Weathering the COVID-19 Storm: Reflections on making a career move remotely during the pandemic

  • January 30, 2021
  • Laura E. MacDonald, McCarthy Tetrault, Associate

Times of uncertainty cause humans to reevaluate their priorities. The current global COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example. When the world seemingly stopped in March 2020, I, like many of you, found myself spending my new-found time (owing to the temporary closure of courts) doing some soul-searching. After a particularly intense year in my young career as a patent litigator, and having just finished a trial (closing arguments wrapped up March 10th, mere days before the institution of mass closures and work from home protocols), for the first time since I began practice I had the headspace to reflect on what I wanted.

I thought long and hard about my long term goals and the pathway to achieving them. My dream, when I applied to law school, was to practice pharmaceutical patent litigation, an interest sparked by my work in a virology research lab focused on discovering new treatments for multi-drug resistant infections. Despite my adoration for my firm and colleagues (to whom I am forever grateful), I knew my path to success would involve transitioning to a firm with a focus on this type of work.

Changing law firms in “normal” times (whatever normal is anymore) is scary – but remotely, during a pandemic? Frightening. When I decided it was time for a new challenge in the spring, I pondered, “do I update my resume now or wait for the pandemic to end before I make the leap?” I couldn’t imagine any firms taking on an associate while many experienced hiring freezes, and in some cases, salary cuts or lay-offs.

There is a quote I have pinned on my desk that I often stare at when I am working, thinking, or stressed out:

“The energy you put out has a strange way of coming back to you multiplied” – Justin Perry.