Law Firms & Professional Services Firms

Research shows that an alarming number of lawyers are unfulfilled, and lack a sense of purpose in their work. This has major consequences for firms:

  1. They are incurring significant costs, both in managing employees' mental health, and in replacing talent.
  2. They are struggling to attract the best talent, particularly among the millennial generation.
  3. They are finding it hard to motivate and retain their top employees.
  4. Their employees are performing below their potential, and firm culture is being compromised.

The founder of Purpose Matters, James Boddy, has first-hand experience of this issue. During his 10-year career as a lawyer he saw numerous examples of individuals within the profession who were under-motivated, and under-fulfilled. Typically these individuals had little sense of underlying purpose. By contrast, the purposeful lawyers he encountered tended to be productive, inventive, and energized.

Various studies provide support for these first-hand observations:

  • Around 70% of lawyers would not choose a legal career if they had the opportunity again; half of all lawyers would discourage their children from joining the profession (Levit & Linder, 2010).
  • Lawyers suffer from exceptionally high rates of depression, alcoholism and suicide (Levit & Linder, 2010).
  • A key factor behind statistics such as these is lawyers’ lack of a sense of purpose in their work (Heinemann, Lee, & Wilkins, 2015).

The problem is becoming more acute now that most entrants to the legal profession are millennials. Members of this group rate meaningful work as being of central importance to them as they enter the workforce (Gusic, 2015). As a consequence, they are becoming less inclined to join large private law firms (Galanter & Henderson, 2008). Instead they are choosing smaller firms that offer interesting work aligned with their passions and interests, and significant autonomy (Cantrell, Paluck, Lord, & Smith, 2008). Further, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that many of the brightest students are choosing to avoid the legal profession entirely.

Fortunately, a growing body of research suggests a way to reverse these trends. Psychological studies show that individuals with a sense of purpose are, among other things, more resilient and motivated, better able to handle stress, and psychologically and physically healthier (Damon, 2008).

At Purpose Matters, we apply this cutting-edge psychological research in order to address the needs facing the legal profession. Through training workshops, coaching and consultancy services, we support the development of more fulfilled, engaged and productive lawyers, who are better able to handle the stresses of a demanding profession. Additional benefits include:

  • Attract the best­ – law firms that support their employees in developing a sense of purpose will enjoy substantial reputational benefits. By demonstrating that they care about their employees as individuals, and promising a legal career that is not only well paid and prestigious, but also meaningful, law firms will quickly attract the best legal talent.
  • Motivate and retain top talent – law firms will find that their investment in Purpose Matters’ services quickly pays off. Their employees will be more motivated, and they will enjoy significant cost savings from reduced absenteeism and lower spending on employee mental health issues. Further, by retaining more of their top talent, law firms will make substantial savings on recruiter fees and associated costs.

Our approach is equally applicable to other professional services firms, which face many of the same issues as law firms.

Specific services include the following:

  • Free keynote speaking given by James Boddy.
  • Day-long training programs for up to 20 participants: Facilitated discussions, activities, and reflection to guide lawyers in finding meaning and direction in their professional paths.
  • 2-hour webinars for up to 30 participants: Condensed program that introduces lawyers to purpose development.
  • Individual and team coaching over 6 and 12 month periods.