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by Vault Law Editors | January 22, 2010


As even the world outside law is coming to realize (cf: ABC execs), a JD is no longer a golden ticket to “a life of comfort, security and social esteem.” Industry insiders question “whether the degree is a wise investment for many of the thousands who flock to law schools each year” and worry about the “uptick in lawyer depression” and suicide, “as lawyers lose jobs and sense of entitlement” and “become more isolated from their peers.”

For those who remain committed to pursuing a legal career, however, what follows are some words of wisdom to help guide would-be lawyers and law firm associates on the road to success:

1.    Don’t be lazy. “Approach research assignments with a true sense of ownership,” imagining every document you produce is the final product.

2.    “Always tell the truth” — whether to your boss, a client or the court, as “there is no greater sin than hiding a mistake.” Especially since it will likely come out eventually, anyway.

3.    When you do make a mistake, learn from it. Inevitably, “you are going to screw up,” but if you “figure out why you made the mistake,” you can avoid repeating it. Or so one hopes.

4.    BigLaw is a “dog-eat-dog” world, so earn your keep and don’t expect any pats on the head. In this environment, “hunger, good values and a ferocious work ethic” are more valuable than self-esteem, according to one BigLaw partner, who contends that over-loved, “pampered” children are likely to grow into underwhelming, “not-so-promising associates.” The message: turn your crappy childhood to your advantage.

5.    Notwithstanding the “competitive” nature of the law, “there’s just no reason to be a jerk, and there are lots of reasons to be nice” — at least to those in a position to “make your life either misery or a pleasure.”

6.    Finally, there are no shortcuts to success: “Much of practicing law, especially in the early years is dreary, putting one foot in front of the other, working long hours and learning your craft.” In other words, “A legal career is a marathon, not a race.”

Lawyer trains for success

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

- posted by vera


Filed Under: Law
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