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. This month, we have Rob Dandorph, Sales Operations Manager at Stack Exchange.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Rob Dandorph, and I’m the Sales Ops Manager at Stack Exchange. I work on processes to streamline the sales cycle, and work with the internal development team to bring them to life.
Where did you go to law school?
Boston College JD/MBA
Did you enter law school with the intention to practice law?
I did, I always wanted to be a litigator or entertainment lawyer.
Did you practice law at any time? If so, where and what field?
What made you decide to go into your current profession?
Each summer I moved a bit further away from law in the strict definition. My first summer was with an incredible judge at the Federal District Court of NJ, and then I realized I wanted to be a bit more business focused so I added on my MBA. My second summer I worked at Sony Music in Business and Legal Affairs, my third summer I worked at Pearson in product, and during my fourth year, I worked with a VC. Each step of the way confirmed my love for business and startups, and it was a natural progression (though it was a hell of a time to explain on interviews).
How do the skills you gained as an attorney help you in your current profession?
I can help with legal matters as they pop up over here. The structured way of thinking and building arguments one sentence at a time in a memo helps immensely when approaching code. It’s also awesome to have the legal background to understand situations when they arise, be it in far-reaching politics or personally-affecting business contracts.
What advice can you give someone looking to go through a similar career trajectory?
It’s cliche, but follow your passions. Think about what blogs you read in your free time, and do a deep dive into that area. For me, I had a Tweet Deck set up with the Verge, TechCrunch, re/code, etc., so it was pretty hard to refute that technology would be my main direction. If you’re not having fun, don’t settle!
Would you consider practicing law?
Absolutely, so long as it’s in a business setting and you can work with the rest of the business to come up with solutions. It’s important that lawyers aren’t the people that say “no,” but rather the crafty way to get to “yes.”
What do you think is the next generation of “legal” jobs?
Great question – I don’t know. I would say with technology, but you’d have to convince a tech company of that, since they would be predisposed to trying a technical solution to their legal needs. Lawyers need to work hand in hand with technology companies to come up with scalable technology and practices, and learn how the consulting/advisory role can go hand-in-hand with that.
If you can give one piece of advice to yourself back in law school – what would it be?
I thought I wanted to go into entertainment law for a while, even though I knew nothing of what it entailed. It’s important not to hold fast to something before you truly understand it. Dreams should be rooted in passions and happiness, not preconceived notions of success. Stay flexible and agile. And always say yes to an opportunity, be it a strange class or unexpected job. No matter what happens, you’ll be one step closer to happiness, either by crossing that thing off the list or discovering what truly gets you excited. Broadened horizons make for an awesome person.