20-Something Q: Career Fatigue vs. Career Prospects




I’m an attorney and have recently started my second job out of law school. I’m good at what I do — prosecuting domestic violence cases — but four months into my new job, I have realized that I dislike it, have some serious “compassion fatigue” and keep hoping that there is something else out there for me. Would I destroy my future career prospects to start looking for something else? –– 20-something 




Having a law degree is fairly flexible. Find something that suits you better. We spend more time at work than at home, so nothing is worse than going to work at a job you do not like. – 40-something, designer /entrepreneur, former fashion executive (and wife of a lawyer), NYC




I don’t think you have anything to worry about. A law degree can be applied in so many ways. I know so many ex-lawyers who are excellent at everything from startups to journalism. There are plenty of ways you can bridge the skills with something that interests you. Just make sure it’s the practice you don’t like. Did you dislike your old job too or have you only felt this way since you started this second job? Try staying at least six months and really paying attention to what you like and don’t like. What drains you vs. gives you energy?  Think about the things you do like and explore where else those skills would be valuable. – 40-something, marketing, Columbus, OH




Are you concerned this would kill future prospects in domestic violence law if you switch into other areas of law, or if you stop practicing altogether?  It’s not clear. So I would say start by saying you should determine if it is the actual practice of law you don’t enjoy or whether it is law itself.

If it’s compassion fatigue (understandable!), then maybe you could move into private practice at a law firm or practice law in a different area.  If it’s that you are tired from the law altogether, you should consider working with a career coach to determine what your interests are.

Also, following your interests outside of work is never a bad thing—it could lead to new opportunities in the work world down the road as well as help you figure out your step now.  Volunteer, join a board, etc. – 30-something, lawyer, estate planning, NYC




I’m not sure how long you were at your first job, but I would stick this job out six months at a minimum.  I feel like in the professional world, staying at a job for only four months can be looked down upon and six months, if not one year, is standard to show good faith and an ability to see it through and give it a shot. If you are utterly miserable, that’s a different story. But otherwise, try to make it to the six-month marker.

Also, there are so many fields of law to practice and so many legal settings (in-house, big firm, small firm, non-profit, etc), perhaps you should explore a new field of law while you are young and not too far into one career direction.  The more time you put into a specific field, the more tied you feel to it and the harder it can be to get out.  One gets “pigeonholed.”  Now is your  time to explore!  -30-something, immigration law, NYC

on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+