Statistician John Tukey once said, “The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” At any given time, my co-workers and I are immersed in the study of different markets ranging from electronic components to chocolate to chemicals to dental supplies.
Since Dr. Jim McClave called me out of retirement in 2009 to work on the Urethanes case, playing in everyone’s backyard has kept my life interesting. The Urethanes case involved intermediate chemicals used in the manufacturing of rigid and flexible foam. Did you know that urethane chemicals are used to make the insulation in your house and the soles of your shoes? Not surprisingly, our team had a lot to learn about methylene diphenyl isocyanate, toluene diisocyanate, and polyols! Say that three times fast. In my second week at the Urethanes trial in Kansas City, it dawned on me that the Infotech family knew more about MDI, TDI, and polyols than we ever thought we would when my 7-year-old son called to tell me that our memory foam mattress was probably made from chemicals involved in our case!
All of this research and teamwork is necessary to assemble a picture that can be applied to a final analysis and assists the team at every step along the way. Whether one of our experts has been asked to estimate damages in a price fixing case or do an economic analysis in a loss of business action, each new case for us starts with learning the intricacies of the relevant industry. While our Data Management team is working with the data produced in discovery, our Case Development team researches basic industry fundamentals — like how the product is actually made and where plants are located — as well as relevant economic factors that might ultimately be reflected in our econometric analysis — what are the costs that the industry players really care about and what impacts demand for the product. We scour discovery documents and public data sources, whether to assist the Data team in understanding the nuances of products, to build a timeline of key economic and industry events, or to compile data and support on price drivers in the industry. There are so many parts of my job that I love and that challenge me … and playing in everyone’s backyard is one of them.
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.