Happy lawyers?

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Megan Grandinetti challenges busy lawyers to practice positivity.

A few years ago, I was buried in work and traveling for business. I ran into a friend of mine on a train in Philly, and he spent the next hour listening to (a) how many hours I worked, (b) how much I hated what I was working on, and (c) how the people at my Biglaw firm had zero regard for my personal life (wait a second, WHAT personal life?). I remember being fairly detached and casual as I was talking about all of this (I did NOT burst into tears, per usual), but years later, my friend told me that after that conversation, he had put me on “suicide watch.”

About a year after the suicide watch train incident, I realized that I had become a person that I didn’t recognize: a whiny, angry, sad person who only saw the negative in everything. I decided to do a 40-day challenge, during which I gave up complaining. That’s right, I stopped complaining for 40 days.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Casey Berman gives some advice to unhappy attorneys.

For so long, we were normal. Ever since we could remember, we got good grades. We did well at our extracurricular activities. We had energy, independence, ambition, goals.

We happily did what we were told. We pleased most everyone. We were liked. We moved through life at a nice clip. We had a plan.

And now as practicing attorneys … well … this isn’t always the case. Just like that, we’re kind of now the odd ones out.

We’re not ourselves. Our confidence as an attorney, and as a person, is lacking. Our direction seems off. Our sense of hope is not strong. We may even feel desperate. We’re down.

We’re going a little crazy.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Well lookie here. After years of being labeled as the “unhappiest job” and “worse than a nail technician,” “lawyer” has finally been named in a survey as the best job out there. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Cue the trumpets.

There’s just one snag….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer Tops ‘Best Jobs’ List — Wait, What?”


Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Sunny Choi of Ms. JD interviews lawyers who have found their passion practicing law.

The idea of passion is a seemingly far-fetched one for most people working as an attorney. At some point, 99% of us have regretted the decision to attend law school. Just ask the anonymous 28-year-old who told Business Insider that law school was “a waste of my life and an extraordinary waste of money.” Even the articles on Above the Law will occasionally have you feeling disgruntled about life in the practice.

However, passion is a matter of perspective and it’s very possible to find your passion in, out, or above the law. Part one of this series will focus on the rare breed of attorney who has gone the obvious route and found passion IN the law.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Workplace satisfaction isn’t quite the hot topic it used to be. In the 90s, everyone got all touchy-feely because an unhappy employee could pick up stakes and move at a moment’s notice. Today, the primary axis of worker satisfaction is, “Am I working?”

But satisfaction surveys still fascinate, and Jacquelyn Smith of Forbes recently posted a new survey from a firm known as CareerBliss that used a multi-factor survey to determine the happiest and unhappiest jobs in America.

Wonder what came in the top spot? Well, OK obviously it was an associate. I’m not going to hide the ball here. If it was anyone else, we wouldn’t be writing about it. But what’s more interesting is who came in the rest of the top 10, because that really puts in terrifying perspective how terrible a job in Biglaw really is….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Unhappiest Job in America? Take a Guess”

There’s lots of misery in our profession. Much of it occurs because lawyers didn’t realize that the practice is not like some television show glamorizing our daily lives. We are also a miserable bunch because many of us do the same thing every day, we hate what we do every day, and we deem it useless. Even if you’re one of those rare lawyers who loves what they do, you stand the risk of being around the miserable ones.

I love what I do. I don’t love it every day, and like everyone else on the planet, occasionally think about doing something else. There are days when, like everyone else, I have to deliver bad news to a client, or wonder if every conversation I am having is a conspiracy to cause me to jump out a window.

So because I love what I do and love you all so very much, I thought I’d give you some thoughts about how to actually enjoy lawyering….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Fun and Happiness in the Practice of Law”

In the nascent spirit of positivity around here, let’s take a look at where, according to our research, Biglaw’s happiest troopers can be found.

To be sure, lawyers are a notoriously depressive lot. Various studies — and presumably Will Meyerhofer — suggest that the characteristics that make a good lawyer actually correlate with clinical depression. Combine these alleged traits with crushing debt, an oversaturated job market, and an uncertain future, and the industry seems mired in malaise.

But what about those fortunate ones who’ve managed to snag a coveted Biglaw gig? Why, not only are they employed, but they have a realistic chance to pay off their loans. Are they any more upbeat than the industry’s rank-and-file? Our own survey data strongly suggests the answer is definitely maybe.

Respondents to our ongoing ATL School & Firm Insider Survey give their “firm morale” a mean rating of 6.81 out of 10. (By the way, if you haven’t yet, please take the survey here.) For context, lawyers rate morale a bit higher than “hours” (6.55) and bit lower than “training” (6.88). So, generally speaking, firm morale is not conspicuously singled out by lawyers as a negative.

But which are the happiest firms? And the unhappiest? Let’s have a look at the Biglaw shops getting top marks for esprit de corps….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Survey Update: Shiny Happy Firms”

Martin Luther dropped out of law school and he did just fine for himself.

Not all of our coverage of law schools is depressing; we bring you happy stories as well. In recent weeks, we’ve written about one law school dean’s creative (and healthy) student outreach program, a law student demonstrating kindness to animals, and someone having fun — perhaps too much fun? — in the library.

Let’s continue the good cheer. Back in the spring, we wrote about a law student who was thinking of dropping out of school. He sought our advice — and, surprisingly enough, my colleague Elie Mystal advised this fellow to stay in school (even though Elie is generally not a fan of legal education).

Some commenters disagreed with Elie (shocker), and urged the kid to drop out. But now we bring you an update suggesting that perhaps Elie’s advice was sound….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on the 1L Who Considered Dropping Out (But Didn’t)”

* While med school grads can stop a person from bleeding out, law school grads could probably treat a papercut (but that’s a bit of an overstatement). Who will be there to stop our bleeding? [Am Law Daily]

* Annie Le’s family is suing Yale over her death, saying the school failed to protect women. Yale says the suit has no basis, but when someone has died, that just makes them sound like tremendous d-bags. [CNN]

* The unhappiest workers in professional fields are unmarried, middle-aged, female lawyers. Figures. Maybe we need to arrange some Geriatric Courtship Connections for these gals. [ABA Journal]

* China’s new marriage law interpretation has set women’s rights back a few decades. Next thing you know, women will be back in the kitchen, with bound feet and pregnant. [New York Times]

* Is it defamatory to say someone is a millionaire, not a billionaire? Don’t mess with the Donald’s money. Apparently he has enough of it to appeal even the dumbest of lawsuits. [Wall Street Journal]

* A noise complaint against Madonna will go to trial. Her neighbor was borderline, but the Material Girl’s not sorry. It’s human nature. And I’m all out of applicable lyrics. [New York Daily News]

Our research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.

Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, authors of The Progress Principle (affiliate link), in a New York Times op-ed piece, Do Happier People Work Harder?

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