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Should I Stay or Should I Go?


You may remember a song that was very popular in the 1980’s by the Clash titled, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Although the song hasn’t been in the top 40 for a while now, the song continues to see relevancy. The former hit song shows up throughout the new popular Netflix series Stranger Things. And the Levi’s brand has used the song in their commercials, even though it last hit number one on the UK billboard charts in 1991.

The Question.

Many agree it’s a great song, but it’s not always a simple question. This question has led to more sleepless nights than I could ever pretend to know, because it’s wide as it is deep - and it’s also very personal.

I heard this song on a recent business trip and recalled that I often hear that very question as I sit across from a partner considering what’s next in their career. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Oftentimes this is in reference to their uncertainty whether they are on the correct path with their current firm and practice. And when I hear this question, I’m immediately on the lookout for the “F-words,” which are quickly unveiled in our conversation. Usually, there are underlying fears, frustrations and perhaps failure stirring within the partner.

Behind the Scenes.

Conceptually speaking, the question always starts long before a member of the JagLaw team enters the picture. And in most cases, the question was born from a perceived lack of opportunities, or a general awareness of not feeling supported by their current firm leadership. Or it could be something as simple as too many client conflicts that limit expansion opportunities. Or another issue that is on the rise within the larger law firms is feelings of isolation, loneliness, and no longer having the camaraderie that is part of a team. And yes, in case you’re wondering, this is occurring everyday within mid-level and national law firms.

The Sleepless Nights.

Take, for example, a recent meeting with a partner practicing in a profitable and desirable area of law. Because his firm has limited exposure or branding in his particular practice area, he has come to realize that it is limiting his own exposure, and client development opportunities – an area that is a particular strength of his. Usually by the time we sit down with a partner over lunch or coffee, the partner has been contemplating a move for some time, hence the sleepless nights.

Are you Hitting Your Internal Snooze Button?

In our conversations with partners, many express that this is a question they’ve contemplated for a number of months in some cases even years, but due to the lack of planning and unawareness of perceived opportunities, they ultimately choose to push their dissatisfaction with their career (life) off to the side. Instead, they put their head down and work just as hard creating distractions by seeking other outlets as a substitute. Through their own version of self-talk, they falsely reassure themselves that they are practicing in a good firm, with bright people and they are generally well liked. However, the frustration of not feeling productive, or valued, is something that can’t be ignored for an extended period of time. Eventually they realize they can no longer hide from their reality. But depending on where they are in their cycle, that realization in itself can be frightening, so they bury it once again. And they double down on their efforts to stay busy with other tasks - event planning, industry organizations, blogs, social media. The partner so desperately wants to reassure themselves that they are doing all the right things, by working smarter and even harder, as a way of convincing themselves they are accomplishing more. Therefore, they go on auto pilot and continue hitting their internal snooze button.

We understand. Everyone wants to feel productive; that we are valued members of a larger team. I have a brilliant friend who creates a daily “To Do List.” At the end of each day, my friend refers to the list of completed tasks and feels better about themselves knowing they were indeed productive.

To my knowledge, Mick Jones, the lead singer of The Clash never offered an explanation for his inspiration for writing the song. But is it ironic that he left The Clash shortly after their big hit?

It’s only human nature that we try to convince ourselves that we are on the right path, and we are doing the right things. However, if this is a question that you have asked yourself repeatedly, perhaps it’s wise to take a hard look at why the question is being asked.

Identifying Road Blocks.

One partner candidate stated that as he identifies a great lead on new working matters, he is only met with disappointment because he can’t represent the potential new client because of a firm conflict. Another partner shares her frustration within the business industry that her firm doesn’t have the credibility or expertise to work on sophisticated legal matters, therefore, the partner never even gets a chance at the plate.

For the sake of this blog, let’s just say that the best place to start is to ask, “Why is the question to stay or leave being asked?” Is it related to unfulfilled goals, missed opportunities, boredom? Or is it related to feelings of isolation and your desire to lead a team? The next question may be, “Why haven’t I accomplished my objectives?” Did you have a creative action plan, but continued running into roadblocks? Next, we recommend writing down those roadblocks. Can you identify the top three? This simple exercise may give you some insight to uncover if you are in the right place, working within the right firm, with the right resources.

So partners are asking themselves daily, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” If you can relate to these partners and have asked yourself this question, our team at JAGLaw will confidentially walk with you through asking yourself “The Right Questions” and more. We have a proven, personal track record that has assisted experienced partners evaluate this dilemma for over two decades. We thoughtfully support partners in evaluating and creating a game plan that is specific to their needs and sets them up for success. What trajectory are you seeking?

Contact our consultants at teamjaglaw@jaglaw.com for confidential correspondence.

“You have to do the right thing - You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” –Gandhi

But if you only clicked on this blog because you like the song, click on this link and turn up the volume to enjoy Should I Stay or Should I Go!


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