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Trust Your Intuition in Your Career and Life
published October 16, 2007
Jordan first started teaching in 1991 as part-time adjunct professor at three schools: Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and St. Joseph's College.
“That's right...teaching four classes as an adjunct (which is normally a full-time load) at three different universities while working full-time in New York City. I put a lot of miles on my car!” says Jordan.
While in school working toward her Ph.D., Jordan also worked in healthcare financial management at Health Management Systems and The Wheeler Group, in addition to teaching part-time.
Then Jordan felt the need to feed her creative side. She leaped into advertising, doing creative writing for an advertising firm, Savage Inc., for about a year.
"I can sell Crystal Light and Minute Rice to just about anybody, I discovered. It was a lot of fun to understand how art directors and creative people work together," Jordan says.
But Jordan soon realized that she needed to be doing something more academic.
"I couldn't just write snappy Kool-Aid ads all day long," she says.
<<Finally, her opportunity came. Jordan's boss at the ad firm was concerned about her attending class in the morning and running off at lunch to teach—he couldn't see how a criminology background would apply to her advertising career. Jordan was also getting worried about her career goals as she approached "thirtyitis."
"I was taking stock of my life. [I asked myself,] 'What have I accomplished?' I made good money, but I didn't have a career, which is way different than having a career path," she says.
Right around this time, a full-time teaching opportunity from WCSU came up for Jordan, and despite her fears, it seemed like the right thing to do, so she grabbed it. Jordan has been teaching at WCSU ever since.
"WCSU hiring me full-time in 1992 was the ‘watershed’ moment when I realized I had found my niche and could let go of some of my other career options and be comfortable doing what I loved the most: teaching. I've never regretted it,” says Jordan.
Once she had completed her Ph.D., Jordan got the itch to go back to school again.
"The more I taught and the more diversity of classes I was able to teach, the more the nature of inquisition really kind of bugged me," says Jordan. "I wanted to learn more and expand, so it wasn't until my mid-30s, after I'd finished my Ph.D. and was tenured and promoted in my position, that I said, 'Maybe now is a good time to go to law school.'"
Though Jordan had more than enough education and experience to attain almost any exciting job, she still had not achieved her original career goal: becoming a lawyer. Despite critics' responses to her decision to go to law school, Jordan went ahead with her plan and enrolled in Quinnipiac University School of Law.
"I remember asking my dean at John Jay to write me a letter of recommendation, and he leaned back in his chair and said, 'Why would you want to go back and get a vocational master's degree?'" she says.
"Most people go to law school, and then they decide to do an academic Ph.D. degree, and I did it in reverse. It was just as onerous to go [to law school] at 35 as it would have been had I gone at 22."
As a result, Jordan left law school after three semesters.
"All the things my friends complained of were true. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of 'memorize and regurgitate,' and not a whole lot of room for academic inquiry."
<<After taking a year and a half off and learning that law school would be more interesting in her third year, Jordan returned and completed her J.D.
"The truth of the matter is the stuff you learn in law isn't the actual cases; it's about rigor and truly digging in and looking at an issue from all sides. I think that was extremely useful in honing my analytical skills," Jordan says.
After she graduated three years ago, Jordan opened her own private firm, which she still runs today. She practices family law and criminal law, and she focuses a lot of energy on mediation.
"What probably fulfills me the most is keeping people out of the courts and really trying to get people to talk to each other so we're not a litigious and sue-happy nation," Jordan says.
Before Jordan went back to law school the second time, her passion for restoring antiques and preserving historical architecture got the best of her, and she spread her career wings even further by starting an antique business.
"I've got this need to be creative in my life," she says.
First, Jordan restored a Victorian home in upstate New York, and then she moved on to purchase an 1865 bank building in Ansonia, Connecticut, which was on the verge of crumbling when she bought it.
Once she had renovated it, Jordan used the building to house Obsidium, her antique gallery, for about six years. During that time, she returned to law school. Finally, when she was teaching full-time, going to law school full-time, and running her business part-time, something had to give, and she discontinued running her business out of a store.
Now that she's no longer in school, Jordan runs her antique business part-time. She now runs her law practice out of the restored bank building and rents some of its offices to other attorneys.
Jordan's most recent creative ventures include renovating a lighthouse in North Haven, Maine, and writing a criminal law textbook.
Throughout the years, Jordan has been a frequent criminologist and expert commentator on various legal shows on CNN, Court TV, and many other networks, frequently commenting on serial homicide patterns. She was often featured on Catherine Crier's former show on Court TV.
Jordan has taken many paths during her career, building a rich background in a variety of industries in addition to law. Her career journey to find the balance that suits her professionally is an example to attorneys everywhere, proving that lawyers can explore other fields while excelling in law.
"I realized in my 20s that it's almost a curse to be good at more than one thing," she says. "Many people will see the job hopping and the variety on a resume, and they interpret that as a lack of direction, but it really isn't. Perhaps multidimensional people are almost cursed because they need to explore and discover and kind of do a triage to determine what they want to do for their primary bread-winning job while also fitting in their other interests so that they have a full life, because they're not going to be happy doing just one thing. I think it must be wonderful to know at age five what you want to do for a living and never doubt it for a moment. That wasn't me."
Hugh F. Keefe is One of the Best Trial Lawyers in Civil and Complex Criminal Litigation
Columbia Law School, New York City, New York