How do you see your life after graduating law school? All work, no play? Little bit of both? If you think you have no control over this outcome, you’re wrong. You absolutely do. So take steps while you’re in law school to impact your lifestyle after
Your quality of life after graduation will largely depend on whether your job permits you to live the way you want to live. Again, accepting that you cannot have everything and there must be tradeoffs, consider the following lifestyle considerations. Rank which ones are most important, and ask yourself the specific questions. Make note of your answers and, just as important, the questions you are unable to answer right now.
1. Financial Security How and how much you want to be paid? Some organizations have less financial stability but offer the possibility to make large sums of money at once. Other companies, firms or government organizations pay steady salaries with predictable, lockstep raises.
- Do you want to be paid a steady salary?
- Do you want bonuses, increases in compensation based on client origination, merit raises, or stock ownership in your company?
- Do you want stable health benefits?
- Would you be stressed out if your cases were taken on contingency fee basis?
2. Job Stability At their core, companies are nothing more than a group of people working together to achieve a common objective. Some companies are tied together more firmly, while others are loose associations that can change or separate quickly.
- Do you want high risk and high reward type endeavors?
- Large organization with established structure and proven longevity?
- Small organization with more upside but less stability?
- An organization funded by grants or project-based?
3. Work/Life Balance Some people work to live; others live to work. Most are somewhere in the middle. Achieving balance between work and personal endeavors is a central ingredient for physical and emotional health, maintaining positive relationships and overall happiness.
- What sort of control over your work hours do you want and how much do you want to work?
- Fixed schedule or flexibility?
- Work from home or office?
- Unpredictable schedule?
4. Work environment Most lawyers spend a large portion of their life in the office. It is important that this time is spent in a work atmosphere that suits you, which depends on the people, office structure, types of clients and organizational culture. What sort of surroundings do you want to work in?
- Busy, fast-paced office or calm, quiet and predictable?
- Do you want to work in groups and collaborate or work alone?
- Do you want to have one boss or many people for whom you work?
- Do you want to work in a corporate, business-like culture or more relaxed, congenial work environment?
5. Location Some people have ties to a particular region. Others have little or no connection to a geographic area and can be open to job opportunities anywhere. If you know where you will eventually be settling down, then you should try to find an internship in that area. If not then evaluate the pros and cons of different cities, states, countries to narrow down the best spot for you.
- Do you want to live in close proximity to your family or friends?
- Do you want to live in culturally-rich or diversified areas?
- Do you want to live near mountains, oceans or lakes?
You’re not supposed to know all the answers to these questions. But you should nevertheless be asking them. The more clarity you get the earlier in law school, the better chance you’ll have to live the life you want to live. And, after all, that is what is most important.