Q & A - 5 Steps to make it Big - Part 4

  1. Where you are born: Opportunity

Till the late 60’s in the United States, it was the “Ivy League Nordic Aryans” who made the big lawyers and big firms. But with the beginning of the 70’s the tables turned. It was the sons of Jewish immigrants who made it big in law.


Revisiting our software geniuses/billionaires from question 1, Bill Joy might have actually become a biologist had he not discovered a particular equipment as a freshman in his college, the same equipment which Bill Gates found at a place near his school in eighth grade. That particular equipment was a time-sharing system.


How is this sudden growth of immigrant Jewish lawyers related to the software whizs?


And the Answer is:


These sons of Jewish immigrants who made it big as lawyers were born in the 1930’s in what was called the “demographic trough” of the United States—meaning it was a small generations than others in response to the Great Depression in the US. Thus, the hospitals in which they were born and the schools which they went to were all made for the bigger generation that had come before them and were well staffed. Opportunities to make it to the high schools and work abounded with less competition from smaller generation giving the immigrants a good education which might have been denied to them had they been born in a different generation. In the 50’s and 60’s, when they were ready to join the law firms, however, the old line law firms rejected them preferring the “Nordic type blue eyed Aryans”. The Jewish lawyers started independent practices often handling cases of hostile corporate take-overs and litigation which the established firms would not handle. However, come the 70’s and the markets became international, investors more aggressive and there was a boom in the no. of take-overs. The Jewish lawyers who, unlike their old-line counterparts, had already been handling such cases were the first choice of law firm of these litigators, explaining their sudden success in the mid-70’s scenario—‘the amount of money involved in mergers and acquisitions every year on Wall Street increased 2,000 percent”!  Thus, the Jewish lawyers were presented when and where the opportunities presented themselves. But the success story is still not complete. And what about Bill Joy and Bill Gates? Read on and you will find the answers in the next answer to the next question.

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