Ever since the industrial revolution, the frontier has rewarded those individuals who have ventured into it. Consider, for instance, in our country, the disgruntled, the adventure seekers, the entrepreneurs who headed west from the safety of their eastern homes. Many became fabulously wealthy, and some even went on to become the scions of western United States society. Paupers to privileged in less than a generation. Admittedly, many never realized their dreams; some even perished.
Nevertheless, then as now, opportunity is easier to come by whenever there are fewer people around searching for it, or more appropriately, willing to risk searching for it. Risk and reward will always be partners. Luckily for some, frontiers still exist in 21st century world. I am speaking of economic frontiers where the risk taker -- with the right skills -- will reap far greater rewards than will the average worker.
Economic Frontiers for Lawyers
There may be others, but the two economic frontiers that beckon the legally trained are the international sector and the e-business sector. Both sectors are growing, and will continue to do so, well into the next decade. Whichever field you select within these frontiers, it will need high-value workers who can turn their knowledge into productive endeavors, who are self-motivated, who can be leaders as well as team players, and who can communicate well. The legally trained possess all of these attributes. Therefore, it is just a matter of determining your own interests and your own tolerance for risk.
Why bother? Is it worth 12-hour airline rides, or the heart-stopping roller coaster ride of the e-business world? There is no universal right answer. Only you know the answer for you. The pioneers of the American West and the explorers of the New World ventured out for their own personal reasons. Many were escaping persecution, but many were escaping unrewarding careers. Many were just starting out and had nothing to lose. They had the skills, courage, and creativity to be successful, and it was just a matter of picking their spot. Luck did not hurt either, but keep in mind the old saying that describes luck as the convergence of hard work and opportunity.
It is also worth noting that the return tends to be higher on riskier investments. Striking into new territory means less competition and more opportunities to be influential in your career. Following the career paths already tread by others would mean missing out on unique opportunities and you would risk becoming just another face in a crowded field. Embracing a pioneer spirit can pay its own dividends, as later in your career you can market yourself to others looking to recreate your successes.
For many who want something more out of the legal profession, or are just starting out and looking for some adventure before settling down, or who want to escape the legal profession, but want to capitalize on their skills and training, the beckoning of these frontiers should be considered. The rewards for taking the personal and financial risk can be enormous: stock options, living expenses paid, accelerated funding of company-sponsored savings plans, and almost anything else that you can contemplate. Lawyers, soon-to-be lawyers, and don't-want-to-be-lawyers-anymore can capitalize on their experience, talents, and training in these frontiers.