008 and 53 percent in 2007.

Continue reading “Virtual Escape” online now in the February ABA Journal.

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