An article published last week by the American Lawyer took a brief look at what success means in a legal services industry that almost always mandates long hours, inevitably taking time and attention away from other interests and pursuits. The article centers around the questions of an associate at what is described as an “international law firm” who is worried about the potential impact of her job on her mental health.
As is too often the case, law-related media turns to partners in BigLaw for advice on career issues. Here, partners interviewed for the story confirmed that time-consuming work commitments did lead in some cases to the abandonment of outside passions.
While it does make sense to talk to senior lawyers about what they have experienced or what they expect to happen to law firms in the future, don’t fall into the trap of defining law firm partners as being inherently successful. How you measure success should come from your own values. There is also something perverse about asking bosses whether their more junior people should explore interests outside of work and then expecting those junior people to take the bosses’ views seriously. If you have to ask what success is, pay attention to the voices of people who share your perspective and truly have your best interests at heart.