5 top tips for finding happiness in the law

by Jul 22, 2019

My name is Jessie Porteus and I am a happy lawtrepreneur!

Last year I started my own legal training business called The Learned Crew (TLC for short), which aims to prepare the next generation of lawyers for the real world of law in an ever-changing legal industry, and to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of law. I could not be happier striking the balance between my love of law, business and education, while still being able to work as an in-house lawyer at an ASX100 company here in Sydney.

I come from a family of teachers (on both sides of the family) so before I wanted to become a lawyer, I wanted to become a teacher. It is in the genes I think! When I left law school I missed education and tutoring other law students so much that I started a blog to share my study tips with others (which was also a therapeutic exercise for me to get everything written down, and to help other law students so they weren’t struggling or stressed). I didn’t mind if no-one read it. I never marketed the blog but it got nearly 75,000 hits – which is why I thought there was a need out there to share insights. Fast forward 7 years and I finally pursued this as a real business!

Here are my top 5 tips for finding happiness in the law (or any career for that matter!)

1. Do what your 6-year-old self always wanted to do.

As a child I used to play a game I called ‘schools’, when I played the teacher and I made my younger sister play what could only be described as a roaming cast member of different kids in the class. I balanced my childhood teaching ‘career’ with running clubs with my cousins (which included many theatrical and dance productions and a booming sticker-making business with clients including my grandparents), and a hobby of recording self-help tapes. Yes, it has provided endless mockery from my family members to this day. Thank goodness cassette players are hard to come by these days…

What I am trying to say is, at 6 years old I already knew that I loved to help, teach others, and run the show. Now I realise that that is my purpose, so here I am living that every day! Transport yourself back to your childhood – is there something your younger self is trying to tell you now?

2. Say yes to opportunities.

 When I look back on my career and childhood, it all makes perfect sense and it looks I planned it all logically to reach this point. But at the time, I just said yes to all of the opportunities as they arose (even those that seemed odd to others), learnt as much as I could, and made my own path. I also asked for what I want. If you don’t ask, you don’t know. The worse anyone can say is no!

3. Surround yourself with great people.

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of my employers, colleagues, and legal network, and of course my husband, friends and family while I’ve been setting up my business. When I told my employer and legal team that I would like to start my own business as well as working part-time as a lawyer, the first words that came out of their mouths were “How can we help?” Absolutely amazing. I am so lucky!

I am also a big advocate for mentors – both having one and being one, as you learn so much from the experience on both sides. The legal profession can be challenging but if you have someone you can go to that you trust to speak about your career (or just about anything), this can make the world of difference.

Networking is absolutely key to all of this too (but that is a whole other blog post!)

4. Know your strengths and passions.

 If you play to your strengths and passions, you know who you are, you enjoy what you do and generally perform better at your job.

I did the online Clifton strengths assessment a few years ago and it was really eye opening to receive a report setting out my strengths and personality preferences. If you don’t want to pay for an assessment though, simply ask someone who is really close to you and they should be able to tell you what your strengths are. Knowing this leads to better self-awareness and can also help you create a stand-out CV!

Passions make you happy. With some great work being done on happiness in the legal profession at the moment (such as by the incredible Clarissa Rayward), it is great to see this being embraced. I don’t know how I’m going to throw my passion for dance into my business but I’m working on it…

5. Take calculated risks.

 It is really true that outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens! But make sure you have a clear plan and strategy to make it work.

Keep an eye on the blog over the coming weeks to learn more about Jessie’s business, The Learned Crew, and hear from the UTS students who are taking advantage of the program to make their career dreams a reality.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Jessie Porteus

Jessie Porteus

Founder of The Learned Crew

Jessie has accumulated a rare combination of legal experiences during her career, which has allowed her to create a bit of a ‘one-woman panel’ resume. During law school, she worked in criminal prosecution, a community legal centre, and at a top tier law firm as a summer clerk, and tutored and mentored many law students during that time too.

Since graduating law in 2011 with first class honours, she has worked in almost every type of legal career you can do, including private practice, in-house, community legal centres, and the court. Jessie has won numerous legal awards, including the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 awards in 2016, and has been listed on the 2019 Legal500 Rising Stars List.

You can follow The Learned Crew (@thelearnedcrew) on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, and check out the website TheLearnedCrew.com for blogs, e-books, online courses and more.