I ’M NOT CORPORATE A BETTER WAY TO BE A LAWYER
Family Vacation Hawaii | October 2018
off than the lawyers who’d been there four or five years. Sure, they were making more money, but over time, they’d built up a lifestyle that relied on that paycheck. They’d trapped themselves financially. These lawyers had lost the freedom to leave that job and do something that would actually make them happy because they had a mortgage to pay or a family relying on them. When they’re in law school, aspiring attorneys are told a lot of things about how to be a lawyer that are not accurate of the industry as it is — nor as it should be. They’re told they should make $90,000 a year right out of the gate, but wide-eyed law students don’t realize the misery they could be about to jump into. Practically everyone in the industry does things the same way, and they’re almost all miserable. It doesn’t have to be this way. This year, Nicole and I are establishing a program to educate young lawyers who don’t want to be in the corporate sector, billing thousands of hours — young lawyers who want control over their lives in order to support themselves and do the kind of work they love. In 2019, we’re starting a group called INC, or I’m Not Corporate. Our goal is to help young lawyers get the tools they need to achieve a better work-life balance. That way, they don’t have to work for a big firm and live under the boss’s thumb. We don’t want INC to be us alone. We would love to work with attorneys in other areas of practice, entrepreneurs from other fields, and industry leaders who have built a life outside of the box. If you have ever wanted to be part of something that exists to help make people happy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get you on our exclusive mailing list for the first year of INC.
I am incredibly blessed to enjoy the life I have. I get to spend each day with the amazing woman I’m lucky to call my wife and our beautiful children. At my office, I am surrounded by a team I enjoy being around while working on cases we believe in at a place where I can prioritize my clients’ and team’s
happiness. This kind of work-life balance is rare in my industry, where the workaholic attorney is a well-earned stereotype. But no one goes into law school dreaming about being trapped in an office while working long hours and missing out on life with their family. Many hopeful new attorneys fall into the corporate trap because they’re told that’s the only way to learn the ropes. There are a lot of things they don’t teach you in law school, like how to start your own firm, attract clients, run a business, and do trials. New lawyers often turn to the corporate sector and big firms in order to learn these vital skills. They tell themselves they will only go corporate for a few years, gain experience, and then go out on their own. But more often than not, the good ol’ golden handcuffs are applied and they are stuck. The reality is that small firms, like ours, are actually much more likely to give them real-world experience. We hire good people that are the right fit for our company culture; we train them to take depositions; we work closely to breed actual trial lawyers, not just paper pushers or cogs. The myth that you have to start down the corporate path in order to make something of yourself as a lawyer is why we have so many stressed-out, unhappy, workaholic attorneys. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than nonlawyers. It’s easy to get trapped in that corporate system. I worked in a very large corporate firm right out of law school, and I was miserable. It wasn’t the work I wanted to be doing. But I was better
It is possible to have an industry of attorneys who truly love what they do and are fulfilled personally and professionally. In 2019, we start down that path.
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