Love It or Leave It? The Legal Career Edition


Love It or Leave It? The Legal Career Edition

Have you ever thought about changing your area of practice or even leaving the profession altogether? Rates of attrition from private practice and from the practice of law are worrying.

Lacking motivation, a sense of fulfillment, or a semblance of work/life balance, you may be doubting that you are in the right place.

I know how it feels to be uncertain, overwhelmed, and at times, lost. I have burned out and believed that the only solution was to leave practice... which I did. I returned, but not out of a sense of clarity, but a sense of fear of losing my status as a practising lawyer — a status that I, like you, had spent years pursuing. The search for my “right place” in law continued and eventually I began to discover what was important and meaningful to me.

There are five key lessons I know now that I wish I would have known when I was making my decision whether to love or leave law:


If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed with any aspect of your work or life, take care of yourself first. You may need to pause to be able to see, and eventually address, the issues you are facing. Scheduling time for self-care may help, or you may wish to seek additional supports.

If you have doubts about your work or career path, do not push aside your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Listen to yourself, and be thoughtful and considerate of your own needs. Journaling about your challenges and their impact can be a helpful step toward taking charge of the issues.


Thinking about the following questions can help lead to insights into what fulfillment, meaning, or balance means to you:

  • What is most important to you in your work? What are your non-negotiable work values?
  • What are your top strengths (i.e., the things you do naturally and did not have to learn)? How much are these strengths being utilized in your work?
  • What opportunities or supports might you need?

The answers may or may not come easily. By being curious and pursuing your introspection with self-respect and integrity, the answers should present themselves. Talking about these questions with someone you trust can also help to deepen your reflection and shift perspective.


While exploring what is most important and meaningful to you, it would be perfectly normal for worries disguised as good questions to come up:

  • What if I make less money?
  • Will they think I could not manage things?
  • What if I fail?

If you are feeling blocked, defining or redefining what success means to you at this stage of your career and life can help to clarify your goals and chart a course forward.


Another common block that causes worry and indecision are assumptions about what others might be thinking or feeling. Do not assume that others do not care or will not support you. Rather than expecting negative responses, ask yourself:

  • What do I risk by holding my assumptions as truths?
  • How can I learn more about others’ thoughts or ideas?


When it comes to making decisions about whether to stay or make a change, there are no guarantees that you will get it right the first time. By applying these lessons, and others that you may pick up along the way, you will learn much about yourself and how you can define and create a practice and career that are right for you.