Why Passion is Important, Especially During a Bad Economy

I absolutely LOVE this quote:

“Passion is not a luxury that needs to be jettisoned in tough economic times. It is the most essential force a person can bring to a challenging job market … not only because we tend to do our best when we’re passionate about what we’re doing, but also because passion is what inspires a person to keep pushing to find a way forward, no matter how tough the circumstances.”

– Lane Wallace, The Atlantic

Read the original article for more on why you need passion for your career here.

I find this article especially useful for new law grads that are having a tough time finding a job, and are maybe questioning whether they are really passionate about Read the rest of this entry »


What’s Good in Big Law Isn’t Good for Happiness


I started thinking about some reasons why so many big law attorneys are unhappy and why the rate of attrition is so high at big law firms.  While some of these may seem obvious, the following are just a few examples of things that are considered good by big law standards, but that won’t bring you happiness:

  • working your ass off
  • making more money (via profit sharing, bonuses, or promotions)
  • accepting what other people tell you (e.g., your boss)
  • competing with others (for more work, more billable hours, more clients, etc.) and rank and self-worth at the firm largely depending on these factors
  • working so many hours that you start neglecting your friends, family, and especially, yourself
  • making partner and getting the corner office with the nice view
  • working while on vacation
  • all-nighters
  • never speaking up to say what’s really on your mind and not shaking up the status quo of the firm
  • never turning down work

While some of these examples are obviously not conducive to happiness (hello, working on vacation?!), some others may surprise you.

Generally, the ultimate goal while working in big law is to make partner and maximize profits.  Basically, the goal is to make lots of money.  But research has shown that once your basic needs are met, more money doesn’t mean greater happiness.

The problem is that many unhappy lawyers start looking to external sources of happiness (such as money, a nice car, a nice house, a nice watch, etc.) as their motivators that keep them working at their jobs.  So they start acquiring things, and they keep working so they can keep paying for those things, and again they buy more things to “reward” themselves for working so hard.  But what they don’t realize that is that even after acquiring all these things, they still would not be happy.

Any person that strives for things outside of themselves to make them happy will ultimately be unhappy.  It’s as simple as that.  And the big law firm model seems to reward behaviors that are more conducive to making people unhappy.  No wonder there are so many unhappy big law attorneys looking for a way out!

What do you think?  Does big law reward the very behaviors and ways of thinking that make people unhappy in the first place?  Leave a comment below.  I’d LOVE to hear from you!

If you know lawyers seeking a way out of big law, please send them over to the blog (www.escapefromthelaw.wordpress.com), or share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below!  I’m sure they would appreciate it.

Quitting a Secure Big Law Job

The other day, I read this amazing article by former advertising executive Shannon Kaiser, and could relate to so much of what she wrote about that I had to share it with you. She is now a travel writer.

She wisely notes, “We are going to find ourselves in many situations that don’t work for us. But we have the power to choose happiness. We can bring our own happiness back by choosing to follow our heart and listen to our inner voice.”

And my favorite part of the article is the following, because I can relate to it so well:

“I would arrive to work lifeless, cold, and afraid to listen to my inner voice. I would say to myself, ‘I went to graduate school for a marketing degree, so I better stick to this.’ But it just wasn’t what I wanted.

I was pretending to be the corporate climber. The more achievements, awards, cities, clients, and money I could get, the more I could say I was worthy. It was all a big circus, as I quietly hid myself behind the illusion of success and fulfillment.

I secretly longed for freedom. Every day I would sit under the fluorescent lights and cry inside.

I felt like a caged animal that wanted nothing more then to break free. But fear, and fear alone, was holding me back.”

Can you relate to Shannon’s story?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Please share this post with a friend, or link to it on Facebook or Twitter if you liked it!

Words of Wisdom by Rumi

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”


Dealing With Rejection

Sweet Sorrow

I remember when I was desperately seeking my way out of big law, I was searching for and applying to jobs pretty much every single day.  I was rejected countless times, but I kept trying because I knew there might be other jobs out there that would be a better fit for me, and for which I would be a better fit.

I did not receive any response to 98% of my job applications.  I finally received a response, and it was from my dream company – Google!  They wanted to do a phone interview with me.  I was absolutely floored that they even considered my application considering the number of applications they receive every day!  Apparently I made the first cut, and I thought I was on the right track.  Google was the light at the end of my big law tunnel and I was going to do everything I could to get that job.

The phone interview went well, and I was invited to the Google campus for an in-person interview with 3 attorneys on Google’s legal team.  I was ecstatic.  Researching, studying and preparing for this interview became my full-time job.  I couldn’t have done anything more to prepare for that interview.

But when it came to interview time, I was challenged by the questions the attorneys asked me.  They asked me to answer hypothetical questions that I would most likely have to deal with if I worked as a member of their legal team.  I tried my best to answer the questions in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, but the interview was definitely the most difficult interview I’ve ever experienced.  That being said, I thought I did fairly well and expected to hear a positive response.

So when I heard back from the recruiter that they decided to pass on my application because of my lack of experience, I was devastated.  I felt rejected.  My way out of big law felt closed off yet again.  I started criticizing myself for not being able to make that amazing opportunity a reality.  I became even more depressed when I had to go to work the next day, knowing that my stay there was once again indefinite, and my dreams of presenting my (already drafted) resignation letter to my boss saying I’m going to Google came crashing down.

Looking back almost a year and a half after that experience occurred, I can see that perhaps life was trying to lead me away from the law.  Maybe, I was starting to realize, there was an alternate career path that was awaiting me that would allow the space for a greater contribution to others and to the world than the law ever could.  And if I had obtained that job at Google, I might not have ever pursued that alternate path.

When life deals us blows, most of us have fear-based reactions and start being hard on ourselves, and then try to numb the pain through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or other means. This is not a healthy cycle.  I’m sure many of the new law grads can relate, given the horrible job market and the number of rejections they’ve probably received for their applications.

A better way to deal with rejection is to trust that it might be a sign that something is not the right fit for us, and maybe we need to take the road less-traveled instead.

We also have to be proud of ourselves for putting ourselves out there, even after countless rejections, instead of taking rejections personally.  Every time we think we fail, it actually means we are on the right track, because we are putting ourselves out there and trying to change the things that aren’t working in our lives.

If you have friends that are unemployed law grads or if you know a lawyer seeking a way out of big law, please send them over to the blog, and share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below!  I’m sure they would appreciate it.

Why Self-Help Doesn’t Necessarily Help

Self-Help...Yourself{by sheadonato}

If you’re anything like I used to be, you may be addicted to self-help books.  I used to devour self-help books left and right, on topics ranging from love and relationships, business and career, fashion and style, dealing with difficult life situations, how to be rich, and especially on how to be happier.  I used to even exchange self-help book recommendations with my girlfriends.

This all changed when I met with one of my old law school classmates a few months ago.  I hadn’t seen him in five years, so we had a great time catching up with each other.  When we said goodbye to each other, he said something to me which has not left my mind since that day.  He said, “Be compassionate to yourself.”

While what he said was hardly revolutionary or unique, it influenced me in a way that completely caused me to look at myself in a new way – something that no self-help book had ever done.

His words really resonated with me.  I thought about them long after, and I realized that I was being too hard on myself for a really long time.  I was my own worst critic, and it was getting to me.  And someone who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and who didn’t know me that well, could sense it.

After my meeting with my old classmate, I started to accept and love myself in a new way.  I started to realize that I, with all my flaws and insecurities and fears and weaknesses, was an absolutely beautiful person just as I was, and that I didn’t need to “work” on myself anymore.  I had become a perfectionist and was increasingly critical of myself.  Over time, I started feeling like I was trying to be someone I’m not – the version of myself that society or culture wants me to be, instead of the true version of who I am.  And I constantly was striving for something that I could never do – be someone other than me.  This created an unhealthy cycle for me, and made me start to feel bad about myself since I kept striving and failing to achieve something unattainable.  And the more I failed to achieve that unattainable ideal, the worse I felt about myself.

Notwithstanding all this, I certainly believe that by striving for improvement in my life, I was able to make certain decisions and take action to improve the quality of my life by reading self-help books and by getting inspired by the authors who wrote them.  I have made countless good decisions that benefited myself and those around me because of things I learned by reading these books.  My point is, if you find yourself reading tons of books on a certain topic, but you don’t find yourself applying those principles in your life, you may have to try a different approach in addition to those books.  Or, you may have to accept that there are certain things you cannot change, and you just have to learn how to make the best of it.  Sometimes that just comes with life experience.

While I still have many areas of my life that I could improve upon, I have come to the realization that maybe there are certain things about me that make me who I am, and these qualities just might not be ones I can, or frankly, want to, change.  I realized all this after hearing just those four words from my old classmate – “Be compassionate to yourself.”

So every once in a while, put those books down and go out and meet people.  Talk to people you know or strike up conversations with people you don’t.  Do things you enjoy.  Experience life in all its absurdities, oddities, and beauties.  Along the way, you may gain some great insights that might not reveal themselves in the same way if they were written on a page (or even on a blog).  The written word, while full of wisdom and knowledge, is incomparable to the impact of life experiences on a person.

For the Unemployed Law Grads: Stand Out from the Pack

With the surplus of lawyers, and the limited number of legal jobs available, many law graduates are having a hard time finding work.  Even free work.

The situation doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon, either.  So with thousands of dollars, if not over a hundred thousand, of debt, what’s an unemployed law grad to do?

My suggestion is this: find creative ways to stand out from the pack.  It’s the only way.

First, you have to be clear on the types of jobs you are targeting.  Employers can smell generic cover letters and emails from a mile away.  Narrow down your search to no more than 10 employers at the beginning. You can always try other employers at a later time, but at the outset, start with 5-10.

Then, find a way to grab the employers’ attention that is totally different than what other applicants are doing.

For example, watch the video above to see how one job applicant found a job using Google.  There are other ways of doing this as well.  For example, you can buy a targeted ad on Facebook for people who work at a certain company and let them know that you want to work there too.  Read about how other people used this method to find jobs here.  The point is not to copy these exact tactics, but to think creatively and do things that other people most likely haven’t tried.

Trying these methods won’t cost much of your time or money, but the potential benefits you can get out of it (e.g., a dream job at one of your favorite organizations) are well worth the investment.

Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So, try a new method outside of sending resumes and cover letters in response to Craigslist ads.  See if you get different results.   And, if you do find a job using creative or unconventional methods, please share your story with me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at escapefromthelaw [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

If you have friends that are unemployed law grads, please send them over to the blog, or share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below!  I’m sure they would appreciate it.