Today’s episode covers a statement that Sarah often hears from lawyers who want to do something other than legal work. People say, “I’m not just lazy,” “I’m not lazy,” or “It’s not that I don’t want to work.” Only people who decide to become lawyers have this internal narrative that they are “lazy” if they don’t continue down this path. There’s an assumption that laziness is the reason, but that’s not the case.
Lawyers have graduated from undergrad, taken the LSAT, completed law school, took the bar, and got a job. Successfully completing those steps definitely means that you are not lazy. Lawyers are surrounded by other lawyers, so it’s hard to establish a baseline. You’re comparing yourself to so many other high-achieving lawyers, and it makes achievements seem less impressive.
The reality is that you might just have different values than you had when you originally decided to become a lawyer. You’re not lazy. There are a lot of factors that go into these decisions. In the Former Lawyer framework, there are steps to help people get from not knowing what they want to do to the moment they figure it out. It’s simple, but it’s not quick and easy.
Having the desire to leave your job does not make you lazy. Lawyers work incredibly hard, and the job can be very challenging, especially when comparing yourself to other lawyers nonstop. If you looked at your situation in comparison to most people, it would be easy to see how hard you’ve worked to become a lawyer in the first place. You’re not lazy.
If you are struggling with leaving law and worried that it’s laziness taking over, it’s important to recognize all of your accomplishments and understand that wanting to be a human being does not make you lazy. It’s good to care about things other than your job and want to be a person not defined solely by their job.
Lawyers are high achievers and often have a natural desire to want to rack up achievements. Think about what you’ve already accomplished. You’re not lazy. It’s not bad to wish for a different career path and life situation.
If you are curious about leaving law and this episode speaks to you, make sure to subscribe to the podcast and check out the free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law.
Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. I practiced law for 10 years and now I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this show, I share advice and strategies for aspiring former lawyers, and interviews with former lawyers who have left the law behind to find careers and lives that they love.
I honestly cannot even count the number of times I have had lawyers who are sharing with me about how they aren't happy in their job, they want to do something else, they don't want to continue practicing law and they've said to me something along the lines of “I'm not just lazy,” “I'm not lazy,” or “It's not that I don't want to work. It's just that [fill in the blank and fill in the blank]” is generally something like, “I don't want to work all the time. I don't want to never be able to turn off the work brain. I don't want to be billing some ridiculous number of hours per week,” whatever.
I know I've talked about this on the podcast before but I think it deserves its own episode because, in so many ways, only those of us who decide to become lawyers would be concerned that someone might think that we're lazy. It is so often true that lawyers have this internal narrative anytime they see themselves not doing the thing that they think they “should be doing” that they think, “Oh, I'm lazy. I'm not trying hard enough. I need to do more. I need to try harder.”
Or “I'm not doing those things that I think I should do because I'm lazy,” or I don't like this job, which is sucking my soul out and literally is the only thing that I'm able to do other than survive life. That must be because I'm lazy.” I'm just here to say if you're someone who's telling yourself that, if you have ever had this thought of, “Maybe I don't like this job because I'm lazy,” you are not lazy.
If you're a lawyer, you're listening to this podcast, you graduated from undergrad, you took the LSAT, you got into a law school, you went to law school, you graduated from law school, you took the bar, you passed the bar, you started practicing law, or even if you didn't practice law, you still did all the previous steps, what I'm describing to you is not someone who's lazy.
If you've thought, “Hey, the Collab, that program that Sarah has sounds really helpful but I definitely would need more accountability than that to actually get through the materials to actually go through the process,” then good news, I have a program where you get to go through the Collab and also get accountability and one-on-one time with me. It's called The Collab Plus One-on-One Program. I know, it's a very surprising name.
The Collab Plus Program is perfect for any of you who know that you don't want to be doing what you're doing but you're not sure what it is that you want to do, you need a way to figure it out, and you also really want to have that accountability of meeting with someone, in this case, me weekly to make sure that you are getting the most out of the material, that you're moving through the material, that you're thinking through the right questions, and brainstorming all the best possibilities for yourself.
It's essentially like the Collab on steroids and it's the solution for those of you who want the experience in the Collab but also want that additional accountability. If that's you, very simple, you can go to formerlawyer.com/collab-plus. You can also go to the website and look at the work with me drop-down. But anyway, formerlawyer.com/collab-plus and you'll see all the information there.
It talks about how it works, how it's structured, and also how to book a consult with me because here's the deal, if I work with people one-on-one, I want to be able to talk to them and make sure that they're the right fit. Because I don't want you spending your money with me if working with me one-on-one is not going to be a good fit.
Or if for whatever reason, I think that you would be suited for something else, better or something else could be more helpful, yeah, so if you're interested in The Collab Plus One-on-One Program, check out the website, again, one more time, formerlawyer.com/collab-plus and see if working with me one-on-one inside of the Collab is right for you.
As lawyers, because we are surrounded by other lawyers, we tend to look at these achievements and think they don't really mean that much. We tend to think this is like a baseline like, “Of course, I did these things because everyone did these things and these are all nothing. Only the things that I do on top of that actually count,” and that also is not true.
The reality is that we so often have this idea that we're lazy, we tell ourselves that we're lazy, or we are worried that we might be lazy when the reality is that we just have different values than either the values we had previously when we made the original decision to become a lawyer or the particular circumstance that we're in isn't working for us.
Or honestly, just not wanting to do something can be very hard for people who become lawyers because there's this sense of “Whether I want to do something or not shouldn't be the thing that ultimately drives my decision about whether I'm going to do it.” Yes, don't get me wrong, there are lots of factors to take into consideration when you're deciding what career to pursue, what job to pursue, whether to stay in your current job or move to another job.
I am never going to be someone who's like, “Oh, it's so simple. There aren't a lot of factors.” Hello, I've created a whole system, curriculum with five steps to help people go from “I don't know what I want to do” to figuring out what it is that they want to do, because it might be simple, but it's not easy.
However, be that as it may, the reality is that you are not lazy. You are not lazy. Wanting to leave your job doesn't make you lazy. Not wanting to be a lawyer doesn't make you lazy. Objectively, most people out there who are not lawyers, if you told them what you've done in your life to get to the point that you are currently at and then suggested to them that you are lazy, they would not even know what to say to you because it would be so inconsistent with all of the evidence in your life thus far.
This is just a reminder that if you are a lawyer who suspects you might have ADHD, adhdonline.com has given me a coupon code for listeners to the podcast who are interested in having an assessment done and it will give you $20 off your assessment. The coupon code is formerlawyer20. I do not get anything if you use this code.
The reason that ADHD Online approached me is that so many people heard some past episodes where lawyers shared about their experiences being diagnosed with ADHD and enough people put down The Former Lawyer Podcast as the place that they'd heard it that they reached out and offered this to me to provide to my listeners.
If you're interested in ADHD assessment, adhdonline.com is a place that you would go to use this coupon code. Again, it's formerlawyer20. You get $20 off the assessment. I'm really glad to be able to offer this to my listeners because I know that there are lots of people who listened to those previous episodes about ADHD and thought, “This sounds like me.” The code one more time is formerlawyer20 and you can use it at adhdonline.com.
Now there's a whole separate conversation, question, discussion to be had about the idea of laziness, the definition of laziness, whether it's even helpful. There's a book that was quite popular recently, and the title was something like Laziness Does Not Exist. I think there are a lot of helpful ideas around that conversation, but we're just going to put that to the side even though I do think that it has some relevance here.
Because ultimately, in the situations that we're talking about, which is you as a lawyer thinking that you're lazy after doing all the things that you've done to become a lawyer, definitively, descriptively, you are not lazy. Wanting to be a human being does not make you lazy. Wanting to be a human being who has multiple facets and isn't just a lawyer robot doesn’t make you lazy.
Caring about things outside of your job, wanting to be a person who's not defined solely by their job, none of these things make you lazy. The reality is that looking at your life, and what you've done to get where you are, you are not lazy. But we all are worried about it.
We all are worried about it because most of us who became lawyers tend to be high achievers or people who felt like they needed to achieve a lot, that requires certain things, that you need to be a certain way, and we have this idea of how we're supposed to be, and if we don't want to be that way, it can't just be that we don't want to be that way.
It must mean something bad about us and one of the things that we think could be bad about us is that we're lazy. You are not lazy. You are not lazy. If you're a lawyer listening to this podcast, you are not lazy. I just wanted to remind you of that today. I'll talk to you next week.
Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven't yet, I invite you to download my free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.
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