Whenever attorneys consider any type of career change, whether minor or major, the issue of money inevitably comes up. That’s hardly surprising. Often, the changes being contemplated require some sort of financial sacrifice, at least in the short term. Some require short-term and ong-term sacrifice.
For purposes of this post, I consider a career change to mean, among other things, a modification of a practice area, switching work environments, going solo,or even getting out of law.
Far too many lawyers let the money aspect of any career change get in the way of making the best choice. Risk-avoiding lawyers are often unwilling to assume any risk, no matter how reasonable it appears on paper. This is unfortunate. These lawyers never get to experience working in areas that may turn out to be more satisfying and lucrative in the long run.
Lawyers seem to always assume the worst. This is why money issues scare many away from career change. When you assume the worst, the concern becomes when you will run out of money, not if you will run out of money.
Keep Your Perspective
When considering any career change, envision the difference between a home run and a strike out. The most likely outcome of swinging the bat will be a single -- or perhaps a double. What does that look like? Can you live with that? Probably yes. Too many lawyers, however, don’t think that they’ll get to first base. As a result, they play it safe, stay in the dugout and remain miserable.
Others may be more confident that the planned career change will work. However, they don’t want to consider living a more frugal lifestyle. Too many lawyers focus on what it might be like living on less, while completely forgetting that this probably won’t last for long.
Alternatively, they assume that tightening their belts for a short period of time will be intolerable. Think about past times where your disposable income was reduced for reasons such as paying for child care, taking out a big mortgage, or paying for your children’s college. Did the world come to an end? I doubt it. Moreover, the benefit was usually worth the cost. Sadly, many attorneys do not apply the same calculus when the benefit of a career change is a more successful practice.
Another factor that lawyers often fail to consider is that planned career change can sometimes lead to an unanticipated opportunity. I’ve met plenty of lawyers who made changes in either their practice areas or where they practiced law and in essence, became the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time. This could occur, for example, as a result of new legislation or a court decision. In this scenario, the attorney actually makes more money than ever anticipated.
An often-repeated adage states, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy you the kind of misery you prefer.” Don’t settle for the misery of your present legal career. Take a rational risk.
Originally published on Lawyerist.com