Last week I had my last corporations class, my last administrative law class, and the last day of my externship. At the end of each of my classes – like in years past – the professor took a moment to impart a little advice. Some of the advice was specific to law school exams but much of it was general career advice: things they wish they had known, things that we should keep in mind as we strive to find the job/specialty that is right for us, and some comments about the legal job market.
Though some of the advice is frustrating (“law school exams don’t reflect what you need to know to be a good lawyer” – thanks a lot), I appreciate these brief insights from professors. I’m sure they say similar things to their classes every year, but I believe it is genuine each time. They truly do want us to succeed and are happy to send us to the next phase of our education/career with a few gems of advice.
During the last day of my externship, my supervisors took me out to lunch. As the lunch ended, more welcome advice: how to best position yourself at a law firm, a comparison of different types of jobs they have held within the legal field, and wise words about the reality of being a female litigator (and about being a mom and a litigator).
I pay close attention when these words are spoken, and truly appreciate them. But then it’s off to the next thing – taking the T back to campus, or settling down in the library to finish my outline, and the advice is only as good as my memory. Will I remember my supervisor’s recommendations about which government agencies are the best to work for if, someday in the future, I want to apply to work at a government agency?
So, from now on, I’m going to take a moment to write down any pieces of advice that really resonate with me. And if I could go back in time, I’d start this project at the beginning of law school. Whether it’s school-specific or about your broader legal career, there will be many people – professors, supervisors, mentors, older students – who offer excellent tidbits of information. You will recognize it and try to commit it to memory in the moment, but if you have the foresight to jot it down you’ll soon build up a resource to turn to when you’re gearing up for the next semester or next career move.