The road to becoming a lawyer is not easy. The tears and the disappointments are constant, but the endurance is a must. Most people think that one is born a lawyer, but I think that if you are armed with untouchable determination and endurance, you can become an excellent lawyer. So allow me to reveal my journey to how I got where I am right now. I am as great as I can be and my success is only dependant on my hard work. One thing I know is that you cannot be both lucky and a lawyer.
Life as a law student
I did my law school in London, England. I was enrolled in the senior program which meant that I would receive an LLB within two years. My challenges started from the day I moved to England. I could not just be a law student, I also had to work as a teacher to meet my financial obligations. My days very quickly became routine as I was teaching English online and then going to classes. Sometimes in between lectures and classes, I would return to my residence and I would teach for an hour or two. Life in London was expensive and unfortunately, I was not qualified for a full student loan by the bank back home.
Regardless of the financial struggle, my international experience was gratifying. I discovered certain aspects of my personality that I had not been aware before. We are more sheltered than we think, and sometimes circumstance and lonely surroundings force us to see within ourselves. My inner discovery was rewarding as I learned about the importance of resilience. I fully took care of myself and was completely independent financially and emotionally. There were times where I would have just 20 pounds left for the week and I would have to be creative in making sure that my needs were taken care of. The help was always there if I had asked, but I did not want to. I wanted to endure the struggle and make sure that I came out of it stronger and be able to say that I made it out of it myself.
When you are dealing with the pressures of law school, you often find it hard to concentrate on any other aspects of your life. However, I was blessed to have few people close to me who would encourage me through the impossible days. But as struggles continue on daily basis, you realize that they soon pass, and they are not as hard as they first seemed to be. You realize that they are needed just so they can teach you to be resilient.
Articling position and Junior Associate
I heard horror stories when I was in law school about what happens to artlicling students. I was almost scared that I would end up in a placement where I had to have my phone on me even in the most intimate places and be expected to answer it in the early hours of the day when the rest of humanity is sleeping. Fortunately for me that did not happen.
I articled with Senior counsel and worked along other senior counsels. I saw what to do and what not to do as a lawyer and was daily receiving tough love. Most people would give up and walk out, but I stayed. My abilities were tested regularly but I always exceeded expectations. When you deal with old wolves that have been around for decades, you build a tough skin and you learn to bite back. You will be tested, belittled, bullied but it is your belief in professionalism and knowledge that will always prevail.
Self employed lawyer in another law firm
Just when you think, you have become independent, you are wrong. I was a self-employed lawyer operating under another name. Although I had full control of the two areas of my practice and clients were exclusive, I still was not independent. Whatever I was earning, half was given to the firm.
The best thing I learned operating under the umbrella of a bigger law firm, is how to run a practice and make it grow. You learn very quickly to adapt the following “If they can do it, so can I”. But before you make the big jump, it is best to know what to take away from a successful practice and then try to implement it on yours.
Brace Law is born
It has only been 7 months and I already feel 20 years older. It is lonely at first. It still is. You are not only a lawyer, but you are an accountant, an entrepreneur, a marketer, an administrator and lastly a cleaner. The first month is filled with nervous breakdowns and you are constantly questioning yourself and your brave move to open your firm. However, it gets better. You find the right people who help you to build your vision.
Yet, if it weren’t for the lessons I learned since I embarked on my journey to become a lawyer, I do not think I would have been able to open Brace Law. I am proud of it and how it is slowly growing. I have yet to accomplish what Brace Law is set to do, but for now I am enjoying its growth.
It all started in 2011 and up to now, there have been failures, disappointments, struggles, triumphs, and accomplishments. Despite the darkness that may often impair your vision, there is always a light that will brighten the path you choose to follow.
Let me leave you with one thought: Make your own timelines.