Lawyering is not all it’s cracked up to be

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A recent survey has found that an astonishing number of lawyers wish they weren’t.

The UK report by Money Magpie, found that only a third of the 800 lawyers surveyed said that the job lived up to their expectations, and over half wished they had chosen a different career path.

Lisa Gazis, managing director of legal recruiter Mahlab, said that with high pressures in the legal industry due to the shrinking number of jobs and increasing workloads, lawyers can feel as though they are not making a genuine contribution in their work, despite firms doing what they can to harness a strong team-like attitude.  She said expectation can be a very important factor in whether or not somebody likes their job.

“I think that the law has moved in some regards to actually feeling like you are working in a profession and that you are part of a team where you can genuinely contribute and grow with because of all these demands,” she said.  “Over the years, a lot of people have moved into law having preconceived ideas of what the role entails and what they don’t always understand is the pressures and demands that are placed on lawyers particularly hours of work and the career prospects in some areas that have narrowed.”

A high salary was what attracted 97 per cent of the respondents to the profession. 

Gazis, who was not surprised by this result, said that while many people are attracted to the idea of a prestigious job with a good salary, there is no guarantee once you hit the workforce.

“It’s not just the technical skills that you need to bring; it’s the stamina to be able to continue to work those hours,” she said.

While Gazis noted working hard and long hours affects many industries and we are working harder as a society, she said that lawyers who don’t achieve milestones as quickly as they thought they would may not see the benefit in sustaining the tough pressures in rising through the legal ranks.

 “What you need to do to keep on top of things weather it’s being technologically savvy, being on top legal changes, being able to market yourself…  There’s no guarantee you’ll make partner in a major firm or that your salary is going to increase in huge increments, but the amount of yourself that you need to give to the role is quite a bit.”
  • Bob on 2/04/2015 10:02:58 AM

    Take heart colleagues if you're feeling down - because there is a 50% chance your colleague in the next office/cell wishes they were somewhere else too.

  • Marcus McCarthy on 1/04/2015 9:33:30 AM

    Some NewLaw firms are emerging with the specific aim and structure to address these concerns and provide a more viable practice options for the future. There are great options that free up lawyers from the stricture of the large firms and reward them directly for their intellectual capital and inputs - they just need a bit of bravery to step out of the traditional mentality. If people are not happy with their career paths then look for change - because it is already here and waiting for them, with better outcomes for them and their clients.

  • Louise Steer on 30/03/2015 2:11:10 PM

    How about moving out of Dickensian days and bringing the legal workforce into line with other professions? If jobs are shrinking and workloads increasing, isn't that a correlation? Hire more lawyers, work more efficiently to reduce hours, and increase effectiveness. It is now possible to send standard legal work to Bangalore, it won't be done well, but it will be done cheaply. So lawyers need to add value and that value is better problem solving, which lawyers are trained to do really well. Chasing after a partnership is outdated as so few will achieve this, so why not work on what lawyers can add to the team,while enabling them to enjoy life out of hours? No point earning money if you don't have time to spend it!

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