{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I see a fair amount of attorneys post about their career unhappiness. If you were to be honest, do you love practicing law? And, if not, why do you continue to do it?", "post_id": "5edbb65c1336e100213743f8", "reply_count": 169, "vote_count": 20, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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I see a fair amount of attorneys post about their career unhappiness. If you were to be honest, do you love practicing law? And, if not, why do you continue to do it?

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I enjoy a lot of aspects of my practice. I really like counseling and compliance work as I feel like I am able to help people run their businesses better, and so that work feels more constructive to me. I like crafting a good argument, learning about the law and about my clients’ businesses and industries, and achieving a good outcome for my clients through my hard work.

I really don’t like a lot about the lifestyle. I want to work 40 hour days and live outside a big city where it is not super expensive. I want to be able to make and commit to plans at least 95% of the time. I don’t want to be available all of the time. I dislike the hierarchy and the billable hour. And I’m not looking forward to doing more business development as I move up the ladder.

I think it’s possible I could find what I want in law but in a different position. I’m fortunate that I am at the point where my loans are essentially paid off (I have the funds that I would have used to pay them off in savings in case the world completely falls apart due to the pandemic and I will pay them off in August before interest starts accruing again) so I can start looking for other positions that do not pay as much as I am making right now. But there are not many openings at my level (esp. in house and/or government) so I’m kind of stuck for the time being.

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I really enjoy the intellectual aspect of it and the people that I work with, but as a defense attorney, practicing law has made me really start hating people. A combination of the average person's complete lack of personal responsibility, the contingency fees, the insurance industry's fear of massive judgments, and the overloaded courts, has created a legal system that incentivizes the filing of frivolous claims. It's amazing how many people injure themselves and blame someone else. Why not? There is no downside for the plaintiff and the attorney knows the insurance company is going to settle. As one colleague who used to work as a plaintiff's attorney once told me. Plaintiff's attorneys aren't lawyers, they are business men. Their business just happens to be the law.

The system is broken. It reminds me of the scene in Philadelphia where Denzel Washington is interviewing a new client:

-All right, look, I want you to explain this to me like I’m a 6-year old, okay? The entire street is clear except for one small area under construction, this huge hole that is clearly marked and blocked off.
-Yes,
-You decide you must cross the street at this spot, no other. You fall into the hole. Now you want to sue the city for negligence, right?
-Yes. Do I have a case?
-Yes. Yeah, of course you’ve to a case.

But at least the money is good, right?

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Insurance defense and “good pay” dont compute.

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I do not love it, though I love helping my clients who would be SOL without me. It also pays the bills and I am very very good at it. But as soon as financially possible, I’m starting over and going to Hogwarts.

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It’s important to acknowledge when you’re hood at something. This job can sap you of so much. If you’re good at it and you know it, show it. Just don’t be an arrogant dick

I hate this shit and the people i work with, but big law money is good and I need to pay for my lifestyle.

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I do. I HATE billing, but I love being a lawyer and practicing. I went into a field I am passionate about in all areas of my life, which I think made all the difference.

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I think there are lots of potentially hidden psychological components to the reluctance or hatred of billing. Flat fee work can help in some ways if that’s an option.

Used to. But as a woman I find it difficult being treated like an assistant, paralegal, or first year associate. I’m given BS tasks despite being in my 8th year of practice and being fully capable of managing files on my own (as I did for three years at my last job). The money is nice I guess but I don’t like much else right now. And why do I still do it? Well I’m still paying $800 a month in student loans and will be for the next 10-15 years. And I literally have no idea how to switch careers at this point. I think I still want to be a lawyer but I want to stop being treated like an admin.

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Am male, so cannot speak to the female experience, except that I know from observation that dealing with the court and opposing counsel is different and may be difficult. Will tell you though — and I have been doing this a long time that — although doing the gruntier and less challenging work can be dispiriting — I do not truly believe it is the end. Any law firm has an internal market for talent. Be the best. Do great at the “shitty” work and cultivate yourself and your environment so that you are creating opportunity and preparing yourself to maximize them when they arise. THAT’s the game. Markets cannot ignore talent, especially not over the long term. Yes, I too have been overlooked for opportunities I wished had been presented and which might have given me an opportunity to shine. That sucks. When that happens, you just have to look for the next one. Persistence pays. Keep finding ways to make a contribution and ways to increase your value. They will come.

There isn’t much I like about it, at least litigation. I’ve never done corporate or transactional work, but most of my friends don’t like it either. I’ve said elsewhere here that it’s not the actual act of billing that I mind but that you’re tied to the billable hour.

As far as substantive work goes, most of it is pretty rote and boring. You reach a point where you just look at what you’ve done sometimes in a case and you’re just like, “Man, what in God’s name was this all about?” I can’t stand most of the partners - they treat you like shit, are not responsive, expect you to read their minds, and assume you only work for them.

Back to the billable hour, when there is virtually no other way to measure you’re productivity, it is miserable. You can’t work less and meet your numbers unless you’re padding - it’s not like you can close a a few big sales and hit your numbers.

I’ve considered going in house. As far as other career options, not sure what else I’m really qualified for at this this point.

Most days I dread having anything to do with work. I just don’t care about my client’s problems. They’re stupid for the most part. I honestly can’t think of a single matter I’ve had in 6 years that shouldn’t have been resolved through mediation within the first 6 months, assuming you had somewhat reasonable people on all sides. Frankly, most of the practice is pretty asinine and made up by attorneys to generate fees.

I don’t like the whole “my client’s problems are my problems too” attitude. I have problems at home too - sick kids, spouse, parents. I am a human being too, and having this attitude is unhealthy. If your problem is my problem, I get to solve it carte Blanche?

Also, I LOATHE written discovery.

Here’s my Sunday night rant. Good night.

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Yes to all of this. I agree that I’ve worked on very few cases that actually seem important. I just was asked to “help out” (not even handle solo) a contract dispute case worth less than $5,000. Why are we even taking this?! It makes no sense.

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I love it when I’m busy and detest it when I’m not.

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That’s one of the things I think is cool about the profession: there are enough different kinds of work and practices for both of us to find homes doing things in environments where we can enjoy our jobs.

For my part, I like being busy because I like feeling like an important part of a team, and like people value my opinion and work. When I’m not busy, I feel stressed about how people perceive my value. I worry about my job security and I worry about my compensation. That paranoia for me is 1000x worse than feeling like I have to get everything done perfectly and in no time at all.

The pandemic has made me slow for the first time in my career, and I’m about to lose my mind. Partners keep telling me to take it easy, that I’ve earned a “vacation.” It takes all of my energy to not scream at them that worrying about my job security and scraping to get hours every day by trying to conjure work out of nowhere is not a vacation. I’d give anything to have the 18 hour days back. If I’m this slow in a few more months I think I’ll have to look for another job because I just can’t take it anymore.

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I am growing to love it. My first two years at a firm was like lifting up a rock and seeing all the gross stuff slither out. I switched from a big law to a boutique firm and went from doing M and A to regulatory advising. I am really like it because it’s more business building, problem solving and intellectually stimulating. It is taking me some time to make peace with the fact that I don’t LOVE being a lawyer but that has forced me to develop a fuller life outside my job. I used to be the kind of person that made their academic/professional pursuits their primary identity now I am seeing the value in “balance”

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This is a complicated question in that many, if not most, attorneys enjoy the actual work itself, however, much of the unhappiness spawns from the unrealistic expectations of others in terms of much quality work can reasonably be completed within a fixed period of time.

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Yeah every day I wake up and say to myself "thank god it's not the weekend, I get to negotiate a bunch of mundane contracts today".

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I love the work but I hate networking. I'm at a small T&E boutique and when a partner puts something on my desk to work on it's great, but my biggest regret about joining the profession is that at some point (probably should be now as I'm 9yrs out of LLM) I will be expected to bring in business and I have no desire to. I did not grow up with friends that came from money so I have no inherent network of people that need estate planning like most of the partners did. I detest going to networking functions and I don't speak to people when I go to conferences or the like. I get good reviews from the partners but I know I'm not moving up until I bring in my own business.

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At a larger firm that might not really be the case. Less so than in years passed but partners that bring in lots of business need reliable people to do it. Personally I find the bringing in business part really rewarding

I love my work. My boss makes my job unbearable

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I love my current job. I started out in BigLaw, had a child, quit, went back part-time, went full time at a smaller firm, then went in-house, then went to a different in-house job at a Fortune 100 company. Experienced a lot of settings! Each had its pros and cons. I love being in-house because you develop deeper relationships with your clients and you can really provide them with an immense amount of value. The job is intellectually challenging every day. As long as you have a good boss, it’s great!

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I love it. Plaintiffs’ side since day 1. In law school, it’s the one area I swore I would not practice. Glad I was wrong. Helping the clients is what it’s all about. The money is good too. Paid my student loans off in first 2 years. Got some very big bonuses since then as well. But Money comes and goes. The difference you make in the lives of your clients will last forever. And once I experienced that, I was hooked. I live every case and never stop thinking about them. I’m always researching areas of the law, or the learning about my clients’ industry/business. I’m always thinking about potential moves and strategy. I probably spend more time thinking about my cases than most, but I am in my 3rd year. So I guess I’m still learning. Either way, doesn’t feel like work to me. It ain’t always easy, but it’s worth it.

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I love it. 4 year associate. I do medical malpractice defense trial work at a mid size firm. 90% of my stress comes from firm environment and micromanaging partners.. but the actual legal work, I love. I love my job.

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I love it. I have spent the majority of my career in house and do not have billing requirements, so I suppose that could change my mind a bit. I didn’t start my career as an attorney, either, and I think that makes a big difference. I had a career where I was miserable, and made the switch to be happier (and, if I’m being honest, make more money). If I end up at a firm, it’ll be transactional and advisory only, I don’t have the pedigree nor the interest in litigation (unless appellate).

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Student loans. I love practicing the law, I hate the firm politics.

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I hate it most of the time, but I wear golden handcuffs. I have no other way to maintain my standard of living, so I am trapped.

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I love being a lawyer, it feels like a massive chess game. But I often say I wish I could do exactly my job but only 75% of it. The hours expectations and the crazy client / firm pressures and the constant fear of malpractice are mentally overwhelming.

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I do generally love it. Not all areas (billing sucks) but I feel like all jobs have their downside.

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I love the work. I loathe many aspects of the job (billing, 24/7 availability, not being able to make any plans, not having seen my kids grow up, being stressed out, not getting enough sleep, political matters, other people not doing their part or responding, and so on). I like a number of aspects of the job, too, and can’t imagine doing anything else.

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I’ve been practicing for four years and I love it! I look forward to going into the office everyday and working towards good results for our clients. I enjoy researching, writing, and being in court. I never imagined I’d be a lawyer, but I’m definitely proud to be one.

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