Lawyer Who Left $200K Legal Job Had to Overcome His Legal Training

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ever thought about ditching the profession and going into business? Think it'll be easy with a law degree in your back pocket?

Think again. Paul Mandell left his high-paying job at Arnold & Porter and has since started two companies. He says his legal education initially "created significant hurdles."

It made him "risk-averse and perfection-obsessed" such that he wasted time and possibly lost out on unique opportunities.

In one poignant example, Paul Mandell explains that he spent hours editing a 4-page commercial lease. He researched local law, added assignment and forum selection clauses, and basically created an entirely new document.

It was a month-to-month agreement. He now admits his actions were a bit excessive.

The business world is fast-paced and requires some willingness to take chances. Mandell believes that a legal education can get in the way of new entrepreneurs. Lawyers-turned-businessmen need to accept exceptional work for what it is, and not seek perfection. They also need to be confident in their decisions.

He also suggests that the entrepreneurial amongst you develop confidence in your neglected skills. Embrace your creativity and whatever interpersonal skills you have left. Even if you haven't used them in years, they still exist.

To be fair, a legal education can be useful for those who choose the business route. Knowledge of contracts, corporations and intellectual property will always come in handy. And your dealings will (hopefully) be held to the strictest legal standards, which could boost investor confidence.

But still, Paul Mandell asserts that such knowledge is not enough to be successful in business. You ultimately need a strong work ethic and passion to survive.

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