Paul Watkins presented fascinating advice at BYU Law’s Future of Law Forum yesterday on how to become an expert. Watkins has an impressive resume—he’s an attorney at Patomak Global Partners, the founder of the Office of Innovation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the drafter of legislation that enacted the FinTech Sandbox in Arizona—but he is also cares about law students’ success. For some fields, like becoming a doctor, the path is clear. For less established fields, the path forward is uncharted.

Here is what Mr. Watkins said (I’m paraphrasing, obviously): To become an expert, all you need to do is get an account on Twitter or LinkedIn, start reading articles, and post the articles you find interesting to your social media platform of choice, without any commentary. Within a few months, you can begin to opine on your postings, and presto! You’re an expert. 

Watkins was being a little facetious (I think), but he was making these excellent points with his succinct advice :

  1. In emerging fields like Fintech that have very few established experts, the bar for becoming an expert is much lower than in other, more established fields. There is opportunity in those fields for relatively new entrants to become experts quickly.
  2. Self-education works. You can learn about something on your own by putting the effort in. Some expertise is more difficult to develop on your own without the time and discipline dedicated to a formal course (like computer science, which Watkins mentioned) but keeping up with news and analysis can teach you a lot. Harness interest and excitement for a topic into energy for learning. 
  3. Wait a little before sharing your opinions–but not too long. Opinions need some basis in knowledge first. But that doesn’t mean you have to know everything before you can start engaging and speaking about a subject. In fact, sharing your ideas can push you to learn more, and more quickly.

Here are just some resources at BYU Law that can help you become a Fintech expert:

Interested in finding more? Contact a librarian!