A New Beginning


シャーマンアンドスターリング退所についての日本語の投稿はこちら

This Friday will be my last day at Shearman & Sterling.  After seven and a half years, the time is right for me to move on.

When I reflect on my time at Shearman & Sterling, I realize how tremendously fortunate I have been.

I once heard that the average length of a career at a major law firm like Shearman is two and a half years.  That may be a little too short, but if the actual length of service is anywhere near that, I’ve managed to beat the average by a couple years.

That’s all you need to know how happy I’ve been with the firm.

At Shearman & Sterling, I got to work on headline-making transactions involving blue chip companies most of you have heard of with colleagues that I genuinely liked and respected, all while being well-compensated. Yes, the long hours with little sleep and even less life outside of the work often sucked, but all things considered, my life was pretty darn good.

So, you may be asking, if the firm has been so good, why leave?

The short answer is that because there is so much else I’ve always wanted to pursue.

Because a career with a major Wall Street law firm was never part of my life plans.

I went to law school because I was politically wired in college, fell particularly in love with the U.S. constitution and assumed that law school is where you go to study the Supreme Law of the Land.  It never occurred to me when I entered law school that I needed to come out with employment until I saw my classmates frantically scheduling interviews after the end of the first year. I didn’t know what Wall Street law firms did, but I didn’t want to be left behind so I jumped on the interview bandwagon.

So of all the fortunates I’ve had with Shearman & Sterling, the greatest was that I stumbled upon an amazing workplace in a world that I never knew existed.

And although I came to enjoy the work over the years–even I confess the profession suits my temperaments quite well– the part of me that never contemplated the world of corporate law never died.  As three years became five, then seven, I never reached the point that this profession, much less this field, was what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

I liked Shearman enough.  I liked it a lot.  But it never consumed me.

Truth be told, if my feelings about a career at a law firm were even a bit ambivalent, I probably should have left earlier; it’s not a place for the half-hearted.  Because the firm had been so good to and for me, though, it became increasingly more difficult to leave for the unknown.

But I’ve finally been able to cut the cord.

Starting next Monday, I will be joining Amazon of Japan’s legal department that covers the cloud service, which, I’ve been told and read, is becoming the driving force of the company’s growth.

This is tremendously exciting.

It’s exciting because this was the only way I was ever going to be able to enter the cool world of IT.

It’s exciting because I will no longer have to experience those only-in-the-world-of-lawyers moments, like when I’m going through a two hundred page document only to check the location of commas because a comma’s misplacement can potentially cost millions of dollars, or when I have to suffer through letters that begin with a phrase like “Reference is hereby made to…”

It’s exciting because I get to put the analytical skills I’ve honed as an attorney to the world of business, helping the company grow along with engineers and whoever else make tech companies create the amazing things we never knew we couldn’t live without.

Most of all, it’s exciting because it will be completely new, nothing like anything I’ve done at Shearman & Sterling or that I’ve studied in college or law school.

The goal of my life is to live by the motto of my alma mater Boston College, Ever to Excel.  In the past seven and a half years, I’ve been blessed to be in an environment that challenged me to excel, day in and day out, and no doubt Amazon will continue to do the same.

But for me the motto includes a personal collorary, to make a difference. I’m hoping that working at a company like Amazon, with all the ways it has pushed the boundaries in the way people buy goods and businesses store data, I’ll be able to make contributions to the world in ways that I never could at a law firm.

The journey begins on Monday.

It’s gonna be a blast.

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10 Responses to “A New Beginning”


  1. 1 Chris Schroeck May 10, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Congrats, Joe. I wish you all the best at Amazon.

    • 2 joesas May 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks, Chris! Much appreciated.

  2. 3 Jay the Elitist May 10, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Does that means that you will reply to my e-mails again haha?

    • 4 joesas May 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Jay the Elitist,

      Yes, sir! Starting with the one from early March this weekend.

  3. 5 Stafford and Trisha Ezzard May 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Congratulations Joe. Nothing like excitement and passions! miss you, too! We woke up to the ads for delivery by Amazon here in Orlando this morning. wow!

    • 6 joesas May 22, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Ezzard! The change is really exciting. And thank you for your continuing use of Amazon!

  4. 7 Anonymous August 3, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Great Joe. I hope you still have a love for the US Constitution. Can I take a little bit of credit for that?
    I still find it fasinating. With every move I have kept all my books on the Constitution.
    Glad to hear that I finally have someone who can explain the cloud to me! I was beginning to think it was a hoax; a way to get me to pay an extra $2.99 a month for “extra storage”. Let me know if you plan to visit the US. I would love to get together. What do you think of thie election? I think I am afraid to ask. I am embarassed.

    • 8 joesas August 6, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I still love the Constitution, but I find that fewer and fewer people around me can talk about that stuff, much less care about it. I ended up in the wrong field of law…

      Cloud is such a fascinating business. It’s not a hoax; if you are using it, you are way ahead of the game!

      Not surprisingly, I have written about my thoughts on the presidential election. I can see why you feel embarrassed, but I find it fascinating (and conversations I hear a little tone deaf): https://joesas.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/no-im-not-voting-for-trump-but-i-get-the-message/

      It would be great for us to get together. I will probably be in the States in the fall and the winter!


  1. 1 新たな一歩 | The World According to Joe Trackback on May 22, 2016 at 9:52 am
  2. 2 2016 Was the Year of Changes | The World According to Joe Trackback on December 22, 2016 at 11:25 pm

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