There are few things worse in life than working in a job or profession that you are not passionate about. This is especially true for attorneys.
Just stating the obvious – we work more hours than the average professional. The work is intellectually demanding and adversarial in nature, which in and of itself creates a lot of stress.
Then, factor in that the quality of our work is backed up by the risk of losing our personal assets, and you could easily deduce that there are far easier ways to earn a living.
In this context, you best be sure that you are passionate about your work if you aspire to be a well-adjusted, happy person.
For many of us, personal fulfillment is a big reason why we chose the path of self-employment. We were unhappy being employed by someone else, so we left. Or, we were unhappy being employed by someone else, it was reflected in our work product, and we were asked to leave.
But choosing the path of self-employment is only the beginning.
Because you were a commercial litigator in your last job doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be doing that as a self-employed lawyer. If being a commercial litigator doesn’t get you excited to get out of bed in the morning and be in the office at 7:00 AM, then you should find a practice area that does.
If the thought of speaking to your clients makes you cringe when the phone rings, then you need to represent different people.
Follow Your Passion
If you are uninspired by your practice, you will self-sabotage your way to financial ruin.
In the end, you will have more success pursuing a practice as a self-employed lawyer in a practice area that you are passionate about than one that you do because you have the most skills. Pursue the latter and you will self-sabotage your career until you inevitably make a change or put yourself out of business.
Finding your passion and then pursuing it requires self-reflection, honesty, and courage. Sometimes it requires time. For some lawyers, they are so excited about working on their own that the practice area they start with doesn’t matter (at first). For some, it may take time outside the context of firm practice to explore different practice areas and clientele that they may enjoy working with in the long term.
The beauty of our profession is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Your career may take many forms over several decades. As long as your brain still functions and your mouth still works, you can practice your whole life.
At Law Firm Suites, we’ve celebrated more than one 80th birthday with practicing attorneys. When asked whether they have considered retiring, the most common answer is: “My phone keeps ringing with new business, so I keep showing up.”
Money is not your Largest Motivator
The true pursuit of discovering your professional passion should never be about money. However, in the real world, there are bills to pay.
As attorneys, we are fortunate in that, no matter the practice area we chose, the potential to earn a considerable income is always there. In this regard, there should be nothing holding you back from exploring a new practice area, other than your own fear of being happy.
Of course, that’s the topic for a much different article!