Make Your Own Way

How did you find your way into your field?

Not necessarily a plan.  Be ready to take an opportunity when it comes.  I am a sole practitioner with a law practice in a small town.  This was not what I saw in my future when I was graduating from Stanford or from law school.  I had summer jobs at large firms in different big cities, and went to a large firm in San Francisco after graduating.  After three years I left and went to a small firm (for personal reasons–I got married).  I had a mentor who helped me develop my own practice within that small firm, and things happened, he retired, there I was on my own.  It was a bit scary to be on my own–no one was paying me to practice and no one was there to handle all the other things –hiring an assistant, signing a lease, receivables, payables, too many things to list that had nothing to do with practicing law.

Being on my own gives me a lot of flexibility that I love.  It also means I need to be in contact.  I don’t have anyone to handle my clients if I am gone for too long.  On vacation or just on days I’m off, I can be in contact with computer, phone, etc. and I need to be–or at least I still perceive that I need to be most of the time.

I like what I do.  I work part time now.  I have had time for my family and activities I love–still never enough time for everything. It is often hard, I am busy.

Any words of wisdom to share? 

Though I feel I am from a different era, and looking to retire in a few years, here are a couple more thoughts that are timeless:  

There’s a good chance you won’t get something if you don’t ask.  Ask for what you want, and make your own way.  You might get a lot of “no’s” but you will get the one or two yesses that you want and that make the difference.  

I see how things are different with my son who graduated from college a couple years ago and is working.  He moved to second job after six months, was there three months and made a decision that it wasn’t working out.  I remember thinking I had to be in my first job three years before leaving.  I knew I had a lot to learn.  It made sense when I moved on to be able to say I worked for three years at this large firm.  It gave me credibility.  I tell my son this–not sure how much he listens!