Finding Meaning in Your Legal Career

Finding Meaning in
Your Legal Career
Lawyers Assistance
Facilitated by Robert
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
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
• This means many lawyers are here
by accident!!
• Some were pressured by parents
or the culture at large to become
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
• 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
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
• 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
• 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!!

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