Very recently, I read an article about a six-figure millennial entrepreneur who openly announced that he wished he hadn’t gone to college. In the article, he goes into detail about why he wished he spent those 4 years on cultivating a meaningful project that would have had greater impact on the world – whether by traveling, starting a business, or volunteering.
I found the article intriguing and inspiring. It also made me feel a tad envious. Candidly, I didn’t hit the six-figure mark until I was well into my 30’s, and years deep into my legal career.
Millennials are leading the digital age with influence, innovation, and they are employing a ton of creativity. It got me thinking though. Entrepreneurship was not even something in my mind when I graduated college in 1999, nor was it a thought when I graduated law school 14 years ago, at the age of 25.
An online business? Digital marketing? Social selling? Those phrases just weren’t in my vernacular.
The leap into entrepreneurship for many millennials has become their “why” in life. In today’s digital age, it’s now feasible for all of us to sit in Starbucks and or at a lavish co-working space and plug away at an online business and generate 5-figures a month with a service or a product. You can market your business 100% free of charge just by disseminating your thoughts into cyberspace while creating sales funnels and creative opt-ins, and then continue leveraging them even more through social media channels. Why not take that chance?
But, in 1999 when I graduated college, the dot-com era was just rising. Law school was a practical (and conservative) option for me to continue my education and better my career. Go to college, go to law school, get a job as a lawyer, and make big lawyer money. It seemed valid and logical.
For years, I regretted it, particularly when my loan payments kicked in, and I felt trapped. It took me over 10 years to make the leap into entrepreneurship, and acknowledge that the way to secure financial freedom and personal happiness was not by a paycheck.
There were many moments (more than I can even count) over the last 14 years where I have thought, what did my law degree really do for me other than give me six-figures of debt? It wasn’t until I became successful at business ownership that I could acknowledge this one truth: my law degree has, without a doubt, made me a better entrepreneur. Here are the three fundamental reasons why:
1. It taught me how to use my words more effectively.
Law school taught me how to be a better writer and how to use my words more effectively. The practice of law enhanced that ability. Day in and day out as a lawyer practicing for over 10 years, I learned the power of words in both verbal usage and written usage. My words became my most powerful weapon when I deposed an expert witness or plaintiff, and those words became even more influential when I carefully selected them to formulate the crux of my legal arguments to a judge. They also gave me immense influence in legal opinions, discovery motions, and appellate briefs. When I speak to clients, my ability to articulate and put those words into the universe is succinct and clear. Law trained me well for that.
When I develop personal branding for clients, my words become the power for my clients to leverage their resume, their LinkedIn profile, or even their blog to the outside world. Utilizing my law degree in entrepreneurship has allowed me to excel in becoming a thought leader, a writing expert, as well as leveraging a direct approach that gets to the point even faster.
2. It taught me how to execute with measurable results.
Business and entrepreneurship are all about execution. You can have the most incredible ideas, but if you cannot execute them with finesse and garner monetary results in the process, then your business will fail or remain stagnant. Practicing law is all about bringing results for your clients, whether to get them money, prevent them from paying money, or prevent them from adverse consequences. Your ability to execute solutions for your clients in law is the same in entrepreneurship. I am all about the bottom-line results for my clients and in my daily interactions.
3. It helped me to analyze and reason with greater logic.
Law has taught me to create a roadmap and a plan, but to problem-solve and analyze before stepping into that plan. Everything I do in my business and personal life is with intricate detail, deep analysis, and immense preparation. As a lawyer, I’ve been taught to see each situation from many different angles, and to ask the right questions to convey the strongest of arguments. Whenever I work with a client, I can look at their career trajectory from every possible angle – the subjective view of the client and the objective view of the outside business world, a recruiter, a hiring manager, and everyone in between.
While attending college or law school cannot truly predict the success of a person once they graduate, the process of it does arm the graduate with certain tools and knowledge. At the end of the day, it’s incumbent upon that person to execute on the knowledge and leverage the tools. I firmly believe that my law degree and practical use of it has furthered my business and entrepreneurial mindset. At almost 14 years later, I can truly say, I am grateful I obtained a law degree and leveraged it.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, award-winning career expert, and Forbes Career Coach who has been featured in more than 30 news sources and online publications as a top authority in resume writing, LinkedIn profiles, and job search strategies.