Accepting mediocrity in yourself is the only real way to achieve balance in your life. If you are a lawyer in private practice and you want to practice law while raising a family, then you need to be a mediocre lawyer.
In fact, if you want to have any outside interests while engaged in the practice of law, then mediocrity is your only choice.
My analysis is based purely on the laws of nature. There are only 24 hours in a day. If you spend 14 of them practicing law and commuting to work, other important things in your life will not get the attention that they need.
I have also reached this conclusion because the practice of law rewards complete devotion. You can always do more to research an issue, fine tune a brief or identify additional risks your client might face in entering into a deal.
I strive for mediocrity in my own work and family life. I'll never run a marathon but I exercise regularly. I'll never be the country's top grossing legal recruiter, but I make a comfortable living. I rarely work 12-hour days, but when a client needs something, I try hard to be responsive. I also participate actively in my children's schools, eat dinner with my family most nights of the week, and make time to read and play piano.
Of course, I do not work for a law firm. I do not even practice law. So why am I advising associates to be mediocre? Mediocrity is hardly the way to impress the partners at your firm.
How is it possible to be mediocre and be a great lawyer at the same time? How can you keep your law job and still have a life? I would like to offer some practical suggestions on how you can have it all — or at least almost have it all.