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200 Lawyers on What Career Fulfillment Looks Like Today—and What it Takes to Get There

Every law school graduate knows the classic career trajectory: snag an associate position at a firm after graduation, work crazy hours to prove your worth, and then, hopefully, make partner and ascend to the next level, financially and otherwise.

But that typical path may be shifting. The rise in emphasis on overall quality of life and career fulfillment has produced a sea change in the next generation of lawyers, who have found the traditional route to success leaves much to be desired.

At least, according to a recent survey we conducted. We asked lawyers across the spectrum—from associates to partners, to in-house counsel for companies to attorneys working in government—questions about their values, where they plan to go next, down to the most basic question of all: Are they happy in their careers?

Looking toward the future, plenty of lawyers laid out a big question mark. One lawyer admitted they enjoyed their day-to-day, but doubted the path ahead: “I like my firm, but I always wonder if one day I will burn out.” Another worried about balancing it all: “Will I have a life, and if so, will they pay me enough to keep up with the cost of living?” Their responses circled the same topics‚ from figuring out their career to money concerns. One respondent basically summed it up: “Where am I going, where do I want to go (career-wise), and can I make it work financially?”

The overall results are pretty fascinating, and provide understanding into how lawyers are defining their careers today, as well as what it means to achieve fulfillment in the current job market.

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Fighting Law School Debt, Four Young Attorneys Define Their Own Success

Four Lawyers Get Candid About Life, Career Aspirations, and Law School Debt

After graduating from law school, every aspiring lawyer has a vision of what his or her ideal law career will look like. One thing most new attorneys will attest to, however, is that their substantial student loan debt will probably factor into their career decisions for years to come. Whether pursuing the coveted partnership in a law firm, choosing a slower pace to leave room for work-life balance, opting to practice law that helps champion causes close to the heart, or working for a private client, law school loans loom large.

Here’s a closer look at how four motivated young lawyers are navigating different career paths and discovering new passions, while trying to close the case on their student loan debt for good.

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Paying for fertility treatment using a personal loan

Paying for Fertility Treatments: How One Couple Financed their Path to Parenthood

The plan, Jonathan recalls, was straightforward: Marry his fiancée, get away for a honeymoon, and get down to the business of starting a family.

“My wife was 39 and I’d just turned 40,” he says. “We wanted to have kids, and we also knew time wasn’t necessarily on our side.”

The wedding and honeymoon were beautiful. But soon after their return—and after several months of trying to conceive without success—they started to worry, and decided to see a doctor. “We figured she would tell us everything was fine, but then she ordered tests.”

The news wasn’t good: He and his wife were infertile. They might still have children, their doctor told them, but not without medical assistance. “Becoming parents would require a special procedure,” Jonathan says. “And it was going to cost us a lot of money.”

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