"I would like to leave you with a thought: and if instead you find a job, do you create your own path?"
"What to choose? What is the best choice? What do I really want to do? Is what I want a financial option as a job? Will I be able to find something? And if I don’t like it? Is specialization the best way?"
Marisa Monteiro gives a valuable insight on how you should approach your future prospects and to embrace what crosses your path.
As a legal professional, you can specialize in any one of dozens of legal specialties. The options are often your worst enemy! I could keep writing down the long list of the many questions that torture the mind of law students. I read and ear in conferences, seminars, events and course descriptions the promise of the “Ell Dorado“, and I still have very vivid in my mind the thoughts I also once had.
The main reason that made me want to lecture was that I knew I could bring added value, after all my carrier has nothing of “normal”, and we all know that different almost always means tougher and also, none less often, much more rewarding. The transition to the job market, no matter what profession you choose or the industry you will be involved, is itself a major challenge. No matter how prepared you are, no matter what you read in the never ending articles and books of human resources, or media gurus in this field, there will always be the beginning of an adventure with rules not always clear or fair. Remember that no matter how many cases you do in the university, real life will always have the ability to shock you, to test you, and there is no possibility to “retake” that “test”. That brings me to the two most important lessons I learn… on my own!
First, I will never forget one of my Professors from Lusíada University, OPorto (Portugal) warning in our last year of the law degree (when the law degree was for 5 long years).
Being a very straightforward man, a brilliant lawyer, much more practical than theoretical, with no embellishment of is words, just told us: «Remember, when you finish your law degree, you know nothing! You all will have just one thing, a license to study for the rest of your life. » I remember vividly because I thought "that's harsh”. I know it was the best advice a teacher could have gave me. I have also learned, along the way, to pay attention to the ones that did not want to talk only about the possibilities but with honesty about the obstacles that we need to face. I know now that being “prepared for frustration” was a key element of my success. When I received my professional lawyer identification, the speech of that day talked about the first defining 5 years as being “hell”. As you see my mind was in the right seat to endure and thrive!
I had faced by then one of the most complex cases in the Portuguese justice, still as an intern at the Office of Dr. Fernando Sousa Magalhães, for the Portuguese Lawyers Bar Association.
I have been nominated by the State to represent one of the 13 minors accused to murder a transsexual. A case with international repercussions, as the victim was not Portuguese. I tested then all my skills, my fears and my doubts, but most off all I tested my own vision and I proposed in the closing allegations an alternative for the prosecutor sentence and for the other 12 lawyers allegations. The judge saw it as the best solutions for the case. I dared and I succeeded but learned the price to pay to “care” and push the limits. Having our face on television, taking a public position on what you defend, will show you how delicate our profession is, and understand that is so many times so much more than a job!
From 2004 till 2011 I can say I became a generalist, by dealing with legal cases of almost every area of law, and that gave me a perspective that no specialization could ever gave me. Moving to the Netherlands and starting fresh, but keeping my law firm in Portugal, gave me time to expand my horizons and test my adaptability, and my resilience like never before. By taking a more passive roll, by observing, I learned that fresh, inquisitive, curious eyes can be one of the most important elements to improve legal solutions, whether in a law firm or in a company. Most of the times, knowing what to ask will be more important than provide “standard” answers. And if you really want to make a difference, try to know more than your own area.
Multidisciplinary professionals are more and more what companies/projects need. In the era of specialization, a broader view can integrate and connect disciplines and deliver innovative solutions that are responsive to the rapid changes we are seeing in the legal world.
Like any doctor needs to know the human anatomy, any legal professional needs to understand the anatomy of the area he/she is working with.
To conclude I would like to leave you with a thought: and if instead you find a job, do you create your own path?
To help you all, by sharing the knowledge I acquired, both in starting my own law firm in Portugal and by keep exploring the vast range of legal and business opportunities in the Netherlands , please don’t hesitate to contact me.I do care about your future and I know that lawyers and teachers have something in common, take the best interest of “our clients”. I am not an academic per se nonetheless I am an explorer and I do believe the way legal professions will evolve will be by being audacious, to step outside of the status quo . Making your own path will be, for many, the true “dream job” that we all pursuit! Dare.
Blog post by Marisa Queirós Monteiro
Marisa is a lawyer, a mediator, international counsel, business developer, trainer and lecturer at the Hague University. Above all she is a curious mind.
Want to get in contact with Ms. Monteiro? leave comment or contact us via email.
Previous Board Members:
Anna Maria Urbanova
Anna Maria Urbanova
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