Remember that Your Career Path Is Long
The best advice I received as a young lawyer was that I should view my legal career as a marathon, not a sprint. I didn’t appreciate how true this was at first because I thought that it was simply advice to not work too many hours to avoid being burned out. And, of course, that matters. Finding my own work-life balance was certainly part of it, but now I realize that the analogy of the marathon applies to so much more than just the pace of your work. It also means that you have to look at the entire, long path in front of you and realize that it is not all going to be straight, nor is it going to be the same. I learned that I need to be patient and to develop foundational skills at the beginning so that I could be prepared for twists and turns along the path. And that what was successful for me in the beginning of my career might not always work for me.
Accepting that fact and being open to change has made all of the difference. For example, in 2011, I saw an opportunity in a burgeoning field (food false-advertising litigation) and decided to completely re-invent my legal practice (from being an entertainment lawyer). It was scary essentially starting over and whether this practice area would be a growth area—and whether I would be successful in it—was completely uncertain. But recognizing that even if it wasn’t, there would be other opportunities for me gave me the courage to take a chance.
If I hadn’t taken that chance, I would not have ended up at Mayer Brown LLP, working with people I love. And I would not be doing the challenging and intellectually stimulating work that makes me excited to get out of bed every morning and get to work.
The other piece of this advice that has served me well is that relationship building is the key to success, because your past is always with you. The connections that I made through past work, including those who were on the other side during litigation, have proved invaluable over time. It really is a small world and your reputation and how you treat others matters. I benefit in small and large ways every day by remembering that.