I began law school with hope, excitement, a little anxiety and a lot to learn. This was typical of all my colleagues. The beginning consisted of new friendships, some of which turned into life-long bonds. We shared stories about our journeys to receiving that long-awaited and prestigious acceptance. We were thankful to our loved ones but, most of all, for the first time in our lives, we were truly proud of our achievement. I, for one, knew exactly the end goal – I wanted to start my own practice and, in doing so, achieve a happy career.
I finished law school with little hope, little excitement, a lot of anxiety and even more to learn than I had thought. In fact, most of my colleagues seemed to fall into a worse state of mind than mine. What had changed? Was it that bad of a choice to be a lawyer?
It was an assortment of events. It began with upper year law students being higher than us in the hierarchy: we used their success as examples of what we should be achieving; we used their failures as examples of how easy it was to fall. We heard of colleagues that did not have summer jobs. The tuition bills became more real as we had to pay them. Some of us did not win a mooting competition. Those that did have a summer job overworked themselves and constantly complained. Most of us were no longer A students. We heard stories of people refusing to share their summaries. Unlike our undergraduate degrees, we knew that succeeding was a lot less likely among our talented law school colleagues. Outside of law school, headlines everywhere: too many grads, not enough jobs. These headlines became louder as we delved deeper into the study of law.
What exactly happened then? This is what I think: before having a real chance to begin our careers, we stopped believing in our careers. Those of us without job offers stopped believing that there was any demand for lawyers. Those of us with jobs held on to those jobs, although overworked, underpaid, and/or completely dispassionate, believing that there was no other firm to take us or another opportunity better fitting for us. And me….well, I started my own practice, also not believing in my career...until I met the rare breed of believers. They were the uncommon sole practitioners working in chambers who seemed to, somehow, be satisfied with their careers. They had flexibility in their schedules, multiple client phone calls, constant referrals to and from other lawyers, and an overall positive attitude about our profession. In fact, these people were not just lawyers - they were expressive, welcoming individuals. What a change, I thought to myself. If they did it, then what is there to stop me from doing it? If they say that it is possible, then why should it be such a mission impossible? I had finally learned that there is more than enough to go around. And my phone soon started ringing.
The law of abundance, ladies and gentlemen – the most important of all laws, yet rarely practiced by lawyers. And there is only one way to practice this law: we must see the pot and encourage others to see it as bigger than we imagine, if we can just imagine that it is.