An article by Not Your Average Law Job™'s very own Sara Forte and Sarah Ewart was featured in the June 2022 issue of CBA British Columbia's BarTalk!
What Not Your Average Law Job™ has discovered about finding happiness in your career
"You’ll never find 100 happy Canadian lawyers." When we first talked to people about our Not Your Average Law Job™ project, we were met with skepticism. The project kicked-off with a single profile on a happy Canadian lawyer, who took a non-traditional path. Now, less than a year later, the project is on track to hit 100 happy lawyer profiles by the summer of 2022 and won’t stop there. There are far more than 100 happy Canadian lawyers.
When we launched this grass-roots project, we saw it as a tool to inspire lawyers unhappy in their careers to explore other paths within the profession before leaving law. As it unfolded, we realized that the project had become an unintended research project, and we had become accidental experts in lawyer happiness.
Talking to happy lawyers, clear themes of what makes them happy in their careers have emerged. They have all had unique paths to happiness in law, but they share some things in common. We are excited to share a few.
1. Happy Lawyers intentionally design their practice
Finding the perfect job is often the result of reflection and planning, not luck. Happy lawyers take time to figure out what their needs outside of the office are and then find work that makes that lifestyle possible. If working from home is important to you, do not accept work that requires you to be in an office. If you know that you only want to practise in one area of law, do not apply for jobs that would include work in several areas.
2. Happy lawyers find flexibility
Flexibility can mean many things. For some, the flexibility to be able to watch their child’s school performance at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon is important. Others are at their best working from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and prefer the flexibility to work outside the standard office hours. Some Canadian lawyers have homes and families across the globe and appreciate the flexibility to be able to work in another country for a few months of the year. Whatever flexibility means to you, we have found that lawyers are happier working on their own schedule.
3. Happy lawyers stay connected and access support
A happy career is not built alone. Happy lawyers acknowledge that they could not have developed the practice that they have without the love and support of co-workers, mentors, family, and friends. Some lawyers join online communities and others rely on a close-knit circle of friends outside of the profession. It does not matter who is on your side, the important thing is to keep a team behind you, rooting for your success.
4. Happy lawyers take chances
Life is too short to hate your job. There are a lot of different career options out there and all it might take for you to land your perfect role is sending an application in for a job you think is out of your league or sending a message on LinkedIn to a lawyer whose career you admire. Putting yourself out there and taking a risk can be scary, but it will lead to fulfillment in your career.
5. Happy lawyers embrace innovation
Got a work-related problem that’s slowing you down? There’s an app for that! Happy lawyers do not cling to tradition — if it no longer serves them — and are open to try new things that help free up their time to help their clients and do other things they enjoy. Happy founders and solo practitioners run their practices in innovative ways by introducing things like alternatives to traditional billing models.