What are your Next Steps if you are Unhappy In Law?

Faye Gelb

On a recent podcast with The 1958 Lawyer, I was asked how you can guide someone who is unhappy in law and wanting to make choices about what to do.

Does Being Unhappy in Law Remove all your Choices about Law?

The first and most important point is that being unhappy in law does not mean that all your choices about law have been removed. Many people equate being unhappy with the conclusion that law does not work at all for them. But, this isn’t necessarily true.

Look at the WHY that caused the Unhappiness in Law

Until you look at the WHY, as in why you are unhappy, you are not in a position to really choose what to do about your emotional state. There are two steps to examining why you are unhappy.

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First Step to Exploring Why You are Unhappy in Law

The first step is to look at your current situation. Here are some questions to ask that can help pinpoint what is really going on:

  •  What are your first thoughts when you wake up and think of going to work?
  • How do you feel about your firm culture?
  • How do you feel when you think of interacting with staff, colleagues, partners, directors, or others?
  • Do you have a mentor or support?
  • What work do you find interesting?
  • Do you enjoy the clients you currently have?
  • What pressures are you facing including:
  • billing,
  • client happiness,
  • staff efficiencies,
  • working with colleagues,
  • work load / work hours
  • types of files,
  • deadlines,
  • limitation periods,
  • law society actions,
  • career path,
  • partner / director expectations, and
  • opposing counsel and others you must interact with on files.

This provides a foundation for you to understand what you do and do not like about your current situation.

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Second Step to Exploring Why You are Unhappy in Law

The next step is to understand who you really are inside the lawyer you’ve become. In the 1958 Lawyer Podcast I discuss six critical aspects to getting to know yourself as the foundation for building a successful career.

 Summarizing those briefly here, they are:

 1.      Personality: understanding what kind of personality you have because it dramatically impacts how you communicate. Her Legal Global Podcast with Kirstin Lund explored Lawyer Personality Type Impacts Communication and what that means for you when navigating your career.

 2.      The Joy Meter: what thoughts energize you? Picture different career paths and monitor your energy response, if you feel your energy seeping away, it is a great barometer of a fit that isn’t working.

 3.      Type of Work: how do you work best, with teams, by yourself, on multiple files, larger complex files, what type of law is the most interesting to you?

 4.      Risk Taking: are you a risk taker, risk avoider or a combination of the two? How is your current situation matching up with your risk taking assessment of you?

 5.      Type of Management Style: do you have one, have you been trained, are you comfortable in management or just muddling through? Do you prefer to leave management to someone else or do you want to do more?

 6.      Mental Health: Do you have solid mental health or are you struggling with self-care, addictions to anything including exercise, food, alcohol, medications, drugs, internet, or other avoidance type behaviours such as binge reading for hours on end?

 When we take a look at all of these with have a much clearer picture of what is going on for us at work and who we really are.

Exploring Your Choices When You are Unhappy in Law

By combining these two we can begin to explore options. I believe it is critical to do these steps before voting with our feet and choosing to leave law. We have invested years of our lives and thousands of dollars obtaining the qualifications to practice law.

 Isn’t it worth investing in exploring the possibility that law can work for you in a way that aligns with who you really are?

If you’d like to explore these questions in depth, I invite you to book a 15 minute complimentary coaching call with me.

 We can explore your current situation and determine if we are a great fit for one another in your journey to obtain career clarity and a roadmap to your personally defined success.


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Lawyer, Faye Gelb, Founder, Her Legal Global

About The Author

Faye Gelb, founder of Her Legal Global is passionate about empowering lawyers to have a career that makes them smile when they wake up in the morning. Lawyer, Entrepreneur, startup cofounder, front end web developer, photographer and business consultant. Her goal is to help you learn skills. We don't just talk about issues, we provide solutions! Listen to Her Legal Global Podcast for expert interviews providing you with immediate support and actionable skills.