The S-curve is a feature that is typically used to describe businesses and illustrates the following:

Why Your Legal Career as an Attorney is Like an S-Curve in Business

(1) A business typically grows for a length of time until it tapers or levels off.

(2) Then it begins to go down as it encounters resistance.


(3) The resistance is typically the entrance of competitors, lower prices, or the simple fact that the majority of the market has already purchased the product.

(4) The business then (usually) goes away, becomes a much lesser version of its former self (usually), or figures out how to start growing again.

This generally happens to all businesses—unless they innovate, come up with new products, or figure out how to get new revenue out of existing products by tapping new markets.

Incidentally, the S-curve is something that defines not just businesses, but our careers and lives. Unless we die an untimely death, most of us are born, grow up, get old and die. There is no way around this. It is the same way with careers. Most people start off their careers on the “ground floor”, they get a few promotions and—at some point—the growth stops, and their careers decline (and then end).

  • For many attorneys, the decline starts when they are three months into their first legal job with a large law firm, and they clearly demonstrate they do not have what it takes.
  • Other attorneys may “flunk out” during their summer associate job and not get an offer and have other problems.
  • Still other attorneys may last until their seventh or eighth year, at which point they take a much less demanding job.
  • Other attorneys may make partner then start tapering off around the age of 50 or so.
  • Other attorneys may continue growing until their 60s or even 70s.
  • The best attorneys, of course, are generally the ones who are able to continue growing, improving and avoiding the downward slope of the S-curve.