The Professional Misadventures of an Ex-lawyer

So today I saw a poll by someone, to see if it’s possible for a person to pursue a job, without having any relevant or related background, and do it successfully. Well, honestly? I believe it is possible and I’d say I’m one of the lucky few who managed to transition from one field to several other fields (unscathed!) CAUTION, this will be a VERY LONG one. Read at your own discretion! (Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!).

Just a little trivia about myself, that may come as a surprise to someone who just met me in my current capacity, I used to read law in university. Truth be told, it was never really my intention to pursue a career in the legal profession. I believe I’m more of a creative person at heart (that’s what I like to think). But alas, being the ever-dutiful daughter, I pursued law anyway to please my parents. NOT. THE. BEST. DECISION. I know, I know.

However, I took it in within my stride. Of course, there were many challenges along the way (repeatedly bawling and wanting to quit because I HATED the unremarkably dry and dreary Land Law and the constant need to memorize a million Civil Procedure Codes) completed it with Bachelor of Hons, served my pupilage for 9 months and called to the bar, and finally obtained my Practicing Certificate.

It was a proud moment of course. 5 years of law school was gut wrenching (Only those who have been through it would know eh?) Then I practiced for a few years. Oh, it was quite a “colorful” period of my life too. Getting yelled at and threatened to be killed by a disgruntled client of past employees whom I took over their files unknowingly on my 3rd day of a job. Exhilarating!

Driving alone at a speed of light in the dead of the night on the famously haunted and dark Karak highway and being tailed by a taxi driver (don’t worry, he was quite nice actually, for lending me his headlights to show the way, despite blinding me in the process) to attend court the next day. What an adventure! Working from 8am – 12am every day and on the weekends. What’s not to love? But deep down I knew I wanted something else. Took a leap of faith and quit practicing to explore the other side of the pond. And this was another challenge altogether.

There I was, finally “free”, but what am I to do now? I knew I had to experiment, so I took up the first writing job as a journalist that I could find. The pay was terrible, the place was not ideal, but at least I had a chance to do something within my own terms, right? Unfortunately, not really. They restrict on the things we could write in order to please their sponsors. After having no freedom to express my view, I decided to leave, and found another writing gig as a content creator at a startup company.

This was a fun job, with fun colleagues, fun working hours, even surprisingly “fun” and massive remuneration! But all “fun” things will naturally come to an end. I found out the company was dealing in various bogus transactions, resulting in many irritated and unhappy customers. So, another one bites the dust!

My next venture was at an event management company. This was an interesting place. But again, I had to start from the bottom as I had zero knowledge on event management. I was lucky enough to come in at the moment they started planning out one of the biggest international Halal events in the country and crafting another Halal homegrown event on the side. From strategizing to execution, I was involved in every aspect along the way. And due to my legal background, I was also heavily engaged in the contract negotiations and drafting, to ensure continuation of the events for the next several years. Killing two birds with one stone. So, everything should be perfect right? Not exactly. Perhaps I was still naïve then, but the job was actually on a contract basis, and I was not renewed. Little did I know, I would soon find out from other ex-employees that it was a common practice by the company to employ new staffs every year. Oh well, it was entertaining while it lasts. But I did learn a lot and had a peek at the Business Events Industry and what’s more to come. 

Regrettably, when I left that position, I was already 5 months pregnant with our first child. And let me tell you, finding a job whilst having a bump was not easy. I got turned down several times when they saw me turning up at the interview with a growing bulge. At one point I tried to hide it and was actually successful with my interview. But after coming clean about my status, the potential employer changed their mind and revoked the offer. No job, no prospect, about to have our first child at 26, I was feeling dejected. I started questioning myself and my entire plan. Was I right to step out of my comfort zone? Was I being selfish? Perhaps I should renew my license and go back to legal practice despite lacking the passion.

Luckily, I have a very supportive husband, who happens to be a very passionate and brilliant lawyer (why can’t I be just like him?) And with his encouragement, I decided to stay on in my pursuit to explore the unexplored. Well, just because I was jobless, doesn’t mean I should just wait around and see what’s available out there, right? With a little saving left and some entrepreneurship spirit, I continued my business of selling custom made shawls. Oh yes, I had a small business when I was in university, and it was quite something too! It was sadly abandoned when I became too preoccupied with my work as a lawyer. But with a legion of loyal customers, it wasn’t difficult to start up the business again. And business was good.

For almost 2 years I didn’t have a formal job, but we had enough to fund our small family, thanks to my husband and my informal income. Then, when my daughter was 6 months old, I was offered a job at one of the top legal 500 Asia Pacific firms in Malaysia. Not as a lawyer, but as a Business Development executive. But geez, I just couldn’t stay away from legal huh? Anyway, I was tasked to assist the partners in the firm with research, then connect potential clients with suitable partners upon consultation on their cases. And with some experiences I gained during my stint in event management, I applied the same to assist my immediate boss/partner for her marketing activities and trips. During this short span of working period, I was really contented. In fact, the highlight of my job was knowing she was happy with my work and offered me to be her personal assistant to attend a legal conference in Japan. Apparently, it caused quite a stir among other executives and secretaries (not to toot my own horn, but it was unheard of for an executive to travel abroad in the company it seems. But sadly, I didn’t get a chance to do so. Why? Read on).

I was 3 months into my work and was about to be confirmed when I got a call that would change the course of my professional life. Yeap, it was from MyCEB! But believe it or not, I almost turned it down! When I received the call, I was told that my resume was passed over by someone to human resource.

And having no clue about the industry, I was not aware of the company’s significance in the Business Events Industries’ perspective. And with a position called Sales Executive, I wasn’t too keen in doing sales (little did I know that Sales had a VERY different meaning here). However, after having considered my options, I decided, why not? And the rest, as they say, was history.

Well, not exactly history per se. I ended up taking the offer, and fast forward to 7+ years on, I have remained faithful with MyCEB! Honestly, I grew a lot with the company, from having no knowledge to gaining so much from all the wonderful and knowledgeable past and present “compatriots” through our efforts in serving the country, be it directly or indirectly. I was also fortunate to have been given various professional and personal opportunities, and a platform to thrive and advance my career in the Business Events Industry. And all these experiences have been nothing but invaluable to me. And despite what I have been through, the industry still has so many hidden gems. In fact, everyday, I still surprise myself by finding something new to learn about the business events industry and beyond.

So, is it possible to transition to another profession without any prior or related knowledge and doing it successfully? Well, I wouldn’t say I’m successful, not yet at least, but it is possible. However, I believe that the path less travelled that I took, the experiences I went through leading up to this, have immensely affected the way I view things in life and at professional level, and helped to create the person who I am today. In truth, it takes a whole lot of patience to evolve and mature. Despite going through all the good, the bad and the ugly, I still managed to persevere and stand on my own two feet. Sometimes people do ask and wonder, if given the chance, would I change anything in the past? No. And I don’t even regret it one bit.

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  1. I’m truly amazed by this piece from @nurulyez86  
    What a story! Your journey is really inspiring and I’m sure many will benefit from it. 
    Perfectly crafted, the article is actually very easy to read, like a movie with suspenses here and there, masha’Allah.
    May Allah SWT bless your efforts and open more blessing to you and your family. Ameen.

    1. Thank you so much @mamadou . for your words of encouragement. I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by amazing people who have made this journey worthwhile. Alhamdulillah, I’m very lucky indeed.

  2. @Hawanisa   @Fatou  @lenalenie  @ReplenishMe1  @Yvonne  @Grace  @Fatinzad  @Nurul  @Nadia  @diyana  @Queenffi  @Lynda  @Sara  @alice  @Karima  

  3. @nurulyez86 Always inspiring to read real stories and journeys of one’s trials and happiness. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    It is important to remind ourselves to be brave to pursue what we enjoy doing (easier said than done to sometimes step out of our comfort zone), to leap forward to achieve something, and to step out when things don’t feel right. I implore your continuous journey in your professional growth. Also, I truly believe that the support from our loved in our decisions and with god’s grace (and sometimes luck), we will be able to progress to more wonderful and meaningful experiences. Looking forward to hearing more stories & insights into what you have learned in the years with MYCEB. .

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. And you are very correct indeed. In order for us to leap forward, we need to have a very strong support system, I believe I’m quite lucky to have at the very least one person (a single person to have that much faith in you can also have a huge impact) despite getting some resistance from my parents initially. But they did come around eventually so there’s that and yes, the timing and the luck I had also plays a role. But of course, at the end of the day, if God wills it, it will happen. And Indeed i have so much to be thankful for.

  4. How inspiring! Your path sounds so very similar to mine. Interesting all of the road blocks we are present as women and worst when we are mothers! I remember applying for a job while seven months pregnant in the days of start ups and I got it too…and was made redundant after my baby was 4 months. I prevailed and chose the road less travelled, became author, Life Coach and speaker. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. Thank you and what an incredible woman you are! And you are such an inspiration too, to see how against all odds you turned your life around to become an author,
      life coach and speaker! That’s just mindblowing! Please share with me the link for your work if possible 😊anyway I hope to be able to achieve the same level of success as you. And yes as women, despite living in the 21st century, unfortunately we still have to face certain setbacks in some situations. But unlike before, I’m glad women have better platform to voice out and able to engage other like minded women for support. And this platform is definitely one of it.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experience @nurulyez86 So inspiring!As a mother, it is a beautiful lesson in life, yes, let our children create their own life and support them!
    As a human being and a woman, indeed, “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”!

    1. Thank you so much @NadiaNdiaye for allowing me to share what ever little experience i had 🙂 and true, having gone through it, i made myself a promise that i would always support whatever paths my children would take, and that path should be based on their own decision.

    1. Yes you are so right @LyndaHerkat . making a life altering changes when you are on your own is already tough as it is, but when you have others who depend entirely on you makes it even harder. But insyaallah, whatever choice we make, in the end of the day it will be the best choice. Thank you sparing your time in reading it 🙂

  6. Masha’Allah sister, very inspiring! Sometimes it’s difficult to take some decisions to change your life, but I am very proud of your Courage, Thank you for sharing your journey, May Allah SWT bring you all success, Ameen. @nurulyez86