July 21, 2019

The 2013 Colorado Lawyer Satisfaction and Salary Survey — Part 5: What The Survey REALLY told us. The X Factor revealed.

rhodes(Click here for Law Week Colorado’s summary of the Survey.)

Maybe the real significance of the Survey is that it brought the issue of lawyer career dissatisfaction home to us here in Colorado. Before the Survey, we were aware of other people in other places doing research and writing law journal articles and media stories about lawyer career dissatisfaction and general life unhappiness. Even the Survey’s finding that two-thirds of lawyers wouldn’t recommend their own jobs isn’t new; it only mirrors what other surveys have already discovered. But now that we’ve said that about ourselves… well, that’s a different story.

Not in our house, you don’t!

As Law Week Colorado editor Meg Satrom said in her article introducing the Survey:

Colorado attorneys should be assured that we are at least a half step ahead of attorneys in other states. While we may just be starting a conversation about job satisfaction and how we might address some of the issues facing the profession, we’re well ahead of a majority of states that have yet to even begin thinking about how the profession may take shape over the coming decades.

As we’ve also seen, some Colorado law leaders have concluded that the Survey signals that lawyers could help themselves by becoming more entrepreneurial about their career satisfaction. Entrepreneurship is at its heart a power move. It’s about stepping out of rank, insisting on new rules, seizing power. Whether you think we’ve got problems in our house or not, there’s little doubt that those lawyers who make this power move will change the way the business of law is conducted. If you’re one of those, where might you start?

With the X Factor.

I used to think you needed two things to be happy in the law:

1. A fit with your practice area:  finding a niche where you can attain mastery.
2. A fit with your practice environment:  finding a place where the business of law is conducted in a way that frees you to focus on your personal vision of professionalism.

I still believe that, but now I think there’s a third essential factor. In fact, I now believe this is the X Factor – the single crucial element that must be present if we hope to create sustainable satisfaction in work and in life. What is it?

3. Soul satisfaction:  learning to work and live from your center core self – that place where your values and passions and dreams come from.

That sounds touchy-feely, but it’s not. It’s a discipline that can be learned and taught, that has a predictable course of development. How do we embrace it, and bring it to real-time application?

To be continued.

Kevin Rhodes is a lawyer in private practice who’s on a mission to help people love their work and their lives. He leads workshops for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Solo and Small Firm Section and the Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. You can email Kevin at kevin@rhodeslaw.com.

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