“Its not easy being green” is a phrase coined by Kermit the Frog, as he expressed his discontent in life. Poor Kermit. What could be harder than being a simple frog trying to woo a glamorous Miss Piggy? Kermit lamented his green coloring, because it “blends in with so many ordinary things” making him feel too ordinary. Why couldn’t he be an exciting color like red or even yellow?
While Kermit analogized his green hue with being too common, the color can be used to describe many different emotions or characteristics: “green with envy,” “greenie” as being an environmentally-conscious person, “green means go” with traffic lights, etc. Green can also mean new or inexperienced. In Spanish, verde, the color for green, is used to describe unripe fruit. It is this use of green that most aptly describes the experience of a new attorney, permitting the Kermit’s “it’s not easy being green” to be sung by those new to the legal profession.
Starting a legal career is a tough endeavor, probably harder than trying to pursue someone that holds the upper hand (no offense to Kermit). There are many situations that are out of your control, as you try to navigate the waters of partner expectations and steep learning curves for a profession that you feel unprepared for; law school isn’t exactly “practice ready.” Looking back over my experience so far, I have distilled a few simple practices that helped me during my green phase, and maybe they could help you too.
1. Be thrifty: Shop discount and participate in DIY activities whenever possible. Financial autonomy will more than likely allow you to have more flexibility in the job market as you might be able to choose a position for reasons other than purely financial. Most law graduates enter the work force with heavy debt. While it may be overwhelming, remember that every bit of saving helps, and small actions can lead to big results. Try to bring your own lunch or coffee to work, learn to appreciate generic brands and shop at discount stores.
2. Get a notebook: When I write down ideas or goals, I am more likely to follow through and accomplish them. Transferring intangible thoughts to a physical paper medium provides a light form of commitment. You can make an organized plan and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with crossing things off a list.
3. Work out in the morning: This gives you energy, structure and a sense of accomplishment before you get to work in the morning. Get the endorphins moving before you sit at your desk and they become your armor for the day.
4. Maintain support: Make sure that you spend time working on your personal life too, so that you will have someone to go to when you need to vent about a bad day, get an opinion about a new opportunity or just have fun. It is important to remember to reciprocate support too.
5. Adopt a wide lens: The world is a big place. Maybe right now, you are trying to pursue a career in a very niche industry or in a particular location and are hitting some bumps. Take a step back, zoom out, and realize that it’s not the only employer out there and this isn’t the only city in the world. Hang a world map near your desk. A JD can be used in a variety of professions, not just for practicing law.
I welcome any other suggestions!