Alternative Career Paths for Attorneys: Connecting the Dots - Priori

Alternative Career Paths for Attorneys: Connecting the Dots

By Rose Yan
| Legal Industry Priori News & Updates

 23-09-19 Priori Team Member - Rose Yan

Priori Senior Manager Rose Yan shares three career tips that served her well

Rose Yan, Senior Manager - Scout at Priori, knew from the outset of law school that she wanted to pursue an alternative career path. While law school often pushes law students down a more traditional route, there are many opportunities beyond—a fact that former lawyers understand well. In this article, Rose talks about her background, how she ended up at Priori and provides advice for lawyers, law students and anyone else interested in alternative career paths.

When I was a child, many people told me that I would probably grow up to be a lawyer. I’m not sure if it’s because I loved negotiating every little detail or because I always had my nose in a book, but I did indeed end up going to law school right after college. However, even after I graduated and passed the bar exam, I would not have guessed that I would find myself working for a legal technology company—even if that was only because I was unaware of the wide array of services that support the legal industry.

Through law school and legal internships, working in compliance for large financial services firms and then finding my way into a legal tech startup with Priori, I’ve worked in a lot of different environments. I think one of the most important things that has carried me through this experience is finding a niche where I could focus on connecting the dots—in my case, compliance and operations—and learning different ways to optimize those connections. Here are some tips that can help you do the same.

1. Explore Your Interests

I went to law school convinced that I did not want to practice as a lawyer. I had a background in economics and I was especially interested in the psychology and philosophy behind economics and what factors shape the decision-making of both individuals and groups. In my first semester, I thought tax law might be a good fit since it sits at the intersection of economics and law.

However, as I began exploring tax law, I had the good fortune of meeting a fellow law student who was pursuing law as a second career. She had already spent a number of years in finance and had decided to get a law degree to support a career pivot to compliance—which was and continues to be a growing area, particularly for lawyers and JDs. I am grateful to her for piquing my interest in compliance and she remains a dear friend.

After my 1L year, I accepted an internship in litigation at a government agency. That opportunity gave me valuable experience in learning how to connect the dots across people and processes and also validated my conclusion that litigation was not for me. Armed with that knowledge, I pursued a compliance role after law school and spent many years in compliance before deciding to move into operations. All of these steps were only possible because I kept myself open to exploring my interests, which also brings me to my next tip.

2. Take the Leap

Over the course of my career working in compliance and operations for financial services firms, I became really interested in technology. I enjoyed learning about data and data-driven decision-making, and being in operations gave me a great perspective on a shift happening across the financial services industry.

Big banks have become more tech-focused and motivated to revamp their tech stacks. As a result of mergers and acquisitions, companies have had to figure out how to integrate legacy systems. In operations, you see a lot of the gaps, challenges and risks related to different tech systems trying to work together. I started exploring what else I could do with a data and compliance background, especially options that would bring me closer to technology.

A similar shift has been happening in the legal industry and I learned about an opportunity at Priori to support a new SaaS product, Scout, and it has been a great fit. As I reflect on my journey from compliance to operations and now technology, I am glad I took the chance to make a change.

3. Find a Community

I think this is my most important tip for law students, lawyers and anyone interested in exploring alternative career paths. I have always found it very useful to have a space where I can talk about work without being in the workplace. For me, that has been the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY). I joined as a law student and it has been a formative experience.

It really helps to have a community of people you can chat with about what you are experiencing and learning professionally. Being a part of a professional organization has helped guide my career journey in many ways. You can learn about new opportunities and different ways to find success. You can meet peers and mentors, who may give you ideas about where you want to go with your career. You can discuss what you are learning and whether you are taking the right lessons away from your experiences.

Over the years, I have been in a number of situations where I learned certain things from roles or projects that I thought led to obvious conclusions about what I should do next or where I should go next. Instead, once I talked to other professionals, I ended up discovering that my experiences actually opened up a whole other world beyond my initial conclusions.

Getting involved in a professional association and connecting with people outside the constraints of your specific workplace is invaluable. Having a separate safe space to have conversations about work and how you want to develop professionally will enhance every other aspect of your professional life.

Bonus: Quick Tips for Tech Success

These are a few shorter pieces of advice related to skills in my toolbox that have come in handy working for a startup technology company:

  • Understand your clients: While we are a smaller company, a lot of our clients are large companies and being aware of how they do business has been very valuable. It is very helpful to anticipate potential blockers and understand the workflows our clients are managing internally so that we can structure our flows to accommodate them.

  • Embrace being a generalist: I think one of the important lessons we have learned in this current era of risk management is that silos create risk. Instead, you should strive to understand what your neighboring teams are doing, how your work impacts theirs and vice versa.

  • Listen, listen, listen: In the tech space, people are so important, both your team and the client’s team. It is important to listen to each other and understand what the problem is, so you can design a solution that works.

Want to learn more about Priori’s outside counsel decision-making SaaS platform Scout? Attend a live product demo on October 4.

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