Lawlternate is excited to introduce our Trailblazers series, featuring attorneys who have followed their passion and ventured into new careers giving advice to those interested in doing the same. Introducing our first Trailblazer, Ginni Chen, Director of Venture Programs at Hire an Esquire.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Ginni Chen and I’m with the women-founded legal tech startup Hire an Esquire. I handle all manner of business development activity, from sales to client management to partnerships to marketing efforts to directing the venture program.
Where did you go to law school?
The University of Michigan Law School.
Did you enter law school with the intention to practice law?
Did you practice law at any time? If so, where and what kind?
I was in Litigation at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP.
What made you decide to leave practicing law and go into your current profession?
I got into business development at startups because it was an exciting chance to build a company from the ground up. I was previously Director of Business Development at another startup before joining Hire an Esquire.
Funny story – I was actually brought on by Hire an Esquire as an attorney for their Venture Program, which is a partnership between Hire an Esquire, Orrick, and WeWork. I ended up joining the company full-time because I liked what they were doing – challenging the legal industry, bringing it up to speed, and, of course, liberating attorneys.
How do the skills you gained as an attorney help you in your current profession?
I still work in the legal industry, so my familiarity with it helps on a daily basis. In terms of skills, I still read everything from client contracts to marketing copy like a lawyer – closely and analytically. Being a lawyer also teaches you to operate on very little sleep and live with constant high stress, skills that have proved strangely useful in startup life.
What advice can you give someone looking to go through a similar career trajectory?
Always look for opportunities to learn from non-lawyers. You’ll need to develop business acumen, client relationship management skills and the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that you rarely learn in law schools or at BigLaw firms.
Would you ever return to practicing law?
Yes, if the right opportunity arose.
What do you think is the next generation of “legal” jobs?
Hopefully there will be continued growth in legal tech and we’ll see more people working in legal tech. There are so many inefficiencies in the legal industry, there’s lots of room for people to make it their job to fix it. Who knows, maybe one day working in legal tech will be as profitable and prestigious at working in BigLaw.
If you can give one piece of advice to yourself back in law school – what would it be?
Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Law students are very good at worrying about what everyone else is doing, wondering whether they should be doing it too, and then panicking if they’re not following each other’s exact steps. Just calm down.
Thank you for your time, and awesome advice Ginni!
Have any more questions for Ginni, or know somebody that should be featured on Lawlternate? Contact us!