When I tell people that I really love my job, I get various responses. Most of them are something like, “Wow, that’s great,” or “I hate you.” Or sometimes, “That’s very nice, ma’am. May I take your order now, please?” When people ask why I love my job, my response is kind of lame. I tend to say it’s a lot of “fun” and then go on to describe a couple of types of matters I work on. Yeah, not all that insightful.
So for this week’s post, I decided to figure out more specifically (than “umm, so…the social media thing is interesting…”) why a lawyer may love her job. The reasons I came up with are mostly common sense and one reason actually has nothing to do with my job per se….
On a very basic level, I enjoy the tasks that are required for my job. These involve reading, writing and analysis. And then providing commentary and counsel. If this is a surprise to any lawyer or law student, it shouldn’t be. Reading, writing, and analysis are job requirements for all lawyers. If you’re interested in law, you should enjoy and be good at these skills. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable through law school and go on to become a miserable lawyer. Miserable lawyers can really ruin the day for happy-go-lucky lawyers like me — so much so that we may be too distracted to add smiley emoticons to our messages.
The fact that I do transactional work, as opposed to litigation, work also helps me enjoy my job. This is because I have a very short attention span. (Oh, look — a squirrel!) No particular project or contract takes longer than, say a few months. The ones with the longest duration are typically acquisitions and there’s a big celebration at the end. (The lawyers usually aren’t asked to join, but at least there’s a celebration. Just kidding, we’re invited… sometimes.)
Other transactional work is usually finished within a much shorter timeframe — more like a few days or weeks. If I were a litigator required to spend years working on the same cases, I would probably murder several squirrels along the way.
There are secondary tasks such as giving presentations and managing a budget that are also a part of my job, but which come less naturally to me. If those secondary tasks were primary tasks, then again — lots of dead squirrels.
Another reason I love my job is that I’m in a great working environment. Although it’s pretty fast-paced, it’s not usually highly stressful. Most of my co-workers, lawyers and otherwise, are very team-oriented and are just genuinely nice people. The atmosphere is fun-loving, casual, and accepting of mistakes (a biggie for risk-averse lawyers). But people also work hard and take their work product seriously. It sounds almost perfect, doesn’t it? Of course it isn’t, and there’s always room for improvement. But it’s pretty darn pleasant. There’s also a lot of focus on innovation and personal career development. That’s not unusual for a working environment, but you can see why it’s more fun than if you’re responsible for the same task day after day.
From a big-picture perspective, working in an industry with a purpose that I believe in — helping to get people on vacation — also adds to the job satisfaction. It’s not pro bono work by any means, but it’s also not work that would bother my conscience, like bad kitty porn. (Good kitty porn, on the other hand…) To its credit, my company does get involved in a good amount of charitable work, but, frankly, it’s not a big factor in my day-to-day job satisfaction. If it were, I should probably go look for opportunities to save the world at a non-profit instead.
I mentioned above that one of the reasons I love my job has nothing to do with my job. It actually has to do with me. By nature, I’m an eternal optimist who generally focuses on the positive side of everything and hopes for the best. I’m someone my husband, the pessimist, would refer to generously as a “simpleton” or “grinning idiot” because I tend to disregard or discount the negative aspects of my situation. (It’s so cute when he says that!)
There are also other, more minor, aspects of my job that contribute to my happiness. I like the prestige of being in a career that requires a doctorate-level degree. The salary and benefits are nothing to complain about. The hours are crazy at times, but when they’re not, it’s really quite comfortable.
So I’m responsible for some of the reasons that I love my job; my positive outlook and the research I did, before applying to law school, to find out what working as a lawyer is really like contribute to my current job satisfaction.
I also got very, very lucky. When I applied for my position, I wasn’t focused on some of the other benefits, like a great working environment, believing in the company’s products, etc. I just wanted to get my foot in the door to any in-house job. But these are definitely factors I would strongly consider if I ever decide to leave my company.
Are there days that I don’t want to come into work? Sure, especially if I’ve been umm… networking… at karaoke bars… until late and am really “tired” the next morning. And at every job, there are people who are difficult to work with, or there is occasionally a large volume of work to handle. But overall, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get much better than this, when it comes to loving your job. For you other grinning idiots out there, why do you love or hate your job? I’d love to know. Email me at [email protected] or comment below.
Susan Moon is an in-house attorney at a travel and hospitality company. Her opinions are her own and not those of her company. Also, the experiences Susan shares may include others’ experiences (many in-house friends insist on offering ideas for the blog). You can reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SusanMoon.