Friday, June 24, 2011

Whatever It Takes

 Never, never, never, 
never give up.

- Winston Churchill

So I've got a friend who's going through a tough time with her job right now. I probably get a call from her at least two times a week in which I listen as she rants and I try to lend support. I feel for her because she is in a bit of a crappy situation. And I also try to give advice without being too preachy or know-it-all. Lawyers are prone to that, unfortunately. Plus, she's my friend and I want her to be happy.

I left a comfortable (monetarily, at least) position in a big law firm back in 2008. Prior to making the decision, I hated my job for a long time and just stuck it out because we have a mortgage and a child and obligations and because I thought that's just what you do. But for about the last six months of that job, the partner I worked for became a mean(er) and petty(ier) a-hole and since he was the main partner I worked for, and I looked around and realized most of the other partners were, in many cases, just as self-centered, mean, and petty, I began making plans to change my situation. (Note - I also began to realize that making "partner" in such an environment was like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize for winning was, you got it, more pie.)

For me, that was the key - making a plan.

No doubt about it - it absolutely helps that I am in a two-income family and have the support of my partner to be exactly who I am (warts and all, and man there are warts) but I just want to say when I finally made up my mind to make the change, I did my homework. Maybe it helped that I had worked for nearly a decade for a big firm. Maybe it helped that I enjoy working with people and realize the importance of relationships. Maybe I am just a luckbox at life. Either way, what I tell my friend is what I truly believe: we have the power to do whatever it is we want in life if we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

Whatever it takes can mean a lot of things (and does to different people). In my case, it means preparing and planning. I didn't know what would happen once I opened the doors to my own solo practice, but I did know that to draw a paycheck I would need clients. No matter your business, if you have paying clients, and you take care of those clients, you have a going concern. If you have a going concern, you don't need to be afraid to leave the comfort of a paycheck and the supervision of another to "make it."

It helps if you can define what "making it" means to you. And if you plan to the best of your ability and work to the best of your ability and continue to plan and work and grow to the best of your ability, you will succeed.  And you can do it (if I can, anyone can), just don't ever give up. Along the way, you may have to re-tool and that may even mean taking a job somewhere else as you do that, but if you truly have a goal and you believe in it and really want it, there are so many ways to get there.  Just don't give up. anyone out there struggling in a job they hate or in a situation they're finding unbearable, hang in there. Don't give up.

What does success mean to you? There are so many good and decent definitions and the great thing about it is that it can change as we grow. 

Life is short, people.  Enjoy it while you got it. Every day's not going to be glorious double rainbows and unicorns, but no matter how dark the moment, the day, the month or the year(s), it doesn't define you.  Unless you let it.  Don't let it.

I swear some day I am going to write a depressing post with a bunch of curse words in it. Today, however, is not that day. poker.  Guess this one's for you, Mom. xoxoxo


  1. Love the optimism!! and Great blog! :)

  2. When I worked for BigLaw I always used to say that people suffered through to partnership because of a failure of imagination. Back then it was probably just associate bitterness and bluster, but now that I have the life experience to back it up, I still believe that it's mostly true.

    Our choices are not exactly limitless -- we are constrained sometimes by life circumstances and ability. But we always have way more choices than we think, if we take the time to dream outside of our self-imposed little boxes.

  3. Like Bob the Builder..."YES YOU CAN". You are successful because of your optimism and hard work. But why couldn't you get a really good case like against Casey Anthony or somebody in some big trouble?? Then you could be on tv and would get really famous....if you won....and did a good job. Love, Mom xoxo

  4. Larry - my mom gave me some grief for posting mean things about my former firm, and I really don't want to be critical, but I mean, sheesh, there's definitely a reason lawyers have such reputations. Part of it's the dynamics of the work and the stress and the pressure from clients, including the internal pressure to bill hours. Maybe that's it, period, and there is no other "part" to it...that if you stay in such an environment long enough, to survive, you have to become that way. I don't know. I just know I did not want to find out.

    I like your saying, though, and I think the longer I'm out of it, the easier it is to see the truth of the statement.

    I do agree with you that there are limits, sometimes driven by things outside our control. When facing such obstacles, though, and as you point out, sometimes you've got to change the way you're facing them, think differently, and new ideas/avenues/options become available...or at least more apparent. That's why one of my favorite sayings is: "So oftentimes it happens, that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key." Which is a lyric from one of my favorite Eagles songs.

    I always appreciate your viewpoints. =)

    Mom - I don't want to be that kind of lawyer...too much work. ;-) Love you! xoxoxoxo

  5. When I worked for a big law firm I always felt that I was trapped in a Thoreau loop, stuck in this endless loop of "quiet desperation." Existentially it was a proudly soulless environment where from my perspective, winning often meant everyone lost.

    As to speaking negatively of your experiences, I have come to think that speaking and living the truth is all you really have at some point. The world can never get any better if everyone pretends that it is really not ailing.


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