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The Seven Burdens Attorneys Face That Drag Them Down
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Summary: Harrison Barnes classifies the burdens that attorneys take on in their career into seven “deadly” categories.

There are several things that law firm attorneys will face more in their life than in pretty much any other career. In Harrison Barnes article, “The Seven Deadly Burdens of Being a Law Firm Attorney: Rejected, Criticized, Never Enough, Marginalized, Lied to, Insecure, and Cast Out,” readers learn the hard truth to what an attorney has to go through.


Barnes immediately throws the reader into the cold reality, “Unlike many other professions…the legal profession constantly rejects its members, undermines their confidence and employment prospects, plays mind games with them, and periodically fires them after only hiring them for a short while.” The fact that anyone decides to be an attorney is surprising so the reality that many don’t make it past a few years is no big surprise. It takes a strong constitution and guts to be an attorney and stick with it. Learn more about the seven burdens that attorneys suffer through here:

  1. Rejection

Attorneys face rejection from the time they apply to law school. Being rejected will continue with every job they apply to, law firm they try to work for, work they do on projects, so forth. Attorneys that experience more rejection than others will have top grades but not from a top school, no business but plenty of experience, unemployed, coming from in-house, government, or another practice setting, are seeking employment during a recession, and do not interview well.

  1. Criticized

Criticism will continue for their entire career. Nothing they do will be perfect, there is always room for improvement. They will be critiqued by clients, other attorneys, judges, superiors, opposing counsel, colleagues, and others. Depending on their practice area will affect the amount of criticism they will experience from each group.

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  1. Never Enough

Attorneys develop this feeling before law school. They feel that they are not worthy enough if they don’t get into the best schools where they can achieve the best grades and secure the best internships and experience. Once an attorney gets into a firm, when they don’t receive the top work, they will continue to experience this feeling. There is always someone billing more hours with bigger books of business…

  1. Marginalized

Attorneys are marginalized when they are young attorneys and when they are older. It does not matter. The feeling will come from every direction and at any point in an attorney’s career. The only way to get past it is to understand that everyone is in the same boat.

  1. Lied To

Attorneys will be lied to when interviewing for a new position. They will be lied to by their superiors. They are lied to at every point in their career by everyone around them. Lying is easier than the truth and gets others what they want faster. Lying ranges in the form of flattery to denial of enough work. There is no way of knowing what the actual lie is so attorneys must assume that everything is a lie.

  1. Insecure

Being rejected, lied to, and more all the time is going to wear down even the strongest of attorneys so that they no longer are sure of their skills and capabilities as an attorney. They may be a very good attorney but one comment can be like a plunging knife that cuts the cord. Attorneys are barely hanging on and struggling to keep in the game.

  1. Cast Out

Law firms are competitive, cut-throat places that will toss out attorneys at every chance. They want only the best and strongest so if an attorney struggles, they will be left behind. Most attorneys will experience this at least once in their career. Knowing what will cause them to be cast out ranges from a serious mistake to not fitting in with the culture of the firm.

Do you think people are too hard on attorneys? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about making it as an attorney, read these articles:



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