Preparing for a Life in the Law Unimagined and Uninvented

Next week, I’ll be speaking about the starting a law firm option at Georgetown Law School here in Washington D.C.  This is my fourth law school presentation this year.  Yet the more I improve on, and deliver this talk, the more I wonder myself: how can we prepare students for a life in the law that they’ve never imagined, and indeed, may not yet be invented?

You’d think that I would know the answer to this question.  After all, as I tell students, so many of the matters that I handle today weren’t even a glint in anyone’s eye back when I was in law school.  Marine renewable energy and renewable portfolio standards and smartgrid hadn’t yet been invented, nor had social media and the ethics and compliance issues that it’s generated both for lawyers and regulated industries.  I didn’t write my first blog post until I was 38 years and thirteen years out of law school, yet blogging has given me a platform and a voice to comment on the changes in the legal profession.  What if I’d left the law by then, or chosen the big-law, partnership track like so many of my law school friends? I’d have missed out on something seemingly made for me.  

I can tell students how to plan a law practice, how to draw up checklists and make choices about where to locate and how to find clients.  I can help them view solo practice as a logical choice that holds much opportunity.  The day to day stuff, the getting-things-done and moving step by step – that I can talk about in my sleep.  But how do you identify and seize opportunity?  How do you know how long to keep waiting? How many chances do we get to succeed?  And how to we plan for a future that we cannot imagine because it hasn’t yet been invented?  Help me out readers.