Once knocked out of the box, it's more difficult to land another position or fairly-paid contract assignment associated with law. Check Craigslist and the low compensation keeps getting lower.
Unhappy law students are aware of the employment challenges. They are "woke" about the scarcity of "very good" slots in the legal sector.
Yet, in my coaching and in lecturing at the New York State Bar Association I have discovered that it is more difficult for lawyers and law students to exit the legal career path than many of those in other lines of work. Research at Insead, a global business school, by Herminia Ibarra provides insight on that phenomenon,
In this paper, Ibarra explains how central a professional identity is to a sense of self. She examines what happens to the self during career change. She calls that "identity transition."
Ibarra defines that as:
" ... the process of disengaging from a central, behaviorally-anchored identity while exploring new possible selves, and eventually, integrating an alternate identity."
Why that process seems downright impossible in the legal sector and law school, I have a hunch, is because of the steep sunk costs. They include the struggle to be admitted to top prep, undergraduate, and law schools, the competition for good grades, the price of tuition, the angst over the job-search process, the preparation needed to pass the bar exam, and the long hours and politics involved in holding onto a job. After that extensive investment, there is bound to be magical thinking about a payoff.
My generation of Baby Boomers went through a similar syndrome in the mid 1970s. The market demand for Ph.D. humanities professors had collapsed. Even those of us who embraced that reality frequently failed to open ourselves to an alternate identity. After several years of floundering, including being fired twice, I was able to exit that long-term comfort zone. The career path of professional writing mirrored much of what had been routine in academia: research, reading, thinking, connecting the dots cautiously, and producing content.
Had I realized what was keeping me stuck my journey from one line of work to another wouldn't have been such an ordeal. In the perception of so many I had gone from being an all-time winner to an all-time loser.
Takeaway: Recognize that others also have made large investments in preparing for a kind of professional life that is vanishing. Even lawyers who get and hold jobs aren't working in the ways they had envisioned.
Contact Jane Genova firstname.lastname@example.org.