Are you a Disposable Lawyer?

Some things are disposable – hopefully not you

It’s a regrettable reality for many young lawyers – you can be replaced quite easily.  If you’re a graduate lawyer in particular, the chances are you’ve noticed that for every position out there, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants.

So what makes you so special?

If you’re lucky enough to have a job, then you need to quickly and effectively convince your employer that replacing you at any point would be a bad idea – not just because of your legal acumen, but because of your unique qualities that make you something more than just another cog in the machine.

The question for you today is: how are you doing that?

The principle problem is this: everyone starts to fall into the same path, the same track, the same qualities – you end up in a rut.

The Rut is Full of Disposable Lawyers

The rut that young lawyers fall into is both wide and deep.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • work long, hard hours
  • bill as much time as possible on the tasks given to you
  • demonstrate how smart you are by doing those tasks as well as you can
  • go home, eat and sleep, then repeat the above.

Does this sound familiar?  It should – it’s the pattern of almost every young lawyer I know.  But if this is what you do, and this is what everyone else does as well – how are you anything more than average?

Here’s the problem with the rut – everyone in it ends up at the same destination.

But that’s not what readers of this blog are looking for, is it?  Mediocrity?  It’s sure as anything not what I want, and I don’t think you do either.

It’s Not What’s In the Rut – but what Isn’t

Disposable lawyers are all the same.  That’s what makes them disposable.

The problem is that we fill up our days with what seems to be essential at the time.  And there’s never any room for anything else.

There are no views in the rut.  There’s no room for creativity.  There’s no space for disruption.  And there’s no area to grow.  There’s just a bunch of lawyers, following the same path, going the same speed, on the same track, and headed to the same destination.

If you are going to become a truly unique practitioner, then you need to get out of the rut.  Right Now.  Because as long as you’re in the rut – you remain disposable.  If you are disposed of, you will easily be replaced by the lawyer just behind you in the rut – they’ll close the gap and nobody will notice.

Only once you are out of the rut can you begin to be an artist.

Once once you are out of the rut can you start to disrupt the system.

Only once you are out of the rut can you effect change.

Only once you are out of the rut can you become unique – and once you are unique, and the value you provide is unique, you cannot be discarded like the rest.

Climb out of the Rut Today – And Tread a New Path

If my description of legal practice above was your day – then you’re in trouble.

You’re in trouble because you haven’t made room for yourself in your career.  You’ve only made room for what is impressed upon you from day one.

If you want out of the rut (and I hope you do) then you need to start now.  Because the rut only gets deeper and deeper as you travel along it.

Starting tomorrow – spend 15 minutes at the START of your day climbing out of the rut.

Maybe you’ll make a phone call to a contact.  Maybe you’ll start a blog.  Write an article.  Email a prestigious person.  Implement a personal plan.

Just do something – one of those things that over the last year you know you SHOULD have been doing, but haven’t ever “gotten around to”.

Don’t ask for permission – just do it.

Happy lawyering!




  • Probably the saddest part is that many attorneys who find themselves in this rut feel like there is now way out. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned starting a blog. Lawyers are highly skilled writers and blogging can lend itself quite well to those in the legal profession. While many attorneys feel trapped in their predicament they don’t have to. Kudos for raising this topic.

    • Right on, Luke. The first step, of course, is realising that you’re in the rut in the first place. Sometimes the walls are so high and long that lawyers don’t realise that there IS another way.

      “You’ve been living in a dream land, Neo….”

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