The Single Most Important Thing I Learned in Law School

I’m a lawyer. I spent 4 years in college and then 3 years in law school getting the fancy degrees and titles. And in all that stuff, there were a few gems. Those gems fueled me to be here today, passionate about helping you overcome the challenges that are staring you in the face.

I am going to share the rarest, most valuable of those gems with you today.

You are a woman. You are a dazzling compilation of mind, body, and spirit that has the power to do extraordinary things. You have the potential for the greatest sense of greatness you can ever imagine.

I know this because I see you.
I see the woman in the grocery store trying to nourish her family while juggling a small child who is ready for a nap.
I see you in corporate America, working to support your lifestyle and make the most of your skills and talents.
I see you at the gym making yourself and your health a priority.

I also see you when you reach out for help, because you were served with divorce papers that you were not expecting.
I see you panicking when someone who betrayed your trust is now demanding sole custody of your children.
I see you feeling helpless when someone you love (maybe yourself) is raped or experiences domestic violence.

I am a woman, too, and I see you.

Regardless of how you feel, what you are going through, or even what you did wrong, here is the lesson I want to share with you: You are a woman, and for that, you must stop apologizing.

My Story

I was raised in an environment similar to most kids: I had parents, I went to school, I learned things, and I liked to play. I learned to be kind, to share, and to say “I’m sorry.” All good things to do and good skills to have.

I noticed that there were differences in how boys and girls were treated, but there was nothing I could do about it. I felt like the world got to control and I just had to live in it. The world was bigger than me, so it must be right, and I must be wrong.

And that, right there, was my downfall. Because as we were taught, the result of being wrong was one thing: saying “I’m sorry.”

So I started apologizing for everything that made anyone else feel bad, everything that might make them feel bad, and everything that should make them feel bad.

I apologized for asking questions.
I apologized for needing help.
I apologized for delivering the truth when it was not what the receiver wanted to hear.
I apologized so much that, eventually, I started apologizing for apologizing.

And do you want to know what the worst part was? It was so habitual that I literally had no idea I was doing it.

The Gem

I’ll be honest with you here: there was very little I enjoyed about law school. The one part that I did enjoy was connecting with the few professors who wanted to be more than just classroom instructors, they stepped up to be my mentors.

My professor in the clinic had a jar on her desk labeled “sorry jar.” Any time her students apologized, she made us put a dollar in the jar. At first we all thought it was a joke, but she was completely serious.

Every time I lost a dollar to that jar, my professor would tell me, “be unapologetic.”

I heard it when writing briefs, preparing oral arguments, and asking questions in class. She eventually stopped waiting for me to apologize. Every time I saw her around the school, she would tell me, “be unapologetic.”

I started noticing how often I was apologizing. Most of the time, I was doing it because I thought I was being nice. I also noticed that while all the girls were going broke putting money in that jar, the boys were not. When the girls started to really see the value in the lesson, the boys still thought it was a joke.

That was when it hit me.

I was training to enter a profession that is dominated by men. I was entering a world where perception mattered, where power was something to win, and where the wage gap and glass ceiling were very real. Men were taught to embrace that environment. Women were taught to apologize for disrupting it.

As a woman, I was taught to apologize for being a woman. For being myself. Looking back now, of course I apologized for every single thing I said and did. And if that was the attitude I wanted to keep, I would never achieve the success I knew I was capable of achieving. I would always be broke.

I realized that the life I was living was my own and no one else’s.

Even in situations that involved other people, I was responsible for myself and no one else.

I had to decide if I wanted to move forward as a strong, capable woman, or as a girl who would always feel guilty and ashamed.

So, I became unapologetic.

I stopped apologizing when I asked a question. Want to know what happened? I got more fruitful answers.

I stopped apologizing when I interrupted someone who was talking. I saved time on irrelevant conversation and also became a better listener.

I stopped apologizing when telling someone something they didn’t want to hear. People started to trust that I would always tell the truth.

And as I stopped apologizing to others, I also stopped apologizing to myself. Instead of feeling guilt or shame, I focused on what I could do better and how I could grow. For the first time ever I could feel my inner potential, and it fueled me into a life I never could have imagined.

Why Am I Telling You This?

I just work in the legal system. If you come to me for help, then your life as you know it depends on this system. Good arguments, solid strategies, and “lawyer tricks” will only get you so far. If you are not confident enough to be you, just as you are, then you will not feel successful in family court.

I want to make something clear here: I am not saying that you should not apologize when you legitimately mess up. If you did something wrong to someone else, then you absolutely should apologize for it.

You should stop apologizing for who you are as a person.
Stop apologizing for demanding what you need from life.
And stop apologizing for being a woman.

If someone does not like you, that is their problem. If someone thinks you should be living your life differently, that’s their opinion to keep. If anyone thinks, feels, or does anything to imply that you are not worthy of greatness, then you do not need that person in your life.

If you apologize because you were taught to be sorry for being you, then it’s time to break that habit and present yourself to the world as the strong woman that you are.

If you truly feel like you should apologize for seeking what you need, then turn inward. Ask yourself where you learned to be sorry for being yourself. Look around and see if the people you depend on are going to lift you up and applaud your success. Are you really in the environment that is going to love you just for being you?

If not, then make a change.

When you are ready to move forward, be the woman you were born to be, and be unapologetic.

At The Lien Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you be the woman you truly are, even in the midst of a family court battle. Learn more at www.LawyerForWoman.com.

If you want to talk with Rachna one-on-one about your legal issue, simply click here to schedule a complimentary consultation & case review call. Please note, we are only licensed to talk about legal matters in the State of Missouri.