Hitting the reset button: how becoming a lawyer helped me succeed in high-tech

Eliezer Cohen
Oct 28, 2019 · 5 min read

Your skills are transferrable. No matter what anyone says, you can change careers and apply what you’ve learned in a prior professional setting to your new venture. Over a year ago, I chose to convert my specific skillset to an unfamiliar field, finding the similarities between law and sales, and merging its separate mentalities into one that I could excel with. I went from a successful lawyer to accept an offer I couldn’t refuse, pursuing a new career in high-tech.

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Just not feelin’ law

Before deciding what to study, I considered what skills could later guide me in the business world. Playing basketball from a young age had allowed me to develop a proverbial sight of spatial awareness and back then, it helped me see how the tools I would accumulate in law might prepare me for the said business world… eventually. I was looking at my future and its positioning from a number of angles, projecting how legal skills and its academic landscape would set me up for end game success.

Following my studies, I worked as a corporate lawyer in the Mergers and Acquisition department at one of Israel’s largest and leading law firms. Routinely, I participated in multi-national M&A technology deals, was involved in countless negotiations, and provided legal counseling to multiple startups. I couldn’t shake off this unwelcome feeling, though; I had this daunting presumption that I would be stuck wearing a suit and tie for the foreseeable future, so I decided that the lawyer lifestyle just simply wasn’t for me.

Love it or leave it

At 33, I came to the simple realization that I no longer wanted to be bored. Even though I was already married with a child, paying off a mortgage, and even had a few grey hairs, I considered starting a-new. I faced two options. I could take the blue pill: my journey ends, I wake up in my bed, and believe I made the right choice a decade ago. Or, I could take the red pill: seeing just how deep the rabbit-hole goes down a new career path.

So, I left behind the mechanical aspects of my career, took a pay cut, and traded it all in for something with a bit more humanity. I’m a people person by nature, and needed to find a new career path that encounters frequent change. I like new beginnings and conversations, and I craved versatility in a dynamic job position.

Back to basics

Using the knowledge I had gained as a lawyer, I mapped out roles in high-tech that interested me. I knew I was good with people, had a strong command of the English language, and was a pro at client interface. Making such a swift career change gave me an adrenaline rush that I used as a force of energy, and as I embarked on a new journey, I did so with a vision that I had shaped myself. I discovered the SDR role, and immediately liked the idea of courting a new prospect by displaying the value of a product, negotiating with them, and building a sustainable relationship.

It hit me later — Oh shit! I was applying for SDR positions. Sure, I could use my already acquired skills and believed it was a good fit based on the role’s general description. But, that didn’t change the fact that it was still new to me. It was a chance for a fresh start and I wanted to make a solid impression, reaching the top of a ladder that I actually want to climb this time. As SDR, I knew I would be able to take ownership and be accountable for my work, and not just piggyback off other people. I searched for high-growth companies in the area and found Hibob, taking notice of the product and the culture that the startup had to offer.

What’s law got to do with it?

Hibob makes me feel good, it’s as simple as that. I was given an opportunity for growth, starting in a new role without prior experience and was developed professionally with training. And, on my own, I learned to interact between segregated teams in a startup. My job allows me to look at the bigger picture, searching angles and researching leads in order to polish the perfect pitch and sell. Just like basketball, and in my law career, my sixth spatial awareness sense, aids me in my work. I look at a prospect and their needs from every position imaginable and strategically place myself to catch, pass, and help my clients shoot for success. In this case, that’s growth.

Working at Hibob is fun, but not just because of the atmosphere or the swag. I get to engage with new people from different walks of life and getting to know the best technology companies in the world. I’ve been at Hibob since July 2018, and in just 11 months I became an Account Executive. As I’ve seen the company grow to scale, I routinely have a new batch of employees to get to know. Viewing the company from all sides and separate angles have been particularly interesting; we more than doubled our headcount, we won hundreds of new customers, and I’ve seen the product evolve with us.

As I said, the bob swag is great, but it’s understanding the different teams and structures of the Org Chart that makes my job enjoyable when I’m not at my desk; after all, cross-functionality is a necessity for collaboration within the company. I’ll even be the first to admit; I’m “that guy” who enters a simple conversation with a colleague and leaves giving them something to do (or at least that’s what they say). I can’t help but notice when there’s a chance to go the extra mile.

Slice of humble pie

In retrospect, choosing to practice corporate law wasn’t such a bad idea, and it definitely wasn’t a mistake. I’ve proven to myself that I can make a career change, one that makes me happy and fulfills my personal preferences using the skills I harnessed in another industry. Now, I know I can face any challenge thrown my way. I have the ability to pivot, to do so with a pay cut (I like an emotional paycheck, too!), and I can excel in a new role with minimal experience.

I grounded myself in my career change; it can be a humbling experience to go from an established lawyer to junior SDR. But now, at Hibob, I feel confident in my ability to learn what was, for me, a previously unexplored market and product from scratch.

hibob.com

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