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.
This past weekend I went wedding dress shopping, and I totally approached it like a lawyer. I analyzed the heck out of every dress I put on. Some of the dresses were too poofy on the bottom, some weren’t quite right on top and a few of them just were just the wrong color. I think Goldilocks had an easier time deciding whether her porridge was too hot or too cold than I did on my dress. After two trips, and dozens of dresses later, I bought the third dress I had I tried on. The thing is, when I put the dress on for the first time, it just worked. It looked great and I loved it, but I doubted myself and continued to try on other dresses until I came to my senses. The consultant told me I was shopping like a lawyer.
I got to thinking about this, and I realized that I shop like a lawyer because I think like a lawyer. I tend to analyze everything and pose arguments in my head, even during a fun trip to the bridal store. Thinking like a lawyer is a good thing sometimes, and sometimes it’s not. All of us have the ability to trust our guts, but we often silence our gut unless it’s hungry. The first time I put my wedding dress on, I teared up a little. That was my gut saying, that’s the one! I ignored my gut and, instead, went for the knee-jerk reaction of analyzing everything about all of the dresses, even the one I ended up buying. In fact, the consultant told me that I was “pleading the case” for my dress. Yikes, really? There must have been a time before law school when I could just trust my gut.
If you’re like me, you think like a lawyer outside the courtroom too. Often those thoughts come in handy, but sometimes they hinder your ability to trust yourself. This can especially be the case when it comes to job searching. You may interview with a firm that just doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, but you convince yourself to take the job anyway. I recognize that times are tough and sometimes you have to take whatever opportunity comes along, but if it doesn’t feel right why do that? Your left-lawyer-brain may tell you may not apply for a job that sounds great because it doesn’t pay enough money. It may tell you to compromise your morals and work on a matter that doesn’t feel right to you because you need the experience. It can tell you a multitude of things, but don’t discount your gut.
I challenge you to silence your inner lawyer and simply trust yourself. Of course, I recognize that there is a place for lawyerly thinking; I just don’t think it’s the only way of thinking. I’m here to plead the case for your gut. Give it a chance.