Congratulations, you passed the bar exam. If you’re like the rest of recent law graduates, the last three to four years have been an intense whirlwind with studying, sleepless nights, and a level of stress you didn’t think was possible. The National Conference of Bar Examiners reports that over 73,000 people took the bar exam in 2014. To pass the bar exam is successful, a definite achievement for thousands of people every year. So, what’s next for you?
Entering the Real World as a Lawyer
Up until this point, passing the bar exam may have been your only major goal. Finally, you are a lawyer, let this sink in a bit and now that you are a lawyer, you can put all of your hard work to use and apply it to the real world.
However, one of the biggest challenges that new lawyers face is how to apply their extensive knowledge to real world situations. It’s overwhelming and exciting to think that you, as a lawyer, can better the lives of people with a variety of legal needs. Before you stress out trying to make the “right” decision, consider a few things.
Remember Your Passion
The American Bar Association reminds young people, who may consider law, that as a lawyer “you will stand up for people who cannot stand up for themselves.” When you decided you wanted to become a lawyer, was there a particular catalyst for that decision? Just because you are a lawyer doesn’t mean you need to represent every issue and everyone.
Many lawyers find the most success and happiness in specializing their practice. Some lawyers are passionate about exclusively defending children while others prefer to solely defend the rights of senior citizens. As with most lessons in life, follow your passion.
Choose the Right Working Environment
While specializing your practice area is an integral step, it’s equally important that you choose a suitable and successful working environment. If you are driven by the idea of a working for big corporations or even at a governmental level, you might not be satisfied representing individuals.
On the other hand, if you have a passion for non-profit issues, you may not have any desire to represent or defend large corporations or businesses. Choosing the right environment will make you a more effective lawyer.
Don’t Forget Patience
Since passing your bar exam, you probably can’t wait to walk into a courtroom, face a judge and jury, give an impassioned speech (in the same vein as Atticus Finch) and save the day. However, it’s important to be patient. Your highest aspirations as a lawyer will not happen overnight. You will need to log in a lot of practice before you can get to where you want to be. If it means taking a job that might not pay all the bills right away, but could help your practice, consider it.
Be the Lawyer You Want to Be
If you want to make it as a lawyer, you need to be the type of lawyer you want to be. That means that if you want to be viewed as hard working, respectable, and compassionate, you need to embody all of those qualities. Don’t pretend to be, be those things. Make connections, make yourself available, be likeable, be respected.
Becoming a lawyer can be a long and arduous road, but if you are willing to take the time, you will succeed. You already passed a part of a difficult journey, a few more years shouldn’t slow you down.