Dan King is an "out-of-the box" thinker and one of a kind McGill Law grad. His career redefines what being a lawyer can look like and proves to us that ultimately, there are a ton of exciting post-law school career possibilities for those willing to explore.
Soon after his call to the Bar in Ontario, Dan began carving out a different kind of career for himself, the kind that makes answering the question "what do you do?" a little tricky. On a macro level Dan could be described as an Entrepreneur focused on building multiple streams of income. He speaks at conferences and corporate events, teaches at multiple universities, owns revenue-generating websites, advises and invests in public and private companies and does other, miscellaneous projects that interest him. We caught up with Dan on the phone just before a tennis match to find out more about his Lawfully Uncommon Career.
You can read more about Dan and contact him on his website
LET'S START WITH THE BASICS. DID YOU ALWAYS IMAGINE YOURSELF GOING TO LAW SCHOOL?
Yes. I like to tell the story from when I was growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My friends and I would always go to the same Chinese restaurant and two days in a row I got a fortune cookie that said, "You will make a great lawyer". Everyone who knew me growing up told me to go to law school. It was something that they were absolutely convinced I should do because I was argumentative. I did not know much about what lawyers did prior to going to law school or even right up to working as a lawyer. But, I was nevertheless always convinced I would go to law school
WHAT MAKES YOUR CAREER LAWFULLY UNCOMMON?
A lot of "lawyering" is ultimately about coming up with reasons to say "no" to opportunities. Lawyers are remarkably good, through their training, at seeing and determining risk. Being an entrepreneur is often about pushing through risk, not necessarily ignoring it but knowing it's there and finding ways to push past it. So there is definitely a fundamental tension between law and entrepreneurship. A lawyer becoming an entrepreneur, it happens, but not that often. And it is even more rare early on in a lawyer's career. I graduated in 2011 and have been an entrepreneur full time since January 2015.
Doing entrepreneurship the way I am doing it, I don't think I have ever met another Canadian who would describe their career as I do: building multiple streams of income.
AT WHAT MOMENT DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANTED TO DO LAW YOUR OWN WAY?
I have had four or five jobs since 2011. I started off articling at Gowlings in Toronto and I knew after three or four months that I was interested in becoming an entrepreneur, even though I had no clue exactly how I would do it. That intuition was confirmed when I worked on the deals from the Shark Tank and Dragon's Den TV shows before I began my career as a full time entrepreneur.
WHAT GOT YOUR JUICES FLOWING OR TICKLED YOUR FANCY WHILE AT LAW SCHOOL?
Business Associations. Business Associations and U.S. Constitutional law were the two courses that really excited me. I really enjoyed Janda's abstract and intuitive style of corporate law teaching. It was not "let's read every word of a case" but rather, "why does the law matter". And that has definitely influenced the way I now teach
Really emphasizing the "why" will make the law more memorable instead of memorizing case details.
WHAT MADE YOUR BLOOD BOIL OR MADE YOU SNOOZE WHILE AT LAW SCHOOL?
The need to cross every "T" and dot every "I".
I would say a bureaucratic educational system was not a good fit for me. I respect the skill set but it emphasized detail over creativity which applies not just the learning materials but also career paths post law school
DO YOU STILL SEE LAW ALL AROUND YOU?
I did while I was a practicing lawyer but now, my focus is on much different things. When I was learning law for the first time, absolutely, now much less so. It has faded into the background. It only returns if I'm reviewing a contract or deliberately decide to turn on my legal mind.
YOU ARE AT COFFEEHOUSE SPEAKING TO A FIRST YEAR STUDENT. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Do not settle for the first, most obvious career opportunity. Learn how to explore so you can compare opportunities.
WHAT DOES A DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANIEL KING LOOK LIKE?
Last week Wednesday I got on a flight to Ottawa for a two-hour client meeting in the morning. I flew back early afternoon and while in flight, I reviewed the contract to purchase a website. Then I spent a couple hours marking papers for the McGill law class I teach. After that, I had dinner with the founders of a startup that I advise. Often there is not a single hour spent at a desk in my days.
IF YOU WERE GIVEN THE BLESSING AND CURSE OF AN EXTRA HOUR EVERY DAY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANTED, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would watch an hour of quality TV. HBO is like crack to me
ANY REGRETS? (YEAH, WE'RE INTROSPECTIVE LIKE THAT)
Had I had the courage to try what I am doing even earlier, that would have been awesome. Maybe even in Law School. I could have definitely done some of the things I do now in Law School. The earlier you start to experiment with new possibilities, the earlier you can collect useful data and respond to what the world and the market are telling you