Sunday, May 20, 2012
More specifically, these are questions for brand new law grads from the always helpful Lawyerist blog. The author Jeff Cohen advises that answering these questions with absolute candor is often not easy but it's key to starting off your career in the right direction.
For me, the first question is definitely the most important and, disappointingly, it's the one asked too infrequently by students before enrolling in law school. I'll add to it a bit of ancillary advice which is that although figuring out what you want to do with your life is incredibly hard, once you answer that question, making a plan to get you there is actually pretty easy.
1. What do I want?
This question is deceptively simple, but can be remarkably complex and difficult to answer. Lawyers are often over achievers who have had to succeed in high school and in College and on the LSAT and in Law School and on the Bar, a seemingly never ending chain of pleasing teachers and test makers and parents. This path is difficult, but usually fairly linear. Knowing what makes other people happy is extremely useful and oftentimes sufficient to get us all the way to that first coveted legal job post passing the Bar. But, for most people, once you join the workforce the world becomes anything but linear. You face unlimited choices, opportunities, responsibilities and risk. Without the self knowledge of what motivates and excites you fundamentally as a human being, how can you know what goal you are striving for?
Bill Cosby famously said: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Ask yourself “What do I want?” Not what pleases your parents or significant other or peers or professors, but what makes you happy and brings meaning to your life.
2. What is the best use of my time now?
3. Do I want to be “right” or do I want to be correct?