I’m thrilled to present the first 0.1 Billable Hour Interview, the interview with an ex-lawyer that should take just six minutes to read. Jennifer Berson is the President & Founder of Jeneration PR, a public relations and social media marketing firm that specializes in promoting beauty, fashion, lifestyle and baby brands. Prior to founding Jeneration PR in 2005, Jennifer was an attorney in Los Angeles, specializing in civil litigation. Jennifer has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, PR Week, Los Angeles Daily News, Fox 11 News, TV Guide Network’s “Hollywood 411,” and was profiled on Apple.com. Babble.com selected her as one of the 10 “Mompreneur’s Who Made it Big!”
1) Why did you leave law? I always felt like my position as a lawyer was more of a job than a career. I wasn’t as passionate about my work as I knew I could be, and I was frustrated with the extremely slow pace of litigation. I wanted more creativity and balance in my life, and I knew I would want to start a family someday, but I didn’t see many female partners who seemed to have the work-life balance I was seeking. I always felt that there was something out there for me that was a better fit with my personality. In the back of my mind, I knew I could always go back to practicing law, but after 8 years of having my own PR firm, I’m confident that I will never have to.
2) What was the hardest part of your career change? In the beginning, I was concerned about my lack of experience and credibility in this completely different field. I worried that I might have a hard time convincing prospective clients that we could be effective with so little experience. I busted my butt, working late nights to make all of the connections I could, and trying to get my name out there. To help bridge the gap from lawyer to fashion and beauty publicist, I took a position at the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing (FIDM) teaching Principles of Entrepreneurship in their beauty department. I also took on clients for a below-market retainer fee, and made the case that if they took a chance on our agency, we could grow together. I believe that my genuine passion for their brands helped me win the work, and I’m thrilled to report that my very first client when I started my business 8 years ago, Little Giraffe, is still a client to this day!
3) What advice do you have for other lawyers who are thinking of changing careers? Think about what you are passionate about and what you would genuinely enjoy doing every day. Ask people you know personally, or whom you admire, who have a career similar to the one you are seeking to share their experience with you. Do as much as you can to plan for your transition while you are still employed–save money, plan your exit strategy, carefully build your network. Give yourself a significant period of time–3 to 6 months– to see if you can make this career change happen. Draw as many connections to your experience as a lawyer to the skills you will need in your new career, and move forward with the confidence that you can successfully make the transition.