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I loved the intellectual challenge of law school, but I've been disappointed by my first year of private practice. The work is narrow and disheartening, and I'm not finding much inspiration from my colleagues. How can I improve my situation?
You might begin by thinking about the role you play in your clients' lives. Are you merely a technician, or are you a counselor who seeks creative ways to resolve their problems? Do you acknowledge that for every legal problem that exists, there is a human being in need - of resolution, equilibrium, peace, or justice?
You can choose your lens and define a problem narrowly or broadly. Do you see the person sitting in your office as an incorporation-in the way that certain physicians might describe a patient as a ruptured spleen-or as a father and a son, a colleague and a man with deep personal concerns?
When you see your client as a whole person, someone who is embedded in a family and a community, suddenly there's much more at stake. It's the technicians, those who see their clients first and foremost as "cases," who, I have found, tend to be least satisfied with their work. It takes some imagination-and indeed some practice-to make the switch to the big-picture approach, but it's worth it.
Survey after survey shows that what clients want most are supportive relationships with good lawyers. What research has also shown us is that lawyers feel alienated from supportive relationships. If we can bridge this gap and get to know one another as people, we can find great satisfaction.
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