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It's an ancient bit of advice that you ought to choose your friends carefully: you will end up resembling them. This is just as true for who you turn to for advice. In today's legal field, with firms downsizing and making their teams lean, you might wonder what move to make, when to make it, and who to ask. Naturally, networking is part of landing the right position, but that doesn't mean you should give ear to just anybody who wants to talk. You need your standard networking skills plus savvy to who really knows.

After all, the dispirited, embittered, and cynical often want to talk the most, want to blow off steam. If you fall into their circles, they may color your view, make you think the industry not only isn't what it once was, but never will be again, and that progressing down your career path as you planned is futile. It is easy to lose spirit when you are hanging out with those who have lost spirit. Attitude matters.

So who should you talk to, who befriend? You want, most of all, to take the advice of those you envy, who are in a position you'd like to have. Emulate such people. Humbly ask them how they've done it, and pay attention. You might be surprised to learn that they were once in a position similar to yours, and by noting the attitude they fostered, and the sort of decisions they've made, you become like them, you become primed to succeed in the way they succeeded.

After all, there is one thing each of us knows best: how we got where we are today. On that topic, we might advise anybody. If a man is an alcoholic, and struggling with his job, and divorced, and full of regrets, he might even have an excuse for all his failings, a legitimate sounding excuse. He did, after all, work it out in his head how he unjustly ended up where he is today. He would be better, however, looking to somebody who also fell into bad times, and found the ladder out.

What we need is not excuses to be the same, or rationalizations for career stagnancy, friends who take our ambition from us and teach us to be complacent. What we need is the kind of dynamic friend, or counsel, somebody whom to inspire us to expand our possibility, to be more. Perhaps such friends are in short supply, perhaps getting such advice is rare, but when you find it, hold on to it, those are the words that matter.

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