Monday, January 21, 2013
(Written by Deborah Hendrickson, the WIL Committee vice-chair, who is responsible for the blog focus group "Full time practice ".)
I recently attended a discussion of female attorney panelists and law students, regarding a career in law. One of the panelists was asked, “What is the biggest reason that you are glad you went to law school?” She thoughtfully answered “because of the opportunities that it has opened up for me.”
That answer really resonated with me. I did not really enjoy the day to day practice of law for many years. But once I “paid my dues”, other opportunities arose that I do not believe would have ever been available to me had I not been an attorney. Those opportunities have proved to be immensely rewarding experiences.
Early in my career, the day to day practice of law was not as rewarding as I had hoped. I persevered,tried to stay the course, learning and growing along the way. After about 10 years of practicing in small firm private practice, things began to turn around for me. Feeling more confident and experienced in my field was part of the reason. But more significantly, I became involved in several “other pursuits” that were immensely rewarding.
In addition to continuing to practice in my area, I also serve on the Board of Directors for the public utility company in our area. This was something I would have never anticipated and it was not an industry that I had any particular connection with. But I was approached and invited by a friend to consider serving on the Board. He made it sound like really worthwhile community service and it has turned out to be challenging, fulfilling, and I believe very worthwhile and important. I have enjoyed it immensely.
I also had the opportunity to apply for and be appointed as a Judge Pro Tem in the Superior
Court of our County. While I enjoyed working as a temporarily appointed Judge in some Family Court hearings, the role I have found most rewarding is conducting court-ordered settlement conferences to facilitate resolution of cases without a trial. Again, this has been challenging, fulfilling, and important work.
I continue both of these “other pursuits” today, after 20 years of practice, and continue to feel grateful for the law degree that opened up the door to these unexpected and unanticipated opportunities! Little did I know a law degree would lead to a “hard hat”.
(One of the goals of this bog is to address seven different focus groups: full time practice; part time practice; on hiatus; practicing with children at home; students; using your law degree in your community and family; and, singles. If you have any suggestions about topics you would like to see addressed in these areas, please let us know through the Comment section below.)