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Podcast Ep. 108: Balance by Design: How to Design a Successful Legal Career and a Happy Life

by Talia Schwartz • January 22nd, 2020 • Podcast

In this episode, Guy Alvarez discusses how to design a successful legal career with guest, Marianne Merritt Talbot. Marianne is an expert on business development and marketing, coaching, executive presence, and personal development. She is the Executive Vice President of SCG Legal, an award-winning international law firm consortium, and the author of the new book “Balance by Design: A Planner for Women Lawyers with a Life.” Marianne is here today to talk about her new book, and her formula for how legal professionals can build success and happiness in their careers and in their lives. Marianne’s book is available for purchase on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble. You can also connect with Marianne on LinkedIn here.

Podcast Show Notes:

Tell us a little bit about your life journey and how you got to be where you are today.

When I graduated from law school, I knew I wanted to do civil rights law and women’s rights law. I was hired by Philip Hirschkop, the lawyer who won the case of Loving V. Virginia, which rid the bans on interracial marriage. With every case, Philip Hirschkop always asked me “How can we approach this case differently? How can we be creative?” I took that advice into my own life and thought about “What do I need to do to create a name for myself” and how I can help other people. After doing litigation for many years, I decided I wanted to try coaching and help professionals to create a career that they love and think creatively in.

Why did you decide to write your book, “Balance by Design: A Planner for Women Lawyers With A Life”?

I decided I wanted to do something for myself that had never been done before; there is no career guide with planning pages. It also has ideas and checklists about business development, career development, and also resources for your personal and professional life. I think of it as having a career development person, who is an industry expert and life coach, in this book.

In the book, you mention how having fun is a key part to success, can you explain that a little bit? 

I have this four step formula, called the GALA Approach. The first step is Goals, set your goals and write them down to help you remember them. The second step is Action, this would be writing down the steps needed to complete your goal. The third step is Learn, think about what you learned during the process of completing your goal. The final step is Adding fun, how can we add more fun to our days? How can we incorporate fun into our work, into our personal life 

Do you have any advice for professionals who are struggling with various serious issues in their lives and how to deal with the pressure from work?

Specifically in the legal industry, everyone works so hard, but there’s not a lot of attention on when people are struggling in their personal lives. Because talking about depression or pressure can be found as a sign of weakness. The first step is knowing you need help and then seeking it.


In order to avoid burn out and build success and happiness in their lives, legal professionals need to prioritize things that are important to them. It’s best practice to write down your goals and take small actions each day towards completing them; aim high and start low. As you attain your goals, keep in mind what you learned during the process about yourself and how you handle challenges. Don’t forget to celebrate little accomplishments.


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