Finding Meaning in Your Legal Career Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher Finding Meaning • About 25% of Lawyers are happy being lawyers, About 25% are very unhappy and all the rest are somewhere in between • Lawyers are very prone to addictions, depression and anxiety • Doing a difficult and stressful job without any sense of meaning or purpose is drudgery-few people did all the work required to end up in that position Finding Meaning • One of the characteristics of happy lawyers is that they have found a sense of meaning or relevance in what they do-they also tend to want to do what they love and are willing to make changes to get there • They are unwilling to just grind it out for another day for the money What gets in the way? • A large percentage of lawyers did very little real career planning and thinking about being a lawyer before they went into law schoolsome had never even talked to a real lawyer before they became one!! • This means many lawyers are here by accident!! • Some were pressured by parents or the culture at large to become lawyers What gets in the way? • Some have a very narrow view of the vast field of law-they believe it is private practice or bust!! • Some believe you absolutely must end up in a large tier one firm in Vancouver or you are a loser • Some believe change is bad for the resume and slog it out at places they dislike in the vague hope of future happiness What gets in the way? • Some are waiting for a powerful inspiration or epiphany like you see in the movies • Some are waiting to eventually figure it out by thinking about it and waiting and waiting • Some are hoping for the big break or the magic career opportunity • Some believe it has to be “hard to be good or worthwhile” and proceed to create a hard life for themselves-they love swimming upstream! What works? • We are going to hear from some lawyers who have made interesting career moves and have created meaning in their careers • Some themes you will notice: • It usually happens in a series of stepseach one closer to a career they love • Sudden inspiration or epiphany without effort or some suffering is rare or nonexistent • It requires a willingness to change and take risks What works? • Those who have done it have felt the fear and done it anyway! • It requires the belief in yourself that it is possible • Often it involves fear and uncertainty-there are no guarantees-sometimes a step backward occurred before a step forward happened • It requires you be proactive What works? • Proactive means taking action and doing things like career counseling, informational interviews with people who are doing the kind of job you want to do, applying for jobs in an active way • It means stopping “thinking about it” or “waiting for something else to come up” you will waste years doing this and it won’t help at allyou can’t deal with this by thinking!! What works? • It means understanding yourself and what you really, really, really want out of life • It means following your dreams not your rational mind • It means doing what comes more naturally and easily to you-swimming downstream • It means shifting to an attitude “If it ain’t easy it’s impossible” • It means being motivated by joy, passion and interest rather than fear-In one sense it is so easy many lawyers resist it What works? • It means reviving the part of you that was excited about life, knowing your values, allowing yourself to dream, doing what you want • We have an exercise to start withthis will begin the process • Start small –with stepping stonessee article from “What can you do with a Law Degree?” Stepping Stones • Some may want to start with a Sabbatical-the longer the better • Some can change things where they are-you don’t always need to move or change jobs • Practice in the area you love, get rid of clients that make you crazy • Delegate stuff you don’t want to do • Try a composite practice • Change the amount of time you practice, change where you practice, do contract work • Change anything! If that doesn’t work keep changing until it does!!