I consider myself lucky in that even after 24+ years, I still enjoy being a lawyer in Illinois. I believe it’s due to the fact that I’ve carved out a niche doing something I love and every day is different for me. Sure some days are better than others, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. Some attorneys aren’t so lucky.

I read an article that said of all the lawyers who passed the bar in the year 2000, almost 25% of them were no longer practicing attorneys within 12 years.  A lot of these attorneys bust their butts to become partners at a law firm, make partner, and then realize life isn’t getting any better.  The old joke is that it’s like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.

Most of the lawyers who quit seem to go on to careers that have nothing to do with the law. I’ve seen some become fitness instructors, restaurant owners, nurses, teachers, and even a stand-up comedian.  Yes, a law degree can be valuable in other industries, but a lot of lawyers are running away from the law altogether.

So why should this matter to you?

While many of the lawyers who are quitting come from huge firms that only represent giant corporations, there are plenty of attorneys who represent consumers in areas like divorce, car accidents, civil litigation, etc that are getting burned out too. You want to make sure that you don’t hire one of these lawyers and if you do, recognize some of the signs of burnout so you can switch firms before it’s too late.  Some of these include:

  • They don’t return your phone calls or e-mails in a timely manner.
  • They don’t follow through on things they say they are going to do or you have to bother them to do it.
  • They are different than when you worked with them in the past.
  • At times they appear disheveled.
  • They seem unprepared or forget basic facts about your case.
  • You discover they are spending a lot of time away from Illinois.
  • You can only get a hold of their secretary or paralegal.
  • They are rude or short-tempered in their interactions with you.
  • They are talking about a lot of things unrelated to your case when you speak.
  • Their bills aren’t sent on a regular basis and have generic entries.

Sometimes lawyers like this are just bad business people, but in my opinion, attorneys who love their jobs and want to help clients don’t do these things.  They are all red flags to me.  I remember being a young lawyer and seeing lots of miserable old attorneys who seemed stuck in their jobs. Things have only gotten worse since then.

The good news is that in most cases you can switch law firms without cost or problem as long as you don’t wait too long. In other words, you need to be your own biggest advocate and not stand for bad customer service and fire your attorney if things don’t get better.  I also recommend asking questions to the lawyer about how they work before you hire them.

If you have any questions about hiring or firing an Illinois attorney or anything else, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 for a free, confidential consultation.