Attorney Unhappiness Is Common. Action Is Rare.

“Happiness is not ready made.  It comes from your own actions.”
– Dalai Lama

“Don’t just sit there and complain – do something about it!”
– My Grandmother

If you’re unhappy in your legal job, you’re not alone.  A recent survey by Forbes magazine ranked being an associate attorney as the “Unhappiest Job In America” (rounding out the top-5 were customer service associates, clerks, registered nurses and teachers).

Being an attorney is tough, but happiness with your job is something you can change.  Just because you are unhappy at your firm or legal department, doesn’t mean that you should leave the practice of law – maybe another firm would be a better fit for you?

The job market has become much more fluid in the past few months.  Opportunities are plentiful in some areas and improving in others.  Now is the time to dust off the resume and start testing the legal job waters if you are unhappy in your current position.  My grandmother wouldn’t tolerate inaction in the face of unhappiness.  She’d remind you that you have the power to change things.  If she were your grandmother, I believe that she’d put a plate of cookies on the table along with a pen and notepad (she’s old school) and tell you to start working on your resume.  That’s good advice, Na-Na!  If you are unhappy now, how much worse could it be if you moved?

To make sure that a new firm would be a better fit, use your network of friends and acquaintances.  Learn as much about a firm/company as you can BEFORE you make the move will allow you to land in a place that is a good fit for your skills and practice style.

If the thought of moving is simply too daunting, take the job search in smaller, more manageable steps.  Start by putting together a resume and making sure it accurately represents your skills.  Once that’s completed, reach out to some friends to let them know you are interested in hearing about opportunities.  Then move to reviewing job postings in your spare time, talking to recruiters and affirmatively speaking to potential firms.  Before you know it, the job search will be in full-swing and the end result can be a new job….and some happiness.

*Just FYI, the “Happiest Job” in the Forbes survey was a real estate agent.  Seriously. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/03/22/the-happiest-and-unhappiest-jobs-in-america/

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