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Two-Thirds of Lawyers Want Out of the Profession

Frustrated businessman with lot of files on desk against gray background
By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

More and more lawyers are unhappy with the profession, but why?

Is the work often boring? Yes. Is the adversarial conflict unending? Yes. As you think about it, are you getting more depressed? If yes, you are not alone. According to a new survey, nearly 60 percent of young lawyers are so discouraged they are thinking about changing careers.

Time to Change Careers?

The Florida State Bar conducted a survey to learn "what mental health issues are affecting our constituents," said Christian George, president of the Young Lawyers Division. The results were, in a word, depressing. Most of the respondents were thinking about getting out of the business because their legal careers fell short of expectations. If they could go back in time, many said they wouldn't go to law school. What's worse, that's not exactly news. There are many reasons lawyers are unhappy with the work, including:

Statistically, attorneys are a depressed group of people. Suicide rates, substance abuse, and job pressure tell half the story. The other half are just unhappy people. Of course, it's a matter of perspective. But 60 percent of lawyers can't be half wrong.

Time to Change Perspective?

Researchers have looked at what makes lawyers happy. They found it's not the money or the prestige. It's mostly about autonomy and mastery. Happy lawyers are the masters of their domain. "Lawyers who are highly autonomous feel like they can make their preferred choices and can express themselves authentically," wrote Paula Davis-Laack for Forbes. So if you feel trapped in your job, you don't have to quit the law.

Maybe it's time to change the way you practice.

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