Every now and then, I get asked why I made the leap from corporate gig to technology startup. I’d seen Rocket Lawyer’s products, believed in its mission and liked its approach, however, the corporate giants called out to me like a siren song in the night (along with tempting benefits, such as free bagels). Surely the smart choice?
Here are 7 reasons why I took the plunge and entered the startup world instead.
What is the best thing about working at a startup?
When you work at a startup you’re working alongside people who are true innovators. Innovators are not afraid to break the mould and be disruptive in their industries. Richard Susskind spoke of the “more for less” challenge of delivering more legal services at a lower cost. He said liberalisation of the legal market is a key driver for change, enabling non-lawyers to deliver services that are currently being provided by lawyers only.
At the crux of market liberalisation is technology, which refuses to sit comfortably beside the traditional working world of lawyers. Technology allows us to work so much faster, causing legal functions to speed up and driving legal costs down. Rocket Lawyer is one of those startups that has embraced technology with both hands. It has scaffolded the “do it yourself” model with support from a growing network of On Call lawyers, daring to adapt, innovate and be inspired by the evolving legal climate, as opposed to shying away from it. By introducing technology into an industry considered expensive and complex by entrepreneurs and small businesses alike, Rocket Lawyer has driven down the cost of legal services, whilst simplifying the law in the process.
So what’s the best thing about working at a startup? The fearlessness.
What’s the workload like?
It’s unbelievably varied. The great thing about working at a startup is that you get to wear many hats (even that weird one that you didn’t think you would ever like, but find out you do). One day, I could be drafting a legal contract and the other, working alongside our technical editor in getting that content onto the website. The challenges and opportunities at a startup constantly change, meaning you’re always learning new skills. I’m not bound to a fixed routine so it’s never dull – there’s always something new to learn.
When you’re working at a startup, you’re contributing directly to the creation and growth of the business, so you never feel “stuck” in a particular role or responsibility. Instead, you’re paving the way towards a fulfilling career. Startups also let you branch out and try something new (my new year’s resolution is learning how to code – I already know what “nesting” is, so I’m halfway there).
What have you learnt over the past year?
I’ve learnt to put my crazy ideas out there. When you’re working at a startup, people are more open to new ideas, no matter how out of reach you think they are. Startups have “a can-do attitude” – no problem too big, no idea too extreme. I’ve also learnt that in a startup, you can pave your own career path. Whatever your skillset, you can always find new and exciting ways to develop it, or even venture out and pursue a career in something totally different. Whatever your interest, there is a startup somewhere out there waiting to nurture it.
What about the challenges?
You have to help create everything from scratch and develop the workflows that best fit the company, change and adapt them once and again. The learning curve is a steep one, but totally worth it when you see all of your hard work have an immediate impact on the business. Another challenge of working at a startup is how busy you get (although it’s a great kind of busy that promotes growth across a multitude of different areas).
What opportunities have you had since starting?
Since starting at Rocket Lawyer, I’ve had the opportunity to combine my two interests – law and technology. If you have a passion for what’s new in technology, the sector needs people with a legal background to provide up-to-date information and interpret the law for new products. Whilst I admit, the law is still developing in these areas, much of my role involves applying traditional legal systems to new things. This makes it very progressive and exciting.
Rocket Lawyer has also allowed me to expand my horizons. Since starting in October 2015, we’ve opened three new offices – one in France, one in Spain and one in the Netherlands. Discovering how legal systems operate in those areas has been a real eye opener and something I’m looking to enhance as the company grows and becomes more globalised.
Why should legal folks head to startups?
Legal eagles have a whole host of skills and abilities that appeal to startups. First and foremost, lawyers are solution orientated (very much like startups themselves). They love to get their teeth into a problem and actively seek out creative solutions. Lawyers are also very team orientated and adapt well to change, which is crucial if you’re going to succeed in a startup. Many lawyers often express frustration with the inefficiencies and bottle necks that exist at law firms, old habit and precedent defining their every action. Many startups are about streamlining processes and finding more efficient ways to do things, usually through the use of smart technology. If you seek to shake things up a little, a startup may be for you.
What is the culture like?
Let me summarise:
- I wear jeans to work – working at a startup lets me be me.
- You’re free to embrace your inner hipster – I’m surrounded by beards and coffee connoisseurs (before I joined Rocket Lawyer, I assumed there was nothing wrong with ordering a foamy latte to accompany my morning carb … boy was I wrong).
- The banter – there’s at least one naff joke per day.
- The enthusiasm – we love our products and what Rocket Lawyer stands for – making high quality legal services affordable and simple for everyone.
- We work hard, we play hard – we enjoy a bit of crazy golf, bowling and ping pong (but we love a cheeky pint even more!).
Interested in a career at Rocket Lawyer? Check out our careers page.