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‘Having a nonlinear pathway as a lawyer is a superpower’

While it’s common for lawyers to pursue a law degree and immediately enter the profession, Jeremy Koadlow’s unconventional path highlights the advantages of a nonlinear journey in law. His diverse industry experiences offer invaluable insights and lessons distinguishing him from the typical lawyer.

user iconGrace Robbie 29 April 2024 Big Law
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Jeremy Koadlow is an associate at M A Legal, which has been nominated for the commercial team of the year at the Australian Law Awards in 2022 and 2023. He is also a former nightclub and bar owner with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality scene.

Speaking on a recent episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Koadlow emphasised the transformative power of a nonlinear path in law, referring to it as a “superpower”. Through his journey, Koadlow gained a deep appreciation for authenticity and resilience, qualities he believes all lawyers can benefit from in their practice.

Before joining M A Legal, Koadlow amassed over two decades of experience in the vibrant hospitality industry, culminating in owning his own nightclub and bar.


Feeling “dissatisfied as an entrepreneur [and] as a business person” with the legal support he received while immersed in the hospitality industry, Koadlow was inspired to pivot towards a career in law.

Koadlow commented: “When I’m dissatisfied with something, either I find a new solution or, if I can’t find a new solution, I create the solution. And that’s why I became a lawyer [because I] found the gap in the market that I wanted to serve for me.”

Koadlow’s diverse career background beyond the legal industry has emerged as a significant advantage, offering him unique perspectives and skills.

Koadlow stated: “Having met with and worked with and in businesses that are not legal businesses gave me an understanding of the world that I’m working in and an understanding or appreciation of the role that a lawyer plays for the client.”

The lessons Koadlow gleaned as a hospitality business owner continue to prove invaluable in his legal career, notably emphasising the significance of authenticity in interpersonal interactions.

He expressed the significance of “understanding other people’s situations but also honouring your own journey and who you are”. Additionally, he recognised the value of “having boundaries” and being open and holding “different opinions”.

Koadlow maintains this mindset in his legal practice, expressing that when he “has an opinion”, he doesn’t hesitate to “share it”. He underscores the importance of doing so, even if others “disagree” with you, as it “makes for a good conversation” and “helps people connect”.

Another valuable lesson gleaned from his previous experience as a business owner is the importance of resilience during challenging times, when tough decisions need to be made.

Koadlow commented: “Sometimes, as a business owner, you don’t have the luxury of having lots of good choices. Sometimes, you only have bad choices.

“That’s the same with a lawyer. Sometimes, you only have bad choices.

“Like [when] you get bad news, there are two choices: you share the bad news, or you don’t share the best news. [You] probably need to share the bad news,” he stated.

He expressed that “people might get upset at you, and their feeling about the situation is not their necessary feeling about you”, emphasising the importance of recognising that distinction. He further noted that even if their feelings are direction, it’s essential to understand that “there’s nothing anyone can do about that”.

Koadlow underscored how lawyers “don’t need to own a nightclub or a bar or a gym or a car wash” to build their authenticity and resilience and offered them to “make yourself your own business in the sense that you need to invest in yourself to grow”.

He suggested reading and listening to different content, particularly referring to the work of Tony Robbins, Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules for Life and Twelve More Rules for Life, and Jocko Willink.

Koadlow also expressed how you can “start a side project [or] volunteer for something like the more people you meet, the more stories you listen to, the better you will be equipped to listen to the next story”.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Jeremy Koadlow, click below: