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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Will this person be at my funeral?

There's an article that's both humorous and sad entitled, Work/Life Balance Survey: Lawyers Seek the Magic Blend for Fulfillment from the February 2006 Chicago Lawyer. The article highlights a study of more than 500 Chicago area lawyers regarding quality of life issues.

Some findings:

  • Government lawyers had the highest average level of work/life balance while law firm (more than 20 lawyers) had the lowest average work/life balance.
  • Work satisfaction tracked exactly inverse with hours worked...Most hours and least satisfaction.
  • The amount that professional work reduces time spent with family goes up right along with income level.
But beyond the findings there are some great quotes that are very pungent and telling regarding big law firm life.

There's a quote from an attorney, "I was talking to a friend of mine in a big firm and I said I was doing something on Sunday. He said he was working on Sunday, and I said, 'What? You're working Sunday?' He said he hadn't had a day off in two years. That's not for me. I like my kids."

Or, "Get out of the big firms if you want a life outside of work."

And, "You don't need to be the richest corpse in the cemetery."

I don't get it. If this survey has any modicum of accuracy, it says professional satisfaction and our families are not important to large swaths of the big law firm community. Why is this so?

Is the American dollar that important to some people? Also, isn't it an illusion that the legal field is all that great of a place to get wealthy? I mean even if you're generating a nice salary it's not like most other businesses where at the end of the day you can build a business and then sell it for a nice profit at the end of the day.

I can't imagine being anywhere but a sole practice or smallish firm that I control and making a nice living. Alas, nobody on their deathbed says they should have worked more.

2 Comments:

At 3:50 PM, Blogger ryan said...

You bring up an interesting point. Is it possible for an attorney to build an asset, presumably the law practice as an asset, that can be sold for value in the future? Doctors build a practice and sell the client base when they retire, is it that easy for attorneys too?

 
At 7:51 PM, Blogger Peter said...

It depends by the state. Illinois' Supreme Court just recently put out a new Supreme Court rule that does allow one to sell their law practice. I'm actually curious what sort of buy-out amounts lawyers are getting. I was in a situation earlier in my career to take over an older gentleman's law practice and I thought the amount of money he was asking for was ridiculous. I don't think the business that a lawyer can sell is all that valuable...it's too personalized to the particular lawyer. Why would the clients stay with you?

 

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