In almost every job or career—even the ones we love—there is usually some aspect of the job that we would rather not deal with, something that frustrates or annoys us. The same holds true with lawyers, even those who have their own firms. Fortunately, we can often find creative ways to mitigate those issues somewhat. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most common sources of attorney frustration and a few possible solutions for them.
Overworking to the Point of Burnout
People often have a stereotypical view of attorneys as a segment of slick, overpaid professionals with plenty of time on their hands. Those of us who actually work in this business know the opposite is often true. Young attorneys feel especially pressured to log an incredible amount of billable hours per week just to make ends meet. “Most attorneys work about six days a week, generally fifty plus hours per week, and the norm now is to be available anywhere at any time,” writes attorney Ty Doyle in HuffPost. “Add to it the particular joy of the billable hour. If I’m not consistently working and documenting my time in six minute increments, I’m not getting paid, and for younger lawyers, slow periods may result in job loss.”
Possible solutions: Automate office processes to save time; specialize in a certain concentration so you can charge more per billable hour.
Disrespect from Clients
Many lawyers feel frustration over the attorney-client relationship. The issues can take many forms, but they typically boil down to a client carrying an unfair set of expectations without placing value on the attorney’s role. Music attorney Shai Littlejohn shares his take: “Clients don't understand that lawyers must be compensated for their expertise…Many don't understand how to prioritize legal advice. It's not something that a lawyer administers over lunch, but it requires an ongoing involvement to get it right.”
Possible solutions: Look for ways to structure your law firm protocol in a way that wins client respect and loyalty, including providing exceptional value and service. Also, consider finding a niche practice concentration that few attorneys in your area can offer. When you’re the only person in town who does that service, it garners greater client respect.
Not Enjoying What You Do
Many new attorneys enter the practice of law in a certain area of concentration only to discover there’s little about that area that they actually like. Litigation attorneys can get easily burnt out with the adversarial nature of their work. Divorce attorneys often have to deal with people going through the worst time of their lives. Business lawyers must pore over contracts until they feel cross-eyed. “Many attorneys went to law school because they were talented academically and had a real passion for something,” explains Harrison Barnes in LawCrossing. “Reviewing a lease or a brief does not fully utilize their talents.”
Possible solutions: The field of law is wide and vast, with many possible areas of practice. If you’re not happy with the type of law you practice, your first solution is to find a different area you might enjoy. Find an area of law that reflects your strengths and passions. You’ll be much happier in your work, and you’ll do better work for your clients as a result.