As another year concludes, a bit of reflection can be in order. For me, there is much to reflect on after completing one year of work as a new lawyer at a busy law firm. Amid the end-of-year deal closings, trademark applications, and other adventures in the practice of law, I wanted to close out the final entry of the OG+S blog for 2022 with a few lessons I learned from this year of work—forged from a mix of successes and hard-earned moments for growth.
The first lesson probably applies widely, but I found it especially true for a new lawyer: be where you are. Starting any new job can be overwhelming, particularly in an intense professional field. I knew practicing the law would not be easy, but I had more ahead of me than I had any idea. In the field of legal work, it can take time to achieve goals and feel confident; experienced lawyers sometimes even look back and remember that this process took them years, and in some ways is still ongoing. In facing that challenge this year, it helped me to lean into humility and self-compassion, realizing that it is important to embrace where you are—what you know, what you don’t, where you made mistakes, how you can grow. Having more to learn doesn’t make a person incompetent, it makes them human. We can only be where we are.
Another lesson: never stop learning. A natural sense of curiosity is a large part of why I pursued law in the first place, but after all those years of school culminating in a law degree, I began to wonder what else there might be left to learn. The answer? There is always a TON to learn. The desire to keep learning more helps keep you abreast of changing information (which is key for legal practice for obvious reasons), helps open new doors for growth, and shows clients that you are eager to advocate for them by keeping sharp.
And, finally: stay open. As I mentioned earlier, starting a new job can be difficult, and it is natural to let that create fear in your daily work. However, fear can close you off and prevent you from valuable learning. I am reminded often that there is more potential for growth in uncomfortable situations than in easy ones. Admittedly, I am always working on this, and some days are better than others. However, I try to remember that when I embrace rather than shy away from the vast expanse of new information and potential for new possibilities, however new or scary, the work really begins.
These lessons may be cliché, but I am sharing my experiences in the hopes that some readers (whether you are in the legal field or a different one) may relate—perhaps, some might even be spurred to some reflection of their own and look to 2023 with fresh eyes and renewed resolve. Happy (almost) New Year to all!