At a wedding several years ago, I overheard my Dad joke about how his only daughter, a Boston College law grad and a former Boston labor lawyer, was baking cookies for a living. Yes, I briefly juggled being a new mom and my own business, Jodie’s Cookies. Believe it or not, my legal training and experience did come in handy in starting and running a small business. Hey, I wasn’t just baking the cookies; I was negotiating and drafting agreements with customers for our late-night cookie deliveries, keeping the books and managing employment issues.
The Road Typically Traveled
If someone had asked me in law school what my legal career would look like, I bet my answer would have been something like, “I want to be a labor lawyer at a law firm.” And that’s what I did for a number of years, starting out in the document room (yup, reviewing paper!) and working my way up to advising clients, making court appearances and writing briefs. I jumped on every opportunity to participate in labor negotiations – like sitting across from United Steelworkers during a heated negotiation over pension benefits that would lead to a strike – even if it meant late hours keeping up with my other cases.
A Leap of Faith with Skills to Support
When I transitioned to the first of my several jobs outside of the normal practice of law, all of those skills and experiences went with me. Some of those jobs were a leap of faith, but my employment law experience helped make sure that faith wasn’t unfounded. Those same core skills I learned in law school and while practicing at a big law firm research, writing, negotiating, analyzing, problem-solving – is what made excelling at non-traditional legal roles possible.
In my career, I transitioned to a corporate role, moving from in-house counsel to Director of Comp & Benefits for Tufts Health Plan and then stepping into a role as an HR Director at Infotech. After starting a family, I ran Jodie’s Cookies for a few years, but, when Infotech’s CEO Jim McClave called me more than a decade ago and asked me to return to Infotech to do research for a new case, I jumped at the chance to take on a new challenge.
Choosing the Right Path
After well over a decade, I am still here at Infotech and I love how I can use my legal experiences and skills every day as a part of the Infotech Consulting team. From drafting and editing reports and discovery requests to preparing effective demonstratives, to researching and keeping projects on track, I am applying those same skills I started to develop in law school and as a new lawyer.
So my advice to new lawyers? Hone your skills, know that opportunities for lawyers go beyond the walls of law firms and don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled – it will make all the difference.