Do You Have the Right Mindset for Your Legal Career?


Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 8.56.36 PMI know you are likely busy like all lawyers and law students. But if you have time to read one book this summer, we have a suggestion for you. We suggest you get a copy of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. I was introduced to this book while at a talk for undergraduates on on leadership and business. The keynote speaker was a former lawyer turned career coach, Michelle Bauman. Michelle talked about how transforming her mindset lead her to a more fulfilling career path, even though she she had been a very successful attorney prior to becoming a coach.

This book is important for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, if you are encountering any struggles in your legal career path (finding the right job, succeeding at your job, or trying to brainstorm a new career that would make you happy) you may want to examine your mindset. Where else does mindset come into play? When dealing with stress, competition and failure. Turns out legal careers can be full of that stuff too.

Your career, at times, can be very frustrating. And you may have feelings of doubt unlike any you have ever felt before. You can’t stop these feelings, but with the correct mindset you can actually frame how you see the world around you. And what about failure? Many lawyers have to learn how to cope with and overcome failure.

The book walks you through two common mindsets: fixed (focused on judging oneself) or growth (focused on constructive action).

This may not sound like a huge deal, but we have seen mindsets play a major role in career success. If you are focused on judging yourself, you can become consumed with this while working on the job hunt or building out your own practice or business. A fixed mind-set can make it difficult to overcome challenges and deal bumps along he road. If you have a growth mindset, however, you have a better framework for dealing with challenges.

You will be able to focus on ways to improve and learn from experiences rather than just being hard on yourself. Moreover, lawyers and law students focused on growth often find themselves happier as well as enjoying more success both in the job hunt and in building their legal career.

The skills you need to survive and thrive are really just good life skills. Sure, the author doesn’t talk about lawyers specifically, but that really doesn’t matter. You can still learn quite a bit from her stories and examples.

When it all comes down to it, the practice of law is going to be challenging. There are going to be ups and downs, successes and failures. The key is to roll with whatever comes at you on this journey or you may find yourself a rather unhappy law student or lawyer.

Photo credit: airdone/Shutterstock

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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