Unhappiest Job in America: Associate Attorney

The website CareerBliss.com has compiled a list of the happiest and unhappiest jobs in America, and found that associate attorney is the absolute worst. Based on a survey of 65,000 employees, which examined such factors as relationship with boss, work environment, job resources, compensation, daily tasks and control over work, associate attorney rated just 2.89 out of five points.

“Associate attorneys stated they felt most unhappy with their company culture,” Heidi Golledge, chief executive of Career Bliss said. “In many cases, law firms are conducted in a structured environment that is heavily centered on billable hours. It may take several years for an associate attorney to rise to the rank of partner. People in this position rated the way they work and the rewards they receive lower than any other industry.”

Notice, the conclusion is not that being an attorney is the most miserable job, but rather being an associate attorney. This follows my own experience of hating the practice of law when I worked at a big firm, but loving it when I started my own firm. Notice also that money isn’t everything. Associate attorney was the highest paying job, on average, by a significant margin, but it still came in last. (An associate’s “high” salary is largely illusory, as explained in my article Fun With Numbers.)

So stop being a miserable drone! Pull the plug and start your own firm.

A summary of the findings can be found at Forbes and the chart at CareerBliss.

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