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.