When every new lawyer starts out his or her inspiration is high, motivation is unstoppable, the desire to help others is strong, and the opportunities to create change seem endless. A few years in, feelings of defeat may start to set in. Feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and pure annoyance may replace all the “good” that existed right after finishing law school. Does every lawyer lose passion for his or her life’s work? No, but many start to feel overwhelmed and uninspired about what they do. Does this mean the end of a hopeful lawyer and the beginning of a money-hungry and spiteful lawyer? No, only if you truly want to be. It’s up to you to keep your passion for your work alive and well.
Remind Yourself Why You Do What You Do
It can only take a few dull cases, a handful of frustrating clients, and a couple of losses to make you feel like you may have picked the wrong profession. Remember, you didn’t dedicate some valuable years of your academic life for nothing. You learned a lot and you can utilize all of your skills in several legal scenarios. Think about why you became a lawyer; it may be different to what you’re doing right now. Whether you chose to defend innocent people or put white collar criminals behind bars, there was a defining moment in your pre-law school days. Revisit that thought. As the ABA states, as a lawyer, “you will stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves ” (As if that’s not reason enough).
Even though you devoted a huge chunk of academia to becoming the lawyer you are today, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a life outside of being a lawyer. Many lawyers lose passion when all they do is work, feel overwhelmed by the work load, and fail to create balance and make connections with people outside of the law office. Whether you need to make more time for family or consider starting a family or even just finally show up for a monthly poker night, think about the things you love other than law. Sure, it can be tricky and risky. Maybe you want to become a partner at the firm, but in order to become one you need to basically sacrifice any free time. Do you really want to work at a firm that supports that kind of one-sided life?
Consider Broadening Your Practice Area
Maybe you always thought that you’d be happy to work in Family Law, but overtime have felt zapped by the negativity that surrounds each case. Rather than trudging through each case, compromising each case with your less-than-passionate dedication try going into or adding another practice area. Maybe you realize you have an interest in Civil Rights Law. Go for it; whatever will help you be the lawyer you want to be. Being a passionate lawyer takes work, but is worth it with every client you represent.