Steve Jobs: “Don’t lose faith … don’t settle”

Nancy Mackevich Glazer is manager of Legal Launch LLC.  The goal of Legal Launch LLC is to provide uplifting, career counseling for 3Ls, recent law school graduates and experienced attorneys. Nancy offers her clients endless ideas and possibilities to help land them the right job in a competitive market. For more information visit LegalLaunch.net or e-mail Nancy@LegalLaunch.net.

Perhaps you’ve heard the replays of the speech Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs, now deceased, gave to Stanford University’s commencement class of 2005.  He stated:

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

While this speech was written and given before the recession of 2008, his words have meaning for those still finding their professional footing and following their intended path.

Jobs implored the graduates, “You’ve got to find what you love … keep looking until you find it.”

His pre-2008 words, you may say, don’t apply to post-2008 times. You may be partially correct. For attorneys with this mindset, that they should land somewhere, anywhere, I might offer some additional thoughts.

First, it’s not such a bad idea to view your career development in stages. For example, if you want to practice real estate law, a practice area that surely is not practical right now, it may be possible for you to accept a position in litigation where you might be able to litigate real estate matters. If you work with a general practitioner, it may be entirely possible that some real estate matters may surface in due time.

I call this “making your own luck.” These situations do not simply fall in your lap; you can make them happen.

Second, while you are practicing litigation, it should be entirely possible for you to attend bar association meetings of real estate groups. This way, you are educating yourself and meeting practitioners who do what you want to do. You may meet real estate lawyers who have conflicts in real estate matters and want to pass clients on to you. In this way, you can get four for the price of one: you become educated in an area of law you enjoy; you get hooked up with lawyers who practice in that area; you may get your own real estate business; and perhaps, you may get the opportunity to recharge a practice area in your firm or create a new one.

Again, making your own luck while finding and doing what you love.

In this same way, while practicing litigation, you may want to accept a matter pro bono under the auspices of a Chicago legal services organization. Most nonprofit legal service providers also offer training and malpractice coverage for new attorneys. In addition, most will set up mentoring relationships with more senior attorneys. You receive tremendous benefit again, experience, training, mentorship – making your own luck.

Overall, it is helpful to view your career goals in terms of chapters in your life. If you talk to practicing attorneys, most have not stayed at the same firm or company from day one. The majority have practiced law in many capacities and worked in law-related fields over time.

So listen to the words of Steve Jobs. Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t forget the reasons why you went to law school. You can have what you want. You can remain true to yourself. It may not be next week. Despite the critics, think like Steve Jobs. Like the creation of desktop computers, the iPad or the iPhone, finding what you love sure can be possible.

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