Why We are Still Unhappy

 February 10, 2016

By  Casey Berman

Right now, what value do we (unhappy, disgruntled) attorneys provide?

A lot actually.

We have specific knowledge (case law, what a client can do, what a client cannot do), we provide strategy (how to approach and navigate a case, what damages to ask for, how to best negotiate), and we ensure execution (getting documents drafted and finalized). And on and on.

People (partners and clients primarily) value all of this that we do.

Partners value it because the client has paid them to get all of this done and if they didn’t have us to do it all, they would have to find time to do it, or not be able to do it at all (and then have to forfeit the client’s money).

The client values all of this that we do because they need all of this for some important reason (to grow their business or personal situation, to protect their business or personal situation, to plan for the future, etc.)

And because we provide value for doing all of this, we are paid by the partners (from the client’s money) for the time it takes to do all of this.


The problem with all of this

Sounds great, right? We might have needed a reminder, that we actually provide value.

So why are we still unhappy and want to leave the law?


1. We want to provide value to other, different people

For many of us, we are sick of working for who we work for: Our bosses, the clients, the issues.

We may not align with them, we may not feel good about them, we may just not like them. And while they may value our work and pay for it, emotionally we feel no appreciation or gratitude from them. We feel like a commodity that can be replaced.

What should we do?

Next step: Let’s get clear on how we personally provide value (Are we interpersonal? Are we dependable? Are we creative?) and let’s get clear on what excites us.

And then let’s find other people outside of the law that need these skills of ours and are excited about these skills of ours and will appreciate our skills and will pay handsomely for them.


2. We want to provide value using our skills in a different way

For many of us, we have a marginal amount of confidence in our skills as an attorney.

Sure, it all seems to work out: the brief gets written, the agreement gets drafted, the case gets settled. We get it done.

But we are often insecure as we do it. We feel kind of like a fraud as we do it. We fear our gaps will be uncovered any minute. We stress out over every little detail. It can take us so long to get things done. It is not easy to get the work done (and provide this value). It’s just so hard for us. It doesn’t come as easy as it should.

Next step: First, we need to realize that we are not a fraud and we are likely a pretty good lawyer, regardless of our insecurities.

And second, we need to come to terms with the fact the we need not be afraid to do a future job that comes easy to us. Yes, life and work need not be hard. It doesn’t mean we are complacent or just call-it-in. But it does mean that it is totally fine if whatever future alternative, non-law job we explore and land at comes easy to us. Easy is good.


3. We want to make more money – we want our skills and strength to be valued greater by someone else

Many of us do not currently make the amount of money we want to make. Or we make good money but we don’t like the job we have to stay in to make this money.

Sure, we add value to the firm and clients, but we want to be paid more, or get the same money but doing something else.

We have mortgages and student debt and our kids’ college to pay for. We need a bigger cushion.

Next step: First off, we need to make sure we have a positive relationship with money. If deep down we hate money or feel negative about it or feel we do not deserve to be wealthy, that dynamic will only continue.

Second, we need to act. We need to just try. We need to just experiment. We need to take a step, one small baby step: Become confident in how we add value, explore who requires and appreciates how we add value, and then provide this value to them in exchange for money. Lots of it.


There is a market out there right now (beyond the law and the firm and the disconnect and the unhappiness) for us and what we do. Really. Let’s believe it, then find it, then add value to it.

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