It's June. About time for me to consider a career change.
I've had my own law firm for just under a year. It has been a very interesting time. I really enjoy making my own hours, taking my own vacation, and not dealing with very, very nasty office politics (and bad bosses). However, I am not enamored of paperwork, finances, and filing. In short, I like being my own lawyer, but not my own secretary. Unfortunately, I have not be profitable enough in my short time out of the box to afford to purchase a secretary, and so I must complete secretarial tasks for the time being.
I am currently experiencing a slow period in my practice. Slow, meaning I have nothing on my court calendar for a week and a half. This has happened before, but generally only when I go on vacation and keep my calendar clear. What I *should* do is use the time to catch up on closing cases. It is my least favorite task to complete as a lawyer. It is dry, time-consuming, and I can't bill for it. What I find myself doing, instead, is contemplating a change in careers.
As a contract attorney for the public defender's office, I am paid about $40 per billed hour. That means for each case I bill between $100 and $600, though sometimes more and sometimes less. I am not working near full-time. I a few private clients because I am new in the area and have not developed a reputation. I am also a young woman, and that works against me. When people think of a good criminal defense attorney, they think of a grizzled man in his prime. They think of Jack Hogue. It will probably take years to build up a private client base.
As a result, I'm bored. I want more work.
Of course, there aren't jobs. There just aren't. The most numerous job postings on the UW Law School list are "Volunteer Opportunities," which is a joke. There are some jobs for litigation attorneys in Milwaukee, which is too far to drive and for which I'm not quite qualified. There are also some postings for experienced patent attorneys and experienced trust and estate attorneys. Three years ago there were more positions for attorneys with three years of experience. Now that I have three years, those positions seem to have dried up. Economy be damned.
I'm wondering if it is possible to carve out a career in law. Am I going about it the right way? What kind of life am I making for myself? Do I care enough to invest years in solo practice just to start to make a reasonable salary?
The answer to the last question is probably not. I made a crucial mistake. I went to law school looking for answers. I thought law school would open up a world of possibilities for me. It really hasn't. It did saddle me with a debt that, if I continue to pay on schedule, I will pay off when my unborn children complete college.
Law school is not a recipe for success, any more than a good cup of coffee (although coffee *is* magic). It will not guarantee a good job. It will not even guarantee a job. It does not bring prestige, membership into secret clubs (except the kinds that cost money and don't do anything for you). A law degree is not the same as happiness.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one who thinks so, and the magic of the internet helps me see that.
So, it's June, and I'm thinking of changing careers to something that makes me feel more employable.