The legal profession is highly competitive, and it starts before you even finish secondary school.
You are competing against others to get high enough marks to enter university. Then you commence your undergraduate and there is pressure to do well. So much reading and preparing and so little time.
Then you graduate and have to compete for a limited number of clerkship/graduate roles.
Even if you are fortunate enough to get a legal role straight out of law school, the competition continues. As you strive to make Senior Associate, Partner, General Counsel or whatever role you aspire to.
It’s no wonder that this tension may be a reason that lawyers compare themselves against one another. And over the journey, the comparison trap contributes to the high levels of stress within the profession.
In fact, when meeting with some fellow senior lawyers recently, the comparisons were astounding:
“I didn’t get that job because…”
“I could never achieve what he/she did because…”
“I would never be able to do what he/she does because…”
“…He/She is a better lawyer / smarter / more talented / extroverted / went to a better law school / is better connected / (fill in the blanks)”
The comparisons are endless.
In fact, based on my 17 years of experience in practising law, and working with a vast variety of lawyers, I have come to learn that there is no one style or one way of practicing that makes someone a ‘better’ lawyer.
We all have different personalities, styles, strengths and values. Similarly, our clients all have different businesses, needs and expectations.
How can we derive any positive value in comparing ourselves to others in such a way?
Instead, why not focus our limited energy and time on how we can become the best version of ourselves.
Similarly, there is more than one path to achieve whatever it is you wish to achieve. And confidence is the antidote to the comparison trap.
In fact, this is the one piece of advice I would give new and young lawyers: Your future and happiness is not tied to the one known path working out. Everyone’s journey is different and unique to them. Follow your own path.