Career Story – Courtney Weidner (Senior Consultant at HBR Consulting)
I am a Senior Consultant in the Legal Technology practice at HBR Consulting. My group helps Fortune 500 companies and Am Law 200 law firms assess technology solutions and optimize processes to improve legal operations. I focus on identifying key business issues, determining client needs, and taking the appropriate actions to meet expectations. However, my day-to-day responsibilities vary. One day I could be onsite with a client to assess the state of their department, the next day I could be writing scripts for a technology implementation, and thereafter I could be drafting technical specifications for HBR’s development teams. In true consultant fashion, “it depends.”
Consulting and its nature of ever-changing priorities is not for everyone, but every day feels like a new challenge that motivates me to continue learning. Whether I’m training to learn a new system, preparing for a client meeting, or drafting deliverables and project materials, no two days are ever the same. Given that I do not enjoy performing repetitive and mundane tasks, this career path has been a terrific fit. I attribute my success to a few key principles that are pillars in my life.
During my upbringing, I dreamed of a life as an attorney. In college, I pursued a Political Science degree, a typical path for prospective law school students. However, in the spring semester of my senior year, I found myself with a relatively light workload and focused on my future. In case I did not attend law school the following fall, I submitted my resume to the top ten law firms in the Philadelphia area. Attached to my resume was a cover note articulating my skillset and technical proficiencies, and my desire to be considered for any role that may be a good fit.
Have a Flexible Mindset
Six months later – after crunching numbers, considering the pros and cons of earning a JD, and having an honest conversation with myself, I deferred law school. While I did not hear back from the ten firms I applied to, I leveraged my small network and solidified a paid internship at a boutique law firm. I worked as an administrative assistant where I was responsible for opening matters and resolving post-closing issues (data entry and customer service). After some time, I shifted my focus and used this role as an opportunity to become a sponge for new information. Eager to learn the inner workings of a law firm, I gained exposure to marketing, operations, and technology projects in addition to my daily responsibilities. These experiences allowed me to develop a unique perspective on the legal landscape.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
After about eighteen months, I received a call from one of the ten firms I applied to initially. The recruiter called to tell me that they were establishing a new department focusing on Legal Practice Technology and there was an opening for a Document Automation Specialist. The recruiter thought I would be a strong candidate for the role. I took the job and, as the new department took shape, I learned to wear many hats and became involved in new functions. For example, I played the role of business analyst, project manager, developer, quality assurance resource, and change management agent.
Find a Champion
My first year at the firm, I kept my head down and focused on my work. I went above and beyond by arriving to the office early, staying late, saying yes to any and all requests, and taking on responsibilities beyond the scope of my job description. Despite believing that my dedication had gone unnoticed by most, I continued down this path. As the team continued to grow and the strategy shifted, I met with professionals across the business to better understand our team’s impact. During this process, I found my champion – a senior executive who noticed my qualities, embraced my potential, and advocated for my personal and professional success.
After almost three years at the firm and with my newly formed interest in all things Legal Ops, I realized that my knowledge base was limited. Familiar with only the issues of my firm, I yearned for more – new challenges, different perspectives, and fresh information. I interviewed with some outstanding companies but in the end, I realized: why work for one company when I can work with multiple? Leveraging these four pillars while developing and refining my skills along the way ultimately led me to where I was meant to be – consulting.