Practicing law can be a tough job. You must learn your craft, which is a career long endeavor as laws and regulations change. You have billable hour requirements. Clients are demanding of your time and intellect. On top of this, there are administrative duties and business development activities. As such, many lawyers are dissatisfied in their jobs. I saw one article that said 56% of Biglaw attorneys describe themselves as dissatisfied.
While one cannot get away from the responsibilities that go with being a lawyer, would finding a new job make you a happier lawyer? Because if you are unhappy, sometimes simply switching firms can help. Other times you need to find a new career altogether.
Many lawyers actually like a lot about the practice of law and don’t have the desire to change careers completely. They just want to be happier practicing law.
For those who are dissatisfied, ask yourself, what can I do to be happier? The first place is to look around your current law firm. Is your unhappiness related to your current place of employment? Do you like the work? Are you getting the right amount of support? Do you have a seat at the decision-making table? Is the culture in line with your way of living? Whatever is causing your stress, can the firm make accommodations to alleviate some of it?
Next, see if there are there are other factors, outside the control of your current firm. For example, is your commute way too long? Is the firm requiring you to work in the office again during the pandemic and it makes you feel unsafe?
Maybe you would be happier at a different firm. Sometimes a new firm, that has more of what you are looking for can be the solution. I suggest that you make a list of attributes in another firm that would increase your level of happiness. Then do your homework. Google the firms and ask your friends who are lawyers if they have any thoughts or insight. You may also want to talk to a legal recruiter.
While we only work with partner-level attorneys who have significant portable business, there are legal recruiters for associates and junior partners. A good one will be able to get you information on firms in your area.
Maybe you feel like you need to find a new career altogether. There are many jobs that would be a good fit for your skills. Take me as an example. I went from practicing law into legal recruiting. Feel free to call me if you want to become a legal recruiter – we are growing.
There are all types of jobs in the legal industry outside the practice of law. Some examples include legal media, marketing, non-profit, politics, teaching, and consulting. These are good options if you do not want to lose your investment of law school, and time-spent practicing law. For others, it is semi-common to fully leave the practice of law. I am aware of a lawyer who became a caterer. Another friend quit law to work for his family’s business.
If this describes you, I can introduce you to a career coach that specializes in helping lawyers find their next step.
There are options for those who are dissatisfied. For some, it may mean finding a new career. For most, finding a new job may make you a happier lawyer. We are here to find partners with significant portable business that new job. Feel free to reach out if you would like to chat, or join me on my monthly confidential Q&A webinar.