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Welcome to Seeds, where we have deep conversations with people making a positive impact with their lives.  Now with more than 300+ interviews and 150,000+ listens...

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Sep 19, 2020

Dear Disillusioned Junior Lawyer.  I do understand, but don’t quit yet.  

I keep meeting you.  Everywhere I go I hear some of your story and it echoes the other stories of people just like you.  It’s part of my own journey too as I’ve been there.  Let me tell you how this story goes.  
The Law attracted you because it felt like it would be a way to help people, to bring about change and contribute to our world.
Your first year at law school was hard but intellectually challenging.  You got into second year and enjoyed the diversity of subjects.  You did well in your studies and came out with a degree and even got a job offer to work in a law firm.  
That’s when things changed.  What you saw did not match your dreams because you realised there was a strong focus on billing, a very hierarchical system, a focus on profits, an unhealthy obsession with success while relationships and family were sacrificed on the altar of career.  You also started measuring your life in 6 minute units.  You were offered gold but you began to realise that the gold was in the shape of handcuffs.  
It’s now been a few years and you are about to leave the Law.  You are either about to decide to try something else, or you have already left - maybe a month ago, maybe 10 years ago, maybe longer.  For all of you I want to give you three points to ponder:
1. Don’t walk away yet: Just because it hasn’t worked out yet doesn’t mean it cannot work out.  We need more purpose driven lawyers who want to help bring about the change we want to see in the world.  I spent years helping rich people get richer and it was not fulfilling.  But I changed to another area where I help purpose driven people achieve their goals - so my experience is that the Law can provide a means to be a catalyst to work with people who have great ideas but don’t understand the legal side of what their options are.  We need more lawyers like you with the right motivations to help such people.  
2. Where are you: It is possible that you were placed in an area of law which does not resonate with your true call.  Law firms are businesses and it may be that you ended up in a an area that does not match who you are or what you actually want to do, which you probably did not know when you graduated.  When you came out of law school you were happy to have a job as a lawyer - but there are a wide variety of specialist areas and none of us really know what it is like to practise law as opposed to studying it.  The point is that I have no idea what area is right for you but just that you might not have found it yet.  You might be doing tax law but would really be great at doing family law.  Or vice versa.  Fight for finding the area that can really resonate with who you truly are.  
3. Integration, not balance: We have given in to the lie that work/life balance should be our main aim.  Balance implies that one of these is good and the other is bad - I work so that I can have fun and feel fulfilled in my spare time when I am actually doing “life”.  This is a misconception that sells short the true possibility of what you can contribute.  What you do in your spare time is important but what you do in your work time is also important.  Search for integration of your life on all levels so that you do not resent your work for taking you away from life - rather, embrace the mission that work can call you too, so that this old saying is true: “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life”.  And maybe that is the foundation I am trying to call you back to: Being a lawyer can be a calling.  Not about ego, money or feeling like you are moving paper from one side of the desk to another.  Robert Kennedy said this: “Courage is the most important attribute of a lawyer - it should pervade the heart, the halls of justice, and the the chambers of the mind."
So I do know what you are feeling.  I’ve been there myself and almost walked away.  But it is possible to fight for a career in the law which is both fulfilling and meaningful and where you do give back in ways that are really important and even vital for our society.  We need more lawyers like you who care deeply enough to feel that the system and practising law does not match why you wanted to be a lawyer - we need you because it is that attitude which can help transform and change the system and what you don’t like.    
So here is the seed to leave you with: Maybe the law could be what you dreamed and you just haven’t found the right place within it yet.  Fight for finding where the part of the puzzle is fit by you and your unique make up, vision and skills.  And if you have walked away, why not consider coming back?
I will link to a 6 minute talk explaining some of my journey (here: and feel free to contact me if you’d like to have a conversation.  Some of us are also in the process of setting up a group for Impact Driven Lawyers: Join us.  There is a link in the show notes here
Until next time.