I really enjoy spending time with young people. The are fun, and they teach me a lot. I always walk away from them with something important to ponder. I don’t always agree with them, but I don’t have to. It is enough that they make me think.
Young lawyers are no exception. Recently, when I was talking to a couple of young lawyers about their career objectives, I heard one of them say to the other, “You do you.” It resonated with me, and it also reminded me of the similar messages I have been sending to young lawyers for more than a decade.
I coined the phrase Personal Definitions of Success in my first book for young women lawyers, which was published in 2009. In those days, my focus was exclusively women lawyers because of the unique challenges they faced. It still was a bit of a Wild West for women lawyers in those days, and the playing field was very uneven for women as compared to men. Although I was aware that all young lawyers needed help in those days, it was the women who got my attention. I had experienced those challenges firsthand, and I wanted to throw out a life line as best I could.
That does not mean that there are not special challenges for women lawyers today because there certainly are and always will be as long as women continue to be the primary caretakers of children and elderly and needy family members. But, after three books and scores of programs for women lawyers, I felt comfortable broadening my focus to include all young lawyers. I did that in my last book for and about millennial lawyers, and I am doing it again in a handbook for young lawyers, which will be released later this Fall.
So whether you call it Personal Definitions of Success or “You do you”, it means the same thing. There is no one definition of success. Success does not mean full time work and partnership any more than it means part-time work and something less than partnership. It means what matters to YOU within your own definition of ambition and your values. It means different things to different people.
The most important thing that we can do as a profession is to respect all choices. Every single sincere Personal Definition of Success and career satisfaction is worthy of respect.
So remember, you do you.