When I was a teen, the law fascinated me. I found what lawyers did to be intriguing. In college, I majored in Public Policy and Law, with a concentration in economic policy. I loved the blending of policy, legal, and economic thinking. Law school was the true test of my desire and of my ambition. I found law school to be quite the exigent experience. Upon graduation, I began what would end up being a two-year journey. I graduated into what had been the worst economic recession in my experience. I grew up in the Northeast and I didn’t want to move away from the area. My own happiness was important to me as well as I had recently met someone who I would go on to marry and I wanted us both to be happy as well. I also knew that I did not want to work for a big law firm.
Working in-house would make happy. It would allow me to be more closely integrated into the company and be on the front lines of the business. I also was not naive. I knew that working in-house especially right out of law school was going to be an exceptionally difficult goal to achieve for a young and highly inexperience attorney. Yet, I was not swayed by the challenge I had given myself. I faced the challenge head-on.
From reviewing documents for complex litigation matters to engaging in regulatory compliance to contract administration to engaging with a legal startup venture, I made the most of each of my work opportunities by learning as much as I could during each experience and ensuring each made use of the skills I needed to have to succeed as an in-house counsel.
The final stop on this journey was joining a legal startup company whose mission was to develop a proprietary contract management/analysis system and to train young attorneys in how to review and analyze complex contracts and answer specific questions about particular clauses within them. The startup also had centralized office. We all worked remotely from around the country and each region would come together to meet periodically. It was this experience that gave my first true and in-depth taste of a bunch of things – contracts, startups, and legaltech being some of them.
From there, my career working in-house began to accelerate. I worked for a global manufacturer, a global learning company, and a growing tech company as their sole in-house attorney. I learned through these experiences much about myself, the skills an attorney needs to succeed, and what it truly meant to work in-house.
My career, despite being non-linear, opened many doors for me which otherwise might not have been open. During my early career was when I began to see the flaws in how lawyers are educated, in the culture that lawyers become embedded within, and the industry that lawyers and countless other professionals work in. My learning did not stop when I graduated law school. My learning will never stop.