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Are you satisfied?

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You can do all of that stuff and still have a career in law too, if that's what you want.

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I'm in my mid-30s now and approaching that traditional mid-life crisis milestone of 40. My adult approach to satisfaction is figuring out if, in quiet moments, I have peace-of-mind more often than not. Even a 51:49 split would be okay with me. The childhood ideal of being happy all the time doesn't exist in adult life. If your friends or colleagues are living the kind of fairy-tale where they never have a bad day, they're living as children. Remember that. The delusion of believing you can make the right career moves and marry the "right" person and have the perfect kids you always wanted is a dangerous thing. So is the stupid and offensive Hollywood script of the Marie Henein super-litigator adored by the media and aspired to by the hordes of striving young litigators. You have to push those narratives out of your mind. Relationships evolve and decay,  and working as a lawyer is an assault on your emotions. No matter how much you stylize and airbrush and puff up another lawyer's life, they're still climbing the same ladder you are, and they still have their own limitations. Adult life is all about accepting those things and making the internal/external changes to minimize their damage. 

What I'm trying to say is that there are obviously things you want to avoid. Being miserable doing a kind of law you hate 100% of the time is one of those things. But don't expect to love whatever you replace that with 100% of the time. It doesn't work that way. 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, adVenture said:

Without wading into the underlying debate, I just wanted to specifically respond to this comment because I couldn't have said it better. Although I'm only a 2019 call, so I don't want to derail this, I just managed to secure a better than expected associate position in a niche area of law in a small practice group with colleagues who seem to just be all around great people. And from the ground running I will be making way more than my grandparents ever did, who both worked in a factory for 50+ years while raising me as a kid, and now experience real health problems from how hard they had to work in less than ideal conditions, with never having anything like a financial cushion (one of my grandparents was an orphan, the other the oldest of 12). When I get them simple gifts, like craft coffee beans or other things they like, I literally have to rip off the label and say it bought it on sale or they will not use it because it is "too good for them." I really wish life could be more fair, but it isn't, and so I'm just thankful for what I have and trying to be a more open-hearted person in the process. 

Great post. 

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Agree. For years, I had to make sure that whenever we had my parents over, there weren't price tags left on any of the delicious stuff we would buy at St. Lawrence Market. 

Shannon Proudfoot had a good article in this vein yesterday:

https://www.macleans.ca/society/what-does-it-mean-to-be-working-class-in-canada/

It makes perfect sense to Lehmann that these students basically ignore social class except to obliquely cite it as a source of individual strength. “It’s not particularly in their interest to be very classist about this, to be offended by middle-class advantages, because they’re at university to get that,” he says. As he writes in that paper, the very conditions they credit with giving them the advantages of grit and maturity—their financial struggles and hard labour—are “precisely what they wish to escape.” If your whole life project—and your parents’ deepest ambitions, too—relies on scaling several rungs on the ladder, you pretty much have to buy into the idea that the view is better there than where you started, and deservedly so.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/8/2019 at 2:07 PM, besmackin said:

I'm junior lawyer, and left from big law to go in-house. My paycut was about 30K. Given that my annual raises are significantly less than what they would have been in big law, that gap is only going to grow bigger. For me, the chance to do work that I find personally rewarding and interesting has been worth it. I guess possibly I'll change my tune if/when I have kids/carry a mortgage and my contemporaries start making 2 or 3 times as much money as I do. But as of now, I'm satisfied with the work I do, and though I feel like I could/should be making more, I don't regret my choices.

Don't sweat too hard about this. Seriously, I make about 4x my articling salary now (although I do think I am a bit lucky). You will find as you progress in a corporation, if you are strategic about it, the only real way to obtain serious pay bumps is to either get a promotion or to move companies. You don't have to progress at COL increases only. Last year or so, a recruiter approached me about potentially going into a big law firm. Based on the potential salary vs. the hours, it wouldn't have been worth it for me to go into a firm at this point. Also, it's helpful not to compare to what your peers are making. Yes your big law peers will be making more money, but don't forget you chose to go in-house for a reason. Try to remember that when you have a bit of angst.

Sorry just had to offer a bit of advice...back to the main topic!

Edited by tanx
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1 hour ago, tanx said:

Don't sweat too hard about this. Seriously, I make about 4x my articling salary now (although I do think I am a bit lucky). You will find as you progress in a corporation, if you are strategic about it, the only real way to obtain serious pay bumps is to either get a promotion or to move companies. You don't have to progress at COL increases only. Last year or so, a recruiter approached me about potentially going into a big law firm. Based on the potential salary vs. the hours, it wouldn't have been worth it for me to go into a firm at this point. Also, it's helpful not to compare to what your peers are making. Yes your big law peers will be making more money, but don't forget you chose to go in-house for a reason. Try to remember that when you have a bit of angst.

Sorry just had to offer a bit of advice...back to the main topic!

How often would you say the top in house people get promotions? And what does that look like? Moves to VP positions? CLO? 

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On 7/19/2019 at 10:39 AM, whoknows said:

How often would you say the top in house people get promotions? And what does that look like? Moves to VP positions? CLO? 

It would be the same as any other corporate job outside of law, every few years? Often legal departments are very flat, but typically the progression would be something like legal counsel > senior legal counsel > agc > gc. The GC could be at a VP level, director level or even SVP level depending on the organization. I think more often, people change companies and get their promotion that way, whether that's in title, pay or both.

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40 minutes ago, tanx said:

It would be the same as any other corporate job outside of law, every few years? Often legal departments are very flat, but typically the progression would be something like legal counsel > senior legal counsel > agc > gc. The GC could be at a VP level, director level or even SVP level depending on the organization. I think more often, people change companies and get their promotion that way, whether that's in title, pay or both.

That progression may be likely at a smaller operation but not at a large one. The AGC and GC will never be at the VP level, but rather at the Exec. VP level in most circumstances. This would be true at, e.g., the large financial institutions where there are hundreds, if not thousands, at the VP level throughout the banks but the AGC would likely be at the SVP level, where there are many fewer, and eventually as the GC at the Exec. VP level, where there are even fewer.  It would be a rarity for anyone to reach that level from inside. Most at that level are recruited from the large firms which do the banks' work, and often it is the relationship lawyer.

This is the difficulty of discussing in-house employers, which can vary greatly.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, erinl2 said:

That progression may be likely at a smaller operation but not at a large one. The AGC and GC will never be at the VP level, but rather at the Exec. VP level in most circumstances. This would be true at, e.g., the large financial institutions where there are hundreds, if not thousands, at the VP level throughout the banks but the AGC would likely be at the SVP level, where there are many fewer, and eventually as the GC at the Exec. VP level, where there are even fewer.  It would be a rarity for anyone to reach that level from inside. Most at that level are recruited from the large firms which do the banks' work, and often it is the relationship lawyer.

This is the difficulty of discussing in-house employers, which can vary greatly.

100%. I struggled with answering this question because it could vary so greatly. I’m not as familiar with large institutions like banks, I’m mostly familiar with smaller in house departments, of no more than 30 or so lawyers. The corresponding level (EVP, SVP etc) for the title (GC, ACG) depends on so many things, including the hierarchy within the company generally, the status and entrenchment of the legal function, the nature of the company’s industry, and so forth. I agree at that level, most are recruited from outside. 

Edited by tanx
Typo
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On 7/19/2019 at 9:29 AM, tanx said:

Don't sweat too hard about this. Seriously, I make about 4x my articling salary now (although I do think I am a bit lucky). You will find as you progress in a corporation, if you are strategic about it, the only real way to obtain serious pay bumps is to either get a promotion or to move companies. You don't have to progress at COL increases only. Last year or so, a recruiter approached me about potentially going into a big law firm. Based on the potential salary vs. the hours, it wouldn't have been worth it for me to go into a firm at this point. Also, it's helpful not to compare to what your peers are making. Yes your big law peers will be making more money, but don't forget you chose to go in-house for a reason. Try to remember that when you have a bit of angst.

Sorry just had to offer a bit of advice...back to the main topic!

Thanks for the advice! I definitely have those moments of angst about leaving the biglaw treadmill, so it's always good to hear these success stories!

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I am having a lot of issues with boredom. Called June 2018. 

This has been a problem for most of my life. In school (all levels, including law school) I would become incredibly bored with most things, but at least every assignment/unit/class had a specified end point after which I could move on to something different. 

In the last few months of articling I was listless. A lack of enthusiasm towards that area of law caused me to seek work in an entirely unrelated area of law. 

Now, 13+ months into this role, I am increasingly finding myself in a negative head space. I close one task and move on to a task that is often fundamentally the same thing. This is a solicitor role in a volume-based practice. I like the fact that most files are open and close relatively quickly; I greatly dislike the fact that most files are essentially the same. I experience increasing disdain for my desk, where I spend so many hours a week. I recoil internally when I have to deal with petty little demands near transaction closings. And, for the first time, there is no end date - the intention is that I will do this type of work for decades, barring a drastic change (which would likely only offer temporary relief to these feelings, anyway). 

I would guess that a lot of you are too busy to feel bored. I can assure you that it is very possible to be both very busy and very bored simultaneously, and that is probably a dangerous combination. 

On the "Big Five" personality trait / pseudoscience scale, I am certainly high in openness/creativity and low in conscientiousness. 

I am not so naive as to think that I can make some big move and find my "dream job." This is who I am and this is what the work is, indeed, what most most work is. Yet surely some of you have gone through this realization and these feelings of pervasive boredom at some point in your careers.

I am interested in hearing about strategies for farming enthusiasm out of our work, tailoring your practice to suit your personality / eccentricities, etc. I want to make this work long-term but I need to find a source of renewable energy. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

I am having a lot of issues with boredom. Called June 2018. 

This has been a problem for most of my life. ...

...

I would guess that a lot of you are too busy to feel bored. I can assure you that it is very possible to be both very busy and very bored simultaneously, and that is probably a dangerous combination. 

On the "Big Five" personality trait / pseudoscience scale, I am certainly high in openness/creativity and low in conscientiousness. 

...

Well, at first glance and by your own admission that its been a problem your whole life, it might be you and not the work. In that case, diagnosing and resolving your internally developed enthusiasm, would be hard to do without more long-term and personal information. You're probably better off talking to someone in person, either a colleague, mentor, or your therapist, if you have one. 

It is trite to say that different things are boring to different people. Some people, for example, practice real estate law. I don't know how, but they do it. Meanwhile, when I talk to people about some of the types of law I practice or am fascinated by, even when it is clear I'm passionate about it, I can see their eyes glazing over and its time to wrap up my little story.

The point is, if it isn't you and it is the work, you really have three options and you already knew them before you asked internet strangers: 1. Figure out what's exciting about the work; 2. Find new work that isn't boring to you; or 3. Suck it up and accept your boring life.

Assuming the issue isn't coming from within, you can certainly try harder at Option 1 and cut the negative self-talk about how boring your job is and how you're stuck doing it. That you say in your penultimate paragraph "this is who I am" is the worst part of it that you need to snap out of. Nothing in your above post provides any reason to suggest you're chained to your current position or that you're inherently a boring person. So why are you telling yourself that and why are you telling anonymous strangers that? 

If I'm wrong, Option 3 is still only relevant after exhausting attempts at Option 1 and if you're starving, have other mouths to feed, are massively in debt, or have other reasons for which you simply cannot leave your job to try and improve your well-being somewhere else. Which is fine and there's nothing wrong with just working to live--I acknowledge the privilege some of us have to pursue more engaging career options. But in that case, I can't see how you could exhaust ways to engage with the work you're stuck doing. You're creative, by your own identification. Find ways to apply that creativity to your current position and have fun doing what you're doing.

Edited by FineCanadianFXs
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Totally off-topic, but every time I see this thread I get the song Satisfied from Hamilton stuck in my head.

You're welcome.

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6 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

This has been a problem for most of my life. In school (all levels, including law school) I would become incredibly bored with most things, but at least every assignment/unit/class had a specified end point after which I could move on to something different. 

I don't know that I would call what I've experienced as boredom, but I have definitely experienced feelings of aimlessness. As you've alluded to, when you're in school, there are generally structured or obvious achievements and milestones that you are working towards (making honour roll, getting into law school, passing bar exams, securing an articling position). Since finishing articling and moving into practice, I've found myself asking, "What now?". Not that there aren't things to work towards - it's just now I have to get more creative and self-reflective in determining what these goals are. In addition to thinking about long-term career objectives , I've found it helpful to set attainable, short-term objectives that I can work towards and get a sense of satisfaction from completing. 

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1 hour ago, BertyBewp said:

Totally off-topic, but every time I see this thread I get the song Satisfied from Hamilton stuck in my head.

You're welcome.

..but just you wait, just you wait!

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21 minutes ago, whereverjustice said:

ALEXANDER
How can I, bastard, orphan son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean
By providence, impoverished, in squalor, become a fancy Osgoode Haller?

DIPLOCK
I get it, young man, no doubt you've seen your share of strife
But's there's this thing I call the Fallacy of the Perfect Life
Your dad's gone - that sucks, but it's not a claim for Access
How's that gonna explain your repeated mediocre LSATs?
Yeah, so, if the shoe fits wear it
Your application sucks but you've got years to repair it
And if you make that effort I sure do wish you the best, sir
But don't you fucking come back here and ask 'bout going to Leicester

Regardless of how good you are at lawyering, you have a higher calling. 

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Okay, WJ, you need to change your username to Lin-Manuel.  Or even Javier. (Who I thought was even better. Blasphemous, I know.)

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When feeling bored or aimless, it never hurts to reread this fantastic post by Uriel:

 

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