It was 2006. Adam Morrison’s Gonzaga Bulldogs were a 3-seed in the NCAA Tourney and about to take on 2-seed UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen. Morrison was the NCAA scoring champ that year with over 28 points per game, edging out co-Player of the Year J.J. Redick. He was an electric scoring machine who drew comparisons to none other than the great Larry Bird.

At the time, there was a feeling that even though Gonzaga was a 3-seed, it was Morrison and Gonzaga’s year – especially after leading by 17 points at the half. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it wasn’t meant to be. UCLA stormed back. When Luc Richard Mbah capped off an 11-point run to give the Bruins their first lead of the game at 73-71 with 8.6 seconds left, Morrison openly wept on the court in frustration. The Zags lost. Adding insult to injury, the last game of Adam Morrison’s historical college career has been dubbed, “The Crying Game.”

While the point of this article is not to disparage a college great, it must be remembered that the fiery and emotional player allowed his frustrations to get the better of him WHILE THERE WAS STILL TIME LEFT TO WIN. Shortly after the game, I remember an ESPN analyst’s comments in response to the comparisons between Morrison and Larry Bird, “If Bird were down 2 with 8.6 seconds left, he’d be plotting… not crying.”

Your situation is not unlike Adam Morrison’s. You have spent the last three years working, studying, applying, and achieving. You left other opportunities behind to challenge yourself in law school. You’ve invested years and hundreds of thousands of dollars into your career. You’ve made it to the end and now what? Your final few classes have been reduced to Zoom meetings. You’ve tried to stay sharp only to find that your bar exam has been postponed, your clerkship cancelled, and a bone-dry job market. 

Your situation sucks. UCLA just dropped 11 straight points and you suddenly find yourself down two with 8.6 seconds left. What are you going to do?

My advice? Do something. Anything. Stay sharp, volunteer, get a job at an essential business. Here’s a secret about success in the field of law – as long as there is human conflict there will be lawyers. Do not allow yourself to get frustrated but apply the same intensity you brought to law school to learning about the legal market in your geographic area. While some practice areas will necessarily dry up during a recession, bankruptcy, labor and employment, civil litigation, and family law will be in demand. Shrinking revenues and increased workload make a young, interested, inexpensive associate who is ready to learn a commodity. 

Learn your local market like the back of your hand and be ready to crush your bar exam when it comes. Reach out to experienced associates and partners in practice areas that interest you and ask for advice. Avail yourself to ANY legal volunteer opportunity. You can do this.

You’re down 2. Nervous. Deafening crowd. Looking at the biggest loss of your entire life.

What are you going to do, cry… or plot?

Steve McGuckin

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