Also published at http://legallymelanated.com/
It is an interesting thing to arrive at new places. New places you’ve always dreamt of; but when you arrive, you realize it’s not what you thought it would be. Or you don’t know which way you want to go. That’s kind of how I feel about the practice of law.
I absolutely believe that my law degree is the most practical degree ever. The practice of law is vast; I mean literally every industry has a legal component. But despite that, it can be challenging to find your path. I would say it helps if you go to law school knowing what you want to do, but that’s not true. I’ve met countless attorneys who thought they wanted to do one thing when they entered law school and realized that wasn’t for them, either in law school or once they started practicing. But for the overachiever that can be very frustrating. But that is the journey. The journey is unknown.
I am learning to go with the flow, wherever that may lead. Despite the unknown, I absolutely love my legal education. I love the skill set law school gives you. But these skills I speak of are not the ones that you might expect. For instance, in law school, professors are notorious for putting you on the spot. I had one professor that would make students stand up to answer questions. He also did not give you a heads up if you were on call. This has been the single most important skill as an attorney, in my opinion. Yes, in law school and in the practice of law you strive to be prepared, but there’s always a moment, no matter how hard you prepare, when you do not know the answer. Enter the b.s. skills or the gracefully fall on your sword skills you learned in law school. Because of law school, admitting that I do not know the answer in front of a room full of people is not as scary. Also, because of law school, I learned how to say something while simultaneously saying nothing, but saying enough to satisfy the questioner. A skill you learn from cold calling my friend. Yes, it is embarrassing and nerve wrecking, but in the practice of law, people love to put the lawyer on the spot and mean no disrespect.
Besides cold calling, a frequent complaint of law students is the feeling that you are teaching yourself. Guess what? You teach yourself in the practice of law. Law students generally do not specialize in any particular field. When you start practicing, you may not know anything about your new practice area. I always said I wouldn’t practice criminal law. Yet I became a City Prosecutor fresh out of law school. The ability to teach one’s self is a wonderful skill. It gives you the confidence to tackle new things, even things out side of the practice of law. I love seeing attorneys being super successful at endeavors totally unrelated to the practice of law. Some of the attorneys I follow on social media have wrote books, developed hair care products, and became social media influencers and lifestyle bloggers to name a few.
I hope law students and those considering a legal career realize that the practice of law is not the end. I also hope all of the unknowns in my legal career does not give off the impression that I do not enjoy the practice of law. I feel it is a privilege to be an attorney. My paternal grandparents passed when I was in college. My paternal grandfather was a sharecropper who stopped going to school when he was in third grade to work the fields. I know most say, “I am my ancestors wildest dreams,” but I don’t have to go that far back, I am my grandparents wildest dream. I’m excited to see what the future holds. I am excited to see what practice areas I explore. I am also excited about my non-legal endeavors.