Three months ago, I had the opportunity to interview Carey Worrell, a lawyer who specializes in real estate and commercial transactional work for small and medium-sized businesses. Carey earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in political science and the other in economics, from the University of Houston in 2000 before going on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 2003.
While many people are not sure about the career they would like to pursue until they reach adulthood, becoming a lawyer has always been Worrell’s plan in life. When I asked her why decided to go into law, she jokingly informed me that, since she was young, people told her that she would be a “good lawyer.” According to her, this sentiment was probably just “a nice way of saying ‘you’re really argumentative and rude.’” Even though this comment could have discouraged her natural disposition, she turned this subtle insult into motivation. Of course, she also enjoys her job and cases, but it is important to note how others influenced her and her eventual profession.
Due to how experienced and knowledgeable Worrell is in the field of law, she understands the rewarding and challenging aspects that come with this career. For the more favorable parts of her job, she asserted that “one of the huge benefits of being a lawyer is just being able to do so many different things under the umbrella of law or adjacent fields of law.” Lawyers can work in the nonprofit sector, criminal defense, corporate environments, family and marriage law, and in positions related to social justice work. The listed specializations are only a few areas of law a person can become involved in. Furthermore, the job allows for adaptability as someone who starts in a particular sector of the law can transition to another type of legal work. Worrell, herself, transitioned from a corporate atmosphere to a judicial one before settling on what she does now. The other advantage of the job, according to Worrell, is that her position as a lawyer allows her “to be able to help people and make their dreams come true.” A recent example of this idea is visible in a client of hers who opened a basketball gym due to his passion for the sport. He was not knowledgeable about the necessary legal steps he needed to take in order for his idea to come to fruition. Worrell stepped in and took “somebody else’s unrelated talents and [gave them] the tools to create a successful business.”
While there is a multitude of satisfying elements of this career path, there are also some drawbacks. The main one Worrell managed to avoid in her life but has seen more than one person fall into the trap of is not maintaining balance in their life. Legal jobs require a draining time commitment that can stress lawyers out to an all-consuming degree. Worrell advised aspiring and current legal professionals to be “intentional about forming the life [they] want that fits [their] career” without having to sacrifice everything outside of the job. This concept also relates to choosing a partner to marry if one decides to do so. Worrell believes that one should pick a significant other who will help with the work-life balance and does not place unrealistic expectations on them.
Another disadvantage found within the field of law and many other careers is sexism. Worrell has been fortunate enough to not have to encounter extreme misogyny due to her educational background and established credibility. Rather, she has been confronted more frequently with sexism in her personal life. However, she acknowledged that many female lawyers experience discrimination, especially those who work in litigation. An instance in which she was treated differently for her gender was when one partner she worked with would refer to her as a “‘lady lawyer’” like she was “a pet or zoo animal.” Even though he had good intentions, his comment came off like women lawyers are rare and his firm was making immense progress by hiring women. Worrell, at certain points, has had to convince older men of her talent, but she has been able to avoid sexism overall.
Despite any sexism Worrell encountered, she has been able to achieve a lot. When asked about the accomplishment she felt most proud of, she answered that she once was involved in a court case that was “pretty high profile at the time” and had a “pretty uncommon question of law at the time” that needed to be answered. She wrote a solid opinion she is still proud of to this day. But the achievement she is most pleased with is her ability to find and maintain a work-life balance. She always makes sure that she has “the flexibility to be analyzing if [she] is in the best place for [her] life.”
The final topic discussion centered on advice she wished people knew before pursuing a career in law. Other than her emphasis on personal boundaries, Worrell noted that people should keep in mind that “the decisions [they] make today don’t necessarily affect the decisions [they] have to make for the rest of [their] life.” Aspiring lawyers should let themselves change their minds or divert on their established path at any point. Change can happen and, when it does, one should be able to accept it.
After speaking with Carey Worrell, I have gained a new perspective on what to look for in a job and life in general. I am curious to see how her knowledge will be applied to my future career path, and I am grateful for the time I had to speak with her.