You went to school for three extra years and racked up over 100k in student loan debt to become a lawyer. So why aren’t you happy? According to a recent poll, 52% of practicing lawyers describe themselves as unsatisfied. Lawyers also have the highest risk of depression and suicide out of all professions. Luckily, there are ways to be a happier lawyer. Here are just a few:
Start your day right.
Have you ever had a great day after a bad morning? Probably not that often. So start your day right: Eat a healthy breakfast, go to the gym, walk your dog, or just sit in front of the TV and savor that homemade latte while watching the Today Show. Do whatever is going to get you in the right state of mind to get the job done today.
Walk away from the screen (all of them) and get out in the sunshine. Take a walk during lunch, or go to a restaurant and sit outside. Take an hour to focus on yourself and get some Vitamin D (after all, low levels of Vitamin D are linked to depression). Your brain needs time to recharge, so take a break.
Focus on the good.
It’s easy to feel negative in a practice that is often a win-lose game. But remember why you’re doing what you’re doing (besides the 10k retainer). How are you helping someone? What wrong are you trying to right? Like it or not, our justice system is set up so that people need lawyers. Focus on how your degree enables you to help people who otherwise wouldn’t have help. Read this story or this one for some pretty amazing inspiration.
Even if you can’t focus on the positives of being a lawyer, don’t forget that you do make money. What do you like to do with your money? Go on vacations? Buy nice things? Focusing on the positive reminds you that you have a reasons behind your actions.
Are you an extrovert living in an introverted world? If so, sitting behind a desk for 8 (or 12) hours can feel like torture. Law doesn’t have to be lonely—attend networking events and take new lawyer friends out to lunch, all in the name of building business. Connecting with people will give you more energy to get your work done. Create traditions with your coworkers: For instance, you can schedule firm lunches once a week where you talk about your cases or assign dessert duty to one person each week for a dessert social hour.
If you like the practice of law, but not your job, make a change. Ditch that big firm job for a smaller boutique law firm, switch practice areas, or open your own firm. Bottom line: Life is too short, and there are plenty of options for people with law degrees, including lots of alternatives. No matter what, you are in good company.
Berkley Sweetapple Vitale is an attorney at Sweetapple Broeker & Varkas in Boca Raton, FL. She is the author of the law and lifestyle blog Lady J. Berkley lives in Boynton Beach with her law school sweetheart, son, and yellow Labrador Retriever.