Career Goals Managing Self Monday Morning Practice Values Wellness

Think Again: Chart Your Own Course

Written by Allison Wolf

There are so many things you can do with a law degree, so many different types of law to practice, so many spinoff opportunities.

There are also many ways you can get stuck in a legal practice that sucks the life out of you. Some of these traps are external, and many internal. Here are just a few that I have come across in my practice as a coach.

  • I can’t afford to walk away from this salary.
  • If I stop being a litigator I will be looked down on by my colleagues, I will be a failure.
  • If I go in-house I won’t be able to get back into private practice down the road.
  • It is too late to change practice areas.
  • This firm has been good to me, I owe it to them to stay.
  • People will say I was crazy to leave this pretigious law firm for a job at a small boutique.
  • I’m afraid I’m just being a quitter if I leave.
  • I’m afraid that if I leave it will just prove I don’t have what it takes.

Here’s what is important to know – no matter where you are in your legal practice – if you aren’t happy at work, don’t like your colleagues, or don’t like the clients or the work, this unhappiness will creep into all other areas of your life. It is vital to take action.

There are a lot of reasons that will come up to argue for not making a change. Our reptile brains (the amygdala) hate change and will think up any number of reasons for you to stay stuck in misery. Think again, and reach out to a coach or a Lawyers Assistance Program counsellor for support.

I know many lawyers who faced the above challenges and were able to make a change for the better:

  • Litigators who are making the transition to collaborative law.
  • Big firm lawyers who have left, or are leaving, for smaller law firms where they get more freedom to practice as they like, with less bureaucracy, and lower targets.
  • Private practice lawyers moving in-house and in-house lawyers returning to private practice.
  • Lawyers who choose their own billable targets with no need to be one of their firm’s highest billing lawyers.
  • Lawyers who work part-time while their kids are home, and others who work remotely to avoid long commutes.

All these lawyers discovered what they needed to make legal practice work for them and made it happen.

What do you need to thrive? Make going after that a priority.

This post was inspired by Gary Mason’s article from the Globe and Mail this weekend – writing about watching his son’s Call Ceremony in Vancouver.







About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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