My decision to become a lawyer was probably born in a New Zealand classroom when I was 11. During a class debate, I argued ardently about the plight of the dolphin, trying to survive in overfished waters. My teacher remarked that I would make a good lawyer someday and her comment stayed with me.
As the years passed, I came to know that:
- Essay writing isn’t that bad (I had a vague notion that law school and the legal profession involved a lot of that sort of thing).
- I have a strong moral code which I wanted to bring to bear in the world.
- LA Law really was the most glamorous television programme EVER and I really, really wanted to have a briefcase/convertible/awesome 80s haircut…
And so the idea of becoming a lawyer took root. I wanted to ‘fight the good fight’, while magically developing a perfect personal life in the background like one of those LA Lawyers.
I enrolled at law school. Cue an initial, alarming realisation that most of the case law was fairly dry. The criminal cases were an exception – some of the fact summaries would not have been out of place in an episode of Hollyoaks. Despite the often dry subject matter, I developed a ‘law crush’ on Lord Denning – so creative! And I adored (in a terrified kind of way) the moot courts. However, it just wasn’t where I wanted to focus my energy.
Actually, working in commercial law seemed a natural choice to me – I loved the idea that lawyers could have a positive impact around the inception of transactions and, hopefully, prevent litigation.
I took a summer clerkship at a large New Zealand law firm and began using email for the first time (seriously). I loved it – even the all-nighters. Pizza at 1am in the office during a due diligence process was novel and exciting… then.
A few years after I qualified, I left for London for a two year ‘overseas experience’ (New Zealand parlance for living abroad for a while). ‘Two years’ became ‘I didn’t go back’ and, a few stints in-house later, I’m now a happy LODer. Working very autonomously for a great client, with excellent know-how and support resources at my disposal, feeling genuinely valued by those lovely folks at LOD HQ… what’s not to like?
Don’t get me wrong, it was a daunting prospect moving from being a long-term employee to a freelancer. But, as my life has progressed, I have come to know a few more things:
- Taking risks (calculated, of course; I am a lawyer after all!) and committing completely to the desired outcome can be extremely rewarding. And, even if you fail, you may learn a great deal in the process which might ultimately be helpful.
- What constitutes a fulfilling existence may (and probably will) vary throughout life. Right now, I do not want to be obligated to practise law while eating pizza in a draughty office building at 1am (unless I choose to do so!)
- Fulfilled, contented people bring more to their work.
So, I have finally taken up drumming as a hobby– a long-time ambition of mine. And done a lot of other non-law things. Although LOD isn’t going to turn me into Lord Denning, it certainly makes me feel happier and more engaged when I’m working and that works for me.