Legal Career Resources

Are You Willing to First Be a Soldier Before Becoming a General?
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Summary: Attorneys start out as soldiers in the legal battle but many are not willing to put in the time and want to immediately start out as generals, leading to a lot of job dissatisfaction.

For some reason attorneys have this idea that switching jobs will solve all their problems. Harrison Barnes delves into why attorneys think this in his article “Why You Are Unhappy Practicing Law: Soldiers and Generals in Law Firms.” At each step of an attorney’s career, they are expected to be either a soldier or a general and to excel in that role.

  
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Attorneys often struggle being in one role or the other. The internal conflict attorneys face with dealing with the role they have to fill destroys their career, moral, and life. An attorney must be successful starting out as a hard working soldier that can later transition into a general. Trying to jump into the role as a general too soon can crush their career as well as remaining a solider when they are needed to be a general.

As Barnes explains, “Soldiers are expected to work hard, fight, be expendable, dedicate their hearts, bodies and souls to the cause, and learn the ropes. The best soldiers are the ones who fight hardest, follow orders, respect their superiors, earn the respect of their peers, get general mentor, learn how things work, and do the best they can do become generals.” This description pertains to how young attorneys are expected to act. They are expected to work hard and be dedicated to their work. If they are not then their career will quickly end.

The general “gives orders, is in control, and controls his or her destiny.” Being a general is much more glamorous and desired position in a law firm, which is why younger attorneys are so anxious to move up to the position. However, generals in a law firm are expected to provide their own business so attorneys that rush and don’t build up that business yet will find that they lack job security.

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Not everyone will make it to the level of a general and that is expected. They have to put up with several years, often over ten years as a soldier to become a general. If an attorney cannot find happiness in their work as a soldier, then they will never make it long enough to enjoy their career. An attorney that cannot make it as a general at their law firm does not stand a chance of making it as a general with another similar firm. The only chance they have is going in-house or to a smaller law firm.

Successful generals are what all attorneys are working towards. Their career has freedom and satisfaction but takes years of sacrifice to get to that point. If you are an attorney that wants to enjoy your career as a general, then you have to be willing to put in the time and develop a lasting book of business.

Do you agree that generals have all the fun? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about being a successful attorney, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org



 

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