Tips for Following Your Passion in the Law

Chloe, the star of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and a voice of inspiration for those who search for meaning in the drudgery of life, said it best:

“Rough. Rough.”

Just kidding. For those of you haven’t watched a dog movie since Lassie, they are all dubbed nowadays. But Chole didn’t actually say anything in the climactic scene. She found her bark, and that made all the difference.

What we’re talking about, or barking about, is this: lawyers, too, can find their passion in the law.

It’s Rough Out There

Too many studies tell us that most laywers are unhappy. It’s also true, apparently, that even money doesn’t buy happiness in the legal profession. The list of reasons goes on and on; it can be a depressing death-spiral just to think about.

For some lawyers, the way out is to get out. Others just put it out of their minds and soldier on. But there had to be something — other than persistent parents or the quest for money — that made you want to become a lawyer. That’s where your passion is; that’s your bark.

Carolyn Elefant, the popular lawyer/blogger of My Shingle fame, admits that it was hard to pursue her passion because it doesn’t always pay the bills. She wanted to do something in ocean energy, but couldn’t find clients.

With persistence and creativity, however, she found a way.

Do What You Love

Elefant said that she had to strike a balance between doing work to pay her bills and doing the work that she loved. Here are some of tips:

  • Do what you love pro bono
  • Leverage your skills to subsidize the work you love.
  • Identify other streams of revenue that can help to sustain work that you love.

A key plot-twist for Elefant was when she created an association in the field. She worked on policy issues for the industry rather than any individual company.

“Starting out, even much of that work was pro bono, but the association grew to where it could produce paid legal work — and as the industry grew (fueled in part by the trade association’s efforts), a few companies became viable enough to retain my firm,” she said.

In a dog-eat-dog world, she more or less found her bark. And, as it turned out, somebody was listening.

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