Career Goals Values

Discovering your act II for legal practice

Written by David E. Behrend

No one said that lawyers whom graduated from law school in their 20’s had to stay in the practice for 45 years, until retirement. Your values, priorities and interests may change, as will your internal gratification and enjoyment for practicing law. Counseling and guiding lawyers over 25 years many lawyers feel ”trapped’ and unable to explore, much less pursue, options, either within the huge sanctuary of law or outside it it- moving on to Act ll in the lengthy career.

Many lawyers have ‘tunnel vision’ with reference to their skills, know how, capabilities, and marketability and most important-value! There is a market for lawyers who have proven credentials and credibility outside ones particular area of experience.

Two lawyers I know left the practice of law after a number of successful years in practice for their ‘calling’ was to own summer camps. They both acknowledge using their legal skills in owning such a business, while making that successful career transition. Additionally, two lawyers moved into senior positions at universities in the development and fund raising sectors. Finally, a successful matrimonial/family lawyer client of mine got tired of the daily intense adversarial nature of the practice, and achieved a solid position as Relationship Representative with a Bank and Trust Company, helping well to do multi-generational families.

Why don’t lawyers whom are disenchanted in their daily work role, consider a ‘change’. The answer I find, is usually that change is risky, and many prefer to stay where they are, rather than ultimately explore potential alternatives – which they may not really be aware of! As noted previously, there are three type of change I encourage clients to consider:

  • Job Change – same type of work but a different work culture
  • Career Alteration – staying within the practice of law but a significant different employment setting
  • Career Transition – moving on to Act ll, as noted above, outside the daily practice of law

One of the questions I ask a potential client to my practice when contacted is: ‘How long have you considered speaking to a career consultant with reference to your employment situation.’

Many say ‘a few years or more ‘, and my response is  ‘if this was a toothache would you wait to see your dentist that long before exploring the discomfort?’

A quote I use in presentations and CLE’s may be helpful here:

‘To each of us at certain points in our lives there come opportunities to rearrange our formulas and career and life style assumptions – not necessarily to rid the old, but more to profit from adding something new!’

About the author

David E. Behrend

Director of Career Planning Service, I have been a consultant working with attorneys and other professionals for over 25 years. My focus is on career development, concentrating on meaningful or necessary job change or career transitions. I have authored many articles on the subject, and have appeared on numerous radio and television shows. My practice offers both office and telephone career consultations.

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