Dear Amicus Agony,
I have been practising law for a few years now but to be really honest, I am not particularly passionate about it. I studied law because lawyers seemed to have stable jobs, it is a respectable profession and frankly, it pays well compared to many other jobs.
In recent times, I have been constantly questioning whether this is the right job for me. The hours are long, I don’t see much meaning in my work, and I always dread coming to work.
Some lawyers are so intensely passionate about their work and I can’t seem to relate with that. At the same time, other lawyers tell me that being a lawyer is “just another job” and that I should not worry too much as long as I’m satisfied with my pay.
Every day, I feel conflicted. Should I change jobs? Should I push on?? Am I a sellout???
Dear Lim Bo,
These thoughts that you have are completely normal.
In fact, I daresay that regardless of what profession you choose to be a part of, you will probably end up mulling over these things to some extent. After all, when it comes to our jobs, there is always a tendency to balance our values and ideals together with the practicalities of life.
To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for you. Some people are alright with putting aside any semblance of idealism and just see their job as a practical, utilitarian endeavour. Others cannot come close to even accepting that thought: they think that there is no point earning money doing something you do not feel deeply about.
One suggestion I have for you is this. Flip the question on its head. Don’t ask whether you should change jobs or push on. There are too many things entrenched in that thought. Instead ask yourself: if I could choose any job in the world right now, what would it be?
Once you have done that, ask yourself: why?
I don’t think your life will be enlightened with any drastic realisations or revelations by those questions, but at least you might start to understand what really drives you deep down.
That, I suppose, is the biggest step that you will need to take in deciding what to do about your job.
Dear Amicus Agony,
I am a newly qualified lawyer. I was so excited to start practice, but I am now having second thoughts.
I am terrified to go to court because I am scared of getting scolded by the judges. I am terrified by my opposing counsel because I don’t know what they are going to do to make me look stupid and unprepared. I am terrified to meet clients because they are so hard to manage.
I am struggling because since young, I have been very passionate about the law. I can’t think of any other profession I’d rather be in. It is a meaningful job to me, just that it is so daunting. I don’t know how all the senior lawyers do it.
This sounds like a terrible situation.
Don’t give up yet! If you are passionate about the law, then please keep trying to find ways and means to contribute to the profession, whether as a litigation lawyer, a corporate lawyer, something in between or something completely different – at least for now.
I understand the difficulty. Sometimes, the role of a lawyer is incredibly daunting because of the things you mentioned. But the flip side is that that’s why the role of the lawyer is important. Can you imagine a client having to go through all those pressures by themselves?
Sometimes, it’s a matter of persevering, gaining experience and learning how to manage these “occupational hazards”. Sometimes, however, no amount of perseverance, experience and learning is going to be enough. That, though, is something that you will need to assess as you go along.
You are just starting out in your career. Don’t give up! Give it a try. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. But that is a conversation for another time somewhere down the road.
Dear Amicus Agony,
Actually, are you a real person or are you just a bot? We can never be too sure nowadays.
Dear AI Dunno,
These responses don’t write themselves.