It’s not uncommon for lawyers to consider leaving the law.
Working as a lawyer, whether for yourself or for someone else’s practice, you undoubtedly know the pros and cons of life as a lawyer. The high compensation comes with long hours, repetitive tasks, and little free time. While you may have accepted that tradeoff in the beginning, now you may be asking yourself one important question:
“Is this it?”
If you are thinking of leaving the law completely, you’re certainly not alone. However, before you pull the ripcord and make your exit, there are three important questions that you should ask yourself. By taking the time to answer these questions, you’ll be in a much better position to make the best decision regarding whether or not you need to leave the practice of law to find the fulfillment and satisfaction you are seeking.
Three Important Questions Before You Leave:
1. Why did you go to law school in the first place?
Looking at the data, there are plenty of reasons why prospective law students want to go to law school. According to a study by the Association of American Law Schools, most undergraduates see law school as a pathway to a career in politics, government, or public service. The next cohort found law school attractive because they had a high interest in the type of work they would take on. The following two cohorts centered on the opportunity to give back to society and the opportunity to advocate for social change.
At New Law Business Model, we believe the law is truly a helping profession. We’ve heard it time and time again from lawyers in our training programs that they went to law school to help people and help make this world a better place, but the reality of lawyer life did not live up to those dreams.
To find that fulfillment you had in mind when you went to law school and reach your personal and professional goals, you may need to do something different, but it doesn’t have to mean leaving the law. Let’s look at the details of what is not working for you in question number two.
2. What are the specific things that have caused you to hate being a lawyer?
- Are you unhappy with the types of clients you serve?
- Is your schedule out of your control with no time to enjoy your life?
- Do you hate going to court or dealing with opposing counsel?
- Frustrated tracking billable hours and /or constantly chasing invoices?
- Can’t figure out how to get clients?
- Feeling unfulfilled by your practice area wanting to be the kind of lawyer that makes a difference in the lives of others?
- Overburdened with administrative tasks?
- Working all hours of the day and night because you can’t figure out how to build a business that is profitable?
It’s important to examine the source of your frustration because it will help you understand if it is law itself that is turning you off, or if the issues really come down to how you are practicing law now. The good news is that the problems listed above are all solvable problems and you don’t have to give up the use of your law degree to solve them—which brings us to the third question.
3. Will leaving the law truly solve your problems?
While it may seem like the answer is an overwhelming yes, this may not necessarily be true. No matter what else you do, the odds are good that you’ll run into the same problems that you’re facing right now that have you hate being a lawyer—and you may just end up with a whole new set of problems.
So the real question here might be, “Am I willing to forgo my years of law school and the investments I made in my law degree to start completely over in a new career or to build a business from scratch?”
Take some time to be honest with yourself, and as objective as possible when answering this question. You may discover that if you can work toward solutions (like changing practice areas or implementing systems) to address the aspects you are unhappy with, you could be well on the path to a happier you.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
– J.P. Morgan
Final considerations before leaving the law
What is your why, now? Are you starting a family or raising your kids? Do you want the freedom to work virtually? Are you looking to build a practice you can sell for retirement? No matter what you choose to do, think about the ‘why’ that will inspire you to do what it takes to be successful.
And before you give up all that you invested in your law degree, consider that maybe your law degree could become your most valuable asset when you face what’s really broken and fix that first.
Are you interested in learning a new way to use your law degree that works with your goals and vision for a happy and successful life? Schedule a call with a Law Business Advisor today.