CareerQuest logo CareerQuest Newsletter

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Lawyer!"   
    Photo of Don Sutaria
May 2012   
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

This Month's Feature Article
This month's main feature is: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Lawyer! I will not spoil your suspense! I will let you read it before you form an opinion.

Comments from Readers on the Mother's Day Special Newsletter
Many thanks to all of you who sent heartfelt and effusive comments about this newsletter and its special article Management Concepts Learned From My Mom. A sentimental piece like this one brings out the best in most of us! We have replied individually to all of you. A random sampling is:

"That's so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing....your words and thoughts are inspiring!" "A very touching letter.
Thank you for sharing!"
"Lovely!" "Beautiful tribute. Well done!"
"Very nice! God bless." "Wonderful!!!! Thank you."

Please keep this dialog going! Not to be left out, a special Father's Day newsletter is also planned.

Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions
"Career Doctor Don Answers Your Questions" appears as a regular feature in the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) - New Jersey Chapter newsletters. Visit to read more.

Articles on
Several of our articles will continue to appear on the website The mission of this website is to "Help Garden State Business Grow."

CareerQuest's Blog
If you have not checked out our revamped blog recently, please do so. We have some interesting things to share with you, several times a week. You can find it at Your feedback is always appreciated.

Book Endorsements
We at CareerQuest published a book titled Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!). There was no comparable book in the market. This book contains a series of thought-provoking essays and musings. Without encouragement and nudging from you, dear readers, this venture would not have been possible. Our sincerest thanks to all of you. This book can be ordered from Amazon, iUniverse, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookseller. You can peek inside the book at Amazon. You may even find your name in the Special Acknowledgements section, since I have given credit to almost three hundred of you! Check it out! It is also available as an e-book from iUniverse.

  Career and Life Counseling From the Heart book cover
Our book, Career and Life Counseling From the Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!), has received many excellent reviews. Eleven reviews gave the book a 5-star rating, and four have a 4-star rating.

Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? says:
"Don Sutaria is one of the career counselors I most admire in the U.S. He talks about things other career counselors don't, like "your soul." Now he has written a book I like a lot, with brilliant short chapters you can digest day by day. I recommend it unreservedly to everyone."
We are deeply grateful for his endorsement.

Andrea R. Nierenberg, President of The Nierenberg Group and known as the "Queen of Networking," has reviewed our book. Nierenberg calls it: "An excellent book....Chicken Soup for Your Career!" Thank you, Andrea.

Columbia Career Coaches Network
CareerQuest is proud to announce that Don Sutaria have been accepted as one of the career coaches for Columbia alumni. Designed to give coaching advice to alumni by alumni at discounted rates, the Columbia Career Coaches Network is an invaluable tool to assist alumni in moving within your industry or to strike out in a completely new direction.

The services of these career experts are available to people who are not graduates of Columbia but the discount is not available. Explore

Business Networking International (BNI)
CareerQuest is now a member of BNI, Right Track, Millburn, New Jersey Chapter. BNI's mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional word-of-mouth program that enables them to develop long-term meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. BNI's philosophy is: "Givers Gain." The uniqueness of BNI is that only one person from each profession classification is permitted to join a chapter of BNI. All of your teammates serve as informal salespeople for your products and services. Statistics prove that this methodology is highly effective.

Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail...

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.)
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Lawyer!  
  by Don Sutaria

Sorry to disappoint you, but I have never counseled a tinker, tailor, or soldier! However, in my career coaching practice during the past decade, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of lawyers seeking alternative careers. They span the entire spectrum in terms of age groups, both female and male. A survey by the American Bar Association states that 44% of lawyers surveyed said that they would not recommend the legal profession to younger individuals.

      So You Want to Go to Law School
Don't miss this light-hearted yet meaningful YouTube video, "So You Want to Go to Law School." (4:58) It won't disappoint!  -Don

This crisis in the legal field has been brewing for a long time and it may now have come to a head. Just look at the recent turmoil at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf. An article in The New York Times, Business Section, Thursday, April 26, 2012, B7, is very enlightening. Mr. Michael H. Trotter, 75, a corporate lawyer in Atlanta, is a partner at Taylor English Duma. A graduate of Harvard Law School, his career spans five decades. He has written two books with a penetrative look at the legal profession. These are, "Profit and the Practice of Law" and "Declining Prospects".

When asked during an interview by Peter Lattman, "Would you encourage your grandchildren to go to law school?", here is his answer:

"I would not. It's extraordinarily competitive. We are turning out 45,000 or so law school graduates a year. The quality is very high and there aren't jobs for them. Roughly half the lawyers in the country are sole practitioners. Seventy percent practice in firms with fewer than 20 lawyers, and for the most part they do not have the very high levels of income enjoyed by the major firms. Making a go requires three years of your life and $150,000 for a legal education. If you get a job at an elite firm, the odds of becoming a partner are probably less than 10 percent. So, it's a very rough row to hoe, and much of the work that's done is not challenging and interesting work."

In the final interview question he was asked, "After 50 years of practice, you have a rather dim view of your profession", Mr. Trotter said something very prophetic:

"My generation has been able to ride the wave of change and stay ahead of it, which has enabled me and many others to enjoy our careers. For some time now and into the future, I fear it will be much more difficult for most major business practice lawyers to maintain the high levels of compensation they have enjoyed without further sacrificing the quality of their lives and the satisfaction that they derive from the practice of law. Indeed, the danger is that compensation will decline but the present rigors of law practice will remain unabated or increase."

What are the reasons for this surge in lawyers wanting to desert their profession?

I plan to give you my take on it, based on empirical evidence, not some hard-core statistical data. My eight key points are:

1. Wrong career fit (To Kill a Mockingbird Complex also called The Atticus Finch Complex)

If you have chosen the field of law simply because you did not know what to do with your career, that is definitely the wrong reason to obtain a law degree. In other cases, one of the parents or relatives was a lawyer, and you decided consciously or unconsciously to follow in their footsteps. I have seen several cases where young sons or daughters simply followed their father's profession, lured by the fact their dad was willing to pay for most of their education. If a career assessment or determination of right career fit was done during their high school or early college years, perhaps they would not have chosen to be a lawyer.

      To Kill a Mockingbird

Many young idealistic folks have been attracted to the legal profession because they felt that by becoming a lawyer, perhaps they could reduce injustice and be an agent of social change. I admire that! However, I call that the To Kill a Mockingbird Complex or Atticus Finch Complex. There are way too many interacting factors which need to be looked at carefully, before taking a leap into the field of law to make it a lifetime profession. Mahatma Gandhi (India) was a trained lawyer which enabled him to obtain independence of India from the British Rule. Sir Thomas More (England) was another shining example of a lawyer and social philosopher.

2. Huge educational loans to be repaid

My clients' case history files are loaded with examples where these young men and women have to repay their huge educational debts of $100,000 - $150,000. They may have to keep paying their loans until they retire! How can they get married, have children, buy a house or pay for their kids' education? Pretty sad! On top of that many can only find low-paying temporary contract work, hopping from company to company for almost 10-20 years. Emotional exhaustion sets in, and in order to survive and move into another profession, they may blindly pack in even more debt to get an MBA, as if that is a magic bullet!

3. Compensation does not meet initial expectation

Law schools may have over-glamourized the chosen few from ivy league schools who command fancy six-figure salaries after graduation. The majority of law school graduates may consider themselves lucky if they secure meaningful legal jobs in the $50,000+ category. Some may even drop their expectations and accept jobs as paralegals with even lower salaries in the $40,000+ range.

4. Constant confrontations and uncivil behavior

Perhaps if you have a tender nature and are introverted, it may go against your grain to have constant confrontations virtually every day! Reports from the field say that because of acute competition and the general increasing rudeness in society, lawyers on opposing teams are less and less civil to each other. Apparently, this was not the case during the past three or four decades.

" my career coaching practice during the past decade, I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of lawyers seeking alternative careers."

5. Negative public image of the legal profession in society

Over the years, several studies have shown that the American public says that most lawyers are greedy, manipulative, corrupt, and do a very poor job of policing their profession. Compared to doctors, clergymen, pharmacists and engineers, lawyers rank pretty low on the respect scale for Americans.

6. Incredibly long working hours destroying life/work balance

This is one of the major laments of my clients who are lawyers. Recent studies and observations have shown that the working conditions for lawyers are sometimes inhumane and intolerable. Many law firms, out of greed or necessity, require their lawyers to bill 1,900 to 2,000 hours per year, and some even shoot for a target of 2,500 to 3,000! How can this be achieved, may I ask, without destroying the person and his/her family? Keep in mind young lawyers have to spend quite a bit of unbillable time for recordkeeping, improving professional skills, and the like. This computes to almost 70-75 hours per week! On top of that, because of the use of modern electronic devices, you are also expected to be available 24/7! Very few professions are that demanding, barring medical doctors.

7. Pessimistic work atmosphere

Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has stated, based on his observations and studies, that optimists are far more successful than pessimists. Decades ago, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Senior Pastor at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, and the author of the famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking, had come to the same conclusion. In the legal profession, and it may be hard to believe, this concept of success is switched.

Seligman feels that pessimists do better at law. Pessimistic law students on average fared better than their optimistic peers. They had many more law journal successes. The conclusion here is that law school, by its very nature of operation, weeds out the optimistic law students in favor of the pessimistic ones. Their pessimistic perspective makes these newly-minted lawyers more prudent, better attuned to legal risks, and better at recognizing disadvantages of any potential deals. However, these traits which make you successful in the legal profession are not conducive to making you a happy human being.

8. Combination of all surrounding factors is conducive to depression

The practice of law, in many cases, can be exceedingly demanding and very stressful. Most lawyers have a Type A personality. Burnout is not uncommon. By its very nature, the practice of law is adversarial. Successful lawyers may have to resort to conflict, subterfuge and distortion. These are not desirable characteristics in interpersonal relationships.

A Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers lead the nation with the highest incidence of depression compared with 100 occupations.

Lawyers suffer depression at 3.6 times the rate of those employed across all industries.

An American Bar Association survey indicated that 41% of female attorneys were unhappy with their jobs.

Lawyers overtook dentists as the profession with the highest rate of suicide.

In a poll, seven in ten lawyers said they would change careers if the opportunity arose.

Finally, lawyers who are stressed out, depressed, or resorting to any form of substance abuse (including alcohol) should not hesitate to get professional psychological help immediately, before further deterioration sets in.


This article is not intended as a tirade against lawyers. It is simply my evaluation of the profession of law as it exists today. Of course, I know many good lawyers who are very happy in their profession, lawyers with a heart wanting to really and truly help people, at the same time maintaining their morals and ethics. I salute them!

Graduation ceremony


Don Sutaria, also known as "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).

Find me on LinkedIn Don Sutaria, M.S., I.E. (Prof.)   
Phone: (908) 686-8400     Fax: (908) 686-8400 (on request)     Cell: (908) 377-9015   
CareerQuest     2165 Morris Avenue; Suite 15     Union, NJ 07083     Satellite Office in New York, NY