Be Careful What You Work For, You Just Might Get It!
by Jamie Spannhake
February 23, 2022
When I was practicing law in BigLaw in Manhattan, I was working with a mentor whose values were more closely aligned with mine: namely, a belief that I was not just a lawyer, but also a person with interests other than my career.
Unfortunately, the majority of the lawyers, and especially the firm leadership, were not so “balanced.” Still, I was on “partnership track,” working toward the goal that everyone in the firm wanted: to be asked to join the partnership.
Then, one day I heard an analogy that changed everything:
Becoming partner in a large law firm is like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.
I realized that, if I didn’t enjoy the value system in the firm when I was on the periphery as an associate, I would like it even less when I was enmeshed in it as a partner.
For me, the analogy was more accurately stated as:
Becoming partner would be like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie … and I don’t even like pie!
Holy crap! What had I done? I had spent all that time, effort, and money to achieve great success at something I didn’t even like.
My mistake was that I didn’t take the time to determine my values, what was important to me, and what I truly wanted before I started down the long path to law firm partnership.
If I had taken the time to more carefully assess what I wanted my life to look like, I could have made different choices in law school. Those choices would have given me the contacts and experiences to create a law career that actually worked for me — like the one I eventually found, ten years later!
Related Content: Choose What Matters to You: Your Personal Values Statement
What worked for me was being a partner in a small law firm with partners who also had families and interests outside the law.
How about you? Have you spent the time to clarify your values and create a vision for your life so that after you put in all the effort to achieve your goal, you like the place that you call success?
If not, let's chat. I'd love to hear what you're doing and how things are going. I always enjoy meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues.