As part of a series of interviews we are showcasing the potential for lawyers beyond the ‘traditional role’, Syed Nasser speaks to Hitesh Chowdhry, Co-Founder and Managing Director of InvestIN Education.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and your current role?
I’ve had 3 careers so far, all before the age of 40! I was a practising lawyer for 8 years, first practising as a litigator at a law firm in the City before joining the Treasury. I then moved into legal tech, after completing my MBA, running a business development team across EMEA and APAC for Kroll.
Whilst working full-time I co-founded an education start-up, InvestIN, with a friend of mine with a finance background. Initially we were just trying to help young people who were interested in careers in either law or finance. Today we run InvestIN full-time with 45+ permanent staff, offering immersive career experiences to 15,000+ school students per year in 28 different careers and across multiple jurisdictions.
Why did you leave legal practice?
I was always more interested in the commercial aspects of matters I worked on than the legal ones. I remember even being a trainee and feeling like I belonged on the other side of the table in meetings with clients. In the end, even in litigation, the commercial realities dictated everything else. The move into business and Legal tech was a breath of fresh air for me – I could see first-hand how innovation was making the business of law much more efficient; something that was long overdue in my opinion and has of course only accelerated since. But my heart has always been in education. It has a lot of parallels with legal services – an age-old industry that’s ripe for innovation. That’s what we’re trying to do here at InvestIN.
Were there any challenges in making a move?
I was lucky to enter a company (Kroll) that wanted ex-lawyers. It was the ideal stepping stone really from the world of law to entrepreneurship. I owe so much to the people at Kroll who gave me such a hands-on grounding in how to run a business. There were other challenges of course, it felt risky moving away from a secure and respected profession and I was always conscious that my peers might be wondering what on earth I was doing but ultimately I had to follow what was right for me, luckily, I have never looked back.
Do you have any advice for those considering a similar change?
The working world isn’t evenly made up of fixed professions and industries. Often we like to see it like that, or are taught it is in fact like that, probably to feel a sense of comfort in what can seem like a chaotic reality. And that need for comfort I think is what draws many people into traditional professions like law. My legal career gave me an excellent grounding, a variety of skills and confidence and I am grateful for that, but for those that want something more – a way to express creative and entrepreneurial energies – there is a whole world out there. I know it can be difficult to take a risk, but in the grand scheme of things taking a couple of years out to try something else speaks volumes about your resilience and character and you should embrace it.