May Samali is passionate about investing in people and ideas that can change the world. As a lawyer-turned-investor-turned-entrepreneur-turned-coach, May is well versed in navigating career and life pivots.
- What is your current role?
I currently wear three hats. As a trained leadership and personal coach, I work with professionals, entrepreneurs, and students to unlock their purpose, power, and potential; and to unleash the career and life of their dreams. I am also the CEO of Ventures at High Resolves, where I am building and incubating a portfolio of technology ventures in the education sector. In addition, I am a Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners, a network-driven venture capital firm.
- What kind of law did you practice before?
During law school, I volunteered in the criminal defense department at the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in the Northern Territory. The year after graduation, I worked for an incredible Supreme Court judge (Justice Margaret Beazley, who is now the Governor of New South Wales in Australia). I, then, spent a few years in corporate law, working at the Sydney offices of international law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. I did rotations in various practice groups including litigation and dispute resolution, competition and anti-trust law, commercial real estate, and financial services.
- Why did you decide to leave the law?
I grew up thinking I wanted to dedicate my entire career to law, so I spent a lot of time, energy and resources working towards this goal. When I started practicing law, I realized it wasn’t for me. Instead, I craved working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them bring their ideas to life. Realizing I didn't want to be a lawyer felt like a "failure" at the time. However, without the courage to try new experiences and challenge my own expectations of myself, I wouldn't have been able to pivot my career and land in new roles that bring me so much joy and fulfillment. I believe the biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we don't take and decisions we wait too long to make.
- What legal skills do you still use today?
- Since hindsight is 20/20, what is one thing you would have done differently in law school?
I had a fantastic time in law school, especially as President of the Sydney University Law Society and as an exchange student at New York University School of Law. If I could do it again, I would participate in more practical subjects and simulations such as negotiations and mock trials. It’s the experiential aspects of law school that are the most impactful, and I would love to have delved even more deeply into these activities.
- What is one prediction that you would make about the future of law?
The world is rapidly changing. As more legal tasks become automated, a higher premium will be placed on lawyers’ emotional intelligence and ability to respond to clients' needs in interdisciplinary ways. Lawyers who embrace systems thinking and adaptive leadership, and understand how their skills complement future technologies will thrive.
- What advice would you give to those looking for opportunities outside the law?
1) Know yourself. What is your passion? How would you spend your time if there were no constraints? Reflect on times in your life when you’ve felt most alive or most “in flow.” What were you doing? How can you make a career out of this? Be curious about yourself. Self-awareness and self-knowledge are key.
2) Be curious about others. Who inspires you? What careers do you want to learn more about? Interview people who inspire you from fields you’re interested in. Find out more about the values that drive these individuals and how they made life decisions. Ask the hard questions.