How to Have Fun at a Large Law Firm


Robert Graff, President of The Graff Standard

by Melissa Grau

Robert Graff joined us for this episode of Esquire Coaching Radio to give us the scoop on how you can actually have fun while working at a large law firm.

Before becoming a coach, Robert, President of The Graff Standard, spent five years as an assistant district attorney and two years as an associate at an employment, business, and healthcare law firm. After he had been working as a prosecutor for five years, he was walking home from work when a random stranger stopped him and said, “You look miserable.” Those three words were enough to stop Robert in his tracks and wake him up to reality; he didn’t want to be that person everyone thinks is miserable. He now prides himself on “helping lawyers reignite the passion they once felt for law, find enjoyment in even the most demanding and monotonous aspect of their job, and strike a sustainable work-life balance.”

At first, there was an allure to working in a large law firm: the camaraderie, lunches in the city, happy hours after work. However, that fantasy was crushed by a heavy dose of reality which includes relentlessly working behind a desk trying to meet required billable hours.

How can you get back to those initial feelings of excitement and newness?

How can you change your mindset to derive pleasure from your job rather than feel trapped?

Rediscover why you went to law school. Go back to your roots, before you passed the Bar, before you even studied for the LSAT. This form of self-discovery will reignite your enthusiasm, helping you to remember why you went into this profession in the first place, giving you the motivation and passion to keep going.

Fuel your passion. It’s a matter of wanting to do something, not feeling obligated to do it. Nobody wants a career where they feel like they’re in prison. You have the power to transform your thinking to understand there’s a better way to go about being a lawyer. Once you realize it, you can re-invent your work-life balance.

Be you. Think about how your friends, a stranger, and your family would describe you. Is each description different? Ideally they should all be the same. You want to be yourself in every situation, bringing out your true values and drawing people with similar values to you. From there, you can foster camaraderie and ultimately bring one another up.

Honor yourself. As Robert put it, we only have so much energy we can give to those around us. It doesn’t grow on trees, and once that energy is gone, there’s none left to give. You need to find a way that works best for you to rebuild that energy to keep yourself motivated.

Always keep in mind that misery loves company. If you’re miserable at work, you’re going to attract miserable people. If you’re happy, not only will you attract other happy people, you will also impact others around you. Use your attitude to create the environment you want to practice law within.

First, acknowledge the aspects of your dream work environment that already exist in your office. Then take small steps to bring your ideal work environment into existence. For example, ask people to join you for lunch or start a Fantasy Football league. You have the power to change your situation; you just have to take the initiative to make those changes happen.

For more from Robert, visit his website at or email him at

Share with us your goals for your ideal work environment!

Find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter at @EsquireCoaching. Visit our website at and sign up for our newsletter, Elevate.

To listen to the full interview, click HERE.


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