The majority of lawyers make only a few career moves. When it is time for one or one is necessary, every attorney should spend time going through an honest self-assessment. Attorneys who take the time to think through where they have been and what they have accomplished, will not only be able to make some course corrections if necessary but may open themselves to opportunities they otherwise would not have considered.
A good self-review gives you the opportunity to pinpoint any areas of dissatisfaction and those where you derive pleasure. Armed with this information, you can determine what is important in your next employment opportunity focusing on what will drive you to your most productive. This may mean you look to change your practice area or type of employer or focus on leaving the practice of law altogether.
Consider how each position you have held has challenged you. What were your dislikes and were those things you should have better managed? The three main considerations in any job leading to overall job satisfaction are:
- The work – how sophisticated and challenging is it?
- Money – most people will tell you not to consider money as a motivating factor but, realistically this is a major factor.
- The People for and with whom we work every day.
Blending great work, good pay and great people results in the perfect job. However, you will likely face compromise as there are few unicorns in the world of jobs.
As you dive deep into your personal motivations, think about what drove you to become a lawyer in the first place. Some attorneys went to law school to better the world but after graduation took a much different path given financial realities they had never considered. Don’t let that hold you back now. Yes, life has only become more demanding as you have far greater responsibilities. However, there may be other ways to achieve our original goals. If you haven’t represented the types of clients you once believed to be of critical importance, are you able to work for clients who make the impact you desire to make? Are there pro bono opportunities or an interest outside of law such as a charity or a civic organization that can add balance and perspective and provide another avenue for fulfillment? Spend some time thinking far outside of the box.
The perfect job may not be able attainable, but after a good self-assessment, finding a position that is more in line with your career objectives will result in greater satisfaction. And who knows, maybe you are the attorney who catches the elusive unicorn!