New Year, New Job

The new year brought many changes for me: a new baby, a new car, and now a new job. I wasn’t looking to change my work; life happens, as they say, and I found an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Old networking paid off

This new job is the result of networking I did a year ago (networking does take time to pay off). My new employer is an attorney whose practice is starting to take off, and he needed another lawyer to handle the work. He wanted a young lawyer he could mentor and train. He talked to another attorney involved in the county bar association, who remembered me from the bar events and networking I did with her. She introduced us via email, and the connection was made.

(Side note: part of this story is the value of being one of the few young lawyers in areas outside the big cities. I wasn’t competing with many other “young lawyers to mentor” in the mind of my networking contact.)

What makes my new work unique

What is this new job? It’s mostly estate planning—wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and such. These are legal documents everyone needs and no one likes getting. I say “mostly” because we also do elder law, which means we help people deal with Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and long-term healthcare.

What makes my work unique is the combination of estate planning and elder law. Most lawyers will “do estate planning,” even if it’s not their focus. They design a will or trust with one concern: distributing the client’s stuff per his or her wishes (and probably trying to avoid probate and taxes while they’re at it).

We do that too, of course, but we also go further: we make a plan that takes into account Medicaid eligibility, having to pay for a nursing home, veteran’s benefits, future lawsuits, family conflict, and the client’s healthcare wishes.

I still get to work with words

In my old job, I edited legal books; I needed creative thinking, planning, organizational skills, knowledge of a specific set of rules (grammar and style), and lots of attention to detail. I enjoyed that kind of work.

Thankfully, I’ll continue to work with words in my new job. The core of my work will be drafting legal documents—documents that have legal force and need to be correct and clear. I’m going to enjoy giving clients something I know is well-drafted (because so many legal documents aren’t).

The best part: It’s fun

The best part of this new job, however, is telling people that they have more power over their future than they ever knew. It’s telling them that they can provide for their families, even if the worst happens.

I think practicing law this way is fun. It’s fun because I get to help people with my specialized knowledge. It’s fun because I get to tell people they have power over their future that they never knew about. And it’s fun because what I do is kind of like magic; we put the right words on paper and sign it, and reality changes, and now my client’s stuff is controlled by their own rules instead of someone else’s.

I still have a lot to learn, but I’m already happy. I’m happy that I get to continue working with words and editing, and I’m happy that I get to help people.