Monday, June 4, 2012

Your Future as a Lawyer: One BIG Reason You Should Romanticize the Law

I try really hard to make Legal Shoe's advice open to all types of entrepreneurs, but since law is my frame of reference, I find it pretty hard not to worry about the next generation of lawyerpreneurs. They are in for an uphill climb - that's the reality.

A propos of nothing, these thoughts occurred to me while I was writing a review of Private Lives, which for Pittsburgh area readers, is playing at the O'Reilly Theatre through June 24. It's a comedy about softening hard edges, attraction, domestic strife, and it struck me as a metaphor for my 50-year love affair with the law.

Don't forget that you can soften the hard edges of your legal career by remembering why the law seemed attractive to you in the first place.

But here is one reason. Lawrence Lessing's graduation speech and John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. It's your assigned reading for today.

Everyone is a little high after they finish any arduous graduate program. So it's easy to be filled with starry-eyed wonder that Lessing, a prominent Harvard Law professor, would encourage young graduates to hang up their own shingle without any business accumen or training. Practice for the people! Redefine what law means in the United States! Your children and your children's children will rise up and call you blessed.

There is ONE reason you should let this vision influence your thoughts about practicing law.

It softens the hard edges. Let me say that again:


A law practice, or any entrepreneurial venture, has a lot of hard edges: clients don't pay on time if at all, it's touch to keep a consistent pipeline of clients coming through the door, and you may feel the incredible burden of losing more fights than you win.

But you also have an incredible chance to leave the lives of the people around you better, whether it's your family, your clients, or the people you meet while you're trying to hawk your wares.

So this Monday, two weeks into a jobless summer, or even two weeks into your dream job, take ownership of your decision to become a lawyer. Take ownership of your decision to be an entrepreneur. Get the help you need to make it happen. Or as Lessing says:

… as you begin your career as a lawyer, as you begin to dig yourself out of the financial hole that you are in, as you enter a field too many think is just corrupt, don't think just about your families and the pride they can't hide today.

Leave it better, lawyers, than we lawyers who have educated you have given it to you. Leave it in a place that your mother and your daughter, your father and your son, can respect. Not corrupt, but true. Not just rich, but just.

Is there any other reason to be a lawyer?

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