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Strategy

How Continuous Learning Will Unlock Your Super Powers

By Chelsea Thaxter

Chelsea Thaxter

Did you ever hear what Tom Hanks said about being a lawyer while being interviewed on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”? He said he would never want to be a lawyer because it was like doing homework for a living. While I don’t disagree that there are some really detail-oriented yet deeply tedious tasks that we all slogged through as junior associates, we were also drawn to this profession because it can be intellectually challenging in a way that most professions are not. So if you are feeling a little blah about your day-to-day practice, one way to get excited is to dig in to learning something new! Not only will you learn something new but you will also distinguish yourself within your firm and your field of expertise.

The Bookends of Legal Excellence: Continuous Learning and Professional Identity

Imagine your legal career as a collection of books supported between two bookends. On one end, we have a bookend representing "Continuous Learning," and on the other, a second bookend representing "Professional Identity." These bookends represent the pillars that support your career growth, with the books in-between symbolizing your day-to-day legal practice. In order to keep your practice standing straight and strong, you have to invest heavily in the bookends that hold it up.

Continuous Learning: The Catalyst for Growth

Continuous learning is not just about acquiring new information; it's a mindset, a commitment to evolving with the ever-changing legal landscape. Engaging in this practice offers multifaceted benefits, extending beyond pedagogical goals. It acts as a catalyst for engagement and plays a pivotal role in shaping your professional identity. By immersing yourself in a learning mindset, you gain the ability to identify your true interests. This will fuel your day-to-day engagement with your work. You also will begin to distinguish yourself as someone who is ready to learn and is striving for excellence.

Professional Identity: From Knowledge to Leadership

Continuous learning is not a solitary endeavor—it is intricately linked to the development and promotion of your professional identity. As you acquire new knowledge, the next step is to share it. You can use your newfound expertise not only in your practice but also to lead training sessions at your firm, engage with the legal community on platforms like LinkedIn or serve on a panel at an industry conference. By sharing your insights, you will become a thought leader and will be sought out as a mentor by those aspiring to grow and learn. As you contribute to the discourse in your field, you elevate your professional profile, making you a valuable asset in deal negotiations and client teams tackling novel challenges.

The Time is Now!

Any moment of downtime is an opportunity for growth. Whether it's an hour, a day, or a month, utilize this time to engage with the resources offered by your firm (like Hotshot!). Such platforms are designed to empower attorneys with “just in time” learning opportunities. You can also leverage these resources to gain knowledge and insight about an area of your practice that is less developed. Whether you are learning about something new or taking a few minutes to solidify your understanding of information you need right now, these learning resources offer an opportunity for empowerment, growth, and professional advancement. Engaging with the resources when you may have a slow day or week also demonstrates thoughtful time management and a commitment to your growth.

TL;DR

The synergy between continuous learning and professional identity is the key to creating a robust practice and unlocking your full potential as an attorney. As you demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning, build your expertise and share your knowledge, you will become more engaged with your practice and will elevate your professional identity within your firm and your field. Take the first step today by checking out the amazing resources offered by Hotshot!

If you are nodding your head to the above but feeling unsure about getting started, give me a shout! I am an executive coach working with lawyers to navigate their careers with presence and purpose. As a former lawyer and professional development leader, I understand both the challenges and the opportunities of navigating a legal career. If you are a law firm leader, I also lead workshops on professional development topics such as “Defining and Promoting Your Authentic Professional Identity” and more. Check out my offerings at my website: www.chelseathaxter.com.