What Gets you Up in the Morning?

6:30am is a fun time
6:30am is a fun time

If you’re going to have a successful legal career that actually fulfills you, then you’ve got to determine why you do what you do.

Recently I wrote about how your legal career is a journey of a thousand miles.  But irrespective of where you are on that journey (have you taken the first step yet?) there is one consistent feature – you need to wake up, put your shoes on, and get walking.

So the next most obvious question to attend to is this: why?  What’s the point?

Why Did you Become a Lawyer?

Some of us are a long way from our initial decision to become a lawyer, but it’s a worthwhile diversion to take ourselves back to that early season and think about why we did it in the first place.

Did you actually decide to become a lawyer?  Or did you decide to study law (the two are different things)?

At a certain point you must have decided to go into a legal career, but do you remember why?

Was it money?  Was it prestige?  Was it because “I’ve spent all this time studying so I’d better give it a crack”.

Why are you STILL a lawyer?

This is where the rubber hits the road.

When you made the decision to study law, and then to become a lawyer, you probably had all sorts of things in your mind.  That’s why answering the first question is important.

Because today – right now – I wonder if you’d give the same answers?  You became a lawyer for the money? Great!  What if you’re not getting paid as much as you thought?  What if the GFC ruined your financial opportunity?

Then the question is this: why are you still a lawyer, if that original answer no longer holds true.

Do you ever have that feeling that you’re just “going through the motions”?  You get out of bed, go to work, slog your guts out, then go home, sleep and do it all again the next day?

Do you feel like you’re not accomplishing the things you want?  Do you have the impression that there must be something more to life than what you’re getting at the moment?

Then there’s a pretty good chance you’ve lost your purpose somewhere.  Perhaps it got stuck in a series of long hours, bad clients, evil bosses, or incomprehensible study.

Whatever the reason though, if you’ve going to survive the marathon, you need to assess whether the motivation you had originally remains true today.

Who Cares Why I’m Doing it – I just am!

Then you’re stupid (was that harsh?)

Legal careers can be rewarding, fulfilling, and satisfying.  But yours won’t be, if you can’t identify your purpose and ensure that you’re ticking that box (or those boxes) consistently throughout your career.  You will remain dissatisfied, unhappy, and it will gradually pull you down.

You’ve got to know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.

Take a Minute Now

So take a minute now and answer these questions:

  1. Why did you start law?
  2. What are you still in the law?
  3. What is something you do each day that helps you fulfill that purpose.

If you’re struggling with number 3, then you know what you’ve got to do – make a change.  Begin some new habits.

For the inspired among us, can I encourage you to share – what’s your purpose for being a lawyer?  Let us know in the comments!

  • Good article Chris. One problem with going to law school, that is true for any degree, is that it’s not possible to know if one wants to truly do something until they’ve done it for a while. That makes going to law school a bit of a gamble.

    I found the recent ABA study interesting. It said that those with “higher levels of resilience, empathy, initiative and sociability” are the ones who are likely to leave the law. As an attorney in Australia, how do you think that statements compares from one Country to another?

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