Law students — try both positioning and letting life happen (part two)

This post speaks to the “let life happen” piece while you continue to cover all your bases and position yourself for maximum opportunities throughout your legal career. This material will be presented in two parts (so a total of three posts on the whole subject).

No matter how rigorous you have planned, life may bring you an opportunity you have not considered. This post will help by providing three questions to ask when considering any opportunity, including ones that may be initially perceived as undesirable or at least not as good as your original plan.

Take the following example. You follow the advice in part one and plan to practice transactional tax at a big law firm. Unfortunately, however, the only opportunities that come your way are positions with the Department of Labor (working on ERISA/tax matters) or with a State tax agency. Should you give up on your dream of working for big law? What questions can you ask to help make a reasonable decision? In general, it will be helpful if you choose a place with pleasant people, where you will have lots of responsibility working on high quality projects (that could translate to another legal employer), and where you have plenty of opportunities to speak, write, and grow as a lawyer.

The Big Three P’s

When analyzing whether to pursue a legal job opportunity, consider asking the following three questions:

  1. What are the people like?
  2. What types of projects will I be working on?
  3. What are the professional development opportunities?

Note the order of this list. As discussed in Making Partner, the people with whom you are working are listed first because they are most likely to influence your current situation, including the quality of the projects you receive, and your future, including professional development opportunities.

More details on the big three P’s in the next post.

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