Is a high lawyers salary really your key to happiness and career satisfaction? Let’s take a step back for a second and imagine that the lawyer salary was not a factor in your consideration of a legal career. Imagine that you inherited a billion dollars and you no longer have to work to support yourself… what would you do with your time?
Your initial answer might be “I’d sleep, eat and live it up!” But, seriously consider this… doing nothing at all might be fun for a month or two at most, but then you would be so bored out of your mind that you would have to find something to do. By nature human beings crave PURPOSE, when you have no purpose it is easy to fall into the psychological trap of “life has no point”.
If you were actually in a position where you no longer were required to work for a living would you consider law school? Would you care about the value of your lawyer salary? What type of law do you think would satisfy you the most? Realize that whatever your answer is to this question, criminal, working with non-profit corporations, or family law, there is a niche you can find (or create) to receive a very comfortable lawyers salary.
Moreover, what kind of monetary value can you put on happiness? Remember that for the next 40 years of your life you will likely be required to work, and 5 out of 7 days of the week will be devoted primarily to your work. Therefore, don’t you want to be happy with your work? Trust me, the lawyers salary has nothing to do with whether or not you should go to law school.
I remember my first day of law school orientation one of the law school professors asked a small group of students why they wanted to become lawyers… one of my classmates replied “the money” the professor paused, looked at the student and said, “if that is the only thing you care about then go to wall street… In the law you can make money, but the reason you show up to work every day is to help people.” I couldn’t appreciate his words at the time, but now I most certainly do.
Realize that money and happiness are not related by any stretch of the imagination… money is simply a tool that creates options for you to pursue. You must have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and without any purpose happiness will certainly elude you.
Later during my second semester of law school the most successful bankruptcy lawyer in the state gave a speech to the class about the most satisfying work he had ever done… it wasn’t a major newsworthy complicated corporate bankruptcy worth millions of dollars, but instead was the time he was able to protect a family’s small home from creditors.
Becoming a lawyer means that you will have power to change things for other people, yourself, and (very rarely) society in general. You have to discover what is important to you and gives you purpose! Lawyers really are required in almost every facet of business and daily life, becoming certain types of lawyers can be difficult, so educate yourself on the global range of possibilities now, before you become a lawyer, so that you can chart your course in advance. Finally do not let money or the lawyers salary guide your path because it will not lead you to career happiness. The money is there for lawyers if you want it, but make sure that is where your passions and purpose reside.
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