Why this lawyer became a beverages entrepreneur
Mark Curry was climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying it, but intrinsically knew that he had to step out of his comfort zone and take a leap of faith.
“I knew if I didn’t act now, I’d never do it,” Mr Curry recalled.
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Having dreamt of running his own nutrition business for many years, he realised that he’d allowed himself to “remain comfortable in my cosy office at whatever law firm I was at”.
The idea of not doing what he really wanted to do, he felt, was “suffocating”.
“So, I wrote my resignation letter shortly afterwards and tendered it. I was bloody terrified. Day one after quitting my job: I literally Googled (I love that Google is now a verb) ‘How to start a nutrition company’ to get an inspiration as to the first steps to take,” he said.
In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Mr Curry – who practised for close to three years, the majority of which was spent at Clayton Utz – said that at the time of his resignation, he was “working as an associate, slowly climbing the corporate ladder and enjoying it”, but that he needed more.
This is not to say that the time spent in legal practice was wasted, however – he immediately found that what’d learnt as a lawyer served him well in launching his own beverages business: Savvy, a mental performance coffee brand.
Chief among those transferrable skills, Mr Curry outlined, were organisation, discipline, research and the ability to negotiate.
“Beyond all the extraordinarily helpful advantages of having a legal background, the ability to quickly research how to complete tasks and then diligently pursue them, make appropriate notes, and not being concerned with long hours of work really helped me,” he listed.
“The challenge in my pursuit was the huge amount of people told me making a ‘nootropic’ drink with ingredients to positively impact cognitive ability would not be allowed. However, being able to read and understand the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act and Food Standards Code provided me with hope that making a nootropic beverage would be allowed within the act.
“Then, when I made the product, I had to prove that it worked, so every ingredient has volumes of scientific research behind it proving that it works – the love for evidence was a huge learning from my legal career.”
Running such a business has also offered invaluable lessons for entrepreneurial lawyers as well, Mr Curry continued.
“Rising to every challenge and getting comfortable being out of your comfort zone. The importance of looking after your mental health and always striving to take the time for healthy habits and routines,” he explained.
“Having thrown myself in the deep end, I learned more about myself in the first year of business than I had in the previous nine studying and practising law. Perhaps I played it too safe with my legal career, but taking larger risks was instrumental to my personal and professional growth.”
Lawyers “have entrepreneurial personality types”, Mr Curry opined, and considering opportunities and acting upon them would be something that would provide them and those they serve with huge advantages, he argued.
“The rise of tech allows for people to solve problems in new and improved ways, and lawyers can be very savvy in negotiating new career paths for themselves.”
More broadly, he concluded, lawyers must stop and take the time to see “what really makes you tick”.
“I never did, which is why I liked being a lawyer, but it never truly left me with a sense of fulfilment,” he mused.
“The first time I took a day off to really search for a passion and purpose started a journey that placed me on a path to creating Savvy Beverages, and while I loved lawyer-life – I don’t look back.”