How leaving the law is like going gluten free

This past year, my wife, my 10 year old daughter, my 7 year old son and I dramatically revised our diet. For health and behavior reasons, we changed almost everything about how we eat.

We cut out gluten. We reduced our dairy intake. We drastically lowered our sugar eating and drinking. We cut out as many chemicals and processed food as possible.

Sounds great? Yes. Easy? No way.

Rewards don’t always scale long term

I’m very happy you did not visit our home last fall. The four of us were miserable: We wanted to eat bread. We wanted candy. We wanted to eat our beef jerky.

We had to continually research what we could or couldn’t eat. We had to experiment with new recipes. We had to get used to food that didn’t always taste that good.

And one of the main ways we got through it was incentivizing ourselves with rewards. Don’t eat that food, and you get this such and such prize.

But rewards, and discipline, don’t last that long. They don’t work long term. Our experiment was on shaky ground.

Feeling the benefits

It wasn’t until we moved from rewarding our discipline to focusing on our emotions that this diet change became successful … and easy … and just another (positive) part of our life.

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Happy new year in September?

Yesterday evening kicked off the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It is also considered the birthday of the universe, the anniversary of the day Adam and Eve were created.

It actually means “Head of the Year.” And just as the head controls the body, many view the actions we repent, forgive and plan beginning on Rosh Hashanah as having a tremendous impact on us for the rest of the year. It’s a solemn, introspective time.

It definitely is not your bang-up, let’s party Gregorian December 31/January 1 New Years celebration.

So I’ve always had two “new years” growing up.

And then it got me thinking of other cultures’ new years in the world.

The Hindi new year is in March. The Chinese new year moves between January and February. The Islamic new year varies by Gregorian year.

My own personal new year

And then I started thinking of my own new year. Not my birthday. Rather, the day I officially left the law. June 16, 2004. I gave a month’s notice for my in-house counsel job.

I left a job that was well respected and fine and not horrible …

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Five Skills Lawyers Like You Have That Non-Law Companies Need

What do you want to do? …Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way …If you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is … you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much.

—Alan Watts, British philosopher, writer, speaker, and popularizer of Eastern philosophy for Western audiences


This article was published in the September issue of the ABA Law Practice Today. And like that audience, if you’re reading this here, there is a very good chance you do not like practicing law.

You are likely bored by it. Or don’t like the adversarial nature. Or want a more collaborative profession. Or want to make more money in ways other than the billable hour.

You likely don’t consider yourself a good attorney. Maybe you even feel like a “fraud.” And you just want to identify a career that will call on your strengths and empower you to be more confident,

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Why Kelly left her dream in-house job

I’m always on the lookout for stories from the Leave Law Behind community, of people first realizing they want to do something different to those people who take that first step and actually leave and do something else.

Here is the story of Kelly Starkweather, who recently took the courageous step to leave what she had always thought was her dream job, an in-house employment counsel role.

I think you’ll find her experience and bravery in facing the unknown insightful, actionable and inspirational. I surely did.


Fighting for a better life

I’d built an attachment to Muhammad Ali after taking boxing classes on and off for six years in my hometown of St. Louis. I took this interest in boxing a step further when I visited the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville a few years ago.

It was a deeply impactful experience, though I paid little attention to the exhibits on his career. I was struck by the depth of his humanity, and oddly it was when I felt that I had lost swaths of my humanity, in large part to my unsatisfying position as an attorney,

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You have a choice to make

I have learned recently that there are two types of emotions in the world:

Love or fear.

Love or fear.

Everything else is a sub-element.

Love is confidence and support and collaboration and love. It is worthiness and desire and faith. It is connection and abundance and pure and helpful and value. It is backbone and morality and heartfelt and determined and giving. It is growth and daring.

Fear is the anxiety and the confusion. And frustration and lack. It is depression and corrupt and rotten. It is misaligned and worry and suspicion and insecurity and unworthiness and playing small and concern. It is stunted.

Both emotions play integral parts in defining who we are and the decisions we make.

We fully know we are acting out of love when we realize that we are not acting out of fear.

But it’s fear that keeps you dragging yourself into your attorney job you can’t stand. It’s fear that results in your stress, in your 60+ hour workweeks, in your addictions to numb the pain.

We unhappy attorneys produce these fears ourselves

It’s a fear that we are not worthy of success.

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How Carly got her groove back

I’m always on the lookout for stories from the Leave Law Behind community, of people first realizing they want to do something different to those people who take that first step and actually leave and do something else.

Here is the story of Carly Steinbaum, a former BigLaw attorney who left the law, took a break and now has started her own purpose filled company.

Here it is. I think you’ll find it insightful, actionable and inspirational. I did.

First of all, thank you, Casey for this opportunity to post, and thank you to all of you for reading this.

To begin, I was a lawyer for about seven years, first at Sidley Austin and then at a boutique litigation firm founded by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher attorneys.  I now have my own company, De Novo, and we are building an app to allow professionals – beginning with lawyers – to swipe through job openings confidentially and chat with a third party recruiter on matched jobs, only if they want to – think Bumble for law jobs.  (We’re launching our beta in the Fall,

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Listening to this one thing has made me more successful and confident

Our job as attorneys often calls for us to be objective, detached and above-the-fray.

Law school taught us to be logical, commonsensical and compliant.

This emphasis on rationality helps us excel as attorneys.

But rationality can fail us when there is a disconnect between what we need to do as an attorney, and how we feel being an attorney.

When we don’t like being an attorney (and feel anxious, unhappy, disconnected or like a fraud), we can’t just dismiss these feelings.

Rather, we need to find a new way to get our arms around these feelings and understand how they can actually be the guidance we’ve always wanted to a more successful, aligned and happier life.

I shot this short 3:13 minute video below to help you begin to understand how listening to how you feel can be the first step to achieving the life you’ve always wanted to live.


If you’re serious about exploring how to leave the law, I’d suggest you act now on some easy-to-take babysteps we have here at Leave Law Behind:

First, consider the $1 trial for the Leave the Law membership program.

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The real reason why you are on this earth

One of the main blockers we attorneys have in leaving the law is understanding exactly what we are good at, and how to “translate” these “transferrable” skills to a non-law, alternative job.

The thing is … you already know what you are good at.

I shot this short 2:55 minute video to remind you what these (fantastic, useful, in-demand, valuable) skills are.


On the fence, whether to leave the law, or stay practicing? See the replay from last Sunday’s webinar Love the Law … or Just Leave it – How to Get Off the Fence!. We’re taking the replay down this Friday, check it out now!

I can’t force you to change for the better. But if you are ready, I can help. Start here:$1-trial.

(And if you’re interested in exploring this trial, I’d sign up now … I’m going to be closing it soon.)

Or sign up for a free 15 minute phone call with me to discuss whatever you’d like.

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[Training replay] Want to get off the fence? Here’s the fastest, easiest way…

So happy to have seen everyone on Sunday’s webinar, Love the Law … or Just Leave it – How to Get Off the Fence!

We had a great session of training, tips and Q&A.

Luckily, we have a replay for those of you who couldn’t make the live event … and for those who did attend and want to review it one more time – Click here to check it out.

Please note, we’re taking this down at Friday August 4th at 6p Pacific time so if you’re interested in learning, I’d carve out some time this week.

We know you are on the fence

You’re procrastinating. You are hesitating to change your life for the better.

You may not be sure if you want to leave the law. And you’re also not sure what is the most satisfying way to continue to practice the law.

This training then is for you – here’s a sampling of the topics we covered in our talk:

  • Why most lawyers don’t really like our profession and what you can do to reconnect with your love for the law.

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