WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE
TO YOUNG ATTORNEYS TODAY?
For young lawyers, the best
advice I could give based on
my own experience is to reach
out for as many different
kinds of opportunities and
responsibilities as you can get.
There’s no substitute for experience
and experience is something that
requires initiative. I think the lawyers
who become most successful are
lawyers who reach out to try new things
and take responsibility for what it really
means to be the lawyer representing a
client, rather than an associate following
the directions of a partner.
I have always followed a path of
resolutely not becoming an expert in
any particular area of the law or, for that
matter, of business technology. … And
I feel like my life as a lawyer has been
enhanced by the fact that I almost never
do the same kind of case twice.
There’s a Hebrew expression called
tikkun olam which means “the repair of the
world,” and in Judaism, one of the principle
tenets is that everyone has an obligation
to assist in the repair of the world. And
the way that lawyers do that is through
pro bono representation. It’s very, very
important and it’s been the single deepest
source of enduring satisfaction for me.
First, your professional
work matters. Disregard the
admonition that there are
too many lawyers.
The fact is there are not enough good
lawyers who really care.
Second, do what you can to prevent
injustice since the world is filled with it.
If you’re on the front line, as a defense
lawyer or a prosecutor, you will be able
to prevent injustice. If you’re not on the
front line and you’re a corporate or M&A
lawyer, then support groups such as the
Three, find three mentors. These are
people you admire and you can seek
advice [from]. Fourth, I would say to
young lawyers that law is a thoughtful
profession. It is not an emergency medical
service or a fire department. Fifth, avoid
being too connected. You control it, not
vice versa. Shut off your BlackBerry and
enjoy family and friends. Lastly, I would
say, work hard in order to become good
at what you do. No one ever succeeded in
law, medicine, science, sports, journalism
without working very hard. That’s what I
would tell a young person if they dropped
in through the ceiling in my office. I’d say,
check with me every 90 days—and let’s
see if you’re following my advice.
There are probably two
or three things that make
sense to me.
One is: Pursue your passions, do what
you like. You don’t have to stay with
one thing for your whole career or one
employer. I think you develop more if
you’re engaged in things that you find
stimulating and rewarding.
The related point is, consider
public service for some significant
part of your career. The [satisfaction]
of helping government, as a lawyer,
deal with difficult regulatory issues,
law enforcement issues, is rewarding
and a very different experience from
representing clients. In a lot of ways,
that experience, if you do go back to the
private sector, makes you more balanced,
a better counselor for your clients.
And then I guess the third thing,
I’d say, is look for role models who do
well by being themselves and [whom]
you’re comfortable emulating. You
know, there’s not one style of being
a trial lawyer or a prosecutor that fits
everybody. Look for people who you
respect, who have the respect of their
peers—and soak it up like a sponge.