The Internet, and legal publications, have so much information and articles about the stressful lives of lawyers. Long hours, firm culture and other stresses can cause lawyers to be unhappy in their jobs. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic, social discourse and financial uncertainty have only added to the stress level of lawyers. For many, these converging factors created a time to reflect on all aspects of life. Maybe you thought about it before the pandemic. Or, perhaps, you realized it during the pandemic. Regardless of when, if you think your law firm is holding you back or are not sure, we have an exercise to help you make a determination.
We call this, The Is Your Law Firm Holding You Back Quiz. Copy and paste these questions into a document. Then, answer them.
Do you get the support you need? Time, money, staffing, marketing, administration?
Does the firm respect and support you practice area?
Are you encouraged and supported to get involved both inside and outside of the firm?
Does the firm’s billing structure match the types of clients you want and can get?
Do you have the tools you need to do the job? Does the firm provide the necessary technology to do your job?
Does your firm seem to care more about new lawyers than somebody like you who has been contributing for many years?
Compensation & Growth
Do you know how you get paid, how you can advance, and how you can succeed at your firm?
Do you get credit for non-billable contributions that you make to the firm?
Is credit shared when appropriate or is it “eat what you kill”?
Are you stuck in a lock-step system? In other words, are you being held back because others with similar experience are not ready to advance?
Does your firm have bad reputation stopping you from getting referrals?
Doe the firm have the platform for you to reach your goals?
Does management communicate often enough so you know what is going on?
Do you trust management?
Is there a succession plan in place? If so, where do you fit into it?
Do leaders have personal agendas and not act in the best interests of your firm?
Is the firm financially sound?
Is the culture toxic and full of drama?
Do people step on your relationships? Or worse, steal or claim them?
Are your opinions respected? Is your voice heard?
Do co-workers collaborate with you or are you on your own? Do your colleagues stay in their lanes in their areas of practice?
What is overall morale at the firm?
Do you have the work/life balance that you want, need, and deserve?
Are you happy and satisfied more often than frustrated and miserable?
For you, is this the right firm?
Do you feel safe at work?
If you did this exercise, now what? Do you like the results? Here are some options to make your life better:
- Take your concerns to Management and challenge them to improve your firm.
- If you do not have a voice, build a coalition that will have a voice to get Management to make improvements. This coalition can include non-attorneys as well.
- Find another job – bring these questions on interviews. If it sounds like more of the same, maybe the grass is not any greener.
- Start your own firm. This brings challenges but you can create your own destiny and culture.
- Get out of private practice altogether. Or go in-house.
- Explore options to create satisfaction working within you existing firm constraints such as hiring a professional coach or change practice area.
We are friends with many happy and fulfilled lawyers. So, this quiz should not be a negative exercise. Like anything in life, improvements can be made, and we can all strive to have happier lives. After all, a job is job. Life is a journey, make it a good one. We are here to help.