Where you came from does not define you or the opportunities available to you
If it did, I wouldn’t be here. So let’s talk . . .
10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Practicing Law.
As much as you think you know what’s going to happen in your life, you just never really know. That statement rings true both personally and professionally.
After graduating from law school in 2012, as much as I thought I’d know what practicing law would be all about - I didn’t. There’s really no way to predict how a field so driven by people and connection will move, transform, grow, change - you.
Here are 10 life lessons I’ve learned practicing law.
Impostor syndrome is real.
Truly the weirdest thing - you have a group of smart people (read: lawyers) concerned more about how they’re perceived by their peers. That concern is really fear; and that fear of being exposed as a “fraud” is crippling.
You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Lawyers are notorious for two things: planning and procrastination. The two go hand-in-hand more than you initially think. Because the more time you spend planning means less time spent doing.
Redress yourself in that stress straitjacket.
There’s no such thing as a perfect solution.
Many lawyers (read: me) are scared of what they don’t know. Because what they don’t know could be the one thing that derails their clients.
So what’s the response? What do you do?
You overplan and over-advise (read: outlining a parade of horribles . . . however unlikely they may be.) What happens then is - as mentioned above - procrastination and less productivity. Why? Two reasons, really; you’re (a) afraid of being wrong; and (b) you’re on a quest for perfection.
You first; everyone else second.
Seems weird, right, since we often think of lawyers as big ego people; people who always put themselves first before others. The truth is, it’s a paradox because lawyers typically internalize their clients’ problems, their managing partner’s expectations, and peer pressure.
The reality is: that internalization changes the equation--it becomes everyone else first; you second. Reverse the trend.
Chase, and I mean really chase, a dream or vision.
Everyone has a highest and best use of their time; everyone has a skill set unique to them that cannot be duplicated or replicated. Identify an opportunity where there is a meaningful nexus between passion, purpose, and talent.
Then, go. And, I mean really go after that dream or vision. And as you go, feel emboldened by your courage.
Tell your story.
Often, lawyers tell the story they think they’re supposed to tell. You know what that leads to? (See the first lesson, ugh). Your story frees you to attract clients who are the best fit for you, in a practice area best suited for your interests.
Identify your source of truth; then, let that truth inform all your decisions.
Whether it’s faith, family, fitness, or some other grounding principle, identify your source of truth. In that truth, we find balance that empowers each of us to set intentional priorities and make value-aligning decisions. From there, we establish boundaries. In turn, boundaries create the lines on the playing field where success and failure can be measured. When real life doesn’t have a scoreboard, we can create our own.
Fear of the unknown is an anchor.
As lawyers, we are taught to evaluate all risks before making a decision. Here’s the problem: Waiting to make a decision might be a delay making you miss an opportunity. (Certainly, the impulsive pursuit of a passion project can have an equal and opposite reaction). Here’s the point though: the cocoon is a safe space. It’s space where we allow a fear of the unknown to keep us in our static state. Push back against that. We’re all made for a great adventure. Find yours.
Where you came from does not define you or the opportunities available to you.
That’s it, really; you are your future - not your past.
Law is local.
As much as we talk about legal technology and the disruption it portends, nothing has really changed about the human component of practicing law. It’s still about people. It’s still about connection. It’s still about your community. It’s still about being engaged. It’s still about showing up. So get out there. Be you. Be heard.
Shoot us an email if you’re interested in learning more about CoLaw, whether it’s monthly memberships to a lawyer coworking space or leveraging an economy of scale to deploy legal tech, we got you.