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Summary: Lawyers are not stuck in their career and often find great success as entrepreneurs, using their skills and talents to develop their own companies.
Training in the legal field is all that a lot of people need to gain the confidence to explore even better opportunities that arise. More and more lawyers are becoming entrepreneurs, using their legal knowledge to balance a new and competitive market where their individuality stands out. Lawyers are expected to mold into the firm and blend in with the other attorneys, but some lawyers just don’t fit in.
Angela Haines covers this issue in her article on Forbes, “Changing Hats: Lawyers Turn Entrepreneurs.” Quite often lawyers feel like they have to stick with their career since they went through the hard work to get there. However, there are options that arise that some lawyers are finding is a better fit.
Former securities lawyer Ali Wing started out in her transformation to a new career by criticizing a client’s revenue model. Luckily for her, she had experience in marketing before turning to the legal field and also had a strong footing in business with a combined business law degree from Northwestern. She then moved away from law after working for Gunderson Dettmer to marketing for Gazoontite. This position inspired her to explore the baby market for older parents. She launched her own company, Grantedgle, to a target audience of parents looking for customized and smarter, organic products for their babies. Her company has grown to support a 40 person corporate staff and 120 employees working in the field to support their products being sold online and from 15 retail outlets.
Wing describes herself as “atypically operational. I’m not a serial entrepreneur, but I do have global domination plans for Grantedgle. It may take a long time to build big plays, but I have the work ethic and tenacity to prevail, though I am also quick to delegate when I have the right team.” For Wing, her hard work as an attorney transferred perfectly into her new job.
Another attorney that saw an opportunity brought by her experience as an attorney was Jessica Eaves Mathews. While working as a commercial litigator and business lawyer, she often found herself out on the golf course with clients. Men are able to transition their attire from a meeting to the golf course and then to the clubhouse for drinks after. Women aren’t able to transition their outfits so easily. They are forced to change into a separate outfit to golf in and then change back after. She explained, “I saw that men could wear on the golf course what they wore to work, maybe a pair of khakis and a nice sports shirt; they look very put together. But for women the choices were limited to shapeless golf shirts and skorts (short skirts with shorts), inappropriate for business. I also hated missing out on conversations and dealmaking when I had to change from work dress into those terrible old-fashioned outfits, then change again before I could join the guys for a drink in the club house.”
This experience led Mathews to develop her own clothing line of golf clothes for women called Grace & Game. She admits that she had no idea how to run a business but was able to learn the fundamentals while running a small construction company. She now is launching her completely U.S. manufactured clothing line to high end golf shops, spas, and boutiques as well as online. She hopes to continue developing her company so that it can be desirable to those not in the golfing world.
Lawyers have the capabilities to be successful in more than just law firms if they find that is the direction they are pulled in. While working as an attorney for a law firm, in-house, or government organization is the original goal, life throws curve balls that can place high chances of success for lawyers in other positions.
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