By Victoria Willingham • February 29, 2020•Writers in Residence
Before going to law school, I had a clear vision of the type of law I wanted to practice. I applied to numerous internships and sent many “cold emails” to lawyers in that field in efforts to gain insight into how to create a similar career path. I distinctly recall one response that said something like, “There is no way to be a ______ type of lawyer. You must do well in school and get the proper training. My job is no different than being a lawyer anywhere else.” I’m sure the person meant that, although some attorneys work in specific niches, law school is typically formatted to prepare graduates to enter into any field and apply their skills accordingly.
As I reflect on my own career journey, I recognize that there will always be a formula to approaching legal issues. With the dramatic shift of the overall workforce over the course of the past decade, however, legal professionals have been required to take great strides to accommodate the status quo. Working in tech, particularly, demands a unique combination of legal acuity, endurance, and innovation. Not only are legal professionals being faced with the usual complexities that companies endure, but they are also faced with unprecedented challenges that range in scope.
So, what is it like to actually work in tech or in startup environments? Like any industry it can vary between teams, roles, and companies. There is, however, a combination of aspects that make the work experience unique.
Here are some common themes that are fairly consistent across the board.
- There is no escaping the fast pace. As companies grow rapidly in new spaces, there is often a constant “all hands on deck” atmosphere that can be the perfect combination of fascinating and challenging.
- Collaboration is key. Due to the pace and typically collegial environments, companies tend to take a cross-functional approach to solving problems at a high rate.
- Creativity is welcomed and encouraged. Built on the premise of innovation, startup environments often expect team members from all departments to think outside of the box and maintain an entrepreneurial spirit throughout all their work.
- Everyone is constantly learning. Whether it’s changing regulations or the constant emergence of new ideas, tech spaces inherently foster consistent learning and development.
- It’s fun! If you enjoy being on the brink of innovation while simultaneously learning or shaping new areas of law, then you will likely find that in a tech environment.
If I was ever tasked with responding to an inquiry like the one sent so many years ago, I would make sure to iterate that we must always remember that the world is constantly evolving along with our profession. Although we all have required education, we must seek and embrace the societal shifts that may directly impact us by opening the opportunities for jobs that we never even knew would exist and making our experiences unlike anyone before us.