Rebuilding Self-Confidence Part 2
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 changed firms at least once with the assistance of a recruiter. Some describe the process as "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic".
A second category of clients are those who went to law school not interested in practicing law but rather "to keep their options open" and ended up believing that their only option was practicing law.
A third category of clients are those who went to law school planning to pursue a public interest career but ended up believing that their only option was to practice corporate law supplementing it with "pro bono" work.
A fourth category of clients are lawyers who, for a variety of reasons, no longer have a choice of remaining in their present law firms.
A fifth category of clients are those who have an entrepreneurial creative spirit which they believe has been squashed by the needs and requirements of law firm practice.
A sixth category of clients are "senior" lawyers considering leaving the law firm practice they have been associated with for sometimes many years.
My services are structured in two stages - the Career Search and the Search for a Satisfying Opportunity. Underlying the entire effort is one critical component - the need to help rebuild a sense of self-confidence and self-worth that most of my clients have lost.
I often remind clients about the role that Noah Wyle played on the long-running TV show, ER - Dr. John Carter. When he began, he was an insecure medical student. At the end of his medical training, in his residency, he is a capable, competent, confident physician.
The opposite occurs in the case of lawyers as they work they way through law school and the practice of law. Capable men and women who did well in college, wrote creatively, were active socially, started businesses and traveled, entered law school feeling good about themselves. The law schools then failed to teach them what they need to know to practice law and failed to teach them how to plan their career. At the same time, through the on-campus placement system, law students were often funneled to large firms to do work that never held their interest and, in addition, they often find the work boring and meaningless. They felt trapped because they did nor know any options and, therefore, did not know how to make a transition.
No wonder so many are unhappy, dissatisfied, frustrated and depressed!
If you take control of your career, you can find satisfaction in the practice of law. After nearly fifty years in the legal community, I am still outraged at the failures of the law schools to train their students to practice law and to teach them that they should be committed to taking positions consistent with their professional goals and personal values. I blame the law schools for the dissatisfaction of lawyers as well as the inability of the public to obtain the services of a lawyer."
BigLaw is only one segment of the legal profession and a fairly small one when you look at the demographics; i.e., the vast majority of law firms have less than 5 lawyers AND THERE ARE A HOST OF REASONS WHY LAWYERS WOULD WANT TO WORK FOR SUCH A FIRM.
I know about small firms because for the last thirty-eight (38) years, I have been involved with them. I have worked for them, started them and worked with them. I have worked with firms that do commercial work, firms that represent individuals in personal plight issues, and public and private public interest law firms and non-profits.
In addition, many of my clients never wanted to be employees. They wanted to be their own boss and be in control of their lives. They are entrepreneurial. They would never contact recruiters or need to. Who would a recruiter send your resume to if you are planning to open your own office? In fact, who needs a resume if you are going to be a solo practitioner?
Know that you are competent and that you are needed. There are satisfying positions in the legal community for you. All you have to do is take control over your career and go after them.