When you consider moving from a large law firm to a small firm, or going it alone, think about it as a total career move. Such big career decisions need more personal investigation than most of us realize. As much as we don’t want to admit it, our self-image is in large part defined by our careers.
Being part of a big-name law firm carries a lot of cachet, and that can be difficult to leave behind even if the work is not satisfying. After several years working at that big name law firm, the creativity and excitement you felt as a new lawyer can erode. Lack of flexibility and the opportunity to practice law your way can wear down your enthusiasm about making a difference. As the years go by, that freedom seems further and further away.
In order to take that step away from a big firm, lawyers making the mid-career move need to create a new working identity. In the Harvard Business Review‘s, “How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career,” Herminia Ibarra says making a career change is about taking your skills with you to a new environment. You are not losing what you have, but building on it.
First, you have to be willing to abandon everything you have ever been taught about making sound career decisions. Changing your career identity happens after you change jobs, and not the other way around, according to Ibarra.
“Why? Because changing careers means redefining our working identity. Career change follows a first-act-and-then-think sequence, because who we are and what we do are tightly connected.”
Using the “working identity” theory helps you see yourself in a new law career. If you are drawn to the idea of practicing law your way, then launching an independent law practice might be for you. As you begin, envision yourself in this new role, but with all the skills and experience you have gained throughout your career. You are changing your career identity, but it is the next step forward in your personal journey.
To launch your independent practice among a network of like-minded peers, contact LawBank to learn more about our flexible office leases and co-working space for lawyers in Denver.