Disruption is the buzzword characterising every lawyer’s experience. Against this backdrop of disruption, traditional law firms – and senior lawyers – can remain firmly set in their ways, particularly around the role of new lawyers, the work of lawyers, and what clients want.
However, amidst this tug and pull of tradition and change lies renewed opportunity for lawyers to forge their ideal career path, promote their specialist knowledge, and use neurolawyership to develop new essential skills.
Insights spoke to legal startup founder, marketer and academic Wenee Yap on how she carved her unusual career in law, and what advice she might have to thrive as a lawyer in the age of digital disruption. Wenee is founder of Survive Law and the Ducky Mafia.
“I graduated into the Global Financial Crisis, so in a sense, my entire career was characterised by disruption,” said Wenee. “Friends were being offered lump sums to not take up their graduate offers as firms drastically scaled back their clerkship and graduate recruitment.
“Scarcity requires resilience and creativity. Even though I graduated with good grades, I decided not to start a career in this kind of environment, but to find other ways in which I could upskill and potentially benefit the law.”
Instead, she chose to focus on marketing and communications, a decision driven by pragmatism and passion.
“Every business needs someone to help bring in more business; as far as jobs go, it’s more recession-proof than most. I was no salesperson; in fact, the idea of cold calls, pitching and meetings was fairly intimidating. I had no business experience. I also had no PR experience. So I took a job in an award-winning food PR firm which paid $12/hour and learned all I could. Then I started Survive Law, which launched into oblivion for the first six months from a grant from UTS. It was only when I involved a very impressive student editor, Kathryn Crossley, that it began to gain the consistency and momentum to grow its audience. It took a few more years of pitching and rejection to build up an advertising base. It was gruelling work for both of us, and I was also working a full-time marketing job. However, it was essential to establishing a reputation in the Australian legal profession as a marketer – which I spun off into a co-authored book, Australia’s first on social media marketing and law, and a now thriving content marketing firm, The Ducky Mafia.”
Adaptability and networking
- Understanding why you became a lawyer;
- Identifying you values and setting your priorities;
- Getting your priorities right;
- Understanding your strengths and weaknesses;
- Re-thinking opportunity;
- Changing your mindset; and
- Developing a plan and get networking
Maciek presented on this at The College of Law’s Thriving as a Lawyer event that was held in March 2017
Like Maciek, Wenee also stresses the importance of identifying your strength and weaknesses.
“It’s important to evaluate yourself against your strengths and weaknesses. Opportunity leads from there. For example, I didn’t thrive in conflict. Fundamentally, I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to help empower people in a society governed by an often obfuscating set of rules. Interpreting the law one-on-one for a client probably wasn’t the most efficient way to achieve this aim.
“Being a marketer for legaltech firms like McCarthyFinch and NewLaw firms like LegalVision is fantastic because these firms restructure how law can be offered - affordably, effectively and efficiently. The power of law shifts to the people, where it always belonged.”
Self-promotion and content
Effectively communicating what you do and what value you offer is often as important as doing good work. In the second session of the College of Law’s ‘Thriving as a Lawyer’ event, Wenee will focus on how to use content writing to promote a lawyer’s professional experience and expertise via guest contributions and PR, LinkedIn and blogs.
“These are essentially the skills of a journalist or expert commentator,” said Wenee. “However, as clients increasingly Google lawyers before committing to our service, it’s important that what is publicly available about us validates our expertise and fees.”
Resilience and consistent high performance is a trait essential to thrive as the profession evolves. It is also the focus of the third session at the College of Law’s ‘Thriving as a Lawyer’ event.
“Lawyers need to un-train their innate – and very necessary – perfectionism which is so useful in law and so unhelpful in a career. Learning how to fail also means learning to self-evaluate and create a better environment for high performance.”
Wenee presented at The College of Law’s Thriving as a Lawyer event on 26 March 2018. Additional speakers at the event include Maciek Motylinski, Co-Founder of Beyond Billables, and Grant Herbert, Founder & CEO of People Builders.
For further programs to develop your skills and give you confidence in the changes approaching the profession, view all skills workshops here.