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Above The Law

How to bring order to the chaos of leaving law behind

by Casey on December 25, 2012

Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man. You likely have heard this quote before (from the 19th century writer Henry Adams, great-grandson of President and Founding Father John Adams).

So what does this have to do with leaving the law behind?  Well, if we consider “chaos” as a state of utter confusion or disorder or lack of organization, that can also accurately describe how many of us feel about leaving the law and changing our lives for the better.  Of course we want to stop doing what we’re doing.  Of course we want to be happier.  Of course we want to practice in a new way or leave altogether.  Of course we want to make our dreams a reality.  Of course . . . Of course . .  . Of course . . .

But we get stuck, almost from the outset.  We don’t know realistically where to start.  We can’t identify the steps we should take.  We can’t carve out any time to meaningfully begin leaving the law because we are so swamped at work.  Or we have familial obligations.  Or we don’t know how to speak to our spouse or family about our desires to shift career focus.   We feel overwhelmed.  We lack confidence.  We are confused.

To mitigate this sense of chaos, it works well to do one thing, do one small, seemingly innocuous, unimportant, inconsequential, slight, trivial, minor, negligible, insignificant thing.  Just one thing to get the process moving.  To get some momentum.  To get some confidence.  To leave law behind.  All you need is to do one small thing . . . and then another small thing . . . and then another . . . and one more innocuous, unimportant, inconsequential, slight, trivial, minor, negligible, insignificant thing after that.  And they need not all be successful things or things that lead somewhere or produce something.  The simple act of taking them is often good enough in the beginning.  But just do one small thing.

Here are some ideas.

·        Reserve your name at godaddy.com (e.g. www.YOURNAME.com).
·        Volunteer.  Anywhere.
·        Even with your busy schedule, take a class.  Acting.  Speaking.  Writing.  Art.  Exercise.
·        Keep a notebook, Word doc or use Evernote to track business ideas, story ideas, or other ideas.  Get them down on paper.
·        Create a group on Facebook, become a thought leader on Twitter or Google +.  Make your voice heard about something you’re passionate about and enjoy . . . and guess what?  Others will listen.  And don’t worry about  making money.  Just focus on publishing about what you enjoy.
·        Start a blog about anything – make it public, make it private, whatever.
·        Write a guest post for Leave Law Behind (contact me).
·        Guest post on other blogs with large audiences.
·        Hire a resume writer (LLB recommends Brian Munger at Resume Phenom) to update your resume . . . for non legal jobs.  Position your resume for something in Business Development, In-House, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Teaching.  You name it.
·        Start doing something for free.
·        Ask your close family and friends “What am I good at?”, “What do I do well that others may find difficult?”, “What traits have you always associated with me?”  Drill down on these answers, explore the meaning, begin to find your Unique Genius (and write them a note or buy them a gift for their honesty and time).
·        Begin conducting informational interviews.  Reach out to and grow your network.  Begin telling others what you’d like to do . . . and let the power of your connections create great opportunities for you.
·        Get your finances in order, so you have a solid idea what your money situation is like (and how this will impact, or be impacted by, your potential leaving of the law).
·        Stare out the window or to the sky or to the earth or to a friend or to the mirror or to your diary or to a flower or to the sun or to the breeze or to the ocean or to a book or to your computer and say and mean “thank you” for all you have, even if it’s not perfect.

Take a small step.  And the chaos (and the demon voice and the lack of confidence and the obstacles) will begin to fade.  Slowly.

More recent posts

Posted Today on AboveTheLaw.com – (Part II) What to Consider When Considering an In-House Counsel Position
Why a BigLaw attorney left the law, and a lucrative salary and lifestyle, behind
The steps you can take right now to leave the law behind – Interview on Wired for Success
How we’re letting the wrong things influence our major decisions

Contact me if you’re interested in exploring a one-to-one leave law behind coaching course.

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