Trailblazer – Ryan Alshak, CEO of P.I.N.G Inc

By | September 13, 2017

Lawlternate is excited to continue our Trailblazers series, featuring attorneys who have followed their passion and ventured into new careers giving advice to those interested in doing the same.

Today, we have Ryan Alshak, CEO of P.I.N.G – automated timekeeping for lawyers.

Where did you go to law school?
 
USC Gould School of Law
 
Did you enter law school with the intention to practice law?
 
Very much so. I came in with my mind set that I would end up as the Los Angeles Clippers’ GC one day. I was a lifelong Clipper fan (a sadomasochistic existence) and became obsessed with the idea of combining law and sports. I had zero clue how I would actually go about achieving that, but I figured if I got a good job coming out of USC it’d work itself out.
 
Did you practice law at any time? If so, where and what kind?
 
I actually ended up practicing at Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Los Angeles where the Clippers’ GC was a partner. When I was a summer associate, I got to attend the Clippers draft day which was a dream come true. I started working under Bob to learn the ropes, and then three months into practicing, TMZ released the Donald Sterling tapes and the rest is history.
 
What are your interests outside of law?
 
If it isn’t clear by now, sports. I am also quite a passionate Harry Potter fan. I may or may not have a picture of me playing Quidditch where they shot the Harry Potter movies in London.
 
Have you practiced anything in that interest?
 
I tried with the Clippers! Unfortunately, Hogwarts never offered an in-house position despite their clear need for it.
 
How do the skills you gained as an attorney help you in your current profession?
 
Law school does a great job of training lawyers to focus on what matters. You’d read a twenty-page case only to take away from it the one-line holding. And that is what starting a business is like, constantly ignoring the ambient noise to focus on what matters – building good product and talking to customers. 
 
What advice can you give someone looking to go through a similar career trajectory?
 
Just do. When I first entered the entrepreneurial world, it was with a completely different idea in a completely different space. But I trusted myself that if I just jumped, I’d figure out how to land. That idea never went anywhere, but the experience and insight from it led me directly to where I am now.
 
Also, law school gives you a lot of free time. Take advantage of it by exploring whatever crazy idea you may have. There is no better time. Oh, and befriend the engineering school on your campus.
 
If you’re not currently practicing, would you ever return to practicing law?
 
I tend to focus on six-month sprints so I have no idea what the future holds for me other than I’ve never been happier doing what I’m doing now.
 
What do you think is the next generation of “legal” jobs?
 
In the short-term, legal jobs will look very similar to what they are now. Tech will take over the mundane and repetitive tasks of the job and allow lawyers to focus on high-end and differentiated legal advice.
 
But in fifty years, I think there will be no more segmentation of jobs. People will simply recognize a problem, and build their own business around it. We will all be business-owners. 
 
If you can give one piece of advice to yourself back in law school – what would it be?
 
Twain has a great quote: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” I would tell myself that when everyone around you is zigging, it’s time to zag. Law school can be quite a herd mentality and it’s easy to get caught up in it because you want to impress your friends or not be seen as a failure. Stop doing things because your classmates are doing it, in fact, figure out what they are not doing and do that.
 
And get rid of your DVR. Read a book instead.