6 months of one, 3 years since the other. Looking like that thing called a career?

Historic moments. Something I kept coming back to while in Florida for the Endeavor space shuttle launch. Its final voyage before it ends up in a museum, a piece of “remember when” for future generations.

It’s something I keep coming back to lately. Another “remember when” or, perhaps more appropriately, “remember how” I heard the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden: Twitter.

There are some dates that get etched in our memories, ones we share with many, like 9/11/01 and 5/1/11. Others are more family oriented, like birthdays. Holidays we remember because they’re always on the calendar. Christmas. New Year’s. Thanksgiving. Memorial Day. Fourth of July. Yet other dates are unique to the individual, in my case, 4/30/08. And 10/12/10.

4/30/08

Three years ago and some days now. It was the date I got laid off.

I still remember it. Quite clearly. Stressing out of integrating automated return labels, skipping lunch to try and resolve the problem only to get called into my boss’s office. An HR rep was already there, and I politely knocked and waited. Then the sinking feeling when he motioned me inside and to have a seat. I didn’t need an explanation; I had predicted this moment in January when there had been a definite shift in company mood with a new CFO. I never met the man, but what I heard made me think he sat in an office and looked over spreadsheets with names and numbers. Salary numbers. Sales figures. I wasn’t in sales; I was in corporate communications. I wasn’t responsible for taking, fulfilling or picking up orders.

I wasn’t responsible for ensuring computer systems worked properly or writing code. I was responsible for documenting policies and procedures for those tasks so they would completed the same way throughout the company. I was responsible for creating order. Though it can be quantified, it is not as easy to do as looking at sales figures. In the big scheme of things, at the time, I had no discernible impact on the bottom line and was thus expendable.

I remember the shock, of me and of other employees who found out. None of them thought I’d go, especially not in the first round. I thought I’d go, since my job was not as easy to quantify, but I didn’t think it’d be in the first round. And since I did, that meant the rest of them were just as vulnerable. A few really didn’t know what to make of it and were visibly unnerved.

My boss was as gracious as he could be, and though he didn’t need to say “it’s not you nor a reflection on your performance,” he did anyway. The reason was “corporate restructuring,” and I fully knew that. I’d heard enough grumbling to know there was much restructuring going on, and a whole lot more to come. All those books on business I’d read proved to be quite helpful.

The interceding months…OK…year, or two, is kind of a blur. Getting laid off is hard, whether you expect it or not. It’s incredibly demoralizing, and it takes some time to process. More time than you might think. I’m rather glad I had grad school to keep me company, and that I had gotten laid off so early, well ahead of the tidal wave. I finished my masters, landed what turned out to be a really good contract job and started thinking this whole “consulting”-entrepreneur thing. I seemed to have stumbled onto something with law, and open source. The accidental mixture of social media also seemed key as I landed my first couple of clients through Twitter.

And it is Twitter that brings me to the second date that sticks out.

10/12/10

The day I started working for Clio.

There’s a story here, though, that starts earlier, in August or September. I was biding my time, really, trying to figure out what exactly to do, what direction to take. Shadow Froggy Consulting was kind of languishing, no real direction. People told me I should make it a social media consulting company, but I found (and still find) the idea uninviting. Not to mention there were so many “social media consultants” touting one thing or another. I wasn’t interested. Open source, however, had my attention still. And since the economy tanked, there was a sudden interest in this idea of “free software.” There was something there, and I saw social media as merely a tool to educate. I’d developed a decent following by then, and my hankering of open source adoption in the legal profession was well known. The Texas Bar Journal article was out, as was the first article I co-authored with Dennis Kennedy for Law Practice Today. I just needed to hone the message and build a better website.

Or so I had been thinking until Grainger called, and I moved through the interview process. I was either in the midst of the interview process, or waiting for a final verdict, when I got a DM from Clio. Random.

I knew of Clio. I follow them on Twitter, and I’d seen a demo and met Jack and Rian at ABA TECHSHOW in 2009, and again in 2010. I briefly entertained the idea of approaching them about becoming a Clio Certified Consultant. I couldn’t quite rationalize that idea, and not being a lawyer seemed to be a strike against me. It was hard enough not being a lawyer talking to lawyers about open source, but I possessed knowledge on the topic already and had been published in well-respected legal publications. Two things I found carried some weight. A non-lawyer talking about cloud computing practice management? Struck me as a tougher sell.

That seems a little ridiculous now, no? Maybe. To be perfectly honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I’ve ended up in a position that is too much fun to be work. Granted there are times when it seems like, and if you stop to think about it, it is, an awful lot of work, but it’s fun. And it’s fun because it is what I have been doing already: sharing information about technology and the law, which is why I got a Master of Sciences in IT and Privacy Law in the first place.

I’ve been fairly good at predicting things, but this wasn’t even on the radar.

Not only that, but the fit, the fit! Who knew I’d actually fit well with a company not my own? Message. Mission. Audience. Ideas. Direction. And from the most unconventional hiring process I have experienced.

Unconventional hiring, especially after going through several conventional hiring processes. Job duties that put to good use my education, social media, writing and strategic thinking skills. The pieces are starting to form that thing people often refer to as a career.

Six months. OK. Seven. It was a bit of a surprise when it dawned on me it’s been six months. I usually notice at three months, and some kind of internal clock orients itself as if it knows to start counting down to the point where boredom has been maximized. It says something I only took notice at 6 months, still the find the position fun and challenging, and haven’t gotten bored. Small Firm Innovation has played a role, no doubt, but so has the intersection of technology and the law.

It’s no secret the law moves like molasses, but when it moves, it is fascinating to watch it ripple across the industry.

I seem to have landed on a ripple moving across the industry, and we seem to be moving as one.

Suffice to say, it has been, and looks to remain, rather interesting.

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