Thinking about leaving the law, but not sure where to begin?

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Above The Law

What if you found out that you were about to get laid off

by Casey on February 8, 2013

If you’d like to leave the law, but are not making it a priority to do so, then you may need to artificially stimulate your motivation.  A good way to do that is to imagine what you would do if a trusted fortune teller (ala Nate Silver) confirmed that, yep, you’re going to be laid off from your job as an attorney 12 months from now.

What would you do?

In case you’re stumped, I have six steps for you to start working on right now.  Baby steps that are fun, preparatory, motivating and will help position you to leave the law and create a fantastic career and life.

1. Review your finances.  Before you do anything, make sure you have a solid understanding of your financial situation:  What your monthly expenses are.  What one-time expenses you have coming up in the next year (taxes, health related).  What new expenses you may have (private school, summer camp).  What your debt situation is.  What you can do to positively change big ticket expenses, like your mortgage.  What you or your spouse can do to make some money on the side.  For more ideas, click here.

2. Get your resume(s) in order.  Don’t wait ‘til the last minute to polish your resume.  Take your time over the next year to craft it, re-word it, love it and position yourself just right.  And don’t do it yourself – have a professional like Resume Phenom take care of it for you for a few hundred dollars.

And don’t just make one resume:  Create a resume and cover letter for each of the many different legal and non-legal jobs you may be interested in, like operations, recruiting, in-house, a new firm, business development, sales, copywriting, strategic consulting, government, politics.  Position yourself in many different ways, not just one.  Believe it or not, your legal skills (organization, discipline, intelligence, self-direction, clear writing, public speaking, issue spotting, leadership) are in hot demand by employers across all industries.

3. Talk now with a legal recruiter.  Not necessarily to start a search, but just to see what’s out there.  Just to see what the market is like.  Just to pick their brain on best practices.  Just to take a babystep.  I recommend Lindsay Hill and Don Davidson here in San Francisco.

4. Begin to network.  Talk to your contacts . . . now, not in 11 months when you’re desperate for a job.  Take them to coffee, see who else they know, do informational interviews (click here for the full script and email template).  It’s better to meet with people and explore the possibilities when you still have a job, than when you really are desperate for one.

5.  Make an effort to explore your Unique Genius.  Remember, if you build or do something that is based wholly or in part on what you’re good at, what  you enjoy and what comes naturally to you, there is a much greater likelihood you’ll be happy and successful at it.  Begin by asking (and really answering) the following questions:  What are you already doing (or would you do) for free to help people? For what type of advice do people come to you?  What do people compliment you on? Read more detail here.

6. Start a blog.  Yeah, you heard me.  Begin to write.  Begin to do video.  Begin to do something.  Around any subject that aligns with your Unique Genius and that you find interesting and fun and that comes naturally to you (legal related or not).

And there are professional benefits as well.  A blog is a nice complement to a resume.  It shows discipline, creativity and entrepreneurism.  Further, use a blog (or Twitter or Facebook or Google+) to become an expert or thought leader in a certain niche (whatever that may be, it’s up to you).  Check out the ABA Journal blog roll for inspiration – you’d be surprised how many different types lawyers have created.

Taking these baby steps now will make leaving the law (and finding happiness and satisfaction and wealth) more of a priority for you . . . before the real world does it for you.

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