It’s hard to lose a job—much less twice. Just the mention of losing a job probably sends chills down your spin. Justin’s story will illustrate the meaning of resilience and shows that if you are passionate about something you will find a way. Here is Justin’s story.
When I was a young associate working for a big national law firm, I traveled regularly to work cases in courtroom across Florida. One week. I’d be at company headquarters, and the next, I’d be down in North Florida for a trial. During one of those trip, I got a call that turned my career on its head.
I still vividly remember hearing the phone ring in my hotel room. I picked up, and it was corporate on the other end of the line, telling me and all the other lawyers on the call that, they were filing for bankruptcy. My first thought was since I’d lost my job, I might not be able to pay that month’s rent. My second thought was that I still had to go to trial the next day—bankruptcy or not, i couldn’t let my client down.
That trial was tough, but it was nothing compared to the knowledge that I’d now lost two law jobs in the span of just under a year. At the last job—my first as a lawyer after passing the bar—the firm simply told me they’d like to hire someone else, and we parted on good terms. This time, money troubles had pulled my job out from under my feet with no warning, and the whole firm was collapsing. The circumstances were different, but the pattern was discouraging. To be honest, I felt lost during that trying time. I still had a pile of student loan debt to pay off, and suddenly, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a lawyer after all. My solution was to get away from everything. I took a random sales job in Texas and picked up and moved to Austin. It was only there, away from law, that I realized how much i loved it. Before long, I was back in Florida and taking steps to start my own firm. Then it would be up to me, no one else—to make things work.
A high angle of the beautiful Machu Picchu citadel surrounded by foggy mountains in Urubamba, PeruFor me, getting started in law was like climbing a mountain covered in sheer cliffs and snow pockets. In other words, it was challenging, surprising, and at times, pretty nerve-wracking. The closest comparison I can think of is the time I did a five-day trek up Machu Picchu in Peru. But at least then I could see the mountain rising up in front of me. I knew which path to take and had experience backpacking through the Appalachian Mountains at home to fall back on. Early on in my career as a lawyer, climbing that metaphorical mountain, I wasn’t so lucky! I couldn’t see the success at the top. I just had to keep trekking blind, hoping that the endpoint was there.
These days, I’m still climbing the mountain, but I’ve achieved a lot since those first stumbles. Losing those two jobs taught me that when it comes to building a career, you’re going to have setbacks that you can’t plan for. I discovered that the not-so-secret secrets to success are hard work and perseverance. When the mountain gets steep, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I also realized that what separates the successful people from the less successful is strength of vision. You need to be able to imagine the top of that mountain. If you can, you’ll be motivated to overcome any challenge necessary to reach it. If you can’t, it’s easy to give up.
It took a while for the clouds to clear in my mind, but today, I can clearly “see” the top of that mountain. I have big dreams for the future of The Probate Law Firm, I founded, and I know I’m going to reach them. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other on the path to the top.
1. It takes courage to remember your ethical responsibility you have to serve your client—no matter what.
2. Draw from your experience for motivation, insight and clues—no matter where it comes from.
3. Believe in yourself—no matter what comes your way.