Name: Renee Thompson
Job Title: Attorney, Partner
City: Ocala, Florida
Number of Children or Other Dependents: One dog, a boxer named Boss
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
Trying to have it all requires that everything be given priority, which is not really realistic. Having ‘it all’ can be a myth that leads to unrealistic expectations. Nobody is perfect.
What does having “it all” mean to you?
For me, having ‘it all’ means finding a way to take care of my clients, my practice, my friends, my family and myself simultaneously.
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives?
To me, the concept of harmonizing priorities is paramount to balancing. There are going to be times when some priorities are simply more important than others, that’s where harmony comes in to help even out what is most important to focus your attention on at the time. Understanding this distinction was some of the best advice I received, because not everything can be an equal priority every day.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
I would spend it with my parents. I know they won’t be with me forever and spending quality time with them is a premium.
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Invest in yourself daily, so that you have more to give to others.
Do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives?
I think most people in our profession deal with guilt on some level. We don’t live 9 to 5 lives, so finding time for what matters personally can be challenging. Those feelings seem to be amplified for me when I’m running through that list of things in my head I have yet to get to. Writing it down always helps.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
Technology. Whether it is the ability to communicate more effectively away from the office, in courtrooms or otherwise, technology can change our ability to engage in our profession from anywhere at any time, allowing us more time for our personal lives.
What part of “balance” do you struggle with?
Patience. I like to see results and will work until I get them. I have to remind myself I am only one person and I have a lifetime to make a difference.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
I have learned to say ‘no’ if my plate is full. Having room in your schedule allows you to do better work and feel less stressed.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
I consider this a personal priority, as this is what makes our communities and our profession better. If you invest in the future of your community and your profession now, it is bound to be bright.
What’s the advice you would give a young lawyer seeking to strike a “balance” between family, self, and the practice of law or achieve better quality of life?
Surround yourself with people who are doing it right in your eyes. They will inspire you daily. I also believe organization is key; block time in advance on your calendar, so that it is not usurped by others, and keep it sacred for your priorities. And remember to support your colleagues, after all, we are all in this together.
Any other parting words of advice?
Sometimes good enough is okay, so don’t be afraid to delegate. Sometimes I see lawyers hold on to projects as if they are the only person who can do them right. While you might do it better, sometimes it is more important that it just gets done