While your law school experience may not have made you aware of your options, you do have them. While your law school experience may not have taught you how to plan your career, there are guidelines and practices you can use to search for and locate positions consistent with your professional goals and personal values.
"I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people." The Reinvention of Work by Matthew Fox (no relation) Page 104
I have been aware of an incredibly high level of dissatisfaction of lawyers since 1984. As I wrote in page 1 of my book, Lawful Pursuit, published by the ABA in 1995,
“The feeling of dissatisfaction is quite prevalent among lawyers, not just those who come to us for career guidance. A recent ABA Young Lawyer’s Division survey found that 66% of all lawyers would change jobs within two years if they had a “reasonable alternative option. …. A California survey (1992) found that 70% of the lawyers responding said that if they had the opportunity to start a new career they would take it and 73% said they would not suggest law as a career to their children.”
Little has changed since 1984.
Are you dissatisfied in your present position?
You have options!!!
For twenty five years I have provided guidance and advice to law students and lawyers exploring their options within and outside the law.
My goal is to help my clients develop as professionals and find positions consistent with their personal values and professional goals. I can work with you as you try to find the career satisfaction you deserve.
When I am asked who a typical client is, I say that the plurality of my clients have been out of law school from 8-12 years. Their primary area of practice is commercial litigation in a large law firm. Most have moved at least once with the assistance of recruiters.
I provide support and guidance in individual confidential sessions primarily in person for those who live in New England or New York and over the telephone for those living in other parts of the country. I work with lawyers actively seeking new positions as well as those simply interested in exploring their options. This enables clients to make informed decisions by giving them the information they need to overcome the barriers, including false assumptions and outside pressures, that keep them from making positive career moves.
Many clients learn that they do not have to choose between staying in the law or leaving it. They begin to see themselves not simply as lawyers but as individuals each with unique goals, values, skills and abilities. By focusing on settings, fields and roles that appeal to them, rather than on "legal positions", they discover worlds where not only their legal training, but many of their other experiences, interests and talents are relevant qualifications.
I should make it clear, however, that most of my clients, even though they initially express a strong desire to leave the law, eventually make a transition to another setting within the practice of law. While it is true that legal training is looked upon as a additional valuable qualification, the search for an appropriate position fitting the criteria sought by lawyers (meaningful work, intellectual stimulation, autonomy, reasonable income etc.) is difficult, complicated and confusing. The problem is NOT that there are few openings for lawyers in corporations and non-profits. Few are advertised but thousands of organizations would relish having a lawyer working for them. The problem is that you cannot simply contact the entity and say “I am a lawyer. You need me.” What is required is that the lawyer explain in detail what role the lawyer would take within that organization. That requires an awareness of its structure and organizational chart as well as where it stands within that industry (or cause). In some way, the lawyer needs to recall the difficulty when about to graduate from college and the many options he or she considered outside of graduate school.
In addition to this confusion, clients often rethink taking a position in the practice of law once they have been made aware of a range of options that seem to provide them with what they sought in a legal career.
Finally, those whose appeal lay in a cause or an industry take that into account in what they choose to do next. The person with a passion for the outdoors and nature might search for a position that involves plaintiff litigation for environmental injury or one representing manufacturers of ski related equipment.
"If our work is small it is not revelatory; it contains no mystery, no deep passion …no wisdom, no real truth. It is drudgery without meaning; it is sweat without purpose; it is duty without play; it is toil alone that bears no fruit. It lacks newness, energy and hope for the future. It is not an adventure. It is not bigger than we are, calling us to expand as the universe is expanding. When our work is too small it lacks Spirit." The Reinvention of Work by Matthew Fox (no relation) Page 122