A recent piece by CNN’s Julie Peterson tells the tale of Joe Bankoff and Gordon Smith, two high-level career lawyers who left the legal profession for the non-profit world at the height of their individual success. Taking huge pay cuts, they chose to invest their time working for non-profits, in an effort to give back and find greater personal fulfillment. Said Smith, “There comes a point where you think, ‘Is there something that would give me more satisfaction in a non-monetary sense than what I’m doing now?’” This is a familiar sentiment, and one we’ve discussed frequently here at Generation Generosity. Peterson’s closing remarks are very telling as well: “And they both say that the leap took them from success to relevance.” Indeed, this seems to be the essence of so many lawyers’ internal struggle and dissatisfaction as their careers move along, with early enthusiasm long since replaced by the daily grind. But does it have to be this way? Are professional success and personal relevance mutually exclusive?
We don’t think so. Adopting a spirit of generosity, thinking of yourself as a means to an end and of your job as being in service to others, targeting a client base that makes you feel like you are creating the kind of practice whose efforts are as impactful as the work of any non-profit – these are all actions that can bring the same sense of fulfillment to your legal career. If charity begins at home, then creating a working life that is enriching and rewarding on a personal level, keeping lawyers in the profession so they can provide help to those who need it, could be the perfect way of giving back and finding relevance.
Have you found ways to harness generosity to achieve personal fulfillment through your practice? Sing out below.