What causes unhappiness at law firms? At my first firm, I was unhappy because the work was boring and the partners treated us like crap. Simply changing law firms (and practice areas) fixed those problems for the most part. Although I am treated well by the partners at my current firm and the work has been somewhat rewarding, I am borderline miserable. Some of my problems with my job are more troubling than others.
For the first few years, I was getting overworked. I looked around and the junior partners were working even longer hours. Even senior partners were working at a ridiculous pace. These people have families. I started asking myself, “what is the value of my time” and “how much of my time can be exchanged for money”? For me, billing 2,500 hours in my first year was enough to make me question my decision to become a lawyer. And I’m a single guy with no commitments. It was mostly the two back-to-back months of billing 300 hours. I had no feeling anymore, no lust for life.
Another problem I had was always being on call 24/7. I always have my Blackberry next to me in case I get e-mailed by a partner. I never feel like I can step away from the job. It’s somehow taken over my identity.
Also, and this is a stupid one, I hated having to serve so many masters: multiple partners and demanding clients. This is my ego reacting, but I didn’t work so hard to get here, yet still feel so small.
The biggest problem I had was that I lacked passion. I stopped caring about my work beyond not wanting to tarnish the image I had been so carefully cultivating. I didn’t care if we won or lost. What a way to live life, huh? I deserve better than this.