In high school I took debate. Speaking, arguing, discussing- all those things really appealed to me. What I didn’t find very attractive was the amorality that it inspired. Many of my more conservative friends gradually started turning their newly acquired skills of argument into justifying any behavior they found interesting or attractive. This completely turned me off to the debate class, and really to the practice of law in general. So I took a different path, studying economics and business in college, never giving the legal profession another thought.
I found my true passion in entrepreneurship. There was nothing as exciting to me as sitting down across the table to a supplier in Thailand or a distributor in China- and negotiating a mutually beneficial deal. I had found my dream business- or so I thought. Unfortunately, as the import industry I was in changed, it suddenly became much harder to make the income I was hoping for. Then it hit me one day out of the blue- I needed to go to law school. Not to be an attorney, but to enhance my skills as a business person.
All through law school people asked me, “what type of an attorney are you going to be?” To which I responded,
“I really just want to be an entrepreneur.”
Things went very well for me in law school, I got good grades, was elected Class Director two years in a row, and my resume was so unique that I kept getting interviews for law jobs. Two years into law school, my wife gave birth to a son- and so I did what most people would do in my position- I took a summer position as a Law Clerk, and later accepted the firm’s offer to join the firm’s corporate department. I justified this to myself by thinking, hey I loved negotiating deals for my business- maybe I would enjoy doing the same for other companies.
As I finished my last few months of law school, I kept waiting for the right opportunity to start a business- but I just wasn’t finding it. Fortunately, I had a job lined up- so I decided I would give it a go. I realized the error of my ways very early on. Being a young corporate associate doesn’t involve deal making at all. Ever. It mostly involves sitting around, waiting for research assignments, and trying to keep busy. You are judged by your billable hours, but you have no control over the amount of work that comes your way. This is very frustrating for an entrepreneur.
Opportunities often come when you least expect it. Since graduating from law school I had written a manuscript for a book entitled “The Year of 12 Virtues” which I was trying get published. My friend, Brian Watkins, that handles social media strategy for Omniture and Adobe recommended,
“Jump on Twitter, start a blog- that should help you get published.”
I did just as he recommended. Started a blog all about my book, and started to build a following about it. Then the unexpected happened, one of the writers I was following asked one day in a tweet,
“Can anybody recommend a contract lawyer?”
After exchanging email addresses, and talking on the phone, our firm had suddenly retained our first client through Twitter. Bringing in one client was obviously no big deal, but it opened my eyes to an untapped potential in social media that most attorneys were completely unaware of. I started sketching out the beginnings of a business plan- and fortunately I was helped along the way. In the second round of layoffs at my firm, my number was called.
This turned out to be very fortunate. With a small severance package, I was on my way. The perfect series of events to get me out of the law firm, and into the business world.
I never imagined staying in the legal industry, but you can’t really choose the opportunities that come your way. I am so glad to have gone to law school, become a lawyer, and learned so much about this industry- but in the end I am very glad that I am building a business where I’m traveling the country, helping open people’s eyes to new technologies. For my personality, it sure beats sitting behind a desk.
Before I decided to go to law school, everyone asked me, “why do you want to be a lawyer?” My answer was always the same- to be a better business man. I’m finally getting my wish.