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How to deal with difficult decisions

Written by: Lauren Seffel, Senior Law Career Counselor, Public Interest Advising and Programs, State Court Clerkships

Although some aspects of law school constrain your choices — you are assigned to an Inn, your first-year curriculum follows an established course, and you are required to fulfill certain graduation requirements — the majority of your experience requires frequent choices between competing options. Many of these choices, even some that on the surface seem relatively mundane can come to feel like they are implicating big questions about your identity and your personal and professional paths. How to decide whether to pursue an interest in bankruptcy or health care law? Should you stay in DC or move to Chicago for a firm, and how are you supposed to figure that out two years before you graduate? What options are you forgoing if you decide to sit for the Virginia bar, instead of Maryland?

What should you do if you find yourself facing one of these decisions without a clear path forward?

First, know that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed or stuck and unable to make progress towards a decision. Counselors in the Career Center can help you weigh your options and assist you in reaching insights about the best choices for you. Check out our resources for research page, or make an appointment.

But what if you’ve done your research and you still can’t decide? What if you are faced with two seemingly equal, but different, options? Enter Dr. Ruth Chang. In this TED Talk, Dr. Chang discusses how to make hard choices and describes a framework to help you take a fresh look at your options and ultimately reach a satisfying resolution.

Or what if you are struggling to make a decision because you are worried about making the “perfect” or “right” choice? What if you are having difficulty moving forward because you don’t want to give up other potential options? Try this podcast on “getting unstuck,” which suggests that, instead of asking, “what’s the best choice?,” you instead identify your top constraints or priorities and simply move forward with a range of potential options.

Let us know how these worked for you!