New year. New you! New job?

14 January 2015

Many of us, with the arrival of each new year, resolve to make changes to our lives.  Some resolutions are reasoned and reasonable; others, however, may be hasty and ill-conceived, often in reaction to frustrations we are feeling in our professional lives.

These frustrations seem to be especially acute among trainee lawyers when they come to believe (rightly or wrongly) that they are learning nothing new or that they are not growing professionally as quickly as they might want. Rather than trying to improve their situation, they let their frustrations boil over and often act unwisely.

The transition from law student to lawyer can come as something of a shock to many young lawyers. Whereas progress is measured in specific milestones during our time as law students, once we start working it can take much more effort to make what seems like much less progress. This calls for patience.

Think about it! A recent law school graduate is lucky to get his first job in the softest job market in years, but soon comes to believe that things are not moving quickly enough or that he is not being given enough responsibility. Boredom sets in, he finds his enthusiasm slipping, and his work beings to suffer. Because he becomes careless about his work, his employer entrusts him with less responsibility, causing him to become even more frustrated and dissatisfied. It’s a downward spiral that, once started, is hard to stop.

Menial tasks and occasional boredom will be part of any young lawyer’s life; however, once you get a bit of experience and begin to build a reputation as a solid and reliable lawyer, things will change for you.

Be patient! Be willing to help out on small things and, by all means, do them well. That will persuade your bosses to entrust you with bigger things.

Rather than look around for “something better”, you will be much better served by giving it a couple of years of focused effort. If you are looking too hard for something else, you will never see what opportunities may arise where you are.

Our advice: give it some time before you begin to look around for a new job and make sure that you are moving for the right reasons, not because you find yourself in a temporary rough patch. If your situation is truly untenable and you feel that you just cannot continue in your current job, you should at a minimum speak with someone who is interested in your career, someone who can provide a bit of guidance and perspective. Whatever you do, though, do not quit your job until you have another one lined up.

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