Destination Unknown: Taking Control Over Your Legal Career Journey

The American Lawyer magazine recently released its annual survey of third through fifth-year associates at BigLaw firms. When I looked at the findings of the survey, the responses to one particular question really jumped out at me. These mid-level associates were asked: “What do you expect to be doing in five years?Almost one-third of the attorneys answered, simply:

“I don’t know.”

Life is full of too many uncertainties and variables to know for sure where we will find ourselves in five years (or five months, or five weeks), so in one sense, “I don’t know” is a technically accurate response to such a question.

But not knowing what you expect is very different than not knowing what you want.

What happens in the future may not be entirely within your control, but if you haven’t figured out what you want out of your legal career, your relationships, your life – if you haven’t identified your destination and charted a course on how to get there – you are essentially choosing to be the passenger and not the driver on your life’s journey.

Over the years that I’ve been working with attorneys on their career and life strategies, I’ve found that those mid-level lawyers who are struggling with their career direction and how they see the law fitting in with their lives fall into two broad categories:

The Passengers.

Many lawyers start their career journey in the passenger seat – having gone to law school for reasons of inertia and indecision more so than a passion for the law or a desire to seek justice. You may be one of those lawyers or you likely know someone like that. It may take a year, it may take five or ten, but after a while those lawyers realize that they’ve been taken for a ride. Having not given sufficient thought to why they are billing countless hours and sacrificing time away from friends and family, or what they want out of the practice of law, they hit a wall. With no thought, plans, or goals, the road ahead can look hazy and often frightening.

The Lost Drivers.

I feel fairly confident in saying that there will be days in most of our careers, if not weeks and months, where we feel adrift and disconnected from the positive and idealistic aspects of being a lawyer. You perhaps became a lawyer with visions of being the David fighting the Goliath, fighting for justice and positive change. Instead, you find yourself handling abstract or uninspiring matters, buried in minutiae and petty conflicts, dealing with timesheets and office politics, and wallowing in a general disenchantment. This is not the destination you had in mind when you set off on your legal journey. You can’t turn back, but how do you move forward if the road you’re on leads nowhere?

The good news for both the passengers and the lost drivers is that they have a great opportunity to reclaim their futures and chart a new course. All it takes is some reflection and planning. It takes identifying your desires and goals and then mapping out a route on how to get there.

In our upcoming free 20-minute teleclass on “THE SECRET TO FINDING FULFILLMENT IN YOUR LEGAL CAREER”, we’ll be helping you figure out exactly what YOU need to have in your career in order to be fulfilled. So if you are ready to learn what it takes to get what YOU want out of your legal career, join us on Friday, February 26, 2016 at 12pm Eastern! To learn more and register, click HERE.

(IMPORTANT: even if you cannot attend live, be sure to sign up so that we can send you an audio recording later.)

You may not know where you expect to be in five years, but you can definitely know where you want to go and how to get there.

To your incredible success,



Yuliya (pronounced “You-Lee-Yah”) LaRoe is an experienced attorney, professional speaker, and certified leadership and executive coach, who helps senior associates accelerate promotion to partnership, new or junior partners get more clients, law firm leaders become more effective, and lawyers achieve a more fulfilling synergy between their professional and personal lives. She is the co-founder of 20/20 Leadership Group, a national coaching firm focused on “seeing” lawyers, law firms and legal industry leaders to new levels of success.

Prior to helping lawyers optimize their performance, Yuliya practiced law at a major international firm for nearly 10 years as counsel for numerous Fortune 500 Companies, including Cisco Systems, Halliburton, United Health Group, Herbalife, and others. She left her corporate practice to pursue her passion of helping lawyers realize their highest leadership potential and translate it into business and career success. Her proven strategies, frameworks and coaching tools allow attorneys to successfully advance their careers and grow their legal practice, while creating the lives they want. 

A seasoned speaker, Yuliya is frequently invited to present to numerous organizations and companies, such as the Miami Dolphins, Foley Lardner LLP, Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and many others.  Yuliya writes about business, career, leadership, and effective communication, and has been featured in publications as diverse as the Miami Herald, Work Awesome, Bloomberg Radio and numerous others.

For more information, visit www.2020lead.com or email Yuliya at ylaroe@2020lead.com.

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