There is a recent article NY Times entitled The Falling Down of Professions. In a nutshell, the article describes the unfortunate experience of many young lawyers disappointed in the professional choices they make. They work long hours at large law firms, receiving substantial salaries and bonus, and nonetheless remain unhappy about their professional choices. What the article does not do is answer the more difficult question — what are they all so unhappy about? How can it be changed?
I can answer that question, because I’ve been there myself. Before launching my own practice focusing on automotive defects and lemon law, I practiced law at several large firms in Manhattan, Boston and Connecticut. And I hated every minute of it. I hated the meaningless assignments, the daily drudgery, the lack of control over one’s time, the lack of free time, the backstabbing politics….the list is long. I was terrified that I’d made a wrong professional choice, that I had acquired no useful skills, that I was wasting my life in a useless, cruel profession.
Then one day I visited my dentist. I asked him why he liked what he does. His answer was surprising: “I like being my own boss, I like having a staff, treating my own clients, in the way that I like; I like helping people, I like the freedom this profession gives me,” he said, and continued, “whoever wants to work for another dentist?”
It became clear to me then that my experience as a lawyer practicing in a large firm gave me none of the benefits that this man found so essential to his daily routines. So, in my case, I had all the problems associated with the profession — the long hours, the difficult problems etc — but none of its most fundamental benefits. Plus, of course, the practice of law has changed tremendously over the last the last 25 years. Gone are the ideas of apprenticeship, of committing to an enterprise that has a common goal, a history and an interest in growing in the future through training younger associates. The modern law firm is a business. It makes money by billing out at high hourly rate and making a margin on each our of its associates’ time.
And so I decided to change the way I was practicing law and launched my own practice in the Spring of 2006. Focusing on lemon law and auto warranty allows me to run my own practice, help my own clients, many of whom are desperately in need of legal advice, and make a living.
New York Times Article