Law Firm Owner

Finding My Place in Law

I am so pleased to recommend the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation's aptitude testing.

A psychiatrist friend of mine recommended it in 2008 when I told her that I was having trouble at work. I liked neither my boss nor my day-to-day work. The counseling that followed the testing at JOCRF helped me a great deal and gave me the confidence I needed to change jobs. I am much happier now, working for myself and in another field. After the testing, I was able to internally stand firm on my God-given aptitudes and start a business using my strengths.

Why was I so unhappy?

In early 2008, I found myself frustrated with a job as a Senior Project Manager of low-income housing real estate projects. The details were tedious to me although I enjoyed the initiation of the project and the teamwork involved in putting the deal together. The job also included writing lengthy grant proposals to government organizations and crunching numbers for prospective investors. Why was I so unhappy in this job when it seemed the ideal setting for me?

My career journey has been long and rambling. I was trained as an attorney directly after college. The first years of my career were difficult and included demanding, painstakingly fastidious bosses and a variety of small cases to litigate from domestic disputes to small criminal matters. I moved away from litigation and into real estate work. In those few years, I did countless residential real estate closings and a smattering of estate and family matters. Eventually, I took my client base and started my own practice in my hometown alongside my father who was also an attorney.

Trying a large firm

Restless by nature, I was ready to move from my small hometown in three years, not sure that I had arrived at the ideal career in my small practice of law. I wanted to try something else. In Pittsburgh, I took advantage of an opportunity to work in a corporate environment to see what the big time attorneys did. I thought perhaps I was better suited for this staid environment. I was wrong. I found the atmosphere in a big conglomerate's legal department less demanding but unfriendly, removed from client needs, and personally stifling.

Long hours at a small firm

I pondered my next move. A friend was managing partner of a boutique firm that specialized in corporate transactional work and she offered me an associate's position there. The office setting was beautiful. I had a bird's eye view of the three rivers and a mahogany desk and a secretary. It was better than the corporation in terms of intimacy with clients but I had a regular paycheck. My clients were corporations who were closing loans whom I rarely saw or spoke to because of the hierarchical nature of the firm. My boss and former friend expected me to work long hours and live a big firm mentality that “this was my family” and I simply could not accept that.

I was miserable and felt like a prisoner there. If only I had known about Johnson O'Connor's testing centers then! On one hand, I missed the client contact and autonomy of my small practice. But I also yearned for larger challenges and more team collaboration. Where could I find these two ideals?

Consulting

One of the clients from this firm was a wealthy investor who agreed to pay me as a private consultant on his real estate holdings. He gave me free rein to act as his development consultant. This first client developed into a consulting business that lasted over 6 years for various nonprofit developers in Pittsburgh. In the end, I was an expert in community development and familiar with the process of developing several different types of low-income housing. I believed in my work and made a difference. In this business, I helped secure funding for over 150 units of housing for the poor and elderly and I enjoyed it very much. I teamed up with Community Development Corporations and acted as the project initiator, with the vision and drive to begin and sustain the project. In this business, I was an entrepreneur but was able to avoid some of the number crunching developers often do.

A difficult boss

Eventually, I moved back to Massachusetts to be closer to my mother, who was recently widowed. I secured a job at a nonprofit in Boston doing similar development to the work in Pittsburgh, but I was not my own boss. My first immediate supervisor was extremely easy to work with—amiable and accommodating, with a hands-off, “I trust you” approach. She was later replaced by a very exacting and difficult boss who made me miserable. I asked myself, was I doomed to misery in my work? What was wrong with me? Why did I have such difficulty working FOR people?

Taking the tests

The testing at Johnson O'Connor was recommended by a friend who helps many people struggling in their jobs. She is a psychiatrist in Boston and she explained that subjective people may need to work independently. They need their own rhythm and authority. I completed the testing and learned that my personality was on the border of being subjective and objective but I was better off on my own or working with a team periodically. I scored high on Ideaphoria and Foresight and was a good problem solver. I also scored high on both Analytical Reasoning (the ability to quickly organize information) and Inductive Reasoning (the ability to make connections quickly and solve problems). I was encouraged to begin my own business that was very specialized and was personally meaningful but used these skills.

Finally!

I am now in my second year as the owner of a law firm specializing in Elder Law. I hope to own and operate a home care business soon as well. These two areas of work are very meaningful and I am always using my Ideaphoria aptitude to think of new ways to reach out to clients and their families. I also have the opportunity to problem solve for clients on a daily basis. Best of all, I work for myself, but get together with colleagues regularly to share ideas and professional insights. The testing also explained why I was miserable as a project manager and associate in a law firm. I scored low in graphoria, or clerical speed, which is so important in project management and in working as a reviewer of documents in law. I need to hire a secretary and editor in my work in law.

Work is such a large part of our life, consisting of at least three quarters of our waking hours. The investment in the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation's testing was not only worthwhile, but allowed me to make a daring career change later in life that has changed my professional self assessment and given me much needed confidence, enjoyment and enthusiasm in my work.