Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer

By Grover Cleveland
Gaining grit.

Gaining grit.

© 2016 Grover E. Cleveland, reproduced with permission from Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer(2 Ed., 2016); swimminglessonsforbabysharks.com; with thanks for Milana Hogan and Katherine Larkin-Wong for their invaluable insights.

Grit refers to perseverance and passion for long-term goals; individuals with grit perform in ways that science has shown support success in the legal profession. These behaviors include demonstrating persistence, resilience, and diligence. Think of these as skills because with effort you can become more persistent, more resilient, and more diligent. You first work to make them habits, and over time they become part of the way you learn and improve. Of course, if you don’t believe you can improve, you won’t improve.

While studying for her Ed.D., Dr. Milana Hogan researched characteristics that help women succeed in the legal profession. She found that both grit and a “Growth Mindset”—the notion people can change and improve their skills with effort—were strong contributors to success as a lawyer.

The research led the American Bar Association’s Commission for Women in the Profession to launch the Grit Project to support this strategy for success.

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