How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 327336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:16 pm

How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?

User avatar
BulletTooth

Bronze
Posts: 147
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:24 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby BulletTooth » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?


Tough to say. I would avoid being the one to start talking about "work-life balance" as it may signal to the interviewer that you aren't willing to put in long hours when required (even if the exact opposite is true). In my experience, interviewers will usually bring up the topic on their own, at which point you can ask more about it.

Bluem_11

Bronze
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Bluem_11 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:26 pm

I wouldn't just drop term 'quality of life' or 'how many hours do I work' in the pre-hire stage, but it could be tactful to say 'I have a family so I was wondering what time do people in the office usually stay to' or something along those lines.

pml87

New
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:29 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby pml87 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?


If they don't advertise in the job posting about work-life balance, assume it doesn't exist.

User avatar
Pokemon

Gold
Posts: 3528
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:58 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Pokemon » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:57 pm

pml87 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?


If they don't advertise in the job posting about work-life balance, assume it doesn't exist.



This, assume it does not exist if they do not bring it up. And if you bring it up, there is a considerable chance that they will either lie to you or you might have differing opinions regarding what is work life balancw

User avatar
nealric

Moderator
Posts: 2935
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby nealric » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:22 pm

I have an in-house job with excellent work-life balance. We actively sell it to potential hires. If it's not brought up explicitly, there are ways of asking without asking directly. For example, you can ask the interviewer to "describe a typical day"- which may give you a sense.

That said, it was my experience that work-life balance was usually telegraphed. When I interviewed at another shop, several people I interviewed with mentioned the hours were longer than they expected. When I interviewed at my current shop, several people remarked without prompting that the company had great work-life balance.

User avatar
nealric

Moderator
Posts: 2935
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby nealric » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:23 pm

pml87 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?


If they don't advertise in the job posting about work-life balance, assume it doesn't exist.


Not the case at all when talking in-house. The Job postings are often mostly HR gobblygook.

pml87

New
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 6:29 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby pml87 » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:56 pm

nealric wrote:
pml87 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How do you bring up work/life balance at a place that doesn't bill (in-house, unconventional firm, gov., etc.)?

If they don't have a second-look type interview, at what stage is it okay to ask, if at all? How do you tactfully bring it up?


If they don't advertise in the job posting about work-life balance, assume it doesn't exist.


Not the case at all when talking in-house. The Job postings are often mostly HR gobblygook.


If employers actively use work-life balance as a selling point, it achieves the same result as if they had put that in the job posting. My point is if they don't mention/actively sell work-life balance as a perk, OP should assume none exists.

User avatar
Yea All Right

Silver
Posts: 502
Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:27 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Yea All Right » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:11 pm

Imo don't ask about work/life balance. If they're the ones that bring it up, then sure you guys can discuss it. Otherwise, don't bring it up yourself, I don't see how it could help you and could actually risk hurting your chances.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:27 pm

I previously worked at a plaintiffs' side firm with non-billables. Like others have said, it will vary. I would not bring it up in the interview. I agree with "describe a typical day" scenario, especially for government work.

My hours were pretty consistent, (8-6ish), but the employer also expected me to work half days on Saturdays (in the office), and I was not aware of that in the interview.

User avatar
zhenders

Silver
Posts: 942
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:21 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby zhenders » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:01 pm

For any job, the suggestion above re: "describe your typical day" makes a lot of sense. Phrases like "work life balance" should never be used in an interview I don't think. It's a marketing phrase, and it's a placeholder phrase that carries a stigma of "this person wants it easy" that more natural conversation doesn't generate. I'd never be put off by someone asking me if I end up tying loose ends on the weekend a lot, but if someone asks me if I feel like I'm able to have good work/life balance, there's a good chance I'm instantly a bit defensive, if only because it seems disingenuous or skeptical.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:33 am

If you are struggling to get answers on this, maybe try and ask about firm culture, which usually/naturally leads to the work-life balance conversation.

Agreed that you should not use the phrase "work-life balance" in the interview unless one of the associates/partners does so first.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:43 pm

Even if HR says they have good balance, most people ignore it because employees are easily replaced.

It's important to see how many people use their vacation days vs how many they offer, for example.

In reality, it's rare to find the right balance at the right time. Lean in isn't real.

dixiecupdrinking

Gold
Posts: 3440
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:48 pm

Whatever your interviewers say is likely next to worthless anyway. You really need to find someone - a co-alum, a friend of a friend - who can speak candidly about the place. Otherwise it will always be a dice roll.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:24 am

Has anyone had an interviewer say work/life balance sucks?

I've had three jobs before going to school and it's always been "oh, we try hard to make sure our employees have balance and flexibility - it makes for the best employees!" and then you start and it's like "NO SIT AT YOUR DESK AND STAY THERE!".

Bluem_11

Bronze
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:03 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby Bluem_11 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:59 am

Anonymous User wrote:Has anyone had an interviewer say work/life balance sucks?

I've had three jobs before going to school and it's always been "oh, we try hard to make sure our employees have balance and flexibility - it makes for the best employees!" and then you start and it's like "NO SIT AT YOUR DESK AND STAY THERE!".


I never had a WL balance sucks statement, but I remember one NYC biglaw interview I did I had a couple of secondary interests listed of how I spend my free time such as at organization Y doing X. The managing partner, who was conducting my interview, picked it apart saying verbatim, "Do you want to be a lawyer or do you want to be a X"? The message was sent.

User avatar
jchiles

Silver
Posts: 1267
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:49 pm

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby jchiles » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Has anyone had an interviewer say work/life balance sucks?

I've had three jobs before going to school and it's always been "oh, we try hard to make sure our employees have balance and flexibility - it makes for the best employees!" and then you start and it's like "NO SIT AT YOUR DESK AND STAY THERE!".


I have had this happen with biglaw interviews including a person saying "I would go somewhere else if you have the option"

ruski

Bronze
Posts: 425
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:45 am

Re: How to ask about work/life balance at non-billable place?

Postby ruski » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:09 pm

jchiles wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Has anyone had an interviewer say work/life balance sucks?

I've had three jobs before going to school and it's always been "oh, we try hard to make sure our employees have balance and flexibility - it makes for the best employees!" and then you start and it's like "NO SIT AT YOUR DESK AND STAY THERE!".


I have had this happen with biglaw interviews including a person saying "I would go somewhere else if you have the option"


I've also had a senior associate interviewer at a biglaw firm tell me "I prefer my junior associates are at their desk at 6pm so I can easily find them"



Return to “Legal Employment�

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.