Get satisfied… Or get out.

Monica Parker (author of The Unhappy Lawyer) and I recently hosted a teleclass entitled, Should I Stay [in the Law] or Should I Go?  Nearly 100 people registered for the free preview call, and we ended with a lively discussion. We named the call  Should I Stay or Should I Go? because that’s the question that we both hear all too often from clients, potential clients, and lawyers who just want to release a burden by talking for a few minutes.  And all too often, the answer becomes, “I really want to leave practice but I can’t because…

This morning, I read a story  on the ABA Journal website, in which a former Baker Botts associate left practice and became (after a few interim steps) a Dunkin Donuts franchisee.  His turning point came after several years of frustration when he asked a colleague about to make partner whether it’s true that practice gets better with time:

“The colleague responded, ‘No, it doesn’t really get better. You just resign yourself to [the notion that] this is what you do, you resign yourself that this is an easy, safe way to make a living,’ ” [Michael] Weinberg recalled in an interview with Texas Lawyer.

Weinberg said the advice “was just one of the most depressing things I’d ever heard. And I remember thinking, ‘I gotta get out of here.’ “

Talk about a turning point.  Here’s what I’d like to remind dissatisfied lawyers: law isn’t for everyone, and choosing to remain in a career in which you experience only minimal satisfaction is a waste.  Many frustrated lawyers can improve how they feel about practice by making changes that range from small tweaks  (learning to use time more effectively, for example) to seismic shifts (such as changing areas of practice).  I specialize in working with lawyers to develop successful, satisfying, sustainable practices, and there are two moments I especially relish in my work: when a lawyer finds satisfaction and chooses to stay in practice, and when a lawyer decides that law really can’t be the right fit and chooses another career instead.  Get satisfied or get out: life’s too short to tarry in misery.

The next two or three posts here will focus on how to make the decision of whether to stay or to go, along with the changes that may improve your satisfaction.

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