I want to get out of law and am completely fed up, what can I do?
This relates to a number of queries that have come into the Ten Legal Careers Centre over the last six months, although the level of enquiries of this nature has dropped (excluding crime solicitors).
Redundancy or threat of redundancy is one of the main reasons for this enquiry. Lawyers take the opportunity that redundancy presents to reconsider their lives and their positions and to perhaps decide that remaining in the legal profession is something they do not need to do at present, particularly when there are so few jobs currently out there in some fields.
The first thing to consider is how much you don’t like your work and secondly, how much you resent the fact that you have been made redundant or are facing redundancy, if that in fact is the case.
When we interview people who have come for coaching, specifically on the basis that they want to get out of the legal profession, we often find that in fact, they do not wish at all to get out of the legal profession and have simply talked themselves into that position without thinking through the consequences or the other options available to them.
It is true that a number of solicitors leave the profession all the time and go off and have very successful careers elsewhere, but often their antipathy towards the legal profession is nothing of the sort, but rather it is antipathy against their position or someone in their current firm causing them to resent their job and occupation.
In the first instance, you need to think very carefully about what it is you don’t like in the legal profession. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you hate your current field of law?
• Do you hate your boss?
• Do you really dislike all lawyers?
• Do you detest the circumstances you find yourself in at your current place of work?
• Is your salary too low?
• Is there something about your current job or the people you work with that is causing you to feel like this?
• Have you reached the usual point of three – five years in the legal profession and wondering what life is all about?
• Are you in a lot of debt having splashed out considerable amounts of money to go through the Legal Practice Course and your law degree to qualify and then realise that being a solicitor is not all it’s cracked up to be?
These are all questions that only you can answer, and each of them elicits a different response.
If you dislike members of staff at your current firm for example, you may go to a different firm in the same field of law and thoroughly enjoy your time there.
If it is the field of law that you don’t like, perhaps it is time to consider a different field of law and try that.
If the type of client your firm is getting is causing you to dislike your work, perhaps it time to find a firm who have the type of client you like working with.
If the pay is an issue (and this point often comes up because you know of another member of staff who gets paid more than or the same as you for doing less work etc..), look around for another job of the same sort that is better paid. Set up your own business perhaps if that is impossible.
One thing perfectly clear, and the clearout in recent times of long-serving staff is perhaps indicative of this, is that you can become somewhat institutionalised by spending too long in a firm doing a job where there have been no prospects for a long, long time and you are simply going to work and going through the motions.
This does not, of course, apply to everyone as some people are quite happy working in the same role and earning relatively good money for the privilege of doing, but there are a lot of frustrated members of staff in a lot of law firms who have simply got stuck in their posts and for whatever reason, decided not to move on for some time.
Jonathan Fagan LLM Solicitor (non-practising) is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our websites.