It all began when his son got sick. Suddenly, the pressure of being both a devoted father and productive lawyer became too much, and Indianapolis attorney Tony Paganelli discovered he wasn’t performing at his best in either role.
Though Paganelli loved his work, he also valued time spent with his family, time that became even more important as he and his wife and son traveled the country, searching for answers to his son’s illness. So in 2013, Paganelli resigned as a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP and moved his practice into the spare bedroom of his house, hoping to find a temporary solution to his need for a balance between making a living and caring for his son.
Today, Paganelli’s son is healthy and his temporary fix has become the hallmark of his business plan for the Paganelli Law Group. Paganelli leads his firm as the only principal, removing the pressure of running a law firm from the other attorneys and instead enabling them to have the same work-life balance he was seeking four years ago.
Gibson’s story is not uncommon, as the conversation about work-life balance in the legal profession has grown louder in recent years. Beth Woods, managing director in the Chicago office of legal recruiting company Major, Lindsey & Africa, said flexible, informal work arrangements are becoming more common as attorneys have begun to speak up about their desire to have a life outside of work.
Wanting a healthy work-life balance does not mean an attorney doesn’t want to work hard, Woods said, but instead indicates that every attorney has a specific situation that could create a need for a non-traditional work schedule.
For example, an attorney might want to work standard office hours, yet also be home in time to pick their children up from school and feed them dinner. In that situation, a firm could allow the attorney to log back into work once their children are settled for the evening, enabling them to get work done on their own time, Woods said.
In another instance, she said a work-life balance could mean allowing an attorney to bill only 1,600 hours versus 2,000, a system employed by Indianapolis firm DeLaney & DeLaney.