People are always surprised when they hear that I moved away from law and into web design. Personally, I didn’t find it to be such a shift.
I suppose I should back up a bit. Once upon a time I enrolled at the Rand Afrikaans University for a B Com Law degree and then an LLB when it became the University of Johannesburg. I spent a year working in the commercial property sector auditing leases of large companies and researching things related to that before I started my articles with a small litigation firm. In June of that year my husband got an offer to move to Costa Rica with his company for a while. We basically said “If not, why not” and 4 months later packed up our lives into what could fit into 4 suitcases and shipped our labradors over. (The vet basically told us that there would be kinder ways to kill our particular cat then flying him across with us).
Now, I could not legally work in Costa Rica and so to keep out of mischief I started learning about web design. I found some striking similarities between the law and design. At the essence of both is solving problems. And before you can solve the problem you need to identify what it is. Once you have solved the problem there are a number of principles that can be applied in implementing the solution.
Both fields are structured but creative. In the preface to Amler’s Precedents of Pleadings there is a caution about using a precedent in litigation likening it to using a precedent for a love letter…that while it may work you need to be very mindful of the particular circumstances. The same is true for design work.
In design, like the law, there are best practices. (I am horrified when I view the source of websites and see that the entire site is nested in a table! A large number of South African sites are sadly guilty of this).
Another legal textbook, Morris: Techniques in Litigation, argues that in preparing for a case a lawyer needs to learn about their client’s business I have found the same to be true with design…you need to understand where everything fits together. Probably the biggest advantage of having a B Com LLB and being a self-taught designer is that I am able to see the big picture incredibly well.
And so, while at the moment more of the time is spent momming then creating websites this is starting to shift towards more design work and I am thrilled about that.
Love and autobiographical details,