Meeting people

I remember the cautious warnings when I was looking for my first job almost 5 years ago. I was assisted by a great recruitment agency who helped me tremendously, but they were also very honest. I was offered several jobs and companies, amongst which an assistant position at a law firm. They told me it was a great opportunity and I would learn a lot, but I was also warned that it would be a harsh and highly demanding world and that most importantly I “shouldn’t take things personally”.

I interviewed, had a great feeling about it and was offered the job. I gladly took it and off I went for the next 4,5 years. During that time, I was often asked what it was like and whether I actually liked my job. I was even asked: “Come on, be honest, do you actually like working for a law firm?” My answer: “As a matter of fact, I really do.”

It’s funny that there’s so much prejudice about working for a law firm. I guess it’s to do with several things. First of all, lawyers are often depicted as tough people and master manipulators. “They know how to turn a courtroom.” But also, TV shows. The amount of times I was asked “is it like Suits, are you like Donna?” Feel free to shoot me, because I’ve seen exactly one episode of Suits, so I can’t really give an honest reply to that, but let’s not forget it’s still a TV show, which means it often goes on stereotypes and what people think the world of law firms is like.

Of course, I can only speak from my own experience, but I have genuinely enjoyed my time working for a big American law firm. Was it demanding? Probably, but since it was my first job, I don’t really have anything to compare it to. Was it a harsh world? I dare say no. Maybe I was lucky, but I have had the privilege of working with amazing people and I have shed a serious amount of tears when I left. I have made friends, and not only among the other assistants. I have received so much appreciation from them for the work I did. It was never taken for granted and my team was always very considerate of my time.

“Then why have you left your job? It must be because it wasn’t so great after all?” No, it was great and it was a very hard decision to make. But sometimes great isn’t good enough. I felt the need for a new challenge, a different world, new opportunities. I wanted something completely different. Some people see that as another confirmation, that nobody really wants to work for a law firm. But that’s not it. If I were to work for a law firm, I would’ve happily stayed where I was. It was just time for a new chapter in my career.

I honestly think that the main reason for all of the above ideas and prejudice is that people forget that lawyers are also just people. And of course, the world of “the law” tickles people’s fancy, which then again gives room for stereotypes. But in the end, law firms are companies just like any other and lawyers are people just like any other. Let’s try to ditch the prejudice and look beyond that.

Kind regards,

Liesl Houben

Your Deputy PR Officer