Woke up this morning, made coffee, breakfast. Wife heads to work, I finish getting son ready for school. Drop him off and head to the office for a bunch of media stuff (going on a podcast, layout/design work for LawyerSmack, etc).
Sit down at my desk and pull up the back-end of Associate’s Mind. I often take a quick glance at the search queries. It’s a list of things people have typed into search engines to get to the site. The first thing on the list is this:
I get a lot of search queries like that.
- “Not making it as an associate.”
- “Struggling at new law job.”
- “New lawyer failure.”
But this one struck me this morning because it’s so…defeatist. Someone taking the time and action to sit down at their computer and type that into Google because they have no one else to go to. Their only recourse to ask the hive mind of the internet for some answer. Some guidance on what to do.
And they came to me.
A post I wrote three years ago is the top hit for “feel like a shit lawyer:” Young Lawyer: Are You Really A Failure?
If you got into being a lawyer, anything at all in life really, thinking you would never fail, you are delusional. Everyone fails in life to some extent.
Maybe they fail their family. Maybe they fail their friends or their job. It’s a part of life. We’re all going to fall down sometime. Especially if you’re a lawyer.
If you’re a lawyer you’re going to fall down and land on your face Failure is going to be a part of your life. And actually, becoming a good lawyer requires failure. You’ve got to make mistakes. Stumble and fall so you can get back up again.
I was on the Lawyerist podcast awhile ago and we got to talking about managing expectations and handling difficulties in practice. We both agreed that if you are a lawyer you are going to lose. There is no getting around it. At some point in time, you’ll lose on a motion, or at a hearing. You’ll have to explain it to your managing partner or to your client.
If you are going to be a lawyer – You. Are. Going. To. Be. A. Loser.
But that’s okay. So is every other lawyer. We’ve all got to deal with it. What matters is how we deal with it.
Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Company, said:
“Success is 99% failure.”
Failure is the pathway to success. You should actually seek out bad situations and uncomfortable positions in which you might fail. Only by failing can you begin to learn. You need the experience of being beat down in order to know how to fight back.
You can let failure define who you are or you can use it as the foundation for growth.
So whoever typed that in this morning, I hope you come back to the site. I hope you read this.
Whatever it is you’re doing that’s got you feeling like a shit lawyer – know that everyone deals with it. Everyone feels like an imposter sometimes. You’ve just got to get back in the saddle and keep at it again and again.
You might feel like shit today, but on the flipside, sometime in the next couple of weeks I bet you file something great. Or win at a hearing. Or get a great resolution for a client.
Then you can feel like a kickass lawyer.
Aside, part of being able to handle the ups and downs of practice is having a community of peers around you. Guess what? We’ve got one of those.