Take This GIFT for Granted and Your Legal Career Will Be Dead: Why Attorneys Must Always Have Access to Lots of Work and Be Busy

The most important factor attorneys need to survive is having access to work.
  • If you do not have work to do, you are unemployed.
  • If you do not have access to work that you are trained to do, you are underemployed.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

At the outset, I cannot tell you how many legal careers I have seen stopped in their tracks when the work suddenly dries up, and it generally dries up (and will dry up at some point in time in your career). When work dries up … you sure as hell better know what to do. When work dries up or stops, attorneys generally become unemployed or underemployed.

The reason all of this is so dangerous is an unemployed attorney has an extremely difficult time finding another position. An unemployed attorney is like a cancerous leper to large law firms. Small law firms, in-house employers and others even fear them.

Your goal as an attorney is to keep gaps off of your resume, and if they are there, fix them promptly and quickly. You need access to work at all times!

I have no idea why this is, but I suspect the reasons the legal hiring world treats unemployed and underemployed attorneys so poorly is because they believe there is something wrong with the unemployed attorney:

The way they see it, if an attorney was serious about being an attorney they would never have left their job without securing a new one. Here is how the thought process goes …
  • If the attorney left their job without a new job, they must have been fired.
  • If the attorney left their job without a new one, they must have been doing bad work.
  • If the attorney left their job without a new one, they must not be able to get along with others.
  • If the attorney was laid off, they must not have made friends with the right people who would have protected them.
  • If the attorney does not have a big book of business, they must not be that desirable or good at what they do.
  • If the attorney has been unemployed longer than a few months, there is something seriously wrong with them. They are either being blackballed by their former firm, or they are lazy and do not care about looking for a new job.

The legal profession is SAVAGE. You need to have access to work at all times. If you do not have this, you are going to be screwed. I hate to be the messenger here, but that is the fact. If you are unemployed and do not have any work, you need to go balls out to get a new job as fast as possible. Not tomorrow and not next week. NOW.