In light of all our new members of the bar, here's a long, meandering thread about mentoring, and why it's never too late to change your direction: #lawtwitter #lawjobs #mentoring #babylawyers 1/
My first law job was at a boutique international tax compliance firm in DC, in 2007. It was a lot of document review. Then, the recession happened and everyone lost their jobs overnight (sidenote: it really did feel like this happened). 2/
By the end of 2008, I had moved all my stuff and my two cats to Austin, Texas to be the sole associate in a small “door-law” firm run by a lobbyist and a former law school classmate.
“Door law” is “we take whatever comes in the door”. 4/
I felt like I was reinventing myself with every case. We got a lot of stuff because of the lobbyist partner, and some was outright unwinnable, but we always gave it our absolute best . Immigration, administrative law matters, contract disputes, probate, you name it. 5/
I caught the very beginning of cyber-defamation law and got a huge Plainitiff’s verdict (later JNOV’d), and then was pretty much put out of business by the TCPA. 6/
Sidenote: it’s really depressing to have to tell potential clients over and over again that you agree something really bad happened to them and then also tell them that the law has no remedy for them. 7/
We ended up styling ourselves as a constitutional law firm and became one of the only firms in Texas that did that work (why one of the only? Because the 5th Circuit is brutal for 1983 claims, full stop.) 8/
As a way to make a little extra money, I started taking indigent criminal defense appointments in a nearby county. I was only 5 years into practice at this point, but it felt embarrassing to me to not know what I was doing. I wasn’t a baby lawyer anymore! 9/
So I would sit and watch, and tried to learn by osmosis. I eventually met enough people by just being in the courtroom that I could ask really dumb questions about basic filings, motions, etc. 10/
One day, a new woman appeared among the familiar defense attorney contingent at the bar looking for appointments from this judge. She was older and seemed to know basic things about lawyering, but also it became clear that she didn’t know anything about criminal defense. 11/
Later, I found out she was an employment lawyer who had been recently laid off, and was trying to reinvent herself. She’d been practicing for 15 years and wanted to just start fresh. 12/
I didn’t even know you could do that! She impressed the heck out of me, because she had the confidence to just *ask* if she didn’t know how to do something. I had been coming to court every Friday for months, trying to figure things out without looking like an idiot. 13/
She knew something I didn’t know then – people will always know more than you do about different areas of the law. None of us are supposed to be experts in everything. 14/
It’s not embarrassing to ask questions about even the simplest of things because no one woke up one day shortly after graduating from law school and decided to be a…I don’t know, famous appellate attorney, and then everything just magically clicked into place. 15/
If your industry has been hit hard, or if you legitimately hate the area of law you ended up in, it is never too late to change your focus or practice area. Just don’t be shy about reaching out for help. Many of us will be happy to talk to you, answer questions, etc. 16/
Get over your own fears, and you’ll find the world is far more welcoming than you could ever imagine. And those who aren’t welcoming…don’t let it get to you. Just move on and ask the next person. 17/
And remember the people who helped you up, and remember to extend your hand behind you whenever asked. /end

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