Exploring the world outside the four walls of the law profession, Why? Well Why not?!
You may think it absurd, if you are not a distinguished member of the legal profession having finally secured that law degree, after approximately 7 years navigating your way through law school, a myriad of hurdles, lots of hard work and endless sleepless nights. Seemingly it would appear to make little sense to say goodbye to a profession you've worked hard to enter and once held dear. And yet many young lawyers are doing just that.
According to a recent survey carried out by the International Bar Association (IBA), involving 3,000 young lawyers from around the world under 40 years old, an astonishing 54% of the respondents were considering making a career move. 33% wanted to make a career switch to a different area of the legal profession and 20% were considering an overall career transition.
The tide has certainly changed, and the reality is that studying law and building a lasting career in it are now two very independent choices for young professionals.
The IBA survey identifies a number of key factors and considerations driving these findings. These include:
The gap between expectations and reality: Some young lawyers choose law as a career without a real grasp of what lawyers actually do and then they find out a day in life as a lawyer, e.g. working for a big firm is not as exciting as they envisioned- very few cases end up in trial, most take place in series of mechanical writing and research.
Lack of career mobility: They become dissatisfied being in the same role or location for a long period of time leading to a decline in productivity and need for recognition.
The grass is greener syndrome: What are the opportunities that exists for them within these organizations? What development programs outside the regular work routine is worth considering? Especially if it seems like those in other professions keep making huge strides.
Toxic work environments: the impact of workplace culture on young lawyers cannot be underestimated particularly when this happens at the beginning of someone's career. The lack of effective coping mechanisms for dealing with workplace pressure can easily result in lawyers looking to other professions, concluding the law firms are not conducive environments in which to achieve work/life balance.
Significant changes in personal circumstances: health, finances, the pandemic, marriage etc are also increasing contributory factors to the lack of satisfaction within the legal profession.
If you are one of the many lawyers considering whether life outside law is achievable, I'd invite you to reflect on the following:
Identify your why: What is the driving force that gets you up in the morning, and helps you move through your day, why do you want the kind of life you seek, why do you want that job? Etc.
Identify your short term and long-term goals: I am not talking about a vague picture of accomplishments or success, but carefully spelt out goals.
Have self-control and discipline: Having set goals helps to build character, knowing what you want to achieve helps you show up each day as you should. Gaining clarity about what it is you want to achieve from life after law puts everything in perspective, don’t leave without a plan, dig deep until you find the big picture and once you do, nurture it so it yields the results you seek.
Yes, life after law exists, and it is filled with opportunities, but are you ready to go for it?
Guest Blog by Kusumi Said