Dear Aspiring Attorney,
You are probably sitting in a library somewhere with sweatpants on, sipping Starbucks and feeling super intellectual discussing Constitutional Law. Maybe you are in law school hoping to come out and work for a conservative, billion billable hour a year firm and make 6 figures out of the gate. Or maybe you came to law school to save the world – one nonprofit at time. For most Tennessee lawyers, the reality is far from what you had in mind in law school. Unless you are a generational attorney and watched a parent or close loved one practice in Tennessee, you my sweet 2L with visions of mahogany desks and flashy après work cocktail hours have no idea the surprise you are in for when you smile with your bar card and dive into the legal world in Tennessee.
Reality is most attorneys in Tennessee work for either smaller firms or the government. With that in mind if your goal is to be your own boss one day – i.e., have your own firm, look before you leap. The rewards are obvious: autonomy, control over schedule, unlimited income potential. However, the day-day is suffocating at times. You will spend more time taking calls from potential advertisers wanting your money than you will drafting a killer motion some days – heck, most days. The decision-making, the nuts and bolts of running a business is likely not something you are prepared for. For every cost you anticipated there are 5 that did not even cross your mind. When you are wanting to have an hour or two to get ready for next Tuesday’s hearing there will be a person in your office who needs to know whether to renew the copier lease or what size electronic storage you need. The desire to hide with your laptop in your attic at home will be fierce. Some days you will second guess yourself and wonder how you ended up here – somewhere between lawyer and entrepreneur.
And so, in order to be the attorney that 2L version of yourself envisioned you will spend countless late nights after your kids are in bed in your home office plugging away for clients – doing what you actually went to law school to do, what you actually love. You will give up Sunday nights and early Saturday mornings to get back to your first crush – the law. And the crazy, wonderful thing is that every so often you will get rewarded in ways you could not have dreamed of, not monetarily necessarily but in gratitude from a client, shared camaraderie from an opposing counsel or discovery a nuance that will seal the deal in your next motion hearing. So, to that aspiring attorney- keep pushing, keep working and know the reward is nothing you imagined and yet so much more.
Hopeful at Heart