The Attorney in Her Late Thirties

Laura is not exactly the stereotypical attorney–big law firm, big salary, spiffy suits, upscale lifestyle. She is, and has always been, a public defender with a specialty in juvenile law in a tough city full of tough neighborhoods and disadvantaged kids with every problem in the book.

This is what I call front-lines work. It’s like being in a combat zone, day after day, year after year, always full of adrenaline, heartbreak, and daily assaults on all the senses. But you soldier on because you care so much and are so good at what you do, and someone has to do it. You just keep doing it until you can’t do it anymore.

In my opinion, most people cannot do front-lines work forever. Eventually they need to move on and make room for fresh troops to carry on the mission. In Laura’s case, it was the happy event of her first pregnancy that told her it was time to get off the front lines, but the problem is, it hasn’t told her where to go or what to do next. What could she possibly do besides be a public defender? She hadn’t a clue, and she needed to figure it out pronto, before the baby was born.

That’s when a sort of panic set in, and she called me. Smart girl. That’s the work we are doing together. It will work out much better for us to do this together than if she winged it on her own, because all the time she has been working as a public defender, I have been working as a career coach. Simple as that.

We have had about four hour-and-a-half sessions now for which she has been doing the assigned homework, and clarity around the following questions is beginning to emerge: Who am I? What do I want at this time in my life? What are my best gifts and talents? What do I deeply care about? What do I love to do most?

“We’re just following the bread crumbs,” I always say. “They will show us the way.”

Laura is awesome. She is filled to the brim with intelligence, gifts, talents, skills, abilities, and creativity, and there is no question in my mind that she will find her way to a great future. She doesn’t realize it yet, but the crumbs are pointing the way. Simple as that.

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