Our legal mavericks featured throughout this issue share the advice they wish they had known when they were starting out:
Jay Bilas: In my first year, I was a little bit intimidated by everything. I’d never really gone through anything quite like that before. I remember feeling like I didn’t know if it was the right place for me. My dad said to me, “You don’t get a prize for knowing it at first; you get a diploma for knowing it at the end.” And that calmed me down. Your first year seems difficult, as does law practice, at first. But just keep plugging along and you will figure it out.
Danielle Carr: Know you are not alone, not the only one trying to fit in, not the only one navigating an unfamiliar system. Most, if not all, of the people you look up in the profession have been there too, so reach out to them because they are there to help you and, more importantly, want to help. Never, ever feel like you have to go it on your own. If you never find your groove and decide practicing law is not for you, don’t stick around out of fear of being deemed a failure or just for the money. You will find so much more satisfaction doing something that makes you happy. Advice I received years ago that I hold true to this day is to find a job where you enjoy it so much that you would do it for free.
Stasia Kelly: Be true to yourself and be open to taking risks. So many people stay in same job for 40 years because they are afraid of getting out and taking a risk. If you take a risk in your career and it doesn’t work out, it’s fixable. You’ll learn from your mistake and then be better off next time. So, listen for opportunities, take the risk and that will open doors for you.
Tuvi Keinan: Be bold and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion and don’t be afraid to experience because it’s the experiences that ultimately shape your career. If you shy away from challenges, if you shy away from experiencing, if you only stick with what you’re comfortable with, then you will only progress to a certain degree.
Jackie Kim Park: Raise your hand. When I was a young associate, I had a great secretary who told me, “You don’t GET if you don’t ASK.” People don’t know you want certain things unless you tell them. You have to be proactive about letting people know what you want, and then see what comes in. It’s not going to happen if you just wait for people to knock on your door.
Sara Moss: My advice to any lawyer or professional is to find what you love and work hard at it. To be successful, your work needs to be fueled by passion. It is never too late to find what you love. Also, find a community to support you. It will add great joy to your work and to your life.
Mary O’carroll: If you want to succeed, don’t wait for that change. Be the change. Lead, ask questions, be curious, challenge the status quo. Take risks and try things in different ways, and learn from your mistakes.
William O’Neill: The greatest asset you have in the business world is your collection of authentic, meaningful personal relationships. Life is a team sport. Law school teaches you to focus on individual accolades (great grades), but to succeed as a practitioner, you have to both be pulled forward by great leaders and mentors and then repay that debt by reaching back and pulling up the next generation behind you. Great law firms are built on a culture of stewardship. To some degree, success requires adopting a mindset of selflessness—if you wake up each day and consider how you can help others in your personal and professional network, I believe you will find yourself not only more fulfilled, but also more successful.