Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Advice to a New Lawyer on their first day

I wrote this to a friend of mine who was about to start her first lawyer job. Looking back, I think that this is the advice I would give anyone about to begin life as a newbie attorney. Or, if nothing else, I wish someone had told me this before I started my first job.
Today’s your first day.

I am venturing a guess that you may be suffering from a touch of anxiety. If you say no, I’m just going to think that you are lying…I’ve been where you are standing.

Knowing the process you’ve gone through to get to where you are about to go, anxiety in any form is totally understandable. You can’t always play it safe, in other words, you have to take a leap without knowing what may be beneath you. Now it’s time to take that first step into this, the unknown fray.

You are walking into a situation where you have an excellent pedigree. Every journey you’ve taken in the past has led to this first foray into the professional world. Put it another way: you’ve been educated, you’ve trained and now, you are ready.

Here is my advice to you, the new attorney, on your first day: Take risks. Ask questions. Do not fear being wrong. Let the fear of failure motivate you to greatness. Be headstrong but do not be stupid. Don’t judge your position with any of your friends or colleagues, only you can determine whether or not you are in the right situation.

As you look at the list of suggestions I have made above, you will likely see what you’ve heard from the countless number of voices that you have sought counsel from. Now, I hope to impart on you something unique.

You are about to be on the bottom of the professional food chain. It’s likely that in this illustrious position, when you make a mistake, you hear about it as if you have just committed a mortal sin. Finding positives in a career choice can be daunting when this is what you are faced with day in and day out. This advice is simple: find something that you do in your job that sets you apart from everyone else and treasure it. Live in this moment when you know you are on the absolute top of your form. Finally, do everything you can to get back to this place as often as possible.

This is what keeps me coming back day in and day out. This is what makes me know I want to be a lawyer.

There are going to be long stressful days ahead. As the new attorney, the one who doesn’t know the ins and outs, you will likely face mountains of adversity. I have complete faith that you will successfully confront whatever comes your way.

You are going to be great.