There was always a lot of talk and discussion about “fit”, whatever you call it. And I don’t mean that in terms of physical fitness, but in terms of fitness for a specific job or, as some lawyers might say in the context of guarantees, fitness for a specific purpose.
We hear the term bandied. “It doesn’t go well with this particular position.” “I don’t think he would fit in with the rest of the team.” And so on. I’ve heard that again and again from my HR clients. And why did the hiring manager hire this person? Doesn’t she know that not hiring is always easier than having to go through the necessary and appropriate practice to fire someone? You’d think they’d learned, but they never did.
Why am I addressing the topic of fitness? For the past year or so, lawyers (and others) have found themselves in a dilemma that was not caused by themselves. For some lawyers, the pandemic has shown that they really like or even love what they do. Not so much for others, and in some cases not at all. I think the pandemic has in some ways separated those who love what they do from those who don’t. It’s a matter of fit.
Even if the job or career as a lawyer does not fit, we stick with it, because we are told from childhood, from preference to disgust, from tolerance and resilience to perseverance and finally maybe one day when Johnny Paycheck sang: “Take this one Job and push it. ” We’re afraid to make changes (student loan debt is a big consideration for staying in position).
But the mental health issues that creep in or hit you on the head make you think about your decisions. Take it from me, as you get older, in most cases your health doesn’t improve with age, unlike expensive red wine. Waiter, I’ll have some cheese with whining.
What if you don’t think about the law and no longer fit together? Do you really want to spend the rest of your working life doing something that you really don’t like, let alone tolerate? Are you grateful for just having one job? How do you cope with what you do and what you want to do? Don’t look at me as I can reconcile these different threads. This is your job.
Perhaps this checklist, courtesy of Angela Han, an attorney and coach, will help. I think their checklist (and we all use checklists) can get you thinking about what you really want to do.
Han lists things you can think about and maybe even act on at some point. Work smarter, not harder, don’t be afraid to take your knowledge into account, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no way we can know everything, even though some people think they do.
Take small steps. As Anne Lamott says in her book Bird by Bird, that is exactly what needs to be done. It’s so much easier to take small bites (remember Mom told us that?) Than to inhale it all at once. Lamott has great advice on both writing and living.
Be patient. Easy to say and very difficult for lawyers to do. To calm oneself down. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is your career.
Han says you should ask yourself what bothers you the most. You don’t have to have all the answers to the problem; you need to start. You may find that the problem is more of a molehill than a mountain, and I have climbed many molehills.
If this past year has taught us anything, it is, as Han puts it, “change involves reflection.” So think about it and change yourself if you want. If you think about it and find that you like where you are personally and professionally, stay on track. Change is difficult and the older you get, the harder it is. I am not saying that you are not making any changes that you think are necessary or necessary. You just have to know that it is not easy to do.
What is your passion What would you like to do? I liked litigation because the cases were all about personalities. What did I least like to do? Everything to do with documentation, contracts and the like, except settlement agreements. I would have preferred a fork in the apple of my eye than negotiating, drafting, or reviewing documents. What I enjoyed most about the practice was working with my clients to provide creative (and sometimes unorthodox) solutions to problems found in solving cases rather than trying them out.
Once you’ve figured out your passion, how do you incorporate that passion into your practice? Find out who is doing what you love to do and get in touch with them. Do not be shy; This is your professional life. I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t flattered by requests about how to do what they’re doing. Be persistent, but not annoying. You don’t need a mentor, you need a rabbi, a title for a champion, a sponsor, someone who has your back.
Finally, Han advises focusing on class. We all learn every day, at least we should be. Check out how we all learned to use zoom. When something that was a passion no longer exists, there is nothing wrong with recognizing it. We go from one project to another with different levels of enthusiasm.
Take the heart; Do not get discouraged. Finding your fit is a lifelong job. What you enjoyed doing in your 30s can turn your stomach in your 50s. Your life as a lawyer is constantly evolving as it should be.
Jill Switzer has been an active member of the State Bar of California for over 40 years. She remembers working as a lawyer in a kinder time. She had a varied legal career, including as deputy district attorney, as a solo practice and as a senior in-house gigs. She now teaches all day what gives her the opportunity to see dinosaurs, millennials, and the people in between – it’s not always bourgeois. You can reach them by email at [email protected].