Lindsay Cameron: from Big Law to Novelist
I don’t know about you but I love a good “I left law to pursue something else that I was passionate about” story. We secretly all love something just a little bit more than the law don’t we? As much as I love the law, music will always be my very first love. Meet Lindsay Cameron. A graduate of the University of British Columbia School of Law, she worked for six years as a corporate attorney at large law firms in both the United States and Canada, including one of New York’s most profitable firms. Deciding that writing was more fun than lawyering, she left the law behind to pursue a career writing novels. Her debut novel “BigLaw” was a huge hit and we had a chance to catch up with her when it was first released. Below are a few questions we just could not help but ask and that Lindsay graciously agreed to answer. Prepare to be inspired!
Tell us a little bit about “BigLaw”, how it came about and the writing process behind it.
BigLaw has been called The Devil Wears Prada crossed with One L. It tells story of Mackenzie Corbett, an ambitious young woman navigating her way in the cut-throat, pressure cooker environment of a big law firm in New York. With the opportunity to accelerate her partnership track, the overachiever in her is determined to do whatever it takes to close the biggest deal in the firm’s history. But when Mackenzie finds herself the focus of a devastating investigation, her dream job begins spiralling into a nightmare. I came up with the idea for the book when I was at work (at 3am at my desk, but I digress…). I started to think about how law firms are portrayed in movies and TV and how far from reality that actually is. I grabbed a notebook and began jotting down notes, observations of biglaw life and stories I’d heard from friends at other firms. Writing in my notebook became part of my daily schedule and those notes became the basis for my novel.
Is the book a reflection of situations you experienced in your legal career?
The book is decidedly fiction, it’s not a memoir, but there are characters and circumstances that are based on my own experience. Of course, with some poetic license thrown in too.
What do you miss about practicing law (if anything!)?
Probably what I miss the most is the comradery. I still keep in touch with my former colleagues, but I miss having them walk into my office for an afternoon chat or grabbing a quick coffee together. You spend more time with your fellow associates than your spouse, so friendships form fast. There is nothing like watching the sunrise from a windowed conference room to bring people together!
What persuaded you to give up law and dive into writing?
Becoming a writer was never part of the plan and as a Type A person deviating from any plan isn’t easy. But once I started recording my workplace observations, I was hooked. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I enjoyed writing in my notebook more than any legal work I was doing. It took about a year of humming and hawing, and some encouragement/insistence from family, but eventually I took the leap and decided to give writing a try.
What are some of the challenges that you faced as a writer that your background as a lawyer helped you overcome?
I think one of the hardest things about writing is finding the self-motivation to get your work done. You sit down to write, but next thing you know you’re checking out your friend’s vacation photos on Instagram or taking a Buzzfeed quiz to figure out which Friends character you would be (ok, maybe that’s just me). But that’s where my lawyer’s work ethic kicked in! I set weekly word count goals and my lawyer training wouldn’t let me miss a deadline.
If you could go back to the first day of law school given all the knowledge you have today what would you tell yourself?
Don’t ignore your non-law friends! Law school can envelop your life quickly, but those non-law friends are essential for your sanity.
Do you have any advice for law students or young lawyers interested on pursuing a writing career in the future?
Set word count goals for yourself and write whenever you can – whether it’s during lunch, before your kids wake up, or on your iPhone during a hair appointment. It’s not always easy for lawyers to add anything else to our already full schedule, so rather than trying to find three solid hours, settle for 30 minutes here, two hours there. No matter how busy you are there is always some time in your day that can be used for writing.
Can we expect a sequel to “BigLaw”? Perhaps a movie?
The film and TV rights to BigLaw have been optioned to Paramount, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll see BigLaw on the screen! As for a sequel, we’ll see…
Lindsay Cameron is a graduate of the University of British Columbia School of Law. She worked for six years as a corporate attorney at large law firms in both the United States and Canada, including one of New York’s most profitable firms. Deciding that writing was more fun than lawyering, she left the law behind to pursue a career writing novels while hunched over her laptop at Starbucks. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two young children. BIGLAW is her debut novel. You can purchase her debut novel on Amazon, Chapters , Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.