The first step in leaving the law behind is to determine whether we really want to leave the law behind. Sounds obvious, but the main gist here is that we often think we want to leave the law, feel unhappy practicing the law, feel we need to make a clean break. And we think all of this without critically thinking about all of this.
Just like many of us who went to law school on a whim, or because it seemed natural, or because that is just what we did, or without thinking much of it, many of us consider leaving the law without critically thinking about whether that is the right idea. We are unhappy or unsatisfied or beaten down or low on self-worth. So our natural instinct is to want to move onto something new, whatever it is, just something new.
Initially when leaving the law, we need to determine if we should (i) leave the law altogether or (ii) just practice the law in a different way. This is the first fork in the road we face.
So if we truly do want to leave law altogether, we need a plan. We need to ensure we have enough money to live on if we do leave our job, we need to begin networking and having coffees with anyone (anyone!) who is remotely doing or connected to areas we find interesting, and we need to begin fleshing out what businesses and ventures and projects we can put into place. Since this all can take many months, and likely years, to get going, we likely will want to keep our current job in the short term until we have a structure of a plan we like and enough resources at our disposal to tide us over for a while. Yup, leaving the law behind is like taking on a second job. No way around that.
Alternatively, if we want to stay in the law, we need to critically examine what it is about our current job that is unsatisfying, and be honest with ourselves about what any new role will bring us. We need to keep our current job, network and have coffees and speak to as many people as we can in these roles and contact a legal recruiter to pick their brain.
And yes, we can pursue both initially. But either way, leaving law behind takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time.
That’s the easy part. The hard part is having the courage to just show up and take that first baby step.