Perhaps you’ve heard the replays of the speech Apple’s
former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away too soon, gave to
Stanford University’s commencement class of 2005.
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't
lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me
going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what
you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you
believe is great work. And the only way to do great work
is to love what you do. Don't settle. As with all matters
of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any
great relationshipship, it just gets better and better as
the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it."
While this speech was written and given before the recession
of 2008, his words have meaning for those still finding their professional footing and following their intended path.
Jobs implored the graduates,
“You’ve got to find what you love …
keep looking until you find it.”
You may say that his pre-2008 words don’t apply to post-2008 times. You may be partially correct. For attorneys with this mindset, that they should land somewhere, anywhere, I might offer some additional thoughts.
First, it’s not such a bad idea to view your career development in stages. For example, if you want to practice real estate law, a practice area that surely is not practical right now, it may be possible for you to accept a position in litigation where you might be able to litigate real estate matters. If you work with a general practitioner, it may be entirely possible that some real estate matters may surface in due time.
I call this “making your own luck.” These situations do not simply fall in your lap; you make them happen.
Second, while you are practicing litigation, it should be entirely possible for you to attend bar association meetings of real estate groups. This way, you are educating yourself and meeting practitioners who do what you want to do. You may meet real estate lawyers who have conflicts in real estate matters and want to pass clients on to you. In this way, you can get 4 for the price of 1: you become educated in an area of law you enjoy; you get hooked up with lawyers who practice in that area; you may get your own real estate business; and perhaps, you may get the opportunity to recharge a practice area in your firm or create a new one.
Again, making your own luck while finding and doing what
In this same way, while practicing litigation, you may want to accept a matter pro bono under the auspices of a Chicago legal services organization. Most nonprofit legal service providers also offer training and malpractice coverage for new attorneys. In addition, most will set up mentoring relationships with more senior attorneys. You receive tremendous benefit again, experience, training, mentorship - making your own luck.
Overall, it is helpful to view your career goals in terms of chapters in your life. If you talk to practicing attorneys, most
have not stayed at the same firm or company from day one.
The majority has practiced law in many capacities and
worked in law-related fields over time.
So listen to the words of Steve Jobs. Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t forget the reasons why you went to law school. You can have what you want. You can remain true to yourself. It may not all happen next week.
Despite the critics, think the way that Steve Jobs did. Like the creation of desktop computers, the iPad or the iPhone, finding what you love may just be possible.