May 23rd was my one year law school graduation anniversary. So much has happened in a year. As the cliché goes, it feels like forever ago and it also feels like yesterday at the same time.
I learned a lot about myself (and, frankly, not much about practicing law) during law school, but I learned even more during my first year out of school.
In this post, I want to share three things I learned in the year after graduating law school as I started the process of launching my solo firm, Think Pink Law. I learned more than three things hopefully obviously , but these are pretty fundamental in my experience. These are the types of things that I think must be remembered on a daily basis, when working toward any goal in any industry.
- Law school does not teach you how to practice law. I know this has been said before, but I didn’t believe it until I had a client and I kind of remembered the law but I had no idea what to do with him. Was I supposed to, like, file something? Luckily I had collected some mentors (which I talk about here in my last post at Law Technology Today) and they were kind enough to teach me tons. I swear I learned more about the law in one week of scrambling to figure out the process of filing a divorce than I did in all four years of law school. I have also heard from friends who are non-lawyer professionals that you really don’t know anything until you start working “in the field”, in your field. Be prepared to realize very quickly that nothing comes close to learning while being hands on, in any career.
- You need be flexible. Have plans A-D…and even a plan E for good measure. When I decided to start my own firm, Think Pink Law, I had no idea how to start a business. But I figured it out. Trust me, there were times (such when I was trying to register my firm as a business with a “trade name” as required by law in Massachusetts) where it seemed like all I was doing was hitting walls. Law school hardly focuses on teaching you the proper steps on how to start your own firm, and forget about marketing. But when plan A didn’t work, I tried B. When that didn’t work, I tried C. And I think for me it was plan D that actually started to show some traction. I was pretty stressed in between, but I pushed forward. And I am still learning the nuances of being a business owner (which 98% of the time is the most amazing thing I could have hoped for).
- Don’t give up on something you want. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I was supposed to work for a small firm after I was licensed. After the bar, when I was ready to business brainstorm with the firm, they said they didn’t need me. We are still on great terms now, but in that moment, I was defeated and I had no idea what to do. Then I decided to start Think Pink Law. Great. Fine. Not only was I trying to figure out how to actually start a law practice but I had to convince myself that it was even possible. Most people said it couldn’t be done, that I was unlikely to succeed, asked if I was crazy, and frankly just didn’t believe in (or see) my vision. This includes my mom (sorry mom, I love you, but remember when you said you weren’t so sure about this whole ‘pink’ thing?). One month after I launched, I almost quit. I was scared I would fail. I was scared I would end up broke and homeless (seriously). I felt alone. Then a friend of mine asked me a simple question that changed everything: is this what you want to do? And then I realized that I would do anything and everything to build what had become my dream. I already knew that when I worked hard, things happened. So, based only on that, I joined every referral service and listserv I could afford (some are free), continued to network the hell out of myself and build new relationships and expand on existing relationships. I worked seven days a week just marketing myself. Four months after launch, I was invited to speak on a panel as a “Success Story.”
It doesn’t end there, obviously – it was just the beginning. I was, piece by piece, doing the impossible. And I still am-I do the impossible every day.
Featured image: “Make it possible. Motivational concept.” from Shutterstock.