Jeena Cho has done it again! Another excellent article, this time addressing the awfulness of succeeding in achieving your goal of qualifying as a lawyer but hating practice of law.
It is common for young lawyers to get depressed in the early years post-qualification and hate what they're doing for a living. I know I contemplated leaving the law a lot in the first few years after being admitted as a solicitor. Sometimes I hated the legal life. Why? In my case it was a lot to do with feeling out of place in BigLaw which was, at that time, totally dominated by very posh public school Oxbridge male graduates. Of course it's the right thing to do for some people to decide they want out altogether but I'd counsel people to consider changing the type of practice they work in and/or the area of law in which they practice rather than walk out. Jeena Cho herself has moved from prosecution to bankruptcy practice. I moved in-house and from M&A to TMT, then into NewLaw at Halebury, which I love.
Do other professions have this problem too? Do young doctors hate practicing medicine? Or young accountants? What about young architects? Or is it an issue unique to the law?
Most of the lawyers I work with come to me with questions like “I absolutely hate my job but I feel stuck because I have $180,000 in student loan debt and I can’t afford to quit.” One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is to admit to myself that the life I was living, the dream I struggled so hard to achieve, wasn’t right for me. That’s a hard realization after a lot of effort, struggle, six-figure debt, and the bar exam.