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5 Reasons to Walk Away From the Practice of Law

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 31, 2013 3:52 PM

We all have those moments of doubt. Did I choose the right path? Should I have gone to medical school or become a computer programming wizard? Why in the heck am I dealing with schizophrenic clients that try to bite my face during my visits to the prison?

For most of us, those doubts pass. Despite all of the crap that comes with being a lawyer, especially a small firm attorney or solo practitioner, there are those good moments, where you keep a client out of jail, or settle a case, or win custody, that make the job worth doing.

But if the highs aren't balancing out the lows anymore, it might be worth some introspection. Here are five reasons to consider changing course.

5. The Passion is Gone

It's not there anymore. You remember your early days -- you zealously advocated for every client, even the really, really guilty ones. Even today, you still give it your all, but your ability to lie about your client's innocence, with a straight face, is waning.

Maybe you need a vacation. Or maybe, you need to move on.

4. You've Made Enough Money

Eighty-hour work weeks, snippy clients, and the stresses of running your own business. All of that income comes at a cost. If you've already squirreled up a massive nest egg, or taken your cut of that $100 million verdict, ask yourself: is it still worth the full-time practice? Maybe part-time (or no time) is in order.

3. You Have No Clients

The other day, I'm leaving court and struck up a conversation with opposing counsel in the elevator. He's in his late 50s, is handling low-level appearance gigs for debt collectors, and was lamenting both the lack of clients in today's market and his rising debt load and lack of assets.

Sunk costs are a fallacy. Even if you've spent the last twenty years practicing law, if there are no clients, and you feel like you're constantly running uphill in the mud, maybe it's time to head in a different direction.

Of course, that's easier said than done if you have a family, but if you're unhappy running your own practice, perhaps you should look into partnering up, or applying those decades of trial experience to a public defender's office, or doing anything but the status quo.

2. There Are Better Opportunities

Many law schools, in the name of practice-based education, are looking for part-time adjunct faculty. Or perhaps you have the next big idea to #ReinventLaw through a startup company. Maybe your experience could come in handy as in-house counsel for a small business.

If the solo practice isn't working for you anymore, try to find ways to channel your experience into better opportunities, such as a novelist, spirit healer, or rock star.

1. You'd Like to Spend More Time With Family

Finally, there's the "sugar mamma" or "sugar daddy" option. While most families can't afford to live on a single income, if your spouse is winning at bread winning, perhaps becoming a stay-at-home parent is a viable option. After all, what sounds like more fun: spending time with your kids or counseling convicted felons?

Did you make the switch? Was it the best decision of your life? Tell us about it on LinkedIn.

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