Taking Control Over Your Law Career and Your Life: An Overview

Below is a list of the articles in FindLaw's series on "Taking Control Over Your Law Career and Your Life." Reading the articles in order is recommended to maximize satisfaction.

  1. Introduction
    We assume that finding satisfaction in the legal profession is always possible: that it is a matter of "seek and ye shall find" rather than "trick or treat". Read about Ruth's present situation and consider the "stuff" of this feature - issues and questions.
  2. Taking Stock: Evaluating Your Present Position
    Take an EXERCISE entitled "My Most Recent Work Experience" to evaluate your work place based on a number of criteria.
  3. Strategies For Self-Assessment
    "Unless you take responsibility for your own assessment, you run the danger of drifting into someone else's future." A written self interview EXERCISE. Myers-Briggs and the Strong Vocational Interest Inventory.
  4. Self-Assessment: The Value of Not Killing a Mockingbird
    "(Ruth) wondered about what a fundamental value is. It's more than a regulation, closer to a commandment, a principle which cannot be violated because to do so would be like killing a mockingbird - a sin? What are her fundamental values?"
  5. Through the Looking Glass - Your Options in the Law
    Although large firm practice captures the attention, nearly half of all lawyers in private practice are sole practitioners, and approximately two thirds are in firms or five or less lawyers" Take the Exercise. Circle or highlight every organization and topic which appeals to you.
  6. A Firm Choice
    To be in a position to promote yourself effectively and find a position, you MUST be able, at some point, to 1) choose a setting, 2) select a field or industry within that setting, 3) describe in some detail the duties and responsibilities or a position you want, and 4) defend your choices in terms of your basic values.
  7. The Path Through Private Practice
    Assume that there are three broad streams of legal careers, each with smaller tributaries. Two streams constitute the pursuit of litigation and corporate practice within either law firms or other organizations. The third includes all those working in more broadly defined "hybrid" roles. Your task is to try to anticipate and understand how your career will flow through this system.
  8. Exploring the World of Small Firms That Represent Individuals
    She knew she wanted to work for the underrepresented members of society but was uncertain whether she wanted to advocate for them in the courtroom or by using other approaches...What I learned as a part of the plaintiff's bar is that there are lots of jobs out there not in the traditional public interest agency mold where one can do work for everyday people and still make a reasonable living.
  9. Law Letters
    "All are trying to answer the question of another James, who wonders in the forum whether it is asking too much to enter the law hoping "to do some good, make a secure life style for family and be happy". It is a measure of the current status of the professions that these outcomes no longer seem assured."
  10. Happy Lawyers
    "The thread of the recent messages that most deeply concerns me is the sense that it is hopelessly difficult to find meaningful positions in and around the law".
  11. In-House Counsel Jobs - A Myth?
    If you want to work for a for-profit or non-profit corporation - don't bother looking for in-house counsel positions. If you limit yourself in this way, you are probably overlooking at least 98% of the market for your services.
  12. Time, Satisfaction and the Law
    "From the forum letter, it appears that time weighs heavily on the writer for two reasons, one which relates to expectations of life in a profession, the other to the timing of a legal education in most students' lives."
  13. Taking Control - How to Search for Satisfying Positions
    Now that you are able to describe the duties of a position consistent with your goals and values and know the setting in which you want to work, you are ready to search for such an opportunity.
  14. Enforcing the Legal Profession's Values in Law Firms
    It is absolutely critically important that lawyers first recognize their values and the fundamental values of the profession and decide not to violate them. What are your non-negotiable values and goals? What are the fundamental values of the legal profession?
  15. For Law Career Satisfaction, Ignore Ads On-Campus Interviewing
    We would certainly hear from big firm associates in droves if we were to offer "concrete job opportunities with real employers" as you requested. We would also hear from small firm associates, solos, corporate counsel, law professors, DA's, law students and many other lawyers both employed or underemployed. Let me try to explain why they might expect such advice and why it isn't going to be offered.
  16. Darwin Among the Lawyers
    What does evolutionary theory have to say about job satisfaction in the law? Is it survival of the wittiest? Or is it nature raw in tooth and claw? The evolutionary clue to satisfaction and survival in the law may surprise you.
  17. The New Associates: A Letter to Puzzled Partners
    Observations of a law school career counselor on the concerns and expectations of the newest generation coming into the profession.

Guest Articles

Introduction
"I am a 1995 graduate of the George Washington University National Law Center...In law school we learn that in order to be worthwhile, we have to try to make it into the biggest, highest paying, and most "prestigious" firm that will take us. ... We buy into this myth ... and we betray ourselves, our true dreams, talents and interests."

Belva Lockwood
"As a schoolteacher, she made half as much as the male schoolteachers and spoke out against this unequal treatment" She was turned down from a number of law schools that felt that she would be a distraction to the male students."

Your First Years as a Lawyer: An Owner's Manual
Your First Years as a Lawyer "Why is satisfaction such an issue with lawyers? Do accountants or physicians or goat-herders also worry about their vocations and their places in them?"

Where to Practice? Law Firm, In-House, Government?
"Law firms are the norm. That's where the clients are, that's where the salaries are, and that's where the prestige still is. Is that where job satisfaction is?

The Search for Satisfaction
"New lawyers should not be concerned with job satisfaction. OK ... Got your attention?!"

Planting Yourself in the Right Soil
"Finding the right place...for you. Many lawyers find themselves doing work that does not take advantage of their talents. The first decision you must make -- in an affirmative way -- is to decide whether litigation or a transactional practice is more appropriate for you. This is a basic question, but it's amazing how little thought goes into it for many."

Balancing Your Law Career and Personal Life
It's easy to get caught up in the demands of practice, but you should not let the stresses of law office life cumulate without some regular method of release.

Fifteen Rules for Winning as a Junior Associate
"This article is intended to pass along some real-world advice about how you can win as a junior associate. It is the sort of advice that I wish I had had when I began my legal career."

Here's the Big Picture on Changing Jobs
Here is a big picture, and it has to do with planning your search, as your own advocate, and addressing prospective employers' needs and those of their clients, rather than just how a new job would benefit you.