Go ahead, say it … being a lawyer sucks!
You might have arrived here after googling a term like "I hate being a lawyer", "recovering lawyer", or "being a lawyer sucks". The fact that being a lawyer is miserable hit me (Casey) very hard the first time.
It was right after I left the office after a particularly stressful day of legal work. I had suffered through a long software licensing negotiation that left me drained. I was stressed that I had so much more work to do and anxious that I might have missed or overlooked some important indemnification and liability details.
The opposing counsel just wanted to fight when I tried to resolve things. The client insisted on using their agreement version, so I was redlining a Word doc I wasn't initially familiar with. I was on a tight deadline because all parties wanted this deal closed before quarter-end.
And I had another long day (and night) of the same type of lawyer work ahead of me.
As I walked home, this visceral feeling of shame, disappointment, and fear overcame me. The searing heat penetrated the whole of my body like an electric current. I've never been struck by a 30 million volt of lightning, but I assumed it felt something like this. It hurt all over my body.
But the feeling also was a relief. I felt shame, but I had no doubt. The sense I had buried deep inside of me was real and genuine.
I said to myself, "I hate being a lawyer."
If you also are tired of being a lawyer or you feel being a lawyer sucks, we understand. In this article, we’ll help you unpack the core reason why you hate being an attorney (which we think will surprise you) and learn what steps you can take to explore an alternative career out of the law. There is hope 🙂
Let's dive in!
The real, hidden reason why being a lawyer is miserable
Before you can move forward and become happy professionally, you need to first uncover what the core reason for your current unhappiness as a lawyer.
When a new member joins our Leave Law Behind course, we often will ask him or her what it was about being a lawyer that they did not like. They come back with many reasons, but most issues fall within the realm of what we call the "Usual Suspects":
- You do not mesh well or trust your fellow associates or lawyer co-workers.
- You do not feel the senior partners appreciate you.
- You feel there is no clear or exciting career progress.
- You cannot deal with the constant deadlines.
- You are sick of having to always be "on" 24/7.
- You aren't making as much money as a lawyer as you thought you would.
- You're tired of dealing with other people's problems each day.
- You wish you could connect with people and not be stuck in front of a Word doc all day.
- You are sick of the adversarial nature of the business, and just want to stop fighting all the time.
- You are always stressed out.
- You feel like a lowly work horse, trudging along with work you really do not like.
And I'm sure you could list out many more.
These grievances are understandable and regularly pain and torment many an unhappy lawyer. But not one of these is the core reason why you hate being a lawyer.
Let us explain. The main, fundamental reason you hate being an attorney is because you really don’t like the work you do all day. There is no creativity, no use of your real skills and strengths. In other words, you were never meant to be a lawyer. What you are truly good at and want to do all day, is much better suited, and will be more appreciated, in a different job that has nothing to do with the law!
We know this may seem surprising. Or too simple. You may have trouble accepting that being an attorney is not what you’re meant to do. You may not want to believe this. You may feel it couldn't be that clear-cut.
But it is. You're thinking to yourself "I hate being an attorney" is caused in large part by your lack of connection to, alignment with, or skill set for the work a lawyer is required to do.
For example, the Leave Law Behind course has an exclusive Members Forum for members, grads and coaches to connect, vent, share job leads and provide help in finding alternative jobs. One unhappy lawyer discussed how being a litigator was not a fit with him at all. He wrote “I was on a Zoom conference with my office last Friday and my boss told us that we needed to fight over a certain thing. He said that having something to fight would be great for our morale and everyone seemed to cheer. Inside I thought, ‘I don't want to fight, I don't like to fight, I want to resolve.’ I felt like such an outsider.”
Learn why you are so unhappy and your options to leave law behind in this short 4 min video:
If you've watched the above video and have been practicing law for 7 or more years, click below to book a free consult call with Adam.
If you've practiced for less than 7 years, click here.
And to learn more about Casey and Adam, click here.
Curious if we're for real? 🙂 We’ve written and spoken extensively about alternative legal careers for the American Bar Association. Click here to read more.
There is hope: What you can do now to become a "recovering lawyer"
Even though being a lawyer may not be your calling, we know there is another "alternative" career out there for you that you can enjoy, make good money in and add through which you can value to others.
Even in the COVID world, hiring freezes will soon begin to thaw and companies and organizations are moving to build for the future. This too shall pass!
Just as an FYI, LinkedIn has MILLIONS of jobs currently posted on their platform. And these aren't all stale, older, pre-COVID roles: There are thousands of new job postings per day.
To help you, here is some information to assist you on your path:
1. Understand what you are good at
At Leave Law Behind, while we want to help free you from a job you're miserable in, we do not want you to leave an attorney job you don't like for a career out of the law, that you also don't fit in well with. That would make no sense.
In Module 4 of our online coaching and training course, we walk you through discovering what we call your "Unique Genius." These are the skills and strengths you have, that come naturally to you, that are called for by alternative careers. When you use your natural talents in a job, it's much easier to love that job and add value.
And this is so important for you as an attorney. Because you likely took the attorney job you have now NOT because it entirely fits your skills and strengths, but rather because you focused on finding a job based on finances, security, and social accepted stature.
And that's okay; we have all done that. But this disconnect between what you are good at and what the lawyer job calls for is the source of the "imposter syndrome" you may occasionally feel. It's the source of why you don't like being an attorney. And now is your chance to break this cycle, begin anew, and find your dream career.
2. What kinds of jobs would you really like or LOVE?
Once you have a handle on what you're good at, then we walk you through what jobs align with your Unique Genius analysis.
You may, at this point, have some doubts as to whether you can make a mid-course correction in your career. You may wonder if you're qualified enough to land one of these alternative careers.
The short answer is "you can" and "you are." You have what we call the "transferable skills" in demand by alternative careers. All that you do as an attorney (listen well, write clearly, present persuasively, be the adult-in-the-room, upsell clients, present to relevant stakeholders) is needed and called for in jobs outside of the law.
And we know this, because we've helped hundreds of unhappy, unfulfilled attorneys just like you to leave the law for alternative careers.
3. Craft your "alternative" job resume and cover letter
Once you've completed these steps in our course, you're now ready to get your new resume in order.
You know how to put together a resume to apply to a lawyer job. But creating a resume for a job out of the law is a different animal. Casey is a contributing writer for Above the Law, and he has written about non-law job resumes in-depth in his article Three Things To Keep In Mind As We Reposition Our Legal Resume To Get A Non-Law Job.
And we have done the heavy lifting for you in the Leave Law Behind coaching course. Out of all the non-law jobs we've identified, we've highlighted the top 21 "alternative" roles and created resumes for each one. Downloadable, easy-to-customize, in-plain-English Word doc resumes for you to use immediately. Link hereOne of our course graduates who used Leave Law Behind to leave the law for a technology marketing role swears by our resumes. Before she joined the Leave Law Behind course, Deb told us she sent out over 30 resumes for jobs out of the law, and received no call backs. Once she joined our course, and used the Leave Law Behind resume templates, she received call backs instantly. She ultimately accepted a technology marketing executive role in Seattle.
Click on the below video to hear Adam describe how Deb used Leave Law Behind to transform her resume and cover letter and land her dream job out of the law.
4. Why you should not be worried about hiring managers and their questions about you leaving the law
One of the most prominent fears lawyers looking to leave the law have is the impending interview they'll have with the hiring manager of a company. You may think they'll reject you, or think you're crazy for leaving the law. You may fear they'll ask you a ton of touch questions you feel you can't answer or be mean.
Nothing is further from the truth. When Leave Law Behind grads do meet hiring managers for interviews for "alternative" jobs, they are so prepared, so aligned with their Unique Genius narrative, and present so well that they often wonder what they were ever afraid of in the first place. Further, our course has some killer videos on how to deal with these kinds of questions! We walk you through the interview process so you are prepped and ready.
Being a lawyer sucks … so don't sabotage yourself as you try to get out of the law
We've explained to you the core, fundamental reason why you hate being an attorney. We've also laid out the steps you can take right now to explore your path out of the law.
There is one more essential step we'd like to highlight for you. And that is, watch out for the self-sabotage. You may nod your head at all we've discussed in this article. But regardless of how much you agree with the idea of leaving the law, the main obstacle standing in your way of happiness remains … yourself.
Self-sabotage occurs when you unknowingly, unwittingly or subconsciously get in the way of your grand plans to make positive change in your life. This can manifest itself as doubting you're capable of making this type of transformation. It can appear as fear or settling or anxiety. It can surface as your endless procrastination and inability to get some of the required done.
The main reason you'll procrastinate in leaving the law is because you don't know where to start. You feel you don't have a map or GPS or outline to follow. You have a knowledge gap.
Leave Law Behind closes that gap for you.
To summarize, here's how you can go from saying "I hate being a lawyer" to "I love my new job out of the law":
- First, admit you really do not like what you do day in and day out as a lawyer. This idea may be hard to fathom, considering all you've put into becoming a lawyer, but the facts are the facts.
- Next, understand that you do not know what to do next. Guess what? We do! Sign up for some free training and find out your next steps to being happy!
As the coach and motivational speaker Paul F. Davis counsels, "If you don't feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated."
We also have written other articles and resources that can help you on your path out of the law. Four of our most popular and helpful are: