Last month I spoke on a panel sponsored by “The Lawyers in Transition Committee of the New York State Bar Association”. The subject for discussion which was basically “starting a practice.” I was one of five panelists and the one with the least practice experience. The other speakers had been practicing for 10+ years and one for over fifty years. So I really didn’t want to talk about “how to start a practice” or the “dos and don’ts.” I wanted to talk about what I knew, what I was confident with— doubt.
As I spoke that day I saw, heard and felt what has become a very familiar attitude —“I just can’t take a chance right now, it is not the right time.” Over the past year the reasons, excuses and reluctance has assembled into a chorus of fear and self deceiving rationalizations that grows exponentially louder with every call, email or resume that goes unanswered.
This is the worst recession that I have ever had to work through. And although I have been fortunate and lucky, day to day is still a struggle and often a conquest of will. But I known of many other attorneys who are struggling with no support system or hope. To them I say, don’t struggle against your doubts, flow.
When I am afraid, when I my phone hasn’t rung for awhile, when I think about the large and vicious student loan monster standing in front of me, I try not to fight with those feelings. Instead I look back, to all that it took to get me here and at all that has been achieved in just one year. I remember that I am always strongest when I flow with the energy around me rather than against it.
Last week I responded to an email from woman whose fear and doubt I could feel— especially when she spoke about not wanting to go hungry. I know the feeling, I’ve been there. I didn’t know that woman’s name, but I knew that she was a new attorney who couldn’t find a job and was sick about not being able to paying her bills and just trying to keep from drowning, financially and emotionally. I know that starting her own practice is her dream, but the downsizing, firm closings and what seems to be a current economic and legal “no man’s and especially no women’s land” just gives her nightmares.
I know that she and I will always feel fear and will always have doubts. I also know that we can not allow those fears and doubts to cripple us or to corrupt our ambitions. No, it is not easy to push past those feelings, sometimes it feels like you are just swimming against the tide and as soon as you stop fighting you will drown. But you won’t. When you stop fighting and just go with the flow, keeping your head above water will be easier.