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Meaning: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

Resilience is a commonly used word which is often misinterpreted. In many cases, it is used as a synonym of perseverance. It is slightly different. In today’s world of work, resilience (as defined and emphasised above) is probably the most important trait to acquire. The ability to adjust to change and adapt in a world whose technology spans an average of two years per time (or even less) is not just recommended but necessary.

Everything is changing, including the way law is done and it is our responsibility as the baton carriers of the industry to ensure that we are prepared for the vagaries that development will bring.

Personally, I have learnt that resilience is that secret magic wand that tips the scale in favour of those who appear to advance quite quickly in their careers. Thinking outside the box, bouncing back from failure like it never happened and innovating processes are not things that are restricted to senior lawyers and for many young lawyers such conversations are staved off for a tomorrow that is already here.

Staying “awake”

As you do the daily drill, you must be conscious that things will not always remain the same and staying aware is critical. Are you conscious of the trends? Can you spot changes or looming innovations using this information as a platform for you or your organisation? Are you ready if your office changes its structure? What is your exit or revitalisation plan when change happens to you? Resilience is largely dependent on foresight and this is a skill that can be developed. However, the ability to spot trends or be prepared when changes occur does not just happen, there is a foundation required for this and it comes with significant mental exertion.

I would say that as young lawyers, we are often unaware of the substance of our career growth and this contributes to the issues we face when tough circumstances arise and why career paralysis easily seeps in. Often, we are conscious of our positional advancement, but we are not assessing the value accrued over time. Being in a firm for 10 years is not equivalent to 10 years’ experience as such, we must be conscious that we are indeed learning and that our opportunity is improved with additional time and expense of effort. More importantly, if it is not working, it is important to be honest about it and resolve quickly before one gets stuck. YOLO (as used colloquially, “You Only Live Once) is not just a phrase, it is a call to action. The 8-22 hours spent at the desk or on the field in the name of work must count personally and even for the organisation. If it does not, especially on the personal side, it is career paralysis.

Taking stock

Career paralysis creeps on and that is why periodic stock taking is the lawyer’s best friend. Journaling your journey helps and taking time out to ask critical questions and adjust with nimbleness creates even better understanding of the growth process and quicker recovery from hurdles and falls.

The prospect of opportunity or a new job should not be the primary trigger for career stock taking. For good evaluation, it is useful to get insights from other individuals and do a “SWOT” analysis on yourself. Where hiccups arise, you would understand how to manage crises or even leverage and utilise your opportunities better.

Fortifying networks

The daily grind can insulate you so much you forget to stay in touch with colleagues and nothing beats a strong and reliable network in hard times and the value you can derive from your networks is largely correlative with the value that you have provided. Habits like having a schedule for calling your contemporaries in another organisation may make all the difference in dealing with the various challenges work throws up.

How far can you go using your current work strategy? More importantly, if things tumble out, are you able to stick it through and bounce back effectively.


OYEYEMI ADERIBIGBE is a Senior Associate at Templars. She is also the current Vice-Chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association -Section on Business Law and the Young Lawyers’ Committee Liaison Officer of the African Regional Forum of the International Bar Association.

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