The Flexible Cyborg: Work-Life Balance in Legal Practice

(2016) 38(1) Sydney Law Review 1-21

22 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016

Date Written: January 11, 2016


‘Work/life balance’ (WLB) emerged as the catchcry of workers everywhere in the late 20th century. It was particularly appealing to women lawyers as it was thought that if a balance could be effected between work and life, satisfying careers and the raising of children could be combined. The key to effecting this balance, it was believed, was flexible work. Technology has facilitated this flexibility as all that is required is a computer, or other device with internet connection, and a mobile phone. Provided that the firm is agreeable, the lawyer would have a degree of autonomy in determining when and where the work is carried out. However, flexible work has not always proved to be the boon that was hoped, for the shift from face-time to virtual time has blurred the boundary between work and life, insidiously extending the hours of work and impinging on the realm of intimacy. Drawing on a web-based survey and interviews with lawyers Australia-wide, this article considers the ramifications of perpetual connectivity for lawyers in private practice, with particular regard to its gender significance.

Keywords: legal profession, work/life balance, flexible work, gender, technology, private life

JEL Classification: J20, K31, L49, M14

Suggested Citation

Thornton, Margaret, The Flexible Cyborg: Work-Life Balance in Legal Practice (January 11, 2016). (2016) 38(1) Sydney Law Review 1-21, Available at SSRN:

Margaret Thornton (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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