Posted on January 3, 2018 at 11:57 AM by Justin Flage
Having served as Clayton County Attorney for six years now, I have enjoyed the opportunity to speak with our local students every year in a government class about my work as an elected official and private practitioner. My hope is that this column might reach an even larger number of students than those I speak with personally and that my comments will be of some value as they continue their education and career paths.
A main point I emphasize is that success in your career is tied directly to how hard you are willing to work and how well you persevere in the difficult times. Unfortunately I’ve known too many highly intelligent and very talented people who can’t seem to achieve stable success in their professions because they were unwilling to put forth sufficient energy it took to do the job well or they quit when encountering an obstacle or setback. All people suffer some setbacks along the way in their careers but as Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
I encourage students to keep an open mind about what career might be best for them. When I graduated from Beckman High School and started college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, I was confident that my career would start and end in the Twin Cities business world. As it turned out, I went to law school, joined a law firm in my Iowa hometown, stood for election to become the Clayton County Attorney and won. Overall the career you finally pursue comes from a combination of your talents, your interests, your goals, your work ethic, and the opportunities available. If those factors lead you down a different path than you initially predicted don’t be afraid to change course.
It should come as no surprise that avoiding illegal activities and people who are engaged in illegal activities is something I never forget to caution students about. I place special emphasis on avoiding methamphetamine, which I view as a plague on our society. Using methamphetamine will not just end your career, it will ruin your life and the lives of those around you. With that being said, don’t forget to take breaks, spend time with family and friends, get involved and invest in your community, and be sure to have some fun along the way. Finding a good balance between your academic work and your social life is important because a similar balance will be needed when you begin your career.
Having a mentor, or really many mentors, is invaluable. Every career, especially the legal profession, has aspects that simply can’t be taught in a classroom but rather must be learned in the real world. A mentor can share their knowledge, experiences, advice and comfort during those periods which require perseverance. The University of St. Thomas School of Law has a mentorship program that assigns every student a different mentor each year for all three years of law school. I enjoyed and benefited greatly from this extremely worthwhile program that should be emulated by every school. With or without a mentor program, starting and building relationships with people already in the profession is an often overlooked key to success in a career. This should be an ongoing process for the rest of your career and the rest of your life.
If anyone reading this would like to visit about a career in the law please feel free to contact me at 563-245-3888 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m grateful for all the people who have done so many good things for me and helped me become equipped to pursue justice for all.