reflections on the value of higher education, working as a lawyer at large corporate firms and where I am today
“It’s not like you’ll ever practice law again” someone once told me. This really hurt my feelings. Education and experience in the workforce is never a waste of time. I wouldn’t be able to run an extensive urban farm and operate my own business had I not studied law and arts at university. Education and work experience gave me the confidence and skills to branch out into a new venture. Study does not restrict a person to a particular vocation. It should broaden a person’s intellectual horizons and develop critical thinking. When I returned to New Zealand after spending many years working at an international law firm, I changed practice areas. This would not have been possible without my academic background, coupled with solid work experience in many different practice groups. Education builds a foundation for the future. Work experience gives a person life skills. On a more serious level, you should be able to start again financially even if you lose your entire net worth.
While working as a lawyer for an international firm in England and France, I represented large companies in both transactional and contentious matters. In doing so, I learnt a lot about the way businesses operate and how they are structured.
I also learnt how to negotiate which is useful when owning a business. When negotiating supply agreements, prices are negotiable. While contracts can have a fixed duration, there may be a mechanism for adjusting the price.
My legal education is useful in terms of researching issues related to the garden. A long time ago, a neighbour planted a willow tree near the boundary with our section. The roots of the willow tree (which are notorious for spreading in their search for water, hence why they are often planted along river banks), as well as a Cotoneaster tree (classified by the council as an invasive weed) travelled underneath the foundations of our house. We were also concerned that the roots of these trees would interfere with our drains. Pipes can be extremely expensive to repair. I was interested in learning both of our rights and obligations in respect of the trees and felt grateful that I was able to research this on my own.