Noha

Does Law School Kill Your Entrepreneurial Spirit?

I am absolutely struck by this NPR piece interviewing founder of LawScope and one of my favorite interviewees, Elena Kaspi. The piece is about the recession's impact on lawyers, and it has come at a perfect time in my career. I have recently volunteered to do something a bit riskier (more on that later) and it has made me realize just how risk averse my colleagues are. I highly encourage you to read this and think about your risk v. reward analysis. Kaspi says attorneys have been trained to be risk averse and I think she is right. I truly believe this risk aversion makes it difficult for some lawyers to jump start their careers, and I am not just talking about during tough economic times.

Students gain some very valuable tools in law school, the ability to think through issues and minimize risk. These tools are key to helping clients, but they can be your greatest asset or your greatest weakness. I had a discussion with an attorney/writer whose family immigrated from Korea when she was ten years old and she told me she felt that she was definitely more risk averse than her parents. And I am always amazed at a good friend of mine, a Georgetown Law grad, who watched her parents deal with the struggles that came with a failing business, and while she realizes that she wouldn't make the same mistakes her parents made, she is still extremely reluctant to take on such risks.

Is this something that law schools need to rethink in their curriculums? Could incorporating a business building aspect to law school curriculums help more women become partners, go out on their own, or transition to an alternate career that still uses their critical thinking skills. This issue is not new to the legal profession, in an interview with Ron Fox, career coach and former Harvard Law School Career Services Director, we discussed why only four Harvard Law School graduates from 1984-1988 started their own venture.

You may be wondering, or at least I did, how admission numbers are climbing for a profession that makes you less risk averse, less entrepreneurial and lands some of its candidates unemployed? I think to some the profession has a certain sex appeal and the potential for instant credibility. In the article, Kremen, who works at Radio Shack, talks about how customers react when they learn he is a lawyer.  The profession does have a certain je ne sais quoi, but I think it's important to think of your degree as a starting point. Use the tools you learned while procuring your law degree to help yourself as much as you use it to help others, and apply those skills to follow what you are truly passionate about-as the article mentions that can range from designing better bras to going to medical school.

Please click here to suggest folks you know that have transitioned careers or started their own venture and would make good interview candidates.

1 Comments

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