The Legal Profession Felt Too Narrow for Me

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I love Mondays, but today somehow feels like it’s got extra power behind it.

I love Mondays because they are the start of a new week. Today’s new week also happens to be the start of a new month (hello, Fall!) and a new quarter. All this newness gives me a sense of possibility, and I can’t wait to continue to work on the vision I’ve set for myself.

But, there have been some days when the vision isn’t clear. When I was first practicing law, these days were way more frequent. I actually really liked law school. I enjoyed the classes, I made great friends, and I felt really focused waking up each day knowing what was ahead of me. The path ahead was straight -- but very narrow.

I went to law school because I wanted to do something unconventional with my degree. I thought a JD would boost my skills and capability to help those around me, but I never really saw myself practicing law. I had always heard that a JD was a safe bet -- that if I was smart enough and worked hard enough, I could use my law degree to do anything. Imagine my surprise when I started law school and that message went straight out the window.

In law school, we are taught one definition of success: get great grades, write on a journal, clerk for a judge, work at a firm. Since I always knew I wanted an unconventional law experience, I kept looking around for permission to do something different. Everywhere I looked, the message was the same -- you could decide not to go the way of big law, but if you want to work in public service, it’s going to be years of hard work for very little pay. And forget about leveraging your degree to build something on your own -- it’s too risky, and you owe too much in student loans to go out on a limb.

What if it was possible to write our own definitions of success? What would it feel like to reject the stories that say we can’t? What if “practicing law” meant exactly what each of us chooses to do with our law degrees, not some rigid definition based on someone else’s version of success? What if we could use our JDs without worrying about the way they “should” be used?

Unlock your JD. You worked hard (like, ridiculously hard) to gain the skills, experiences, and expertise you have today. If you have been waiting for permission, here it is: go for it. If you are tired of working too hard for too many hours with clients you don’t love doing work that doesn’t create the impact you want -- think bigger. The path doesn’t have to be so narrow.

If you dreamed as big as you could, what is the vision you want to start building this Monday morning?

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Megan Wakefield

Juris Diction, LLC, Atlanta, GA