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Women and the Law Newsletter
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

September 2009, vol. 15, no. 1

Getting off the teeter-totter—Work/life balance, another perspective

In June I attended the 17th Annual Conference of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers (see which was held in Chicago. Among the many fascinating presentations on ethics, professional and practice development and marketing was one by Colorado lawyer, Mr. Kevin Houchin. Mr. Houchin is the author of a new book, Fuel the Spark, 5 Guiding Values for Success in Law & Life (MadeEasy Publishing 2009). For more information about Houchin and his work go to <> <>.

Of his five “values”—(1) accept, (2) show-up, (3) pay-attention, (4) many irons in the fire, and, (5) stewardship—I found number 4 “many irons in the fire” brought a new and different perspective to the work/life balance discussion which seems to have been occupying all of us for several years now. Instead of considering “work” (what we do to make a living) and “life” (everything other than work) as opposite ends of a teeter-totter, Mr. Houchin instead suggests considering taking a view point of your entire life as an equalizer panel much like those on your now vintage stereo systems (for those of you who may not be old enough to remember stereo systems see illustration below).

On your personal control panel you may have levers or throttles for areas particular to your life, such as:







Rather than seeing things in opposition to one another, i.e., family vs. work, Houchin suggests instead that we view each of the aspects or throttles of our life as being capable of being adjusted upward or downward as the situation calls. Houchin explains:

Throttles don’t necessarily correlate to time or energy or even attention - those are scarce resources. Instead, think of each throttle as measuring your positive intention, your focus in the moment, or your drive, desire, and commitment. It’s OK to set the throttle on “low,” if that’s what is optimal for you at the moment in time...Law practice isn’t on one end of a pole and life on the other. Instead, law practice has its own throttle. You have the power to set it on “high” or “low” or somewhere in between. It’s no longer a trade-off between family and career. There is plenty of mental fuel for every moment of your life. You don’t have to rob energy from one pole to give to another. You just have to pay attention to each iron as you work on it, then simply return it to the fire. Pages 42-43.

For those of you, like myself, who are on a quest to seek the right balance between all the aspects of life (like care giving for children or elderly parents, growing a solo law practice or rainmaking, giving back to the community through pro bono work or service to the Bar), I highly recommend Houchin’s book and the workshops he offers around the county for attorneys. Resources like this just might help to get us all off the teeter-totter and in tune with being the best professionals and people we are capable of being. ■


The author is currently busy adjusting her throttles so as to “equalizing” her small firm practice ( with heading the not-for-profit Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois ( and serving on the ISBA’s Assembly and Women in the Law and JEC (Cook County) Committees. She can be reached at and (312) 726-8766.

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