Why I stopped practicing law? Because data is king.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I thought I had it all. I had just recently graduated from a top law school, passed the California Bar Exam, and was working as a junior associate at a prestigious San Francisco law firm. Three short years later, I had turned my back on law and embarked on a career in the technology field, which after many twists and turns, including stints as an analyst at Gartner, positions at a number of start-ups (some of which were actually somewhat successful) and some of the world’s largest companies (Dell and EMC), has landed me at my current position at Talend’s product marketing team.
Over the years, I have been asked many times why I left the practice of law. My usual answer has always been what you would expect. Quality of life (i.e. no time left for a personal life), office politics (need to cozy up to the right partners to advance), and an unhealthy dislike for billable hours (who wants to document and charge for every minute of every day) were some of my go-to responses. But now that I have been working at Talend for more than half a year, I have realized that the true reason went much deeper than that. Let me try to explain.
Talend provides data integration, quality and management solutions to organizations of all sizes – from smaller companies to some of the world’s largest enterprises. Our number one goal is to make sure that organizations have all the data they need to make the right decisions and take the right actions – whether it is to have more compelling engagements with customers, develop better products, or make more efficient and cost-effective operational decisions. And I believe in this goal. When you think about it, this is the exact opposite of what a lawyer does.
A lawyer’s job (and I am speaking from the perspective of a trial lawyer, which is what I did) is to limit the amount of data – evidence in the legal parlance – that is used by the ultimate decision maker (whether it is a jury or a judge) as much as possible to what favors your client’s side. Through a variety of motions before a trial and objections during trial (think of terms like hearsay, prejudicial, or irrelevant that you have heard in numerous TV shows or movies), lawyers try to limit the data or evidence that should be considered in making the ultimate decision.
While this seems to work fine in an adversarial situation, think what it would be like if business decisions were made the same way. What if a company decided to develop one product over the other because the product development team for the chosen product was able to limit what the other team could share with the executive decision makers. Or, if a decision to expand to a new territory was made based on incomplete market data from all regions.
I have always been a data head deep down – in college, my favorite class (and my highest grade) was statistics. Looking back on it, I think I realized at a sub-conscious level that limiting or hiding data was not what I wanted to do for a living. That’s why I find it so appropriate that I ultimately ended up at Talend, a company whose goal is the opposite.
If you are guilty of being as data driven as I am and want to ensure that you have all the information you need to make the right decisions and take the right actions, consider how your organization can benefit from improved data transparency and data access. Check out Talend Data Fabric to learn how your data can work for you.
So, how do you plead?