The Emotional Challenge of Unemployment
Unemployment can be very depressing. All lawyers have worked hard to get through law school and pass the bar. It can seem very unfair that, after all of that hard work, it can be so difficult to find a use for your talents. In Seattle, the job market has been oversaturated with lawyers for over ten years.
The advice offered on this page about networking and "branding your identity" may feel daunting. Many attorneys develop a sense of hopelessness, concluding that they have what it takes to be a lawyer, but don't have what it takes to land a job. On top of this, the financial challenge of unemployment can place pressure on your situation.
It is important to recognize avoidance behavior. This can translate as a fear of telling people that you are unemployed, or denying the circumstances that led to your unemployment. The sooner you accept your situation, the sooner you can think about what steps to take to find another job. Have compassion for yourself at this juncture. This may be a difficult challenge in the course of your life, but being unemployed does not have to define you as a person.
It is easy to see yourself as an unemployed lawyer and nothing more. Sometimes it is helpful to look through your résumé to remember all of the things you have done in your life. In addition, as you look to make new connections, keep focused on your ambitions. While having a job is a need, don't lose sight of the job that you want. If you have never seen the documentary "The Secret," we recommend it as a self-esteem lifter.
In sculpting an action plan to steer yourself through unemployment, individual psychotherapy can be invaluable. If you face debilitating depression, anxiety, or some other mental health issue, this is the first important step in asking for help. Even if you don't feel depressed, psychotherapy can be a good way to stay focused on your job search and can serve as healthy preventative self-care.
© 2015 Washington State Bar Association, all rights reserved.