From the moment I saw the fictional character ADA Alexandra Cabot on Law and Order: SVU I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. My thought was, and I kid you not, that I was going to be one of the most well-known, admired, feared, young, blonde lawyers to sweep a city off its feet.
Before I continue, let me just say you’re right, that almost never happens. Alas, I thought it would.
Had Keith Lee’s The Marble and The Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice been one the books recommended to me (instead of Gideon’s Trumpet, etc.) I would have known from page 5 the truth – “the practice of law is nothing like you have seen in the media.” I learned that the hard way in law school.
As a “green” lawyer, and I mean very green, I appreciate the brutal honesty of what lies ahead for me having just passed the Bar. However, Keith’s advice will resonate with a broad spectrum of people – from aspiring lawyers who are contemplating law school to anyone entering a new profession. The chapters are short and sweet, covering dozens of areas from courses to take (and not take) in law school to the importance of writing well in law to professional development. Keith isn’t afraid to tell people like me, who think (for me, thought) being a lawyer is the most glamorous and lucrative profession in the world, that failure and embarrassment are inevitable. The theme of the book is straightforward – do everything like you give a damn. Period. Success in both your personal and professional life will follow. As Keith reiterates, whining gets you no where. Keith doesn’t care that the legal job market is in flux or that a law school exam may be too hard. Keith instead sheds light on taking the path less traveled – get off your butt and seek opportunities, network and volunteer all with the expectation of receiving nothing in return.
Although I am past the law school and Bar studying phase, I can’t help but think “crap, I really know nothing about the practice of law.” However, I leave Keith’s easy-to-read book with the most honest and simple piece of advice I have yet to receive — I am the master of my own success. Keith can’t provide it. My mentors can’t provide it. No one can force me to network or to attend Bar events. But Keith has provided an easy-to-follow map to help me get there (…and to maybe one day become Alexandra Cabot).