Working at a law firm can be miserable. You often deal with unreasonable partners, unreasonable hours, and unreasonable demands. But while you may be contemplating leaving your firm job, you should also be aware of some reasons to stick it out.
Before I put law firms behind me, my mother told me that it is really easy to quit a job, but a lot more difficult and rewarding to stick through one. I didn't listen and quit the next day.
Several years after the fact, as the people I started with made partner, I now look back and wonder if I made the right decision. I still think I did, but the answer isn't that clear. With that being said, here are some things you may want to consider before taking that leap:
- Every Job Is Miserable. If you stay at any job long enough, you will find things and people you don't like about the job. So if you leave law firm life expecting a rewarding career and life, you should know that you may simply go from one miserable job to another. Only this time, you'll probably make a lot less than you did at the firm.
- Money Does Buy Happiness. Anyone who ever said money doesn't buy happiness, has never been poor. While having money is no guarantee to being personally satisfied, it sure does make it easier. Without a law firm salary, you may kiss away vacations, new clothes, and eating out. Perhaps the biggest thing you'll lose is the freedom of not having to worry about money.
- Firm Life Does Get Better. It's a long six- or seven-year hump, but once you get over it, law firm life does get better (or so I hear). Young associates get the worst assignments that no one wants. Once you start dealing with clients directly, you can delegate the unpleasant work, while having greater control of your schedule.
- You'll be Worrying a Lot More. Leaving a law firm job will not necessarily free up a lot of your time. Instead of burning the midnight oil billing, you may now spend the same amount of time worrying, looking for new jobs, and stressing about finances. Anyone who has ever applied to a government job knows that it can be a full-time job just looking for a job.
- Hopping Around Careers Can Set You Back. If you have a firm job and stick with it, you can slowly become an expert in that practice area. The key to any job is to become an expert. If you leave firm jobs and then other careers, you may find yourself perpetually on the starting rung.
Leaving a law firm job may make sense for a lot of people. This is especially true if you know what you want to do. But if you're on the fence, you should know that leaving a miserable law firm job, does not guarantee that your life will get better.
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