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When a woman rushes home from work to get dinner on the table for her family, it’s called regular life. When a man does this — for a whole year! — he blogs about it, writes a book about it, posts YouTube videos about it, and generally wallows in a self-congratulatory vat of gnocchi-addled joy. Meet Cameron Stracher. The 46-year-old New York Law School professor, novelist, and commercial litigator is the latest, freshest voice in the call for what’s known as “work-life balance” in the legal profession. Stracher’s new book, Dinner With Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table, chronicles his grand achievement. Every day for a year, he says, he made it home to Westport, Conn., to have dinner with his wife and his two children, then 6 and 9. Stracher is smart enough to understand just how ridiculous this sounds, at least on some level. “At the end of the book,” he says in an interview, “I realize that I wanted people to praise me, to get down on their knees and say, �Yay, Dad!’ But that’s not what this is about.” So what is it about? Stracher says that in the summer of 2005, he realized that his life was completely unbalanced. “I was literally working 100-hour weeks,” teaching law and consulting for a company based in Kansas City, Mo., never seeing his family awake. His rail commute between Manhattan and Westport was a two-hour ordeal, one way. Added to that, he’s also an established writer, with a novel, The Laws of Return, and a legal memoir, Double Billing: A Young Lawyer’s Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair. He pens articles and essays for The American Lawyer, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. It’s not at all clear that he sleeps. “I was so overwhelmed by it that I was just sitting in the kitchen and thinking, �I have to stop.’ Then I had the idea of making it home to dinner as a way to force myself to stop.” TYPE A PROCESS Translation: a Type A attorney living a Type A life figures out a Type A way to shape himself into more of a Type B person. It’s a tradition popularized by life coaches — forcing people to relax, even if it means having to write it down in the day planner. And his solution fits the approach that lawyers tend to favor: If you want to achieve something, make some rules to follow. Of course, plenty of unhappy lawyers grumble about their hours and continue to toil away. Stracher actually gave up his BlackBerry in his pursuit of family time and fresh pasta. In his book, he measures out his hours (not billable, but certainly quantifiable) in dinners cooked, tantrums thrown (his and his children’s), and family time whiled away in greater togetherness — which didn’t always go over so well with his wife and children, who were not used to seeing him so much. In addition to writing a book on his experiences, he also kept a blog as a way to stay on the straight and home for dinner. And he posted on YouTube a grainy home video of himself and his daughter, making gnocchi, complete with the inevitable food-on-the-floor scene. JUST ONE JOB Stracher, his children (Simon and Lulu), his dog (Sugar), and his wife (Christine) live in a five-bedroom house in a neighborhood where Stracher knew he would feel financially stretched living on just a law professor’s salary. Nevertheless, he decides to cut back to the one teaching job and to make it his year-long project to prepare and eat dinner with the family. He has mixed success. Not all that surprisingly, his children balk at some of his more creative cooking ventures, like risotto and stir-fried vegetables. He sulks, throws pillows, shuts himself in the bathroom. But little by little over the year, the children come to appreciate both Stracher’s cooking and his continued presence at home. This gradual change leads Stracher, unfortunately, to a series of trite-but-true revelations:

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