Cornell Wright reflects on the key ingredients to becoming a successful lawyer

December 10, 2019

Partner Cornell Wright has spoken with Legal Executive Institute, reflecting on his career and offering advice to future lawyers.

In the candid interview, Cornell credited his parents, Nelson Mandela and Thurgood Marshall as the key figures who inspired him to pursue a career in which he could be a part of societal change and fully engaged and active in the communities he was involved in. Cornell also cited his mindset as a key ingredient to his success.

Reflecting on his decision to become a corporate lawyer, Cornell said “I realized at some point in my life that I wasn’t going to find a single job that fulfilled every need and objective I had.”

Cornell, who mentors many law students also highlighted the under-representation of lawyers of colour in corporate practices and offered them law school advice in order to kick start their careers.

“There’s a cost to working outside of school,” said Cornell.

“You simply have fewer hours available to engage, and you put yourself at a disadvantage by not being 100% committed to your legal education and law school experience.

“You have to be open to pursuing new opportunities and consciously stretch beyond your comfort zone.”

 Cornell said the joint degree in law and business was one way people could take step toward propelling their career.

“It is particularly beneficial to those from historically under-represented groups, because it distinguishes you and gives you a real advantage in terms of your skillset, credentials, and network,” he said.

“In my earliest years, I put my head down and worked and didn’t fully appreciate the benefits of cultivating relationships. I learned that later.

“Looking back, I would have turned the dial more in that direction earlier rather than assuming that doing good work would naturally lead to relationships.”


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