Three Keys To Career Success

Three Keys To Career SuccessThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about how to achieve career success.

With everything you have to worry about while in law school, it’s sometimes hard to lose sight of the fact that you’re going to law school for the express purpose of getting a job after graduation, presumably in the legal field.

But, succeeding in your career isn’t just about getting good grades while in law school and landing the perfect job right after graduation. Succeeding in your career is a long-term campaign that requires some thought, consideration, and courage.

Do What You Love

This is somewhat controversial advice. Some people feel you should choose a job and vocation that pays well, has stability, and has good medical insurance. As a solo practitioner, I can understand the appeal.

But, I’ve also worked plenty of jobs where I was miserable. For me, no amount of steady paychecks and no amount of benefits made up for the fact that I dreaded going to work every single day. Plus, when dreading the work, the work suffers. I wasn’t accomplishing my tasks up to my own standards, because I was woefully bored or uninspired.

When you choose a job you truly care about, you will go the extra mile, you will make the extra effort, and that will translate into recognition by your manager or boss. The quality work may lead to recognition in your industry or field of law. It may also lead to higher pay and better benefits.

Start Off On The Right Foot

You don’t necessarily have to have everything figured out before you graduate. What I thought I would do after law school is nothing close to what I ended up doing. And, that’s okay. I needed a job after graduation, and I got one even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing. I made the most of it, learned what I could, and moved on to the next career opportunity that made sense for me.

However, if you can get clear on what your short and long-term goals are, it will help you save a lot of time moving from job to job in the future. Also, starting off in a job you expect you will love will help you achieve the first step just covered.

If you have to take a job you aren’t crazy excited about, however, don’t worry. Put in some extra effort to volunteer in the area you’re passionate about. Take Continuing Legal Education courses in the field you enjoy. Read books and articles on the subject. You can still practice in that area even if it’s on a volunteer basis until the right opportunity opens up for you.

What Does Success Mean To You?

It’s important to keep in mind, too, that a successful career may mean something different to each and every individual. For me, a successful career is one where I can support my family but still have time to spend with them. A successful career means I’ve been able to help clients in a meaningful way and I’ve made a positive impact on my clients’ lives.

Think about what a successful career means to you. If a successful career is one where you do have stability, a steady paycheck, and quality benefits, that’s okay. If a successful career is one where you get to travel the world racking up frequent flier miles and living the single life, that’s great, too.

Consider the lifestyle you want to lead in your career and the subjects you are passionate about, and then do your research into those fields and careers.

Don’t Be Afraid To Change Your Mind

You may find, as I did, that what you initially thought you wanted to do isn’t ultimately what you enjoy. I really thought I would end up on Capitol Hill lobbying for some altruistic cause, and maybe someday I still will. But, for now, I absolutely love being a solo practitioner advising clients on their estate planning primarily.

The funny thing is, I remember sitting in law school when classmates were discussing the seminar on hanging their own shingle. I inwardly scoffed. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, turns out, after ten years in my career, hanging my own shingle was the best decision I ever made and one I wish I made a long time ago.

Sometimes as you gain experience you realize things you once thought you wanted aren’t ultimately what will serve you best. Be willing to be flexible and to take big chances. It could lead to the best experience of your entire career.

It’s Your Career

At the end of the day, whatever you do in your career, nobody has to live with it more than you. No matter how much pressure you might feel to follow in a parent’s footsteps or to go the corporate route or whatever else, if it doesn’t feel right to you, you likely won’t be happy. And, if you’re not happy in your job, chances are you won’t do a good job.

Take the time to figure out what’s important to you, and then commit to that wholeheartedly.

If you need more help trying to figure out the best path for you, try Law School Toolbox’s CareerDicta. Its strategies and resources for your legal career may be just what you need to set you up for long-term success, whatever that means to you.


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About Hillary Vaillancourt

Hillary Vaillancourt is a lawyer and writer at The Vaillancourt Law Firm, LLC. She has experience in a wide variety of matters including food law, education law, real estate law, family law, criminal law, contracts, and estate planning. She earned her JD from New England Law|Boston and is licensed in Virginia.

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  1. […] This week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about how to achieve career success. With everything you have to worry about while in law school, it’s sometimes hard to lose sight of the fact that you’re going to law school for the express purpose of getting a job after graduation, presumably in the legal field. { Continue Reading } […]

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