Let’s give credit where it’s due: Not all big firms are bad, and even those many might consider the most troubled don’t necessarily present problems for everybody in them. The American Bar Association’s most recent survey on lawyer satisfaction, released in 2007, reported that 44 percent of lawyers in big firms (defined as having more than 100 lawyers, so they’re not limited to Big Law) are satisfied with their careers. That’s a failing grade in every course I’ve ever taken or taught, but it’s a base upon which to build.

What makes these satisfied attorneys tick and what can be done to increase their ranks?