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How BigLaw Burnouts Can Get Their Groove Back

Posted Aug 4, 2010 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Many people go through periods at work where they are in the doldrums and find it difficult to focus or enjoy their jobs.

Corporette blogger Kat Griffin, a former lawyer at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, knows the feeling. Sometimes, she writes, a personal issue may be the cause of distraction. “Other times,” she says, “you realize that it’s your job that makes you unhappy; you may suddenly feel that you’ve been beaten down for so long that you don’t even remember the last time you felt calm, fulfilled, and at peace with the world. This is a type of burnout that can happen with any job, but I’ve seen it especially with those professions—BigLaw, I’m looking at you—that consume most or all of your waking hours for years at a time.”

She offers some suggestions. Some people may still like their work, but they need to re-engage. Maybe a seminar or conference will prove inspirational, or a revamped work routine will help. But workers who really hate their jobs, but can’t move on in the recession, may need more of an "attitude revamp."

The idea, she says, is to “reconnect with some older, core version of yourself from the time before The Job. For example, maybe you were on the swim team in your youth—and you can just rejoin an adult swim club that does drills and the like.”

She offers an example from her own life, when she missed her best friend’s wedding to do a document review. She ended up taking a humor writing class to reconnect with the person she once was.

“As soon as I reconnected with the ‘me’ I’d been when I was 17—full of hope and ambition and sarcasm—weirdly enough, good things started to happen,” Griffin writes. “I met my future husband later that month. I got on a much better project at the job, working closely with a lawyer I truly admired, about two months later. I decided to start this blog about four months later.”

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