Here in America, where failure is celebrated as a rite of passage, one thing seems strange to us. That's the pattern in the legal sector of the associates who don't make partner and are, more or less, "finished." They might get one more decent-paying job after that but that often doesn't work out and that's that. Their careers, as lawyers or as anything else, rarely catch fire.
This model resembles the way of business in much of Europe. The current issue of THE ECONOMIST reports that one reason for the slow economic growth in Europe is that the commercial culture cannot absorb failure. Fail and you're finished. Not only that. "A business blow-up leaves a lasting stain, akin to a moral failure," THE ECONOMIST notes.
Careers in the legal sector remain a peculiar ball of wax. The big ones can take place only in institutions, be that a law firm, as an in-house lawyer, or in government entities. Sure there are solos but they usually don't become major brandnames or generate lucrative compensation. Therefore, it's imperative to stay as part of the establishment. In itself that reality might be constraining how lawyers think and act on the job. After they lose that job they, as THE ECONOMIST put it about European entrepreneurs, can't seem to "dust themselves off and start all over again."
If lawyers changed their own mindsets about career setbacks they wouldn't be holding themselves back. In other disciplines, the rest of us have learned to factor in the possibility of failure when we take a job or assignment. That's just the Schumpeterian way in America.