Posted by Jay Kamlet on Sep 07, 2017
Thinking of leaving Biglaw? Signs that you’re ready.
We work with a number of now-independent lawyers who spent years working for big law firms, but who eventually made the leap to solo practice. If you’re thinking of leaving Biglaw mid-career, how do you know if the time is right?
The career story of a lawyer often follows a long and arduous path: years of hard work in school, passing the Bar, landing that first job, working long hours and more. While some lawyers thrive in a competitive environment and find Biglaw a perfect fit for their dreams, that is not the case for everyone.
So, when is it time to leave Biglaw? If you answer “yes” to most of the following questions, it might be time:
Do you dread going into the office?
It’s a fact of life that you won’t love every working day of your life. That’s true in any career path and in any job. However, if you spend each morning’s drive or train ride steeping in a sense of doom, it’s time to assess if your current position is the best fit.
Maybe the expectation of logging long hours and competing with fellow associates has left you burnt out. Perhaps its the one partner who seems impossible to please. Maybe it’s your coworkers or the general firm culture.
Take time to think about what’s really behind your hatred of the job. Maybe it’s time to leave law altogether or to translate your law degree in another direction. On the other hand, it could mean it’s time to join a smaller firm with a different culture – or start your own law firm. When you can identify your personal drivers, that will lead you to the next logical step for your career path.
Have you lost your identity outside of the “lawyer” label?
Are you the token lawyer in your group of friends? Do you even have friends outside of your firm? A law career focused on billable hours and figuring out the partner-track secret formula can leave time for little else.
If you long to reconnect with that guy or gal who used to climb mountains, enjoy a leisurely microbrew at 4 p.m. on Friday, travel the world or even read a book for the fun of it, it might be time to think about other options. Work-life balance does not exist in a perfect form anywhere, but it does exist. Even for lawyers.
Do your values and your firm’s values align?
If your values don’t align with the people around you, or the corporate culture, you likely feel a general sense of unease each day. Even if you can’t put your finger on it, you know these aren’t your people and this place isn’t your place.
Can you remember why you pursued a law career in the first place? Do you still have glimmers of that original passion?
For many independent lawyers, these questions ultimately lead them to launching their own firms. They still have some of their original passion and drive for their chosen practice area, but they want more autonomy in choosing clients and cases. They also want more flexibility with how they approach client service and scheduling.
Before you consider launching a new law firm, that passion should still exist for you. You will need it to drive you through the start-up phase and into attracting new clients. You will need it as you tackle new-to-you demands of running a solo business. For the lawyers who still have it, it can lead them to a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper satisfaction with both their careers and their lives.
Nobody else can make the decision for you. Is it time?
LawBank helps lawyers launch and grow independent law practices. We offer affordable office space and coworking space for lawyers in Denver.