ABA Journal



Are lawyers more miserable than general population?

Feb 20, 2013, 01:09 pm CST


"Does the law school experience change their outlook?" Heh, what do you think, Liz?

That would have been a great question of the week. I remember a study, long about 1985 or so at the University of Arizona that said students turn hostile and paranoid in law school. The reason I remember the study is that the article, carried by the AP, was captioned something like, "Students Turn Hostile and Paranoid in Law School."

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 20, 1:23 pm CST

No conflict whatsoever in that he is writing for, right? I would discredit most of his findings on that alone.

Funny how optimistic we are going into law school dreaming of the huge salaries and interesting cases that would await us. Mercedes and exclusive zip codes for everyone! Yeah, right.

It took me a decade before I really began enjoying law practice. Still no Mercedes though.

By dsr on 2013 02 20, 4:47 pm CST

this profession is miserable---I should have gone to med school

By solstice on 2013 02 20, 7:00 pm CST

@dsr - agreed. Don't ask the 3L's ask the "out of law school 1-5 years, entry level, loans due" about the law school experience!

... and therapy dogs during an exam - really? Most don't have time to be nutured from a dog during a timed exam.

By knp on 2013 02 20, 7:02 pm CST

If you need a therapy dog during a law school exam period, you really need to find a different profession.

By Yankee on 2013 02 21, 3:39 pm CST

I doubt that lawyers as a group are any more or less happy than the general populaiton. I just think the profession tends to attract a lot of drama queens who want the world to think that their problems are bigger than everyone else's.

By W.R.T. on 2013 02 21, 6:05 pm CST

The reality of law is that you take on everyone else's problems and you try to solve them AND collect at $300 per hour. However, we all know that does not work out very well in the financial column.
As for me, I am a mother of 4 and I realize exactly what I do day in and day out. I babysit my clients, I engage in life skills therapy. Their problems are my problems. Lawyers have to have an outlet to disengage and hope it isn't a quart of rum a day or a meth lab (just kidding).
But don't fool yourselves. you take on everyone's problems and burdens day in and day out. It can be very, very draining.
but if you're smart, you learn about what your body needs, and that is generally vitamins B, C, D, sulfur and probiotics so you can get moving on and do it without depression and anxieties.
You meditate and relax and take time for yourself. You cleanse your aura all the time. You cleanse the courtroom before you get in. And if opposing counsel is a dirt bag, you make sure you totally take a mental shower after you shake his or her hand at any time. Also do that if you work in a large law firm. Cleanse the aura in your office, cleans away the negativity from greedy and evil attys you come into contact with.
You can survive and make a difference in the world. You just need to understand the tools and the situation, that's all.

By joanne denison on 2013 02 22, 8:19 am CST

We are a miserable lot, I agree.

By Frank on 2013 02 22, 11:00 am CST

@7 I disinfect the courtroom with Lysol wipes. Will this help with auras? It does seem to annoy the hell out of the prosecutor.

By Disgruntled in Detroit on 2013 02 22, 12:11 pm CST

I wish for the days before college when I knew are the answers without any doubt or question. Higher education turned me into a doubter who questions everything and everybody. My non college educated friends are very sure about everything. Who is happier?

By John on 2013 02 22, 12:43 pm CST

Frank's right, a lot of lawyers are miserable. They make a lot of other people miserable too. I suspect that a lot of lawyers make themselves miserable.

Not me. I am as happy as a clam. In over 37 years of litigation practice, I have dealt with hundreds of clients and lawyers. I have had the displeasure of dealing with about ten dirt bag lawyers and about the same number of dirt bag clients. Poor me! I should be depressed like other lawyers I hear about.

By John from Florida on 2013 02 22, 12:53 pm CST

The law is a negative profession to begin with - it's all about problems, not about creating something like a business or a work of art. For those in matrimonial practice, it's about destroying lives, not saving them (the legal system makes divorce a nightmare, unnecessarily). Where businesspeople see opportunity, lawyers see obstacles. And the cutthroat nature of the profession turns many lawyers into nasty, bitter bullies. The domineering, egotistical attitude of most judges only adds to the negativity. Even manners are absent- when was the last time you even heard a lawyer say "please" or "thank you"?

By NYS Courts ex-wife on 2013 02 22, 1:14 pm CST

Therapy dogs. Huh. The big student loans will still be there ...

By Care bare on 2013 02 22, 1:37 pm CST

In my expeience, most lawyers are relatively happy with what they do. There are bullies out there, but not representative of the profession. I have wondered if being in a small community may make a difference. For the most part, I have found attorneys to be well-rounded socially. My wife, who runs the fund-raising campaign for a local non-profit, will verify that attorneys are consistently the most generous among the professions, and the first to get involved in civic activities.

By Small town, government lawyer on 2013 02 22, 1:44 pm CST

After 35 years in a small town practice, I can admit there have been days walking by the open window has been difficult. But some days will be better than others. Too many sleaze bucket, blood sucking, low life, bottom feeding SOB's (lawyers, parties, Greek choruses) make the work wearying in so many ways. My efforts have been to 'not be that guy', We are in a unique position to do good and bring peace to our clients. While the 'atta boy's' may seem far and few between, over all, it is not a bad life. I think about changing to some other less stressful occupation, but I'm pleased enough to have brought resolution to clients, provided for my family and learned a thing or two, to muddle on through and grin in the process.

By PB on 2013 02 22, 1:49 pm CST

I love that the start out happy and become less happy. Hmm.

By Grant Goodman on 2013 02 22, 1:51 pm CST

I think a lot of the happiness/unhappiness comes from what sort of law one practices. When I did nothing but appeals, I was as happy as anyone else. Then I fell into litigation, where (as someone said above), I take on someone else's problems. Generally the problems are self-created, and I am expected to fix everything and do it without costing anything. Suggesting settlement is seen as weak and caving in. They all want to fight, even if they're in the wrong, until they see how much it costs. Then I am a useless bloodsucker who is in cahoots with the other side to run up the bills. Or when the case could settle at the beginning for something small at the beginning, and it either settles for more down the road, or we lose on summary judgment or at trial, then I didn't give them the right advice. No matter what happens, it's my fault. I often point out that it's a law degree, not a magic wand, but somehow they all expect miracles. I have the personality that takes things like that to heart, which is why I'm in the wrong profession.

By Florida Litigator on 2013 02 22, 2:14 pm CST

it is easy to be made miserable in this profession, and to think that your life is so much harder than anyone else's - you try to help people (or corporations, etc.) day in and day out - and sometimes they fight you every step of the way. you have to take on their problems (and if you're especially empathetic, that can be emotionally draining). in addition to this - you have to perform the regular functions of any other businessperson: networking, sales, marketing, practice management, hiring/firing, etc. that last bit is the part you don't think about when you're an extremely happy 1L! many people went to law school BECAUSE they wanted a career in the "law" free from "business".

i am relatively young in the profession yet (entering my 5th year), but my personal goal is to strive for balance, and to become better at how and when to say no. to family, to friends, to coworkers and supervisors, to myself AND to clients (the latter is the easiest!).

By soflaJD on 2013 02 22, 2:23 pm CST

Law is not so bad a profession if you can avoid working for crazy people. Or really stupid people. Or (most common) really stupid people who think they are geniuses and do really crazy stuff. Or bullies who think judgment day will never come, and seem soooo surprised. Or "brilliant" non-lawyers who want to write their own (complex) contracts. Or people (clients and co-workers both) who think they are so clever they think they can lie to you and you won't know it (as if...). Or people who want free advice over the phone. Heck, if it was all good faith and honest mistakes it would be a GREAT business!
I'll stop there. Most lawyers knew the deal coming into the profession. I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with people who weren't at least aware of those possibilities coming out of law school. It' s up to you whether or not you are happy. Nobody else's job.

By Pogo on 2013 02 22, 2:32 pm CST

@7 How do you cleanse the courtroom?

By sar on 2013 02 22, 2:44 pm CST

Pogo @ 19 I love your post. Happiness comes from within, so no environment will make you happy or not happy. Having said that, some environment make it more challenging to be happy.

With this realisation I know I'm happy but after 10 years it is time for a change of environment.

By Karma on 2013 02 22, 2:57 pm CST

Lawyers, no. Commenters on this website, probably.

By NoleLaw on 2013 02 22, 3:02 pm CST

The secret for lawyers is the secret for everybody - if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. The lawyers in our firm are military veterans, so we started a practice of administrative VA claims with practice before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Caims. That way, we simply get to visit with other veterans all day.

We have found our bliss, you miserable lot need to find yours.

By Veteran lawyer on 2013 02 22, 3:09 pm CST

I completely agree with Ex-wife @ 12: in the practice of law, we generally have to focus on what is wrong (with the other side's argument, say), what went wrong (e.g. criminal behavior or failure to comply with some byzantine regulation), and worst of all (for me, anyway), what might go wrong in the future. While individual mileage may vary -- I also agree with Pogo @ 19 that it is pretty much up to each of us to decide every day how happy we will be -- I believe that over time the career focus on the negative does tend to make lawyers more unhappy than the general population. Or at least more argumentative and more likely to "sweat the small stuff."

By Just Some Bloke on 2013 02 22, 3:16 pm CST

Law School made my anxiety levels go through the roof, and I am still dealing with the aftermath. Like terrifying nervousness before court appearances and some client meetings for no good reason. It is turning me in to a transactional lawyer, where I would rather hole up in an office with little to no face to face contact with anybody, and I blame Law School.

By Jason on 2013 02 22, 3:23 pm CST

@9 Disgruntled:

Thanks for the laugh!

By Abashed on 2013 02 22, 3:26 pm CST

Retired military, worked for personal injury form for 2 years, started my own solo practice a year ago, barely making a profit but starting to pick up. Still have a law school note the size and duration of a small mortgage. My kids and their kids are starting to move back in with us. Never been happier.

By TimT on 2013 02 22, 3:40 pm CST

@NYS Courts ex-wife

Your name gives away your bias!

Let me ask you this, what good would the Bill of Rights be if there weren't lawyers to enforce those rights? The U.S. Constitution is just a piece of paper without lawyers to enforce the limitations imposed on the Federal Government implicitly contained therein.

Do you think the Civil Rights movement would have been successful without lawyers?

Who do you think fought for women's rights in the workplace: the right to equal pay and to be free from sexual harassment?

Who are fighting for equal rights of gay, lesbian and trans-gender people?

What we have is an adversarial and independent judicial system which works. You may not agree with it all the time, but that is one of the main reasons that it does work so well. You don't see people storming our Supreme Court like in Egypt trying to influence judicial opinions. You don't see lawyers being murdered and arrested like in Pakistan for expressing dissonance. Because the judicial system protects against tyranny of the majority it works.

In sum, without lawyers the government could do whatever it wanted to. Is that really what you want? The simple fact that you were obviously involved in a nasty divorce does not support the broad conclusion that the entire legal system is atrocious.

P.S. - I hear lawyers saying "thank you" and "please" every single day.

By AtticusFinch on 2013 02 22, 3:52 pm CST

I do not understand why the researcher seems to equate "critical thinking" with cynicism. One can be skeptical without being cynical. In general, there are no statistics in this article to support the feel-good message and the fact that the source is a professional with a vested interest in teaching positive thinking creates a glaring bias.

That said, I have been practicing law for almost 40 years. I think it is quite unreasonable to measure professional satisfaction with law student attitudes. Back then, first year law school was grueling and demeaning, just as it was portrayed in the Paper Chase. It was only after that, in the next two years, that I discovered that law school professors were human beings and I managed to enjoy some of law school. I hope that this is different nowadays.

In practicing law, I found that if one is miserable in one's first area of practice, one can still change focus and find a more satisfying path that meshes more closely with one's personality and outlook. If I had stuck with my original specialty, I would have been a total basket case, but after some self-searching, I went back to law school, got an advanced degree and found an area much more personally fulfilling and emotionally, if not financially, rewarding.

By Martin Olesh on 2013 02 22, 4:12 pm CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By Buddy Burnett on 2013 02 22, 4:16 pm CST

Q: How do you know when lawyers are depressed?
A: Whenever their lips move.

By Lowleekey Bogawoga on 2013 02 22, 4:16 pm CST

Let's be honest. At least one third of us (among those counted) have substance abuse problems. We struggle with depression and anger. We probably have higher divorce rates. We work long hours and often don't get to know our children until they are adults. Relatively speaking, it is a miserable existence.

I spend my day solving other people's problems. I fight with desperate, egotistical jerks who are worried about nothing more than working a file rather than solving a problem. I do this in front of judges who are political hacks and egotistical jerks once vested with power they never could earn if hired on a merit basis. I go home and wonder why I don't mow lawns for a living some nights.

That said, I continue to give generously to church and charity, serve on NFP and public boards, and even do voluntary pro-bono work. I know that I help people improve their lives and the lives of their families and communities. Sometimes, those people say thanks and pay their bills, too. It is these few people who "get it" and appreciate it that make it worthwhile. That, and having the respect of my children for fighting the good fight.

But, don't lead anyone astray if they think they might apply to law school. Law school is even worse than practice. If someone thinks about going to law school, they better have an ideal they believe is worth fighting for.

By Once hopeful, now realistic on 2013 02 22, 4:20 pm CST

This article would have made a lot more sense years ago when the others "if you will were normal". Now the "new normal " that is who ani't miserable you can just look at the news everyday and see that.
Hey my bro-in law is a doc, and he ani't been looking to happy either lately, oh well.

By legallynatural2 on 2013 02 22, 4:29 pm CST

#12 - When was the last time I heard "please" and "thank you" from a lawyer? This morning. But I live in the South.

Law practice has its periods of misery and periods of satisfaction. The misery comes from serving clients who don't understand what you do to try to help them, and listening to them shit on your profession as you're absorbing all their stress and trying to get their ass out of the proverbial swing, but sometimes they do thank you when it's all over and they can stop worrying. Rarer still, sometimes they pay you without complaining about it. I'm reasonably happy with my lot in life, and I get paid nowhere near $300/hour. But I understand that every job that involves interaction with other people will suck sometimes, since people suck sometimes.

By NCLawyer on 2013 02 22, 4:39 pm CST

I have a client who is a coture dress designer- very high end- and she dresses many of the high end female attorneys in this very large area. She says that, for over thirty years, all of them have one thing in common- none of them has ever walked through her door with a smile on their face, despite the fact that they were buying a beautiful gown to go to some "incredible" event like the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, etc.- That says something, regardless of what this so called study shows.

By la lawyer on 2013 02 22, 4:42 pm CST

I like Atticus's comment. I have been admitted for 20+ years and a solo for about seven. On my blog I write posts about therapeutic jurisprudence and the meaning of life, among other legal topics. My clients are good people and I enjoy working for them. They frequently tell me thank you. Yesterday I spent a few hours with colleagues at bar association meetings, and I am happy to say that I have many caring and helpful colleagues. There is more than enough suffering in this world. Each of is responsible for choosing our consciousness - whether it is positive or negative.

By barbc on 2013 02 22, 4:46 pm CST

Here's the problem. The client has messed up his life or business royally. Then he tried to fix it himself, creating a bigger problem. He put off consulting his lawyer because the lawyer expects money in return for advice. (This, of course, makes the fee higher when he finally consults his attorney.)

At the last minute, he calls his lawyer and says "fix it'. Clients hate consulting attorneys because it shows they've failed. Then they dislike taking the attorney's advice, because it shows the attorney knows more than they do. Lastly, they hate paying the attorney, because it reinforces their inability to run their life or business smoothly.

So, to begin with you have a hostile client. Couple that with opposing counsel, who also has a hostile client. Of course, you can always have that discussion with opposing counsel about whose client really is the worse.

By Sue on 2013 02 22, 4:49 pm CST

Last week I attended the funeral of a high school classmate who died in an automobile accident. After the service I spoke with about 15 former classmates (male and female), some of whom I had not seen since our HS graduation forty years ago. We are all between 57 and 59 years old. I was the only "professional" in the group and one of only four who had a college education. Eight of the group were retired - most from local petrochemical plants and support companies. All appeared extermely happy (other than for the occassion which caused our gathering).Several of the guys have fishing camps and/or motorhomes the enjoy regularly; one couple (both clasmates) spend eight months a year traveling the country with Harley riders club, and have done so for the last five years. None have won the lottery to become independently wealthy but all of the retirees are "secure" and expressed satisfaction wiht their situations - while being somewhat anxious about what the future may bring concerning health care, etc. There was a fairly even distribution of our various college educated children and children who began working in industry right out of high school. Everyone who had grandchildren enjoyed them a great deal.

I expect to work at least another 10 to 15 years, because I can and, to some extent, because I need to. The house and cars are paid for but I don't have a fishing camp, motorhome or Harley. And I cannot maintain my current life style on what I have been able to sock away - I am not factoring in any SS benefits. My career in a small firm (4 to 8 lawyers at different times), doing primarily insurance defense work, has been not unenjoyable it did and afforded me the oppurtunity to be more involved than most of my friends were in my kid's lives when they were in school. On the whole I guess I am "happy" but contented is probably a better adjective. My chronic but under control depression and three cardiac stent procedures may be, to some extent, attributable to my profession - but others in the group have faced, and are facing the same problems.

Bottom line, my high school educated friends certainly have not done "worse" than me and I do not feel I have done any "better" than any of them - despite having an extra ten years of education. People are pretty much the same in my experience lawyers are no more or less happy than anyone else - just better able to express it.

By An Old Guy - Not as happy as HS classmates on 2013 02 22, 5:15 pm CST

@20, I think you burn a sage smudge stick and walk around the courtroom, waving the smudge stick around. That's supposed to repel evil spirits. I'm not sure who'll be repelled if you do this in a courtroom -- prosecutor? defense counsel? jurors? We can only hope it's not the judge.

By The authentic LAB on 2013 02 22, 5:25 pm CST

@7 Joanne - you are totally right about the energy clearing. I do that stuff myself and am happy to know there are other energy aware lawyers out there!!

@39 Obviously a person is not going to go into a courtroom burning dried sage. There are other less conspicuous ways to clear energy. I use intention, prayer and visualization. You ask whatever higher power you believe in to clear the room, bless the room, guide the judge, etc., and or visualize cleansing light such as white, gold or purple or whatever brilliant color you like filling the courtroom. Make fun if you like, but on an important occasion such as an opening statement before a big trial, it can make a big difference in your confidence and strength. It can be hard to concentrate and remember what you were going to say with your opposing counsel giving you the death stare and wishing you an untimely death LOL.

By Vanessa J on 2013 02 22, 5:45 pm CST

I am thankful for each day that I can: (a) listen to great music (e.g. Ministry, Front 242, Type O Negative, Primus, Fugazi, STP, Army of Anyone, Black Flag, Zepp, Miles, Brubeck, Bill Evans, Thelonious, Cobham, Jeff Beck, Wilson Pickett, Robert Johnson, etc.) whilst I work; and (b) practice real estate and construction law. . . (not necessarily in that order).

What more could anyone want?

By Marlowe Loam on 2013 02 22, 5:57 pm CST

#38 you need help. You have been pushed around by guys who know how to push lawyers around. You should look around. Who are the most miserable in the legal world. Guys in small defense firms. Women are too smart to get caught in the trap of winning cases and having your bill reviewed by the insurer's outside consultant. The guys around you are also probably miserable.
Forget the motorhome. Take a vacation to any small city U.S.A. Go to the courthouse and see who is miserable. You will be looking at yourself - different town / different firm. Forget your lifestyle. Get a life. Talk to you wife and see what she says. Hasn't she been telling you for years to do something different.

By FRANK MARTIN on 2013 02 22, 6:02 pm CST

A friend of mine says that his fear of hell is not the heat but the amount of stupid people he will have to be with for all eternity.
As for paranoia, McLeod--I had a client that I was going to send to paranoids anonymous---but they wouldn't tell me where they meet (also,everytime I called they would ask:"Where did you get this number?")

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 02 22, 6:02 pm CST

Dear B. McLeod:

It's funny about the articles that one tends to remember. I remember two articles from the early 1980's.

One was an instructional article in a women's magazine called "How to Make Your Man Cry."
I don't recall the specific strategies advocated, but I imagine they are related to the title.

A second was in a more generic business magazine, and, without irony, discussed how women should handle the new work environment, including such horrors as a man holding a door open for you. It recommended a two-fold strategy, one being behaving like and insisting on being treated like a man in the workforce, and the other using women;y wiles, and behaviors, such as spontaneousy bursting into tears (a rare tactic, but to be used when appropriate in a larger strategy) thereby putting the (male) boss at a disadvantage, not knowing how to react.

Yes, the things one remembers....

By Slobovan Mcleodite on 2013 02 22, 6:22 pm CST

@44, so true. The one I remember was a BBC show called "Do You Need Your Brain" which supposedly featured folks with no measurable brain waves. I did n't watch it because I knew it could never live up to the title. Just like the tabloids in the grocery checkout line ( Who can forget Hillary has Alien Baby !- Pictures inside!). In my head I catalog the clients and opposing counsel who were clearly featured.

By Melissa on 2013 02 22, 6:54 pm CST

I would be a 'happier lawyer' if I did not have a law school loan equivalent to my mortgage!

By Ira on 2013 02 22, 7:34 pm CST

Two years out of law school, with $135,000 in debt and a mediocre, dead end job with the state making $43,000---yes, I'm miserable.

By Osolo on 2013 02 22, 7:39 pm CST

This topic sucks. Law schools suck. Lawyers suck. I suck. Oops... I must be a lawyer ! : )

By Charlegman on 2013 02 22, 7:48 pm CST

I think studies also show that people generally become more pessimistic as they age. So, it may not be law school or the law; maybe it's just a condition of maturity to be more pessimistic.

By John Ruskin on 2013 02 22, 9:06 pm CST

Oh, we poor, poor, miserable, downtrodden lawyers...

Those lucky cab drivers, janitors, farm workers, etc. don't know how good they've got it.

GIVE ME A BREAK. This is almost as bad as rich white Tea Party types complaining about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama.

By R on 2013 02 22, 10:13 pm CST

I may be mistaken but I believe most people go to law school hoping to help people and solve their problems while making some money along the way. Then when they graduate, reality hits. Now they cannot understand or feel how they are helping people by reviewing documents for 2500 hours a year.

By Reader on 2013 02 22, 10:34 pm CST

What's 'bad' about 'rich white Tea Party types complaining about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama'? What's the linchpin (or lynchpin) in the set of adjectives that you have used?

Is it OK for rich yellow Tea Party Types to complain about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama?

Is it OK for rich red Tea Party Types to complain about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama?

Is it OK for rich black Tea Party Types to complain about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama?

For that matter, is it OK for rich Martian Tea Party Types to complain about how they're being so downtrodden by Obama?

Let me know, because I am a bit confused . . .

By Marlowe Loam on 2013 02 23, 1:58 am CST

@40 -- Better your opposing counsel give you the death stare than the jury. Or your client. :-)

By The authentic LAB on 2013 02 23, 4:54 am CST

I'm five years in. I changed careers in my 40s and became a lawyer, matrimonial no less! I've had my doubts at time. Clients lie a lot just like everyone and I get drained by the drama since it's so inimical to my own personal style. It feels great when I can genuinely help someone out at a reasonable cost compared to their resources. For the born to fight, I always help them understand what they can expect to get and what it will cost. As for happiness? I'm about as happy as I've ever been, give or take. I think I may be happier but that has more to do with my personal life than anything -- my children have successfully launched, my relationship with my second husband is the quality and depth I hoped for.
Professionally, I feel much greater control over my work and career than I had in my past, meaningless, drudgery of a quasi career in marketing and publishing.

By Happy enough on 2013 02 23, 3:10 pm CST

Large debt and able to work as an attorney may depress some, but it is not as bad as passing the bar and being told you can't work because "$400,000 in Student Debt = Character & Fitness Fail".

A New York Times article dated 02 Jul 2009 reported:

"[Would be Attorney] put himself through community college, worked and borrowed heavily to help pay for college, graduate school and law school. He took the New York bar examination not once, not twice, not three times, but four, passing it last year. Finally, he seemed to be on his way.

In January, the committee of New York lawyers that reviews applications for admission to the bar interviewed Mr. Bowman, studied his history and the debt he had amassed, and called his persistence remarkable. It recommended his approval.

But a group of five state appellate judges decided this spring that his student loans were too big and his efforts to repay them too meager for him to be a lawyer."

By Philadelphia Courts on 2013 02 23, 9:00 pm CST

Yeah, it would really suck to be that poor bastard. Thankfully, most of us aren't there.

By B. McLeod on 2013 02 23, 11:24 pm CST

Thank you #14 - Small town, government lawyer and #18 - soflaJD for your thoughtful comments. I think the biggest problem with lawyers is all the folks who went to law school without having worked out in the world first and end up with unrealistic ideas about what other jobs are like. I have friends who are engineers and graphic designers who work until 2am routinely and never know if their projects will pan out or where next one's coming from, accountants who travel to client sites 75%+ of time, doctors who have yet to start real jobs at nearly 40 years of age after years of insane residency hours and hellish supervisors - and will have to move god knows where for it, and PhD students who have had psychiatric breakdowns in the process of starting academic careers. And the only business owners and artists cruising through life are the ones with serious trust funds. We live in a globally competitive world today, and whatever you want to do, you're going to have to work your hardest at at and it won't be easy. But I am grateful every day to have found stimulating work, great professional resources, and very dedicated colleagues - and will certainly do my best to support the students and younger lawyers coming after me. Choosing a profession is a big decision, and it's important to weigh your skills and interests against the hazards. Fortunately, I think more people are taking time to work before choosing a professional/grad program - and it is your own choice - so hopefully we will be hearing less of the disgruntled nonsense in the future.

By OlderJDstudent on 2013 02 24, 8:42 am CST

A lawyer friend of mine says that Women are too smart to get caught in the trap of winning cases and having your bill reviewed by the insurer’s outside consultant.

By Stryker Hip Recall Lawyer on 2013 02 24, 8:41 pm CST

I will just say that there are many, many, great restaurants in the world with many, many, great chefs of both sexes (and all colors). Sometimes, we list the greatest chefs and do their demography.

Many years ago I went for an interview for a PhD in Philosophy at one of the "down-the-list Ivy Leagaue Universities (in the top 10, but not in the top 7!). The great old-man-professor said, .. we should have closed our PhD program decades ago .. we need to kept a service department to provide teaching to all our undergraduates in all departments .. but in more than 50 years we have never been able to attract one candidate from the annually available pool of top 100 PhD research candidates whom we expect to become prominent name of the future ... the best do not apply here and if they do we are at the bottom of their list .. thy never come here so we have no eminent "alumnus" in Philosophy ... as none of them would do a PhD here ... the top 5 philosophy faculties grabs the top 100 every year .. I replied, Alumnus? The Professor went on to pontificate ..

That was a long time ago. He told me to go to law school and not waste my time with Philosophy.

By Philadelphia Courts on 2013 02 24, 10:14 pm CST

you can not decide to be a lawyer just because of the money involved, for you to decide in taking up a career it has to be something you love, something you find interesting, something you think you are capable of doing and excited, enthusiastic and passionate about doing; i am an aspiring lawyer and in years to come i will become one because i i know that i am born to be a lawyer, it is not something that i wanted to do either to gain attention, power or money. i want to be a lawyer because i believe its already part of me even as a teenager; i know its a very tough job but at this point, even after going through all the negative comments above; i am still 100% confident and passionate about my dreams of lawyering, it made seem more interesting for me and i am sure that i will be the best lawyer i can be, i am willing to tolerate clients and accept situations. that is what passion is all about, if you have arrived in you career destination no matter the negativeness you will only think about the positiveness, the fun part of it which will make you careless of complaining. Just be happy that you have finally gotten to your dream career and that is the most important thing, have a positive mind all the time and the sky will be your limit.

By Peter Obiefule on 2013 02 25, 8:14 pm CST

@60, if you want to get through law school, or at least through "Legal Research and Writing," please learn to punctuate and to capitalize.

By The authentic LAB on 2013 02 26, 1:56 pm CST

@61 "The authentic LAB" Thank you for your correction and well thank God you said through Law school and "Legal research and writing", when that time comes i assure you i know what to do.

By Peter Obiefule on 2013 02 26, 6:13 pm CST

@62 -- I wish you the very best of luck in your studies and later in your practice!

By The authentic LAB on 2013 02 27, 1:45 am CST

@63 "The authentic LAB" Thank you very much, I appreciate it! if there is a way i could contact you it would be awesome because i still need some advice from people like you. God bless you!

By Peter Obiefule on 2013 02 27, 3:01 am CST

Oh yes, much more miserable after law school and as an attorney. No wonder i often think i should have gone into hairdressing, then at least I would have a job that pays and not ten thousand people competing for the same job and at the end of the day the people I helped would at least be happy, look nicer, and I would have done something creative. Being a lawyer is about as thankless a job as motherhood. The more you do the more they expect and people are constantly trying to get you to do stuff for them for free. Lawyers are more miserable because many are smarter, at least intellectually, than the general population, and thus they can actually apprehend how crappy everything is. I'm just sayin...

By Still A Lawyer After All These Years on 2013 03 01, 2:22 am CST

Sensing my discontent with the profession recently, my young teenage daughter asked me, "Mom, why don't you just quit, is it the respect you get?" Respect? I cannot tell you how many people tell me they hate lawyers. Lawyers are always the villain until you need one. Miserable after law school and being a lawyer, you betcha! Somehow I feel cheated, like if I would ahve done something creative instead I would be happier as I am staring down the face of a future of poverty anyway. I think lawyers are more cynical because they are brighter, for the most part, at least intellectually, than the general population so they can apprehend how crappy things are but that doesn't always help if you cant's solve the problems anyway. Should have been a hairdresser, then I would have a job.

By Still a Lawyer After All These Years on 2013 03 01, 2:28 am CST

Working with one client that regularly needs and appreciates legal counsel/representation is a good way to not be seen as a villain on a regular basis...

By NoleLaw on 2013 03 01, 2:30 am CST

*one good client*

By NoleLaw on 2013 03 01, 2:32 am CST

Why not keep your negative, career killing opinions to your selves, if being a lawyer didn't work out for you, FINE!!!! That does not mean it will not work out for other passionate aspiring lawyers or young lawyers; there are still aspiring lawyers who definitely do not need your discouragements. I don't even find the point or reason for the article "Are lawyers more miserable than general population", what kind of feed back were you expecting. Most people here are all talking about what being a lawyers had caused them, why go to law school in the first place, please quit being a lawyer so that there could be less competition in future for we that are aspiring to be lawyers; if you love your career even before you went on to get education then you should not be complaining, chose the career path you are passionate about without expecting a paradise kind of outcome. Please quit complaining because you brought it on your selves!

By Peter Obiefule on 2013 03 01, 2:47 am CST

I like the hairdresser thing . . . go for it!

I assume that there is no gun pointed at any of us which is forcing us to be an attorney against our wishes. If you are miserable or unfulfilled as an attorney, then have the cahones to find what you really love and go for it. The money or the debts that one has accrued should be secondary to fulfillment. Get rid of the BMW and drive a 10 year old Honda Civic if that's what it takes.

With respect to wishful thinking expressed that fulfillment will come from being in a "more creative" occupation . . . from one who was in what the public apparently views as a very "creative" profession prior to becoming an attorney, I can say from experience that just because one profession is viewed as being more "creative", by itself, doesn't mean you'll realize any more fulfillment. Fulfillment comes from doing what you love (at least some of the time), not whether it's "creative" or "pragmatic/linear". For that matter, I believe that being an attorney is extremely "creative". . . but that's just me.

By Marlowe Loam on 2013 03 01, 4:07 am CST

Yeah, @65, you buzzkill! @69 and 70 are right! I sold my BMW and now I ride a pink unicorn to court and everything is groovy.
You just keep reading "The Secret", over and over, and give yourself those affirmations every morning and everything will be just fine.
Oh, and be sure and pay your ABA dues on time.

By Disgruntled in Detroit on 2013 03 01, 4:52 am CST

I agree -- do what you love. I work for the federal government in labor and employee relations. I enjoy what I do. I'd enjoy it more if my workload was smaller, which is something I suspect many of us could say. I'd really enjoy myself a lot more without a student loan payment that eats up a quarter of my net pay each month. And I'm sure I'd be happier if I didn't have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, epicondylitis, a torn rotator cuff, spondylolisthesis -- well, a whole lot of physical problems. But I'm really quite happy. I didn't come back from Iraq with PTSD, TBI, or a missing leg. I don't have to sleep in a doorway. I don't have to survive each day on a single meal from a mission kitchen. I can take a shower when I want to, and I can watch "Downton Abbey," "Psych," and "The Good Wife" on a relatively new flat screen TV after having recorded them on my TiVo. Instead of moaning about what you don't have, think a little bit about what you do have. Life could be a whole lot worse.

By The authentic LAB on 2013 03 01, 12:04 pm CST

The answer is YES, THEY ARE.

By One lawyer on 2013 03 01, 3:16 pm CST

The answer is YES THEY ARE.

By One lawyer on 2013 03 01, 3:17 pm CST

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