I’ve been having some interesting conversations lately with lawyers who demand a career that’s intellectually demanding, satisfying, financially successful, and fun. Fun? Can something as serious as practicing law be fun? These lawyers won’t settle for less. I’ve discovered 5 common attitudes and habits among these lawyers — how many do you share?
The lawyers I’ve met who insist on having fun (and who are, incidentally, deeply satisfied with their career and practice choices) are a divergent lot. Some practice in large firms, some are solos, and some practice in a midsized firm, in-house, or in a government agency. Their practices range the gamut from corporate to criminal to litigation, and their backgrounds are just as variable. But I’ve noticed 5 key similarities. Lawyers who have fun:
1. Are invested in their practices. Whether it’s a deep commitment to a particular kind of client (those who’ve suffered a brain injury, for instance) or to some agenda he or she advances through practice (representing domestic violence victims or lobbying for stronger legal protection for animals), Lawyers who have fun in practice have something at stake in their work. There’s an underlying purpose and value to practice for them, and they’re energized by it.
2. Are able to laugh at the absurdities of practice. Every lawyer knows how utterly ridiculous practice can be at times. Experts take completely unsupportable positions and refuse to budge despite the evidence. Clients insist on the unattainable in ways big and small. And things just happen. So much of practice is deadly serious, but the lawyers who have fun know when and how to laugh, and they enjoy the humor.
3. Find ways to integrate hectic practice and hectic personal life. Lawyers who have fun in practice know that all work, all the time is a recipe for burnout, so they strive to maintain boundaries around their personal time. By intentionally taking time away from practice (whether it’s on a weekly basis or whether it comes in the form of 2-week vacations when they’re absolutely unreachable), these lawyers preserve their energy with time away so they can be fully engaged when they’re practicing.
4. Enjoy colleagues and clients. Lawyers who have fun like and trust the people with whom and for whom they work. Camaraderie lightens the mood (I remember and have heard all sorts of stories about working all night and staying energized by the other lawyers working then too) and offers opportunities to bat around ideas, strategy, and arguments, all of which can lead to great legal results and also great fun.
5. Relish the bold and unconventional. Lawyers who have fun in practice enjoy taking a step out of the expected. Maybe it’s pulling words from The Devil’s Dictionary or making notes on an upcoming argument with a purple glitter gel pen or using dictaphones to record Dueling Banjos on a slow Friday. Or, as the picture above suggests, maybe it’s getting a little work done in the park on a nice spring day. The specifics don’t matter, but these lawyers have a healthy sense of play, individuality, and perhaps even rebellion.