Want to leave the law? Why a new legal mindset could change everything for you

Want To Leave The Law? Why a New Legal Mindset Could Change Everything For You

Hannele Korhonen
6 min readJul 26, 2022

Thinking of quitting big law

Being a lawyer is hard and the sad part is most lawyers will tell you they love the law. They love solving legal problems and helping people and businesses meet their life and business goals.

And yet so many of us want to leave the law because we struggle with the work.

Does this sound like you?

Thing is, the problem is not the law and it’s certainly not you, it’s the way law is delivered, the fixed legal mindset and the traditional business model of commoditized work.

The way we’ve designed law is not working.

For anyone.

There is a better way

Quitting the law may not be the answer. If you’re open to looking at your current legal mindset and shifting to a legal design mindset you could be on the path to a new career in law. (And I don’t mean becoming a legal designer.)

I’m talking about doing law your way: Serving the clients the way they want to be served in the way you want to serve them.

It all starts with the shift in your mindset.

What if we could redesign law?

Here’s the challenge. This is what lawyering looks like now. The lawyer mindset: The race to the top creates a toxic work culture driven by billable hours, bringing new clients, fierce competition, and the end of work-life balance.

The result? Lawyers who are lonely, isolated and anxious about their work and the legal advice they’re giving to their clients. Combined with the endless pursuit for perfection, fear of mistakes, and enormous workloads, it’s no wonder lawyers burn out. And start looking to leave the law completely.

But you can redesign this.

Digital transformation: An example of legal mindset shift

You might be skeptical about redesigning the law (and I get it.) But take a look a how lawyers used technology before and after Covid 19.

Before Covid, your clients could not meet you remotely or sign documents online. It was unthinkable for lawyers to work from home or participate in global events online, at home on the couch.

The legal tech existed but the legal mindset did not.

Now it’s normal. We have online meeting software, documents stored in the cloud, digital signing, you name it. We can manage every meeting, transaction and event online.

We didn’t invent a raft of technology in response to Covid, we started using what we had. Lawyers simply changed their minds about what was possible and the digital transformation happened overnight.

Redesigning law is possible. The impossible is possible.

What does a new legal mindset mean for you

You can use your legal design mindset to work out what your future in the law looks like. Ultimately it may be that you leave the law (but I hope you don’t).

I’ve worked with lawyers who’ve used legal design to forge new and lucrative paths for themselves by finding gaps in legal service they’ve been able to fill.

In summary, legal design can open doors to:

  • Designing new legal products and services
  • Designing new legal technology and systems
  • Opening a new legal business delivering legal services the way clients want
  • Being the catalyst for change in your existing legal space

All this and more is possible if you’re willing to step outside what you know and look at life from a different perspective. Where do you fit? What do you want to do? What gives you meaning in your work?

How to get from where you are now to where you want to be is outside the scope of this article, but I can help you get there. Drop me a line at hannele@lawyersdesignschool.com.

Legal work with a legal design mindset

Forget about your current situation and push your assumptions to the side. You won’t have the answer yet because you are starting out — BUT — there is a place in the law where your work looks like this:

Goodbye cogwheel, hello meaningful work

When you make the shift and find your place your work will be meaningful for you and you will rediscover your love for law.

Imagine your workday is not a series of mind-numbing tasks, putting different details in the same legal documents or filing billable hours. But truly making a difference.

A legal design mindset is about people, about your customers and about the people in your workplace, including you. Human-centered design is a journey of exploration that helps you discover what your customers need and what you could offer to meet those needs.

You don’t have to read minds or make assumptions, but really listen and understand your clients. When you understand the needs of the people you serve, the more meaning your work has.

Bring your whole self to work

Another big shift you’ll see is you’re able to tap into your creativity, empathy and intuition. All the skills that make us human.

Imagine there is time and space for your ideas.

We, lawyers, use the left side of our brain to access our analytical skills, and apply our legal expertise and process management skills.

Legal design skills tap into the right side of your brain.

Bring all of you to the table.

You are a creative human being and it’s important for you and your well-being that you are able to use that creativity in your work. Come up with creative solutions to problems, and get new ideas for new services or ways of working. And having the opportunity to voice those ideas and put them to the test.

Any employer who’s not willing or interested in tapping into the endless possibilities of the creative ideas from their employees is just losing out. Traditional BigLaw companies are losing out and they have the answer right under their noses — let your clever and creative employees work on the challenges together and start implementing their ideas.

Legal design mindset allows us to embrace creativity, empathy and intuition. We can explore solutions and a better way of helping people with their problems. We need to allow ourselves some space to come up with new ways, new better questions.

This is the space where legal innovation can happen.

Sticking with the routine tasks and focusing only on speed and efficiency doesn’t allow us to learn anything new. Let alone invent anything.

Work together with people outside your bubble

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.

Helen Keller

This Helen Keller quote is probably overused but it’s so important.

Imagine exploring the future of law together with people who share the same passion and vision.

In law, working with others is still a real innovation. By working together I mean true collaboration. Sharing, cooperating, listening and accepting different perspectives. Building each other’s thoughts.

A legal mindset drives lawyers to be solo heroes that work alone, solve impossible challenges and win alone, to be able to take the credit and the profits alone as well.

A legal design mindset drives collaboration and encourages information sharing.

We learn to do things together. Sharing unfinished thoughts and work with others, asking for feedback. Sharing the failures and the successes together.

A legal mindset also drives us to “special snowflake” syndrome. New ideas, like design thinking, may apply to other fields but not to the law as we’re special, we’re different.

A legal design mindset is about different perspectives, working across silos.

We benefit so much from the unique perspectives diverse groups of people bring to the table. The legal design mindset invites people with different backgrounds to the table with open arms. With a legal design mindset, you get curious to learn more about how other people think and why they don’t agree with you.

Are you willing to see where the legal design thinkers hang out?

I want to finish by saying that the legal design mindset enables profound changes in yourself and in law. The legal design mindset affects the way we humans perceive, communicate and interact with the law. And it ultimately has the power to transform the entire legal industry and profession to be human-centric and sustainable.

It might be the door you have been looking for.

So there you have it. Hopefully, some new thoughts convince you to give the law another chance with a different mindset.

Want to chat about it?

Feel free to DM any questions or join me on LinkedIn every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about legal design and growing your law firm.

Follow me at @lawyersdesignschool and get more practical tips on building a thriving law firm, how to find new clients and become a happy boutique law firm owner.

Prefer email? Drop me an email at hannele@lawyersdesignschool.com. And while you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and check out other ways to use legal design thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.

Originally published at https://lawyersdesignschool.com

Hannele Korhonen

Founder & CEO Lawyers Design School. Passion for access to justice.