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.
Steve – thanks for joining us. Please, let our audience know – who are you, and what do you do?
I am Steven Mehr, CEO of WebShark360 a media company in California that handles traditional and digital advertising for businesses in California and across the nation. I am a lawyer, serial entrepreneur, investor, and consultant to growing law practices. I also serve as Chairman of the Law Office of Jacoby & Meyers California operations.
Where did you go to law school?
I graduated in 2001 from California Southern Law School in California.
Did you enter law school with the intention to practice law?
No, my intention was not to practice law.
Did you practice law at any time? If so, where and what kind?
I started my own law firm in 2006, specializing in employment, industrial injuries, and personal injury law. My firm was based out of Irvine, California (south of Los Angeles) and represented clients across the state of California. I sold that practice in 2011 after growing it to over 35 employees and over $5 million dollars in annual revenues.
What made you decide to leave practicing law and go into your current profession?
Even though my law firm was very successful, I was emotionally disconnected with my life, I took things too personally, and I was generally unhappy. A family medical issue pushed me to make the decision that I can design a better life for myself. I haven’t looked back since.
How do the skills you gained as an attorney help you in your current profession?
My entrepreneurial skills helped me to scale and grow my law firm. Now that I’m back to being a full–time entrepreneur with dozens of employees across a handful of business; having the background of managing a successful law practice has helped me in many areas: from being able to read people better to honing my negotiating skills.
The biggest single benefit has been the ability to solve both the small and the big problems that pop up in any business. In this world, your ability to solve problems has a direct correlation to how much money you earn. The better you are at solving problems, the more success you will achieve in life.
What advice can you give someone looking to go through a similar career trajectory?
Being a lawyer is not always easy. Being something else in life is just as hard. Be the type of person who is open to learning as much as you can and look at every hardship and bump in the road as an opportunity to learn and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
If you’re not currently practicing, would you ever return to practicing law?
My current role as a CEO, and even as Chairman of Jacoby & Meyers, focuses on finance, growth, marketing, operations and strategy. Any exposure I have is in the business law area (as I do not directly represent clients any longer). A law degree is an amazing tool to help people and gain problem-solving skills. I look at in just that way – as a tool. With maybe a few exceptions of when I have to put my lawyer hat on, I don’t believe I would actually ever return to representing clients on any kind of scale.
What do you think is the next generation of “legal” jobs?
I think “specialized” small practices are the future of the legal profession. More and more businesses want specialized knowledge. General practices are becoming dinosaurs. Also the “entrepreneurification” (making up a word) of law practice means that if you are running a firm, you need to be just as good as any CEO in the marketplace and understand technology, finance, operations, marketing and strategy; if you don’t have a high working understanding of these areas, then your future is at risk.
If you can give one piece of advice to yourself back in law school – what would it be?
When I had started law school, I doubted my decision to go to a second tier night law school. The reality is that it gave me the same opportunity to take the bar exam as someone who graduated Harvard law and I graduated with no debt since it was very low cost. Once you have your license, where you graduated is less important than how good you are at solving problems. So my advice would be to anyone thinking about law school, go the least expensive route possible; it rarely makes a difference in the real world (unless you want to be a slave in the basement of a top law firm).
Thanks again for your time and excellent advice, Steve!
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