Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.” My boss’s words hung in the air like a cartoon thought bubble. Suddenly, I was awash in a sea of confusion and HR paperwork. I had officially joined the ranks of the unemployed, yet highly employable, Chicago attorney population.
If you’re anything like me, and I know that many of you are, you had to start over. Sure, I wasn’t thrilled about being let go, but I was working for a struggling non-profit organization so I saw the handwriting on the wall. I’m sure that many of you saw it, or see it, as well. No matter what, you’re never quite prepared to be let go.
In this blog, I will share with you my journey and my advice for important steps you can take as you embark on your own journey. From networking to job searching to starting your own practice, if that is something you are interested in, you will grow leaps and bounds with each step. I have experienced so many things within the past year and, while I may not always feel like bursting into song, I do feel that each day I learn something important about myself.
The thing you can always remind yourself is that you’re not alone. If you have to write that on a piece of poster board and stick it to your wall to believe it, do it. Many others are experiencing what you are right now. You can dwell on the fact that you are one of many talented lawyers out of work, and that increased competition lessens your chances of finding employment, but I would suggest that you don’t. Don’t think of yourself as one of many fish in the sea. Instead, picture yourself as one of many puzzle pieces in a box.
If you think of the legal market as a huge puzzle, and yourself as a piece of that puzzle, you will see that there is a place where you fit. A fish zips around in the sea with no real direction; a puzzle piece has a fixed place on a map. Without one piece, the puzzle is incomplete. No two lawyers are identical, and the experiences that you’ve had might fit perfectly with an employer in a way that another attorney’s wouldn’t.
My first suggestion for you is to take some time to really think about how your puzzle piece is designed, and where it fits into the whole puzzle, the legal market. We each have qualities that make us marketable, the challenge lies in articulating yours. My puzzle piece is made up of bright colors, because I am an extremely outgoing person. I am a very approachable person, and I have a great deal of client contact in my practice, so the edges of my puzzle piece are rather smooth. You may think puzzle pieces sound silly, but determining what type of person you are is extremely important. It will help you narrow down your search and lead you to people who can help you on your journey.