Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

What to do at a career crossroads

If life were a comic book, I’d wager that many of you are around the point in the hero’s origin story when you feel like you have to choose what path you want your life to take. And if you’re anything like the best comic book characters, that choice terrifies you.

Why? Because even though you now have all these wonderful skills at your disposal, the sheer enormity of the possible futures in front of you dwarfs everything else you’ve encountered.

How do I know this? Because I am you. And I’m going through the same uncertainty right now.

I graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law and subsequently passed Maryland’s bar exam in 2010. Since then, I have opened a small law office in Towson, currently work as a policy assistant with some of Maryland’s state senators in Annapolis and I have tried to balance all that while maintaining my relationships with friends and family—particularly in my new role as uncle to an amazing 2-year-old nephew.

And so I stand at a crossroads, asking myself the same kinds of questions you are likely asking yourselves right now:

Do I step down from my legislative position in order to focus more on building my own law practice? Do I stay in Annapolis and try to advance my legislative career at the expense of my legal career? Or do I drop both if an opportunity presents itself in criminal prosecution, the field I’ve sought to work in since my second-year law clinic?

The toughest part of this decision is that I can see a viable future for me down each road, a future where I enjoy what I do, have financial stability and can maintain healthy relationships with my family and friends. And that realization has left me somewhat paralyzed and unable to choose from among those options.

Which brings me to the reason I write this: to help you try to avoid that kind of paralysis and move swiftly from law student to lawyer or whatever else you choose to do after receiving your degree and passing the bar. For while one blog post does not contain nearly enough space for a full analysis of your career outlook, I can provide you with one important maxim to keep with you all of your days:

No matter which path you choose, never be afraid of failure.

You have likely been training most of your lives for the opportunity to stand before the Court of Appeals and have your name read into the roll of attorneys. From your high school debate team, to college mock trial, to law review, the activities you have pursued have given you the very skill set that now provides you with this plethora of different career opportunities, a skill set that will let you switch paths very easily if you are forced to do so.

If your dream is to open up your own practice, then go out there and find an office. You’ll remember how to look up legislation if you find yourself in Annapolis down the road. If you want to be a prosecutor, there’s nothing stopping you from hanging out your shingle in the future. The important thing is to just make a choice.

As for me, I haven’t chosen what path I want to take just yet, but I can promise you this: you’ll be able to read about it right here when I do.

One comment

  1. Hello Nicholas,

    Very good advice. It sounds like you should certainly follow your passion and go for the criminal prosecution path – but until that works out, perhaps doing what you’re doing now is the best route. You get to do it all, somehow! Good for you – best of luck!