About purpose, resilience and never burning bridges when you start from scratch with Sarena Straus
Sarena admits that while most lawyers pick what they'll do in their legal career and stick with it, she loves learning and trying new things, which affected her career path more than anything.
Can you recall a spark you experienced leading you to start from scratch?
"Yes! I was a child abuse prosecutor at the Bronx DA’s office. The cases I worked on were very emotionally draining. While many in the DA office stay for their entire career, one of my cases, in particular, made me understand I wanted to be more proactive; I wanted to prevent crimes, not deal with the aftermath. So I applied to work for the FBI hoping to work in preventing crimes against children. Given it’s a long process to join the FBI, I decided I'll take a job in the meanwhile I had been helping my brother– he had an internet start-up– and through that work, I met someone who needed an in-house counsel. We made a deal that I would work for him while I waited on the FBI and that when it was time for me to go, I would identify my replacement. I ended up staying for six-year. I love working as a corporate lawyer. This role allows for both quality of life and exposure to many areas of the law. It’s interesting and diverse".
"I am purposeful about how I develop and allow circumstances to guide me". Sarena is creative and comes from a family of artists. She wrote a true crime memoir about her experience as domestic violence, sex crimes, and child abuse prosecutor in the Bronx called, “Bronx DA: True Stories from the Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit.”. The book was published and later sold to CBS/Paramount as a TV pilot. Her first work of fiction, a science fiction novel called, “ReInception,” will be published this fall by Winding Road Stories.
What is the most important tip for those wanting to start from scratch?
"Don't burn bridges. I always tell people, if you don't like where you work that's OK, leave. If a decision is made for you and you are let go, that's OK too, leave, but never burn bridges. You never know when you might cross paths with someone in the future, and you always want their experience with you to have been positive. I’m also an optimist about change: I never heard of anyone changing a job or career and not ending up in a better place".
What is resilience to you?
"Being open to trying new things and hearing new ideas. Sometimes in life, things happen, but if you can learn and grow from it, that is resilience. You can vent when something isn't going your way, but get past it and look forward to you can make a future for yourself possible.