My wife and I went to law school together and got our first jobs in the same city. She works for a large national firm, and I’m with a boutique firm. Everything was great until she was asked to move to another city. She says her career requires her to move in order to advance and become a partner in another year or two. She says because I specialize I can readily move with her and get another job at a boutique firm where she’s moving. I see it as starting all over and as a poor career move for me. Outside of moving, do you have any suggestions about how to resolve this dilemma?
—Sad in New York City
Dear Sad in New York City:
Instead of being sad, you should be glad. You are blessed as a husband and wife team of apparently tremendous credentials, talents, and career opportunities. As married partners, life will always be full of tradeoffs, and each of you should look at the positives and negatives of staying where you are, or potentially moving and reassessing both of your careers. But consideration should go much farther than that. Look at quality of life in the city that you live in and the potential city where you would move. Consider whether you will be close to family and friends. Do have children or plan to have children? Weigh those issues as well instead of focusing solely on which move will best benefit one or the other’s career. Certainly, that is a big consideration, one that in the end may carry weight greater than the other considerations. In that regard, it may make sense to determine who has the best long-term career opportunity and take steps to enable that to happen. One spouse may have to take a back seat or a less prominent role for a while. There is no doubt that one of you will suffer a setback, but hopefully it will be a temporary one in your long-term life plan.
I followed your advice in the last issue and told my workaholic boss that I needed a life outside the law. Now I feel like disposable collateral. He has given me room, but something is lost in our relationship. He’s actively recruiting for another associate. I think when he finds one, I’m gone. What should I do to rebuild what I had?
—Working for a Workaholic, But Wants It All
Dear Working for a Workaholic, But Wants It All:
My first question is: Do you really want to rebuild what you had? If you have made the value choices discussed in the previous column, do you really want to be treated like “disposable collateral”? Review your value choices and stick to your decision. To rebuild what you had, I again suggest communication with your workaholic boss. Tell him that you want to do what you can to meet his or her needs and the firm’s needs. Perhaps the recruitment of another associate is not such a bad thing after all. It may ease the burden on you and him or her, and increase the quality of life for both of you. Don’t be afraid of change, and embrace it as an opportunity.
I am a third-year law student. Everyone is sending out resumes and looking for work, but I don’t feel like I want to put out the effort. Is there some way to easily get my first position without any work on my part?
—Lazy and Contented in Law School
Dear Lazy and Contented in Law School:
If you do not desire to work hard and blaze your own path for a career, I recommend you join your family’s law practice (if you are lucky enough to have one to join). Failing that, you may have to give up your lazy ways. To make your way in your career, you will need to focus on what you really want to do. If you are not willing to take the steps to find an appropriate position, I would suggest considering opening your own law practice. Network at one of your local state or national bar associations through a solo or small firm committee or section, and learn the steps to create your own position and to be your own boss. Be advised, however, that this is not for the faint of heart and will require a considerable amount of hard work. If you really want to be a successful lawyer, lazy and contented ways will minimize your chances for long-term success.