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Above The Law

Why you should forgive yourself

by Casey on November 16, 2015


I began law school in the Fall of 1996 here in San Francisco.

Around that same time here in the San Francisco Bay Area, Netscape went public (1995), Yahoo was founded and began hiring (1995), and Google was founded and began hiring (1998).

I can’t tell you how many times I have thought to myself why in the heck did I go to law school when I could have gotten a job, any job, any entry level job (and stock options) in one of these companies and made my riches by the time I was 27.

Like many of us lawyers who strive for perfection I was very hard on myself for not excelling in this thing called life. I would rip my insides up, compare myself to others who did “make it” and wish I had taken another path in life that didn’t involve going to law school.

But I don’t think this way any longer.
I forgave myself

I don’t think this way any longer because I forgave myself.

More specifically, I let go of feelings of resentment I had towards myself for things I had done, or wish I had done.

I forgave myself for all of the things for which I had previously been hard on myself.

I forgave myself for not thinking critically about whether I should have gone to law school.

  • I forgave myself for not looking for opportunities elsewhere before applying to law school.
  • I forgave myself for not taking some time off before law school.
  • I forgave myself for taking on student debt.
  • I forgave myself for being in the middle of my law school class.
  • I forgave myself for the confusion, lack of confidence, and anxiety I experienced in law school.
  • I forgave myself for not being as entrepreneurial as I felt I should be.

Because once we forgive ourselves we can then begin to appreciate ourselves

  • I began to appreciate myself for the marketable skills I actually do have.
  • I began to appreciate how I can work in a non law job and really help people.
  • I began to appreciate myself for the respect I garner when people see what I can do and accomplish.
  • I began to appreciate the network and connections of like-minded people I have made in my career since law school.
  • I began to appreciate how my mind works.
  • I began to appreciate the hard, smart work I have accomplished.
  • I began to appreciate all of what I have done right.

When we forgive ourselves, we release the weight of resentment and anger and guilt and we can appreciate ourselves.

And when we appreciate ourselves, we empower ourselves to move forward and do great things and be our true self.

And our true self is not to be an unhappy lawyer held back by anger at ourselves. Our true self is to be happy and full of self worth using our skills and strengths to add value to others.

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How to find work/life balance (really)

by Casey on November 1, 2015


While many of us want to leave the law altogether, some of us still want to consider finding a way to practice the law in a non-traditional, temporary, or part time way.

Those of us who are Moms and Dads want to know how to do this in order to be more present with their children. Those of us who are sick or disabled want to know how to do this in order to find ways to work that meet our special needs. Those of us who are just burnt out with the BigLaw lifestyle and want to leave the law want to know how to do this as a way to segue out of the law without losing a steady stream of income.

But for many of us, there has never been a real good fit between what we are looking for in an attorney job and lifestyle and what the current set of firms and organizations out there provide.


This is changing. 

There are now many more alternatives. To help us understand the new companies and entities that are popping up to provide lawyers and clients with a new way to do and receive legal work, Professor Joan C. Williams of the Center for WorkLifeLaw at the University California, Hastings College of the Law (my alma mater) has written a comprehensive, very useful and easy to read “review of a wide variety of new business organizations that have arisen in recent years to remedy the market’s failure to deliver business organizations responsive to the complaints of either lawyers or of clients.”

I urge you to read (and re-read) her report “Disruptive Innovation: New Models of Legal Practice”. In it, Professor Williams highlights five new types of legal service models that can help us as we look for alternative ways to practice:

1. Secondment Firms place lawyers in house, typically to work at a client site either on a temporary basis or part-time (usually a few days a week)

2. Law and Business Advice Companies combine legal advice with general business advice of the type traditionally provided by management consulting firms, and/or help clients with investment banking as well as legal needs.

3. Law Firm Accordion Companies assemble networks of curated lawyers available to enable law firms to “accordion” up to meet short-term staffing needs.

4. Virtual Law Firm Companies typically drive down overhead by having attorneys work from their own homes—and again dispense with a guaranteed salary, allowing attorneys to work as little or as much as they wish.

5. Innovative Law Firm Companies include the widest variety of different business models, with innovative ways to cut down on cut down on nighttime and weekend work, reducing partner/associate distinctions and arranging a better work-life balance for attorneys.

Professor Williams writes that these “New Models” help clients gain quality legal services at a more affordable price. For lawyers dissatisfied with law firms, these models provide alternatives to continuing to practice the law. For lawyers who want to start their own businesses, these models can serve as the basis for your new business plan. And for large law firms, this report shows where the future of the legal industry is going.

A major hurdle for many of us unhappy lawyers hoping to leave the law is we think of the world in strict dualities: I am either secure, or I’m not; I either have a job, or I do not; I either know what my future holds, or I do not; I am either a fully employed attorney, or I am not; I am either happy, or I am not.

Leaving the law, making a professional change, and life in general, is never really this cut and dry. It is much more nuanced than that. And Professor William’s report helps us understand that there are alternatives.


Did this report spark anything in you? Want to work this way? Want to start your own “New Model” business? Email me at and let me know.


3 ways I co-opt fear to use to my advantage

October 22, 2015

Lately, I’ve been working through how to deal with fear. In our lives as people in general, and as attorneys in particular, we face a lot of fears. Some we share with most everyone else (fear of physical pain, of losing a loved one, of trying new things, of falling into depression, of loneliness, of […]

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Here’s why we’ll never actually stop being a lawyer

October 13, 2015

Last week I had a great conversation with an attorney who I had worked with to leave the law. He is about to begin working at a small tech start up. While he was dissatisfied at his firm job and wanted a completely new space in which to work and was excited about this new […]

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September 30, 2015

As I’ve written about before, my five year old son is devoted to one thing in his life right now … Star Wars Legos toys. These Lego sets and ships he entertains himself with on his play table (and that I help construct) are not that simple to complete. That’s why Lego provides a detailed […]

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September 5, 2015

I was on vacation recently with my wife and two kids. And while it does take some time for me to disconnect from my normal life when we go on vacation, we were able to ultimately arrive at a nice and mindful and fun routine. One way we did so was by catching up on […]

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Identity, money and that novel we all want to write

August 26, 2015

This week, I am very excited to have former BigLaw attorney now author Amy Impellizzeri come by Leave Law Behind to answer a few questions that seem to always come up for many of us looking to leave the law. And Amy is perfectly positioned to help us out. Amy practiced for thirteen years as a corporate litigator […]

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A break

August 17, 2015

On Sunday mornings, I play basketball with a group of 10 to 20 guys at the neighborhood park. They say the tradition goes back over 30 years. And the rules haven’t changed much in that time: 4 on 4 half court, first team to hit 24 points wins, must win by two baskets, no three pointers, […]

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August 5, 2015

My son is five years old and this year he discovered Star Wars. And the main way he enjoys Star Wars is through playing with his Star Wars Lego toys. The Ewok Attack set. The Battle on Saleucami set. The Phantom ship. The Jedi Interceptor. He loves ‘em. And he’s actually pretty good at building […]

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The four things you need to do before applying for the job at the end of this post, or for that matter, any job

July 22, 2015

Last week, I publicly declared that I was a writer. And guess what? The world didn’t end. I wasn’t ridiculed. No one said I was arrogant or pompous or simply mistaken. In fact, I received a lot of supportive emails. I received a lot of emails from attorneys saying they felt like they were writers […]

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