Keep your eyes on the prize

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.

When I was a law student, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my law license — advocate for people with disabilities.  So, I made sure I always kept that in mind.  As a student, I did everything I could to learn about disability rights law, special education law and any other area of law that encompassed advocating for people with disabilities.   I never stopped making connections and learning the ropes and I’m still going strong to this day.  I have come a long way from that wide-eyed law student, but I owe my success to that persistence.

Being patient is super hard, but it pays off.  When I was a third-year student, I interviewed for a job that would have been perfect for me.  I was so excited about it.  In the end, another qualified attorney beat me out for the position.  I got to know him and kept in touch with him and, wouldn’t you know it, when he decided to move and take a position outside of Chicago, he suggested my name for his replacement.  Sometimes the stars align, but the stars can usually use a little nudging.  If you interview for a job and you don’t get it, don’t get bitter.  Instead, make it a point to keep in touch with people at that firm or organization.  If you are unwilling to compromise your passion, it will be evident.  If you have your heart set on a particular position, don’t give up on it just because someone tells you no.  Of course, be courteous and don’t be overbearing when it comes to keeping in touch.  Instead, give that person little reminders that you are still around and interested.  One tip I really like is to let that person know about timely and relevant news stories or cases that you’ve read to show you are up on the law.

The thing you have to remember is to keep your eye on the prize.  If you want a job in a certain area of law, you need to keep your sights on that goal.  There are enough attorneys in Chicago to lead you there. It’s hard to wait it out sometimes, but I am telling you that it’s often worth it.  Along the way there will be twists in the road, but if you know your ultimate destination, you are sure to get there eventually.

You need to make a valiant effort to strategically place yourself in front of the right people.  Call your law school alumni association and ask them to help you.  Or, ask some attorney friends to help you make a roadmap.  It helps when you chart your path, so draw something out, even if that sounds silly.   I have heard numerous stories about successful people, and one thing always remains a common thread between them:  all of them have a plan.  Some of these people use visualization techniques and pump themselves up by picturing their goals coming to fruition; others write detailed plans so they know when they are hitting key points on their journey.  Whichever way you go, commit to taking active steps toward keeping your ultimate goal in mind.

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