How to Be a Rich and Famous Attorney: The Only Two Ways to be a Rich and Famous Attorney

One of the more consistent patterns I see in attorneys starting out in large, prestigious law firms is that they leave the practice of law within one or two years. This is not just something I see now and then. I see it daily.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

I have been reviewing hundreds of resumes a day for most of my career, and this is the exact opposite of what happens to attorneys with smaller, less prestigious firms. Most attorneys who join smaller law firms end up practicing law for their entire careers.

They are committed to being practicing attorneys: They talk to clients all day, get involved in their issues, and when they sit down to work they see a connection with the work they are doing and their clients. There is a closer human connection that motivates them, makes them feel valued, and gives them control over their careers.

In contrast, many large law firm attorneys do not even understand the role of a good attorney. They have spent years working long hours, never meeting a client. Their time has been dedicated to writing memos, and doing other sorts of “ancillary” clerical work so far removed from what “normal” attorneys do that they are “quitting” a job that is not even remotely connected to being an attorney. Moreover, because large law firm attorneys often know they are going to eventually lose their jobs, many quit before they get fired out of self-respect.
What do many attorneys with large law firms lose? Their “spark.” The one that drove them to be good candidates for practicing law in the first place. Without meaningful work, client contact, a feeling of purpose, and the prospect of a compelling future, their spirit ends up being crushed, and they want nothing whatsoever to do with being an attorney.