This is the fifth post in our series "How I became a Freelance Lawyer" by our Flex Lawyers. Today's post is by Lauren Heuser:
I have always loved reading and writing. It’s the reason I chose to do an undergraduate degree in English Literature and one of the reasons I chose to pursue a career in law. And heaven knows law school provided ample opportunity to do both.
Following law school, I articled and practiced at a Bay Street law firm for a few years. I learned a lot from the experience and really enjoyed it. But during this time, I also became very interested in journalism. In particular, I became aware that a number of journalists who I admired had transitioned from law to journalism, including Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist; Jeffrey Toobin, legal writer for The New Yorker; David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, and Jonathan Kay, now editor-in-chief at The Walrus.
I was inspired by these writers to try a similar career path. I’m not sure, though, that I would have mustered the courage to leave my job had I not met Robert Steiner, the Director of a Journalism Fellowship at the University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs. Rob had recently launched a journalism fellowship at the school that is geared towards individuals who are already professionals in some other discipline, and who are interested in writing on their area of expertise. I fit the bill completely.
I left my firm to participate in this eight-month fellowship. The fellowship provided a great training on how to communicate complex ideas to a public audience in crisp, interesting language. During this period, I began writing weekly columns for the National Post – something I continue to do to this day.
However, from the beginning of my foray into journalism, I always knew I wanted to keep one foot in the legal world. Writing is a solitary activity, which often expresses big ideas, and which can have an uncertain impact on the real world. By comparison, legal practice involves working with others, referring to established rules and processes, and delivering concrete outcomes. I knew I didn’t want to give up the latter, but I also knew I needed a flexible legal practice. Joining Flex Legal Network has provided a great opportunity to find this balance. As a member of this team, I have flexibility and freedom to develop as a writer while also serving clients’ needs.