You need to show commitment in your career if you want to succeed in a law firm as an attorney.

An attorney in New York was telling me a story the other day about him joining a law firm with 35 other first-year associates several years ago. He told me that on his first day, he and the new attorneys were all assembled around a conference table and were informed by a partner in the firm that within five years most—if not all of them—would be gone.


No explanation was given for why. The partner simply was telling them a pattern that he had observed during his decades at the firm. Very few make it.

What sort of welcome is this? It is almost as if the new attorneys are being asked to pack their bags and start looking for a new job the moment they arrive.

Why on earth would a law firm go to such lengths to make people feel so unwelcome?

A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

More on this in a moment…

The attorney relating the story to me—a candidate of mine now looking for a job—was very proud that this prediction had come true, and five years later, he and one other associate were left in the firm of that original group.

Like most attorneys, he was talking about "lifestyle" and the other things that simply do not make a lot of sense for attorneys to be talking about, unless they are not working for actual clients and really do not want to be attorneys. Most attorneys that tell you they are concerned with their "lifestyle" and "balance", their work-life balance – never really amount to much in the law, and that is okay, because not everyone has the career commitment or they just aren’t cut out for practicing law in a high-pressure environment.