At Amicus Partners, one of the of my biggest learnings is that education and growth (personal and professional) need not always be a linear process. Nor are there always template answers and pathways for finding success.
And this is where the idea behind “The Alternates” came up – have people followed non-traditional routes to finding “success”? And if so, what are the difficulties they faced, and what are the things they have learnt along the way? In this edition, we get NLU Jodhpur graduate Divya Ramesh to share a few thoughts.
Sorry (not sorry) to take you (way!) back in time, but why did you choose to study law? And, now with the benefit of time, how valuable was your legal education?
I ended up in law by a complete fluke that stemmed out of having no idea what I wanted to study. I was also a rather naive child who was presented with the stereotypical options of “engineering, medicine or law” and by process of elimination I ended up a lawyer.
I’ll refrain from giving the usual “I took away essential analytical skills from law school” answer – I don’t think it contributed a whole lot in itself apart from letting me have a grand old time with respect to personal development, and building relationships that have been pretty crucial for me.
After you graduated, you opted for a role as in house counsel – why? Were you ever considering opting for an unconventional pathway? Or was this something you decided on only after working for a while?
Very early on in law school I knew this isn’t what I wanted to do long term. I wasn’t sure what I did want to do, but this probably wasn’t it. I used to blog a lot for fun (back when blogs were a thing) and got really active- and for 2007 standards quite popular – on Twitter.
I used those soft skills (for the lack of any other) to take up freelance writing and copy editing assignments, all while dutifully completing law school on the side. After I graduated with Corporate Law Hons., I decided (still being dutiful) to give being a lawyer a go. I was an in house counsel, yes, for two years. It seemed like the path of the fewest immediate obstacles as far as being a lawyer went. And then I decided to quit while I was still young and still had the willpower to leave the lawyer-money behind.
Your first “non-lawyer” job was?
A junior copywriter at a digital ad agency. That’s a fun story, I was exploring career options and I started asking around about advertising. I vaguely knew a girl from my blogging days – we were “blogger friends” – who had started her own agency so I pinged her asking if I could pick her brain about how the industry worked.
She explained it to me and then asked me to interview at her agency, since she was already familiar with how I thought and wrote. I did and I got that job, where I stayed for 5 years. Yay for the internet!
Was it difficult to make this switch? Any barriers that came up along the way?
My family was petrified at the fact that I was proposing to leave a respectable career in law for something they had no idea about – and leaving the Bombay High Court for a small warehouse office that I would wear shorts to. Assuaging them was the biggest concern but once I managed that – after a LOT of persistence- it was all good.
Do you miss anything about the lawyer life?
Not a thing.
Do you NOT miss anything about the lawyer life?
I don’t think I was cut out for law, really. I could see why it would be an interesting field to work in if I was a different sort of person, so I respect the profession a lot. But I certainly don’t miss reading through those giant stacks of agreements.
What are some of the nicer things about your current line of work?
Nicer is so subjective. I enjoy that I have to stay up to date on popular culture, social media trends and strange things that the internet throws up for my job. It’s interesting in a more outward facing manner, in a way that drafting the perfect indemnity clause isn’t. But it’s also quite exhausting and requires you to be constantly creative and innovative. There’s good and there’s bad, but it’s a lot of fun.
Would you recommend studying law for those who are not sure about their professional ambitions?
Right out of school – absolutely not. Do a BA. Or a B.Sc. Or a more generalised course that will give you a better idea of your skills and interests so you can have a less meandering career path. It may not give you an effortless ice-breaker in job interviews (wait you were a lawyer 10 years ago!?), but will ensure that you’re able to learn what you like and need instead of bumbling your way into the job you finally want.