Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Tale of Two Tiers

Yesterday, I had two separate meetings with Ian and Tommy, two people with legal backgrounds.  Ian is a lawyer. Tommy has moved on from law and is in the improv world.  Both are from opposite ends of the law school tier system.  Ian attended a top law school, Tommy attended a lower ranked law school.  I don't know why, but I expected very different conversations with both people.  Not that one conversation would be dumb and the other intelligent, but that each conversation would have different outlooks on life, different strategies, etc.  Yet, in both conversations, the same word popped up.


Tommy hustled upon graduation.  He rented an office, took the per diem route, and, within a matter of months, gained many clients for his solo firm.  Ian had a highly sought-after job at a top law firm.  Ian did not have Tommy's hustle yet, but *spoiler alert* it's about to happen.  Both were, undoubtedly, making a lot of money.

But, like most people with great plans rattling in their brains, they were restless.  They wanted more. They wanted something else.  

For Tommy, a lifelong performer, it was a life that involved a stage and comedy.

For Ian, a CPA with a background in banking and business, it was a life of running his own law firm.

So the two left their jobs to pursue other things, essentially, to pursue themselves.  

Enter the hustle.

Tommy offered to mop floors at comedy clubs just to get his foot in the door.  Now that his foot is in, he continually reaches out to firms, corporations, and people in many different ways to offer his services. Ian is in contact with law schools, law students, and law organizations to get his name out and let his message be heard.  

Tommy is now doing a lot of work to bring laughter to people, but he has not completely left the legal world.  He has an accredited CLE, which he has taught in places all over North America, called "Improv(ed) Legal Skills".  This is not about bringing humor to the courtroom, rather, it is about thinking on your feet, developing a better relationship with a team, listening effectively, and conquering fears.  The class has been so successful that there is a waitlist to take it.  However, appointments can be made so that he brings the class to your corporation or law firm.  

Tommy does all this while being the Director of Corporate Programming at one of the great improv theaters/schools in New York City: The People's Improv Theater (The PIT).  Although he took an economic hit when he transitioned from law to improv, he told me that he is much happier now eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with his young son than he was eating steak dinners in Bermuda.      

Ian has his feet firmly rooted in the legal world, but his feet are not exactly rooted in a typical office.  Ian embraced technology and opened a virtual law office just a month ago after leaving his job at the law firm.  He specializes in immigration, bankruptcy, surrogacy/adoption, wills, and contracts.  

Ian also runs a blog about being successful in law school and beyond.  This blog is in anticipation of his upcoming book, The Law School Lowdown, which details everything from getting into law school to getting a job.  More info on this at a future date (hopefully a book review as well).  Ian is hustling his way to new areas, which is inspiring to see.

Ian and Tommy have excellent backgrounds and attitudes to ensure that their hustle helps their craft come to light.  Both have gone the route of believing 
There will be plenty of time to think inside the box when I'm dead.  
What did I learn?  Tiers matter when one wants a job in a multi-billion dollar industry making a name for the company and making a couple bucks for yourself.  But, when it comes to making a name for yourself, tiers don't matter.  It's the tears you put into your work that will undoubtedly take you to where you need to be.  

1 comment:

Law Student Ally said...

I agree! "All successful attorneys worked hard. They did not all attend Tier One schools."