April 26, 2021

What is the Best Career Advice You Ever Received?

May 9, 2012

The best career advice I ever received was from Carmelite Bertaut, a former cochair of the Woman Advocate Committee. I was going through a particularly difficult period in my career when I was dealing with an extremely heavy work load and struggling with multiple facets of being a litigator and a new mom. She told me: “The most difficult times in our career are the times in which we experience the most growth.” After the storm passed and I was through the difficult period, I looked back and realized that I really had learned more about being an attorney, making decisions as an attorney, preparing for depositions and hearings, drafting, and balancing a busy work load while continuing to get in exercise, “me time,” and most importantly, family time. I definitely learn more during the trying times than the easy times. Now, when I’m having a tough week (or longer!), I remind myself of this advice. It helps me maintain a positive perspective and look for the growing opportunities in the midst of the difficulties.

 

Haley R. Maple is an attorney with Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin in Tampa, Florida.

Be yourself. It is important to spend time with senior lawyers learning how to handle all aspects of the job: writing, oral advocacy, dealing with clients, and opposing counsel. Learn from a variety of personalities, but along the way figure out how to make those lessons work for you in your own way. Some of us are loud and aggressive; others are quiet and restrained. Each style can make for a great lawyer. But it has to be genuine and it has to be your own. 

 

Jennifer Hoekel isa partner with Armstrong Teasdale LLP in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

The most important words of wisdom that have guided my career have come from my father and from some partners in law firms who became mentors to me. My father’s advice at the outset of my legal career made an indelible mark. He told me that I had to do my absolute best on every project in the corporate world and not rely on any past accomplishments because I would always be judged on the current work. He also advised me always to act with integrity, ethically in line with my principles, and to be completely honest with clients even if they do not want to hear what I have to say. As a CPA and corporate auditor, my father spoke from experience, and my own experience has proven how sound his advice is.

My law firm mentors taught me three important things: to develop my own style as a litigator by emulating the best of what more experienced and effective lawyers had to teach me; to develop my own book of business to attain the satisfaction and independence that comes from having one’s own client base; and always to go after what I wanted, and not wait to be asked. Their collective wisdom has greatly contributed to my career success.

 

Gilda R. Turitz isa partner with Sideman & Bancroft LLP in San Francisco, CA.

 

Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, career advice

 

Comments

The best words of advice I have ever received came from my mother, who raised my sister and I in a single-parent household and worked two jobs just to make ends meet. She said to me "A job is a free education." I didn't understand what she meant until I entered the workforce. I constantly seek to educate my clients on the most recent changes in the law, but I also learn a great deal from my interaction with fellow lawyers, opposing counsel, and my clients. Ultimately, we have a choice: We can look at a job as drudgery and drag our feet into work every day, or we can improve ourselves and get the most out of our careers as we serve others. Perspective is by far an attorney's greatest ally.

May 9, 2012