This might sound strange, but it is what it is.
I used to have a career in management consulting. Then I left that to go to law school (and my mom about killed me), and ended up in my current job, as a law clerk job during my last year in law school, then I proved myself and they hired me full time. And I've been there ever since. For all lawyers, the goal is partner. Either that or lots of money, which usually happens concurrent with the partner thing.
So. I'm there. I just graduated from law school in 2004. My firm promotes partners much faster than some of the other larger firms, and I've made it. I think I'm the first from my graduating class to make partner, at least according to the many people I keep in touch with.
So, what now?
When you meet your ultimate career goal, there is something kind of sad about it. Happy, yes, but sad also. Because, what do you do next? I have no other goals (currently) to reach other than the usual do good at your job and get lots of client kinds of goals. But there are no more titles to aspire to, at this point. It's a strange feeling. There's not much I can do within my firm anymore other than be a great attorney, and now it's all about getting some good work. I suppose I could aspire to be like my boss, or to be some huge person in the IP world, write articles, or whathaveyou, but.....I just don't have that kind of personality. I am not a networker or a mover and shaker. I like writing briefs, and I'm good at writing briefs and articles. I'm pretty decent at taking depositions. I'm good at oral argument in front of Judges. Am I a good trial attorney? Maybe, I don't know. I don't have enough practice. No one gets to do trial stuff until years in, and even then, only rarely because most cases settle.
At any rate, it's unsettling. I would actually love to teach patent law, trademark law, or copyright law eventually. I tend to do very well in instructing younger folks. (I love taking the new associates out on depositions. and advise them generally in firm stuff. People at the firm send them to me, in fact.) Maybe that's where I go, eventually. I could try to apply for an adjunct thing, but my worry is that I get too busy with work to really be able to do it. But then again, if it is a commitment, it's a commitment.
It's just weird to accomplish your goal so early.