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How to Survive the Coming Law Firm Crunch

Many lawyers will not know where to turn during a recession... not having seen one before.

We have lived through almost three decades of law-firm hiring and firing cycles and have learned some lessons about lawyer survival. Since lawyers are not recession-proof, they may need help getting through what may be heavy weather -- a stormy new career transition in the next few months.

To help survive an imminent economic downturn, we suggest smart lawyers avoid the following career mistakes:

1. Holding onto an irrational belief that you owe a lifestyle commitment to your current employer or career.

2.  Deferring decisions until you are fired or burned out.

3.  Waiting, especially for opportunities to fall into your lap.

4.  Keeping your feelings of dissatisfaction to yourself, or dumping them on your family, friends, or in angry correspondence.

5.  Burning your bridges behind you.

6.  Believing you'll be hired to do something elsewhere -- only that for which you have been formally trained.

7.  Worrying about what you can't change instead of coping with what you can.

8.  Responding "yes--but" to every positive thought, intention, or bit of good advice; dreaming up improbable rationales to excuse obvious negatives.

9.  Deciding you must earn the same money, or maintain the same level of status, responsibility, or prestige in your next career or job.

Lawyers may need to be reminded that they don’t owe a lifestyle commitment to their legal career, or to a sizable investment in their expertise -- which can be a form of habituation or 'addiction'.

Stephen Rosen & Celia Paul

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Thanks for the great work that you do on this blog. This topic has been on my mind a lot as I've been preparing to summer at a large firm. It's frustrating to "ramp up" for a career to see the harsh realities of an already competitive job market. Good advice to stay grounded by!

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