You know I ask questions! And this one is really important for all attorneys to ask themselves once in a while. It can prevent burnout as well as redirect lawyers who have “lost their way”.
So why are you a lawyer? Did Mom and Dad offer to pay for law school and it seemed easier than making up your own mind? Did you decide you wanted to be a professional but not a CPA or a Doctor or a PHd? These are called DEFAULT CHOICES. They don’t involve much thinking or analyzing what you really want or what will make you happy.
How about the ability to earn a lot of money? This is a carrot that leads many young people into the profession. Unfortunately unless you are willing to sacrifice big time, today’s market isn’t one that automatically provides wealth. In fact, a recent study showed that if a single attorney (without family) can make 70K a year, he or she is as happy as one making three figures. The idea of less pressure and more down time is very appealing to many lawyers coming out of law school.
I hear many attorneys say they went into law to “help people”. Many are now very disillusioned because they find themselves needing to make business decisions which don’t really involve helping anyone. Answering a mountain of interrogatories can defeat anyone’s inclination to continue in this career.
So what’s the answer? Today law students need to identify much more carefully than ever before what it is they want to achieve by being a lawyer. The LAW is a cruel master and can devour many an attorney who doesn’t recognize it’s seduction. How many attorneys are killing themselves with billable hours, forgetting their health and families or drinking themselves to death?
Now let’s get personal. Why did you decide to be an attorney? Is it time to rethink the fact that maybe you did it for a flawed reason? If so, not all is lost. With careful planning you can break loose of the restraints of being a lawyer and make decisions which will align themselves better with your nature and wishes.
Much of what I’ve written and teach will guide you to a path which will not only create success but also contentment. Doesn’t that sound great?