This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office NYC attorney, Vivian Sobers contemplates her practice today and five years from today…
A few weeks ago, a colleague invited me to dinner in TriBeCa. Normally, I am not so reticent to accept an 8:30 PM dinner reservation on a weekday, but this seemed like a networking event. My colleague assured me the dinner was all about business development. As someone looking to truly define their practice, I reluctantly accepted.
Anyways I arrived early, as I usually do. Nothing screams “I have no respect for your time” quite like being late to a scheduled appointment, business or otherwise.
As I walked into the restaurant, a distinct scent overwhelmed my senses and spread throughout my consciousness: this restaurant smelled like lawyers. The aroma of delicious food being prepared could not mask the subtle smell that copy machines produce as they churn out triplicate copies of an OTSC; the lingering musk that the human body creates only after consuming a minimum of 6 cups of stale deli coffee; the smell of worn-in leather – shoes, brief cases and belts.
This restaurant smelled like home.
Only on the subway ride home after holding court with my three companions did I realize the profound significance of the dinner: I was no longer a spectator. I was in the game.
Riding the A train, I thought about my dinner. There I was, less than two years after starting my practice reminiscing about clients and cases and all the random conversations that lawyers have. Conversations I always looked at with equal part respect and yearning.
This is what I always wanted. I wanted to be that person stressed out about this opponent or that judge. I wanted to be part of the group of lawyers that goes into a Judge’s chambers to discuss a case.
Of course, my brain supplies the only response that a type-A personality can provide: What’s next?
I spent so long dreaming of and working towards the practice that I wanted, but I admit I was scared to solidify my plans. What if I planned for the future and I didn’t succeed? So I shut it out of mind. But now, I’m officially allowing myself to think about it. Where do I want my law firm to go? What is my five-year plan?
Even writing it makes me nervous! The same personality that drives my practice forward screams a warning in my brain that making such lofty plans is courting disaster. However, in allowing myself to think about my future, I’ve been speaking about it with other, more experienced attorneys. (The successful ones don’t act like the jerks you expect them to be).
Anyway, back to my dinner in TriBeCa. I took the opportunity to seek the guidance of such fellow attorneys about the poor choices they wish they would have avoided. Do I specialize? Should I spend money on this service, or on that advertisement? I got some good advice, and the rest of the dinner conversation shifted back to cases and court and all that stuff I love.
What was a seemingly normal dinner felt like a milestone: I was officially part of the crowd. I will always remember that moment of realization. For now, I’ve decided to wait and see before I solidify my five-year plan, but at least I’ll be daydreaming about it.
And a couple of days later when I was having drinks with an attorney after court it seemed like the most natural thing in the world…