Finding Your Balance in a New Profession

balance in a new profession
Athletes in Law Special Issue

When I was a child, I told my parents I wanted to be a doctor. Clearly, that didn’t pan out.

I was about two years into my first (ill-advised) foray into medicine when I attended a suture workshop for interested undergraduates. I don’t remember what was said, but I remember there was an incredible lack of diversity at the event, and that a professor made more than a few snide comments when I fumbled the suture thread.



There were a million other reasons I eventually decided against pursuing medicine (including an incredibly strong aversion to bodily fluids), but that interaction was a large one. When I look back, I remember most how incredibly out of place and unsupported I felt. I graduated two years later with a degree in genetics, and a general sense of confusion. Sensibly (or not), I decided the best way out of whatever quarter-life crisis was brewing was to take up rock climbing and go to law school.

Although I’ve accepted that this confusion is just a perpetual state of being, I have also gained a new sense of direction, and more importantly, community. In all, I’m grateful to have stumbled into law. As I order my graduation regalia, and plan post finals events, I’ve found a lot of time to reflect on my journey so far.

I couldn’t have made it this far without the legal community. In a lot of ways, networking and community building are a lot like rock climbing. Like different holds, the people along the way will be unique – some will be above you on the path, farther along, some will be near you, and some will be farther back, just starting out. Some of these holds will help you balance, some will provide support, and some are there as a reminder you’re not alone.

There are a million different permutations to the top, but without enough holds, there’s absolutely no way up. I found more holds in the legal community than I ever expected to. I couldn’t possibly name every single person who has helped me get to this point of my life, but I know I owe everything to my friends, family, loved ones, peers, professors, Law Council members, (soon to be) colleagues at Carlson Caspers, and the staff and administration at Minnesota Law.

I’m grateful for those who helped me decide to pursue law, and helped me find my first steps up. I’m grateful for the people who believed in a lost and confused 21-year-old, just beginning her career in the law. I’m grateful for the people who patiently explained the difference between patent prosecution and patent litigation to me before I ever took a civil procedure class, and for those who taught me how to IRAC before I made a fool of myself in legal writing.

Lastly, I’m grateful for my peers in law school, who have provided endless support, levity and inspiration. I’m grateful for my mentors above me, who have helped me define my path on my way, and my loved ones, who have provided constant support.

As I reflect on where I’ve been and where I hope to be, I feel incredibly grateful for the warm welcome the legal community has provided. I can’t begin to pay it back, but I know I can pay it forward to the future attorneys who come after me, just as those before me have. And for those who don’t know what they can do to support fledging attorneys, I promise you your time, wisdom, and kindness would mean more than you could ever know.


Computer Forensics

Kate Chen

Kate is a 3L at the University of Minnesota Law School. She serves as the president of the Law Council (SBA), and as the treasurer for both the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, and the Privacy, Cybersecurity and Technology Law Association. She has a background In genetics, and plans to practice intellectual property litigation at Carlson Caspers after graduation. In her free time, she likes to cook, paint, and peer pressure others into going rock climbing with her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts