Lawyer Offers Advice for Transitioning Your Legal Career During an Uncertain Economy
By Axiom Law
Axiom lawyer Peter offers advice for other attorneys who follow non-traditional career transitions during an uncertain economy.
Peter's unique background spans both the legal and medical industries
Peter’s legal career path differs from the traditional “straight to firm from law school” path that many attorneys travel through as they embark on their careers. After graduating from law school, Peter chose to join the banking field doing compliance work, with his career benefitting from the many legal job opportunities arising from regulations pursuant to the USA Patriot Act. He spent more than 10 years in compliance and risk management in the financial field before deciding to move on to a new practice area in a new industry. That’s when he ventured out and joined a flexible talent provider.
Peter was working with this provider for a couple of years before moving to a permanent role at a pharmaceutical company as a medical innovation manager, choosing to transition to this area because he realized his primary professional interests have always lain in health and medicine. After volunteering, networking, and a few part-time gigs in the field of health innovation, in 2017 Peter ultimately became a full-time medical innovation manager at Galderma, a pharmaceutical company. Additionally, from 2014-2018 he was the NYC chapter leader for Hacking Health, a global nonprofit dedicated to medical innovation. In both positions, he fulfilled his passions by spending time connecting people in healthcare and technology to produce ideas and solutions to counter the current challenges in medicine. While in these roles, he also completed a medical innovation and technology program at Harvard Medical School (certificate program, now a master’s degree program).
Axiom allows Peter to combine his passions for both law and healthcare innovation
After Galderma was acquired by a private equity firm in late 2019, many departments, including Peter’s, were eliminated, coincidentally occurring at the same time as the start of the pandemic. He decided to turn to Axiom, as he already knew of the company after it obtained his previous flexible talent partner. With almost two decades of various legal experiences since graduating from law school, Peter has been able to combine his background in compliance and legal with his interests in healthcare, providing high-profile clients with a unique lawyer able to fill unique legal needs.
Thus he began his first Axiom engagement with one of the largest and most-recognized brands in the world in the Fortune 10. There, Peter worked in compliance, writing and enforcing rules governing the company’s sale of dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs. During his second engagement at yet another globally recognized brand in the Fortune 100, Peter was fully immersed within the company as in-house counsel, dealing with global consumer regulations governing electronic products, many of which dealt with health and safety implications and consumer remedies. In his current Axiom engagement at a large pharmaceutical company in the Fortune 500, Peter is examining the company’s contracts on M&A and divestiture issues. Although this engagement has just started, he is looking forward to learning more about the company’s products and goals.
His non-traditional career path is welcomed and embraced by Axiom and his clients
Peter acknowledges he has a very non-linear and “slightly wacky” career path, which he has so far enjoyed, but also found it hard to find a good long-term fit in his legal career before Axiom: “Since my background is quite varied and diverse in terms of both legal experience and non-legal experience, as well as industries in which I’ve worked, sometimes employers haven’t known quite what to do with me. As such, I truly enjoy and appreciate Axiom because it welcomes a work background that is not necessarily ‘traditional’ in terms of most lawyers.” He’s also found that the clients who seek Axiom’s legal professionals are interested in hiring lawyers who have had experiences in other areas which might be outside of their organization’s specific product or legal area: “Due to this, as well as the client base that Axiom has, it would be great to stay with Axiom long-term to gain more and diverse experiences, which can then help in future engagements down the road. Each engagement adds another ‘hook’ to market myself to the next client, all while learning new and interesting legal skills.”
Peter understands that due to his non-traditional legal career, he wouldn’t normally expect high compensation, but is happy to know that at Axiom, he receives a competitive salary. Knowing Axiom appreciates and finds value in his legal services is important to him.
Peter's advice to lawyers looking to transition their careers during economic uncertainty
As the American workforce is once again facing a time of economic uncertainty, Peter has advice for other lawyers on the fence about joining a model like Axiom’s, based on his previous experiences: “My advice to someone on the fence regarding working at Axiom is that while there are both advantages and disadvantages to the model, I think the advantages outweigh the latter when you’re comparing Axiom to a ‘traditional’ full-time job (aka ‘permanent’ job, which is often not at all permanent in reality). Let’s say you have a full-time job and you’re laid off. Guess what? It’s all up to you to then start the miserable process of looking for a job. We’ve all been there and it’s awful. And no matter how good we are, we are all general at-will workers and can be cut just like that, through no fault of our own. What truly distinguishes Axiom from ‘the other’ situation is that there’s a big safety net you can fall into when an engagement ends. You’re not left on your own; there are people at the ready to help you look for the next opportunity, your resume is always up to date, and even though it might not be right away, another opportunity comes along.”
“In addition to that aspect, one of the distinguishing factors about the Axiom model is you are never substantively bored — each engagement you have might be a totally different area of law or practice and the product might be completely different from the last engagement. While this could possibly be exhausting at the beginning, the fact that you’re learning new material and getting up to speed with new products and laws quickly is a great challenge and adds to your overall worth and marketability. Occasionally this type of transition can be a bummer, especially if you really enjoyed the last engagement and its subject matter (like I did, for example, when I was dealing with FDA regulations and dietary supplements, one of my favorite topics!) But I got over it and moved on to the next engagement where I learned about privacy law, something in which I had no experience, but has proven to be a very desirable skill set for my career as a lawyer.”
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