Confessions of a Legal Recruiter: Are You in a Career Coma?

Do you find yourself unresponsive to the world around you? Nothing seems to phase you, and you are numb to the painful reality that you’re stuck in a dead-end job. There is no secret recipe for a curing a career coma. What you can do is start taking charge of your situation.

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” — Broadcast TV Weatherman Phil Connors is assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA. Played by actor/comedian Bill Murray. Phil finds himself caught in an infinite time loop, repeating the same day over and over again.

Okay, campers. Rise and shine. It’s Groundhog Day! 

Do you find yourself just going through the motions at work? Clocking in and clocking out, without truly investing your time? Author and Executive Coach Anne Marie Segal, “Given the risk-averse tendencies of most lawyers, coupled with demanding workloads, the concept of proactively creating a career path can be difficult to entertain. Yet if we do not drive our own careers, we are often driven down backroads and dead-ends that lead nowhere we wanted to go.”

Know the warning signs.

  • Churning out large amounts of work, with little thought. You are not working on deals, cases or projects that make a difference to the bottom line.
  • You have become immune to what’s going on at the office and suddenly are not invited to important meetings.
  • This self-induced coma has made you complacent, and you seldom take initiative to learn new skills. Your skill set is no longer relevant, and you now have limited options for advancement.
  • Your appetite for challenging work has waned, and you have little to no motivation to grow or change for the better. You’ve become risk-averse. You’ve lost your edge and fear change.
  • You no longer see opportunities, and you are leaving money on the table. You are lost and cannot see the way out.


Wake up! Try something new and get some professional help.

Lawyer Coach Anne Marie Segal, “You cannot get out of a career coma just by ‘thinking yourself’ out of it. Highly intelligent people tend to rely too much on their intellectual abilities to solve problems. This is not a problem that can be solved through brain power alone. In fact, that approach creates the same blind spots that led to a career coma in the first place.”

On Balance Legal Search, CEO Shari Davidson — “There is no secret recipe for a curing a career coma. Every case is different. What you can do is start taking charge of your situation which takes guts, expansive thinking, and powerful contacts.”

Guts — First, you need to find the courage to recognize and admit to the problems that are plaguing your career. Then you need to make the commitment to addressing the problems head-on and following it through to completion.

Expansive Thinking — Second, accept that resolve and a commitment are not going to be enough. You’ve hit a wall and need to make some changes.  You no longer share the firm’s interests, values or career priorities. Instead, take time to understand who you are and what you want. Start thinking expansively, challenge yourself to re-engage and strategically find new solutions to reach the success you seek.

Contacts and Networking — Lastly, you need to associate yourself with others who can help you get out of your rut. Go outside your comfort zone and put yourself into new centers of influence to widen your circle of friends. Get new perspectives from your new social networks.

“Take the time to figure out what you think of you.” — Michael F. Melcher, Author, The Creative Lawyer. Get out from behind your desk and out of your comfort zone. Join an exercise group or gym. Take on some pro bono cases in areas of interest. Join the board or a committee of a non-profit organization. Go on informational interviews. Finding out what legal recruiters or other career professionals can offer.

Talk to a professional to get some honest feedback and support. Make those powerful connections that will get your career back on track.

Download Anne Marie Segal’s Personal Value Proposition Worksheets from her book, Know Yourself, Grow Your Career: The Personal Value Proposition Workbook. And sign up for On Balance Search’s newsletter.

Originally ran in Above the Law, January 31, 2018

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader.  Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.