11/9/17

Things I would tell my younger lawyer self

Advice to new lawyers by @Lihsa

Dream big

“When you shoot for the stars, you will land on the moon.” My grandfather taught me this. He was a high school principal who talked me out of teaching.

Instead, I listed my dreams and turned them into goals. One of them was to be a writer. And look at me now. I won’t win a Pulitzer but I’m grateful for what this blog has given me: friends and a voice.

Things I would tell my younger lawyer self - Lihsa - 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

Save your money

Even if you owe money. Which frequently happens with most people who went to law school. Financial aid, law school loans and credit cards will distract you. But the bottom line: keep what is yours. It will be the only money that you truly own.

Creditors, bankers and loan officers all own a percentage of your paycheck. Then you’ll voluntarily give your money to the government, grocers, restaurateurs, hair stylists, tailors and nail technicians. So be good to yourself and keep some of your money for yourself. Save up for one of your dreams.

One of mine was to go to Paris. After law school, I had saved up enough money to pay for my first Paris trip in cash.

What’s your dream? Start saving now. Save up for your first house, your own law firm, your invention, your sabbatical. What ever your big goal is; start saving for it.

And, yes, I’ll boringly tell you, save for your retirement. Heck, you could be one of the lucky ones that can retire at 40.

Insure your stuff

Even if you are a renter, insure your home. When I was in my 20s, I stupidly did not. Then the guy next door burnt down his apartment and mine along with it. I lost everything. Insurance would not have replaced everything but it would have certainly helped.

Now I make quarterly calls to my agent. He suggests insuring not only art and jewelry, but also valuable textiles and leather goods. This may require extra riders, but it is worth it.

If someone breaks into your car and these items are stolen, the rider will cover the loss (and not your car insurance). Again, I learned this the hard way when my favorite leather bag got stolen from my car.

Along with insurance, I take photos of everything and load them up to a cloud-based service, like Google Photos, PhotoBucket or DropBox that I can access from anywhere. This could be a life-saver during unforeseen emergencies and disasters.

Things I would tell my younger lawyer self - Lihsa - 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

Document, document, document

My mom taught me to document my work. A workingwoman herself, she taught me to document my transactions, communications and accomplishments.

When I talk to customer service reps, I keep notes. I used to keep paper files, but now I keep notes in a cloud-based web service, that are accessible anywhere. There are a couple of options: Google Drive, EverNote or DropBox.

At work, I keep a weekly status report on my projects to record progress and accomplishments. A 15-minute report, it demonstrates my worth and value and reminds me why I love what I do.

Don’t fall back on time records, analytics and social media metrics: these don’t often cover the nuances of meetings, planning sessions and relationship building. The 15-minute effort helps me to not only see my progress but also plan for the future.

Know when to walk away

Now this is a real “mom moment” from me to you. Most of you may know this but a few of you may not.

You don’t work for free. If someone employs you to do a job, your employer has agreed to pay you for the time you work on the job.

Many moons ago, before I went to law school, I worked for a business owner who started having financial troubles. One week, he couldn’t pay me. I stupidly stayed to “help him out.” The next week, when he did it again, I finally told an older, wiser friend. She firmly instructed me to walk out. When I told the owner I couldn’t stay if he wouldn’t pay, he yelled as I was walking out that I “wasn’t a team player.”

I kept walking. That’s when I learned my worth.

No regrets

I’ve been working since I was 16 and have had all sorts of jobs: a salesperson, an accounting analyst, a teacher, a reporter, a business owner, a computer trainer, a graphic designer and a lawyer. All of these jobs have been building up to what I do today.

In college, I got a degree English Literature, minoring in art history. Along the way to that degree, I studied economics, accounting, business, architecture, library science and computer science. I remember one interviewer who told me that mine was a waste of a degree. I disagree.

Because today, I can write a post, design its layout and perform a statistical analysis of its performance. Then tweak it for next time.

Heck, when I went to college, there was no road map to here. I had to forge my own way. Up hill. And through the snow. 😀

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