I Have a Law Degree but I’m Not a Lawyer

“I have a law degree but I’m not a lawyer”. I find myself saying that a lot lately. When I interview potential candidates (I’m a legal and finance recruiter for those who don’t know), it comes up a lot. I’m happy to chat about my story today but that wasn’t always the case.

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I left it all behind. I imagined that people would find me weak, fragile, stupid. Here’s the thing: I know I could have been a kick ass lawyer. I worked with some pretty intense people in my short time in the legal field and they all told me that I had what it takes.

Here’s what I also know: I would have been miserable. As much as I loved reviewing contracts or figuring out a clever way to help my employer get out of a sticky situation (I mostly worked in-house), I also secretly hated everything that came with it. I felt empty. Don’t even get me started on my one and only summer in big law (think, tears and a bathroom stall).

Do you remember when you were a kid and grown-ups would ask you want you wanted to be when you grow up? You would pause and think and say: “police man” or “fireman” or “doctor” or “vet”and if you were me you would say: “A&R Rep for a record label“(I was a pretty weird kid…I used to call record labels and sing on their answering machines).

My dad would quickly chime in and say: “Lawyer, she’s going to be a lawyer”. As I got older, I started to respond with lawyer too. The A&R rep became a ghost that lived in a fantasy land. So off to law school I went. Did I truly want to be a lawyer? No, but the fear of disappointing my father was so real, that I did what I needed to make him proud. As an immigrant to Canada, my father came over in the 70s and worked as a cook 60-70 hours every single week. I had to make something of myself and A&R Rep was simply not going to cut it.

So I went to law school but I hated every minute of it. I was bored, unchallenged and frankly wondered if it was all worth the obscene tuition fees. The best thing about law school was the friends I made. The rest made me sick. I graduated. Then I failed the Bar. Then I failed the Bar again. Then I got depressed. Then I thought it was the end of the road for me. I hated law but it WAS also such a massive part of my identity, it’s all I had. So many people believed in me. So many people encouraged me. So many people mentored me. And now what? What good is a law degree if you don’t practice law?

It took some time but, I realized the A&R in me never died. You see an A&R’s job is to find talent and develop it. To find the right music for the right artist. The right music for the right artist is the recipe you need to create a superstar. I always wanted to elevate others and watch them rise to the occasion which is why I think I wanted to be an A&R.

Today it hit me. I do that every day. I find the right person for the right job at the right time and hopefully with a little guidance that person will become a superstar. I took the long road, but I made it right to where I was meant to be.

What a dream come true.