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Things to Learn Before Successfully Entering the Work World

When Dr. Suess penned the beloved children’s book “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” he probably didn’t have law school students in mind. None-the-less, you should heed the advice of nearly every high school valedictorian since 1990 (the year Random House published the book) and … read it.

If you do, you’ll remind yourself why you went to law school in the first place: to challenge yourself, for adventure, and to do great things. You’d also remember that there are things in life that will knock you down (law school), but if you can get back up (you can), and regain your enthusiasm and confidence (you will), it is still possible to go on and do great things (it is).

But you have to stay focused. You have to keep an open mind and take risks–even when everything you are taught in law school trains you to protect yourself against risk.

It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s really not … if you remember the lessons from Dr. Suess’s classic book and:

  • Remain enthusiastic. Yes, it’s true that lawyering is serious business. But it’s certainly not as formulaic as your professors would have you believe–especially in today’s hyper-connected, technology-rich world. So keep an open mind. Keep using social media–even if associates at big law firms eschew it. And stay excited and enthusiastic about the practice of law–even if you’re wearing a $4,000 suit. Being excited about what you do can make you better at what you do.
  • Get off the beaten track. There was a time when law schools were hyper-focused on getting their graduates into big law firms. Not anymore. Today, the jobs–and the real opportunity to make money on your own terms–lie in the small and mid-size firms. They are the ones hiring and they are the ones who understand work/life balance. Why? Because clients increasingly want more for less-and big law firms can’t deliver that. Small and mid-sized firms can, and do because they don’t have the overhead–huge monthly rent payments, marketing departments and travel budgets. They focus on what matters: providing top-notch service at a price today’s clients can afford.
  • Embrace tomorrow’s technology today. You know social media and the cloud. You use it and are comfortable with it because you grew up with it. Don’t lose that. Keep the ability to embrace “what’s next.” Because that’s where the next clients will come from. So embrace it sooner rather than later.

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