If you are balancing a law practice while caring for an adult family member, you are not alone:
- 44.4 million Americans age 18 or older are providing unpaid care to an adult.
- The average length of caregiving is 4.3 years, although some people spend many more years in a caregiving role.
- Almost 60% of all caregivers either work or have worked while providing care. Sixty-two percent have had to make adjustments to their work life.
- Many caregivers fulfill multiple roles. Most caregivers are married or living with a partner (62%), and most have worked and juggled caregiving at the same time (74%).
- The most frequently reported unmet needs of caregivers are finding time for themselves (35%), managing emotional and physical stress (29%), and balancing work and family responsibilities (29%).
These sobering statistics are featured in the March issue of In Sight, published by the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program (OAAP).
How do Caregivers Cope?
With information, help, and resources. All three are addressed in the current issue of In Sight. Articles include:
- 10 Tips for Family Caregivers
- Assistance for Caregivers – Resources
- Caregiving Statistics
- Ways to Approach a Difficult Topic (How to talk to a parent or loved one about caregiving issues)
One of the best resources is the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. The OAAP provides free and confidential support to lawyers who are balancing work and caregiving.
Making Adjustments to Your Law Practice
Many years ago I met a lawyer who contacted the PLF for help after experiencing a series of legal malpractice claims. The lawyer had missed deadlines, failed to appear in court, and made mistakes in document preparation. During our meeting I learned he was caring for his elderly parents. Nearly every day he was called out of the office to retrieve a prescription, take care of an incident at his parent’s home, or drive his mother or father to the doctor. Keeping a regular work schedule in the midst of this chaos seemed impossible. Winding down the practice was not an option – his family needed the income. The solution? He closed his office on Fridays. New and existing clients were informed of the office hours. The lawyer also explained his strategy to health providers, obtaining their cooperation in scheduling regular medical visits on Fridays. He was fortunate to practice in a smaller legal community where colleagues, opposing counsel, and the court were understanding. The final secret to his success was a full-time legal secretary.
Not all lawyers are as fortunate as the one described above. You may practice in a large, sprawling community where few lawyers know one another and bench-bar relations are nonexistent. Hiring a full-time legal secretary? Sounds great, if you have the money. No matter what the circumstances may be, there are always options. If you are a lawyer in Oregon struggling with caregiving and lawyering, contact the OAAP and the PLF. The OAAP can provide emotional support and personal assistance. A practice management advisor can help you strategize about how to adjust the scope of your practice. Both services are free and confidential.
All Rights Reserved 2013 Beverly Michaelis
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