I spoke with a client last week who recently left the law. A former estate planning attorney who just recently transitioned to lead the direction and management of planned giving for a local university.
In his new role he helps provide the strategic direction and long & short range planning to support the development of major gifts and alumni relations related to cultivating and soliciting donors.
Sounds pretty cool, huh? 🙂
It’s close to his dream job. “Planned giving” is an area he identified early on in our process that was in alignment with his skills and strengths, his Unique Genius, and also something he cared a lot about.
He did explore and interview in a number of other areas. His Unique Genius seemed to align with Strategy jobs and Project Management jobs. He got interviews through his network at a Fortune 500 company and a small startup.
But he just didn’t see a fit with these paths.
A (sincere, authentic, aligned) cold email
So I asked him how, then, did he get an introduction to the university which ultimately just hired him.
I could feel him smile over the phone.
My daughter is a big fan of the Peanuts cartoons. She shared one strip with me. She said that reading it made her think of the lawyers we help to leave the law.
Charlie Brown and his sister Sally are waiting at the school bus stop one morning, lunch bags in hand. Sally looks at the cars driving by and asks “Who are all those people driving by in those cars?”
Charlie Brown says “Those are people going to work.”
“Work?” Sally says
Charlie Brown explains “They used to wait for the school bus, like we’re doing … Now they have to go to work every day for the rest of their lives”
Sally says: “Good grief! Whose idea was that?”
Right, whose idea was that?
So many of us did what seems like everything “right” in your life. We did everything we were supposed to do.
We got the grades. We made (or tried very hard to make) our parents proud. We pursued safety and security and avoided the unknown and risk.
We applied to, got accepted by and graduated law school.
Deciding to actually leave the law can be a watershed moment in an unhappy attorney’s life. But it also is just the first step of many.
That’s what we touch on in Episode 9 & Episode 10 of our Love or Leave the Law Podcast.
My co-host and former attorney Adam Ouellette and I begin discussing the underlying fears that serve as the main obstacles to leaving the law for an alternative, non-law career:
– The Fear of the Unknown,
– The Fear of Risk
– The Fear of Failing
– The Fear of Social Dis-approval
– The Fear of Losing Our Identity as an Attorney
If you’re deciding whether to leave the law … take a baby step – listen to the podcast. It’s free. You can watch the video, listen to the audio, or read the transcripts.
Click on the player below. Hope you enjoy! More to come!
Want to talk about leaving the law? Schedule a free time to chat with me here.
I speak with a lot of unhappy attorneys who want to leave the law.
Some are just in a momentary bad phase and are really meant to be lawyers.
Others are not so sure, and want to remain as lawyers for some time more, to test it out a bit.
And some are so unhappy they are dying to leave the practice of law behind right now.
In working with these groups, there are three surefire signs that you shouldn’t stick around any longer and you may want to consider leaving the law now.
1. You’re bored practicing the law.
Don’t get me wrong, in our fast paced world, where we have little time to think, being bored sometimes can actually be a good thing: it lets us ponder, reflect, take a breath.
But it’s not good to be consistently bored at our job that takes up one-third to one-half of our waking hours.
Being bored means you likely don’t care about the job. It means you find the job of an attorney to be dull, uninspiring, uninteresting, tedious or monotonous. This results from not being connected to the clients,
One of the first questions I ask people who call me to leave the law is “Why do you want to leave the law?”
And if the answer isn’t convincing, I won’t work with them to leave. Rather, we’ll focus on reexamining why, whether and how they could remain as a practicing lawyer.
That’s what we touch on in Episode 4 & Episode 5 of our Love or Leave the Law Podcast.
We focus on how law can, yes, be an amazing profession. We return to our roots, and discuss what made us go to law school to begin with.
We talk about how to re-energize our practice. How to assess whether our strengths and skills are a true fit with practicing law.
We touch on how to foster an entrepreneurial spirit and how we can really use creativity as a lawyer in many ways.
And most of all, we lay out the work to do, so if we do want to leave the law, we’re positive it’s the right decision for us.
If you’re deciding whether to leave the law …
Three things I’m excited about and wanted to share with you all:
1. I’m planning on doing a live event in San Francisco soon. If you’d like to be one of the first to pre-order tickets, Contact Me and I’ll put you on the list.
2. Love the article “How to Navigate a Career Change” a LLB client who left the law for technology just sent in, to share with you the Leave Law Behind audience. The part around how being older can really be an advantage really resonated with me.
3. Want to take a babystep to leave the law? It’s easy – schedule a free 15 minute time to speak with me. We share experiences, we discuss tips on how to leave, and most of all, you’ll realize you’re not alone 🙂
For many of the clients I work with, leaving the law is not in question: They are so unhappy, unfulfilled, and burned out that there is no question they want to leave. We focus on moving forward to do so.
But others of us aren’t so sure. We find a lot we don’t align with in the practice of law, but there is a lot that does: We may be legal subject matter experts, or just need to refresh the types of clients we work with or need to make more money.
That’s why Adam Ouellette, a Florida licensed attorney, and fellow Leave Law Behind reader, author, and speaker and I have created the podcast called “Love or Leave the Law”. It’s a point/counterpoint format, where we discuss how to (re) love the law again … or find ways to leave it.
And the podcast is inspiring unhappy attorneys just like you to not feel so alone, and to begin to act … which is why Adam and I began the podcast in the first place. One listener wrote in recently to tell us
“Over the weekend I started checking out the videos and listened to the first session of the Love or Leave the Law podcast.
I made a typo in a blog post a few years back, and a number of readers noticed it. They took the time to email me and point out the error I made. It bummed me out that whole day, and as you can tell, I have not forgotten about it …
I may have left the law, but I still battle with the lawyer’s perfectionism. I still bristle sometimes at “constructive” criticism. I still have areas of me that want to be perfect from the outset. I still don’t want to fail.
And the advice many “experts” or motivational speakers give on how to handle failure often isn’t that helpful: embrace failure, failure is the first step to success, you only know what you want from failing, and on and on.
Sure, make sense. But it’s still general, nebulous advice that can be difficult to get our arms around.
And this advice doesn’t lessen the blow at all. Failing hurts. It’s hard to be comfortable with. We lawyers instinctively want to avoid it.
Two kinds of failure
But recently, the value of failure became more clear to me.
I remember asking a client who successfully got an informational interview lined up with a tech CEO how he was able to call the busy CEO and get to talk to him and get time on his calendar.
“I called him” was my client’s response.
He just did it. He called the CEO.
He didn’t let his fear or anxiety or risk of embarrassment make him hesitate or back away from the task at hand.
The Five-Second Rule
It reminds of a great TedX talk from Mel Robbins, CNN correspondent, life coach, motivational speaker and law school grad. In it, she expands on her popular Five-Second Rule.
The Rule says that anytime you have an idea that seems like a sure thing, act to advance it within five seconds. Don’t hem and haw, don’t hesitate, don’t not-act.
Act within 5 seconds. Make the call. Raise your hand. Click the button. Write down the idea.
Something. Do something within 5 seconds of the idea, but just don’t do nothing. Because science has proven that if you don’t act within 5 seconds,
I took Tax Law as a 2L.
I struggled. I was a liberal arts major in undergrad, and was not used to doing problem sets. The professor was renowned, but I was intimidated by him and never went to office hours to improve.
And plus, Tax is just really hard.
I had ignored my homework, so I arrived at school early one morning to get it done before class. I plopped down in a chair at the school cafe, opened up my book, took out the worksheet, and continued to feel totally stumped …
… until I saw a fellow Tax classmate at a nearby table. He sat in the front row, was focused throughout class, answered most questions and was the resident Tax class expert.
He also was a really nice guy. And when I asked him if he had a few minutes to help me with the homework, he happily obliged. He explained the concepts to me clearly and with his help I got them done in less than fifteen minutes.
Wow, I said to him, thank you. If I may ask, how did you get so good at Tax?