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March 31, 2023
By: RD Perspectives: Women in Law-Raising the Bar on Work/Life Balance

Robbins DiMonte’s women attorneys share their insights in a series of two articles addressing the challenges and questions that impact them and the legal profession as a whole. In our first article, Shareholder Diana Psarras talks about her career path, leadership roles and work/life balance.

 

Women in LawRaising the Bar on Work/Life Balance

by Diana H. Psarras, Shareholder

Diana H. Psarras is a highly skilled litigator with over 18 years of experience in commercial litigation and is the immediate past Chairwoman of the Firm’s Executive Management Committee. In the prestigious position as the Firm’s first Chairwoman, Diana led the committee in overseeing the Firm’s operations, and fiscal and strategic planning. In 2014, Diana was elected as the first female member of the Executive Management Committee.

 

Q. What hurdles do women attorneys face to achieve better work/life balance?

A. Generally, I found work/life balance became more difficult to achieve after I had children. I was practicing for 10 years before I had my children and back then it was a lot easier to rearrange my schedule and let my work obligations be the driving force in my daily life. Now, when I come home at the end of the day I want to focus on my children. It’s especially hard in the legal profession because the industry is ultra-competitive and the focus is on billable hours and productivity. You also need to be flexible to be available and responsive to your clients’ schedules and needs. While it’s difficult to achieve work/life balance, it’s important to carve out those hours for family or yourself. The balance comes from being able to recognize when a work matter is truly urgent and needs to be addressed immediately and “after hours” and when it can wait until the next business day.

There used to be a perception that if you prioritized making time for yourself or your family that it would appear that you were not committed to the practice of law, though that perception is changing. In the past few years there has been a recognition that you can do both. You can take that time to do things for yourself or your family and also be committed to your career, to the law, and to the firm. Robbins DiMonte has built a culture that values work/life balance for our attorneys and the firm understands that reducing stress is important to improve mental health and overall well-being. Legal work can be stressful and exhausting and we do not want our attorneys and staff working excessive hours leading to burnout.

 

Q. When you began your legal career many years ago, did you ever imagine that you would have taken on a leadership role in the law firm? 

A. I did not necessarily plan on it, it’s something that evolved. I grew up at Robbins DiMonte, having started as a law clerk, then an associate, and then a shareholder. Over the years, I took on or was given additional managerial responsibilities; it was a natural progression. The more willing you are to take on additional duties and demonstrate a strong work ethic and leadership, the more you will be sought after for important new roles and responsibilities. My advice to younger women and attorneys at the firm is to take advantage of opportunities to get management experience, whether managing law clerks or chairing a firm committee, because once you are successful on that level, then you will be the person the firm looks to when there is a greater need in the future.

 

Q. What advice do you have for other women attorneys moving in a similar direction?

A. When you are in management you need to make decisions based on what is best for the firm as a whole and you often have to put the day-to-day issues of other attorneys ahead of your own. Don’t let the managerial and administrative tasks of managing a firm or practice area interfere with your own practice of law. While it is important to help ensure the firm runs smoothly and that issues are addressed promptly, there needs to be balance. Remember to focus on your own practice as well and try to keep your work/life balance. Lastly, know when it’s time to step back and let others take a turn.