Evaluating Your Present Situation
For many years now, poorly thought out job and career decisions resulting in dissatisfaction have been epidemic among lawyers. Here is an article written in the UK about lawyer misery. (Keep in mind that this was written before the current economic crisis.)
“Why are Lawyers miserable: Want a List?” by Sathnam Sanghera appeared in the TIMESONLINE July 9, 2007
“You see, as with everything else, America has been doing lawyer dissatisfaction bigger and better than us ( UK ) for decades. Polls have at various times established that not just a quarter, but up to 40 per cent of US lawyers want to leave their profession”.” The list of reasons for lawyer unhappiness includes; the dehumanizing house, the yawning gap between their intelligence and the mind-numbing nature of their work, the yawning gap between the ideals of those entering the profession and the reality, the cumulatively lowering nature of the work, the vortex of hatred that envelops them entirely, and the self-inflicted nature of their suffering.
You must be prepared to assume responsibility for the decision-making on all issues which vitally concern your career and your life.
Why not begin by evaluating your current or most recent work experience in the light of your ideal workplace? Print out this page or simply write down the numbers from 1 to 20 on a sheet of paper and proceed as follows:
Rate ONLY the characteristics below which are important to you on a scale of 0-10 indicating how much that characteristic is satisfied in your present workplace. Divide the total score by the number of characteristics you selected to obtain your satisfaction score. Not surprisingly, a perfect score is a 10.
1. ___Intellectual stimulation and creativity
2. ___Experience trying cases in court
3. ___Self expression in a relaxed atmosphere
4. ___Reasonable income
5. ___Work flexibility with time for family and non-career pursuits
6. ___Opportunity and reasonable timeframe to become a partner
7. ___Close colleagues and a friendly environment
8. ___Diverse responsibilities and experience with limited supervision
9. ___Preferred and/or varied legal specialties
10. __Treated as professional
11. __Training and development
12. __Opportunity for direct service
13. __Work consistent with professional and personal values
14. __Contribution to the public good
15. __Cultural and ethnic diversity
16. __Autonomy and chance to work independently
17. __Right geographical location
18. __Managerial opportunities
19. __Early client exposure
20. __Chance to feel needed
A. My Total Score was ___
B. I selected ___ characteristics.
C. Dividing A. above by B. above, you get your satisfaction score ___.
Unhappy with your score? If you scored less than 5.0, you are probably quite dissatisfied with your work and perhaps the direction of your career. What should you do?
First, if you are a lawyer who wrongly believes that you are trapped forever in the world of large law firms and have no options, please understand that this is not the case.
Second, understand that taking control does NOT mean rushing to look at the want ads, calling recruiters or even contracting with an "Outplacement" firm.
Third, learn how critically important it is that you become aware of your goals, your values, whether they be personal or professional, your interests and your options.
Finally, recognize, especially if you are currently unemployed and searching for a new position, that when you accept a position, it combines both satisfying and undesirable features many of which you can evaluate PROSPECTIVELY before accepting a position. What a difference it makes to be able to predict, before taking the position, the likelihood of your finding satisfaction there!! While circumstances may dictate taking one that is not desirable, you will no longer be able to say you were passively placed as happened to many as they left law school. This decision-making approach results in you affirmatively CHOOSING the next step on your career path.