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The fifth step in leaving the law behind: Keep motivating yourself

As Zig Ziglar says, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why recommend it daily”

To leave law behind, and to continue to grow and develop in the way you want, you have to continuously find motivation in this hectic world of ours.  Some easy ways to do so are:

1.      Say thank you.  Out loud, out the window, in your head, as a whisper, wherever.  Being thankful, anactually saying it out loud, reminds us of all we do have and can do, even when we feel daunted or down or uninspired.

2.      Realize that you are your own startup.  Even while you hold down your current job, when you think of yourself less like a cog in a wheel, less like a dispensable associate, less like just an employee, less like just another guy, and more like a CEO of a start-up business (you), a growing entity with your own financial statements and R&D Department and Executive Team, you realize that every company (very company!) has to start small and that you’re right on track.

3.      Write a manifesto.  While a fancy sounding word, all this means is taking a public step to tell the world what you are about and what is important to you. 

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The fourth step in leaving the law behind: Plan

To leave law behind, you need to plan.  Plan, structure, blueprint, prepare.  Following your passion, doing what you love, leaping and the net will appear – all nice, and true and ideal and possible . . . with lots of planning.

When planning to leave the law, focus on four main questions:

1.    Why am I doing this? Again, let’s make sure you are being true to yourself and not fooling yourself and really exploring leaving law for the right reasons.  And not because you may find yourself in a bad patch or because it seems all of your friends have gone in-house lately or because you feel it’s no longer cool to be a lawyer.  The critical thinking must continue.

2.    Who am I doing this with? Talk to others.  To those that this decision would affect.  It’s your life and your passion and your goals of course, but they may be shared by others, or others may be affected by them.

3.    What resources am I doing this with? Besides health issues, there is no anxiety more difficult, gut wrenching or harder to take than that related to money .

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The third step in leaving the law behind: Hone the informational interview

To leave law behind, you need to meet with people.  Other people are the best way to find out what we want to do with our life, and then help us find the resources to get there.

Of course this sounds obvious, but to leave law behind, we will need to branch out in ways we likely can’t conceive of now.  We need to be open and honest with our tight circle about our goals and needs and aspirations, so those that care about us can begin to brainstorm and network for us.  We need to plan to have coffees and “informational interviews” with at least 8 to 10 new professionals, lawyers, business people, sales people, engineering folks, local politicians and other contacts each month in order to build a valuable support web of like-minded people.  We need to be confident and not desperate to find a job.  We need to gather information and make an informed decision.  It will take a while (6, 9, 12, 18, 24 months) and won’t happen overnight . . but we have the time.  Build it organically and correctly and the opportunities will come into clear view.

Before we get into the details of how to execute on this plan,

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The second step in leaving the law behind: Cut your losses

Once we have determined that leaving the law is for us (click here for the first step), the greatest danger is sabotaging our enthusiasm before we can even begin to leave.  As we pump ourselves up about the potential for new opportunities and satisfaction and happiness and money in our future, we can often get bogged down in thinking about the past . . . in particular, in thinking about our investment in law school and our long standing identity as a lawyer.

Let’s first begin with law school.  We went there.  We studied.  We got through it (somehow).  We spent a lot of time and effort and money to gain that JD.  Throw in the Barbri courses and the anxiety over the bar exam and now our yearly bar dues and it’s easy to see that we have invested a lot.  Makes us think . . . I’d hate for all of that to go to waste.  Makes us think . . . Well . . . maybe we should just stick with this law thing after all.

Next, our identity as a lawyer.  Being a lawyer still carries a certain status. 

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The first step in determining whether we should leave law behind

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. 

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The main reason why we may not leave the law behind

It takes too long.  We think, or we know, that it will just take longer than we are prepared to endure for us to leave the law behind and find an exciting job, create a new venture, or pursue small baby steps on the side that lead to more happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment and money.

We want our happiness, and our passion, and our new skill set now (or close to now) because we aren’t happy with what we are currently doing.  But the thought of branching out into the unknown, into the less secure without a definite timetable is scarier for many of us than just to keep doing what we’re doing.

Yes, leaving the law will take a long time.  The same, if not longer, than it took us to get where we are now.  There really is no way around that.  But the secret is not to feel like we are branching out into the unknown or the less secure.  The secret is to have a plan.  A plan we’ll begin sketching out in the next post.

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Rejection is protection

When considering to leave law behind, we’re going to try a lot of new things.  Once we build up the courage, we’re going to try and set up informational meetings, we will interview for other, exciting job opportunities, we’ll potentially partner with other solos to create our own firm.  There are a lot of new things we will try.

And there is a lot of rejection we will face.  Some people won’t want us.  They won’t want to accept us into their club, they won’t want us to be their partners, they won’t want us to participate in the profits, they will turn down our book idea, they will not visit our new website, they won’t refer work to us, they won’t think our new consulting firm will add value.  They will reject us.

And it hurts.  It can be crushing.  And unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it.

But fortunately, there is no way to avoid it.  Rejection is an essential piece to our success.  It protects us from areas we shouldn’t pursue, reveals to us other paths, highlights what we could have done better to prepare and shows us what other opportunities are out there we may not have known about.

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Today is the tomorrow you feared yesterday

It’s Wednesday.  We’ve made it.  Remember that anxiety and nervousness we may have felt on Sunday evening about what we had to do, what we had to face, what we had to get through on Monday and Tuesday?  It’s Wednesday and we’re still around, so we must have done something right.  And likely what caused those big fears in our gut on Sunday (and Monday) turned out to not be that bad.  In fact the meeting or phone call or document or presentation or news we feared probably turned out okay (or even fairly well) or taught us something important or made us better or just wasn’t a big deal.

In order to leave law behind it’s very important to realize what strengths, skills and experiences we possess today.  Not what we had in the past (that we can learn from) or what we want in the future (that we can create).  We are often so concerned with what we have not accomplished so far or what we need to get done next, that we do not see that many of our previous wishes and goals have already been granted and achieved.

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Create more, consume less

Consumption of information can be fun, educational and motivating.  We read blogs like this one, view videos, listen to music.  This passes the time, provides entertainment, stems boredom and enhances ourselves.

One thing consumption is not . . . is creative.  Creation occurs when we put our mind to work to produce something, to produce something for ourselves to reflect on . . . or for others to consume (and possibly buy or share or promote).  As such, a major tenet of leaving law behind is to consistently promote our own creation.  In other words, we can’t leave law behind, fully or partially, without create something else to focus on, something else to market, something else to monetize.

What you create is up to you – new ideas, brainstorming sessions, now job possibilities, unique career paths, hobbies, random thoughts, actual pieces of writing, business plans, forecasts, side businesses, new ventures.  This creation comes about through many forms of activities, and many are simple and almost without cost – staring out the window, going for a walk, talking with a friend, uninterrupted, sincere thinking, consistent jotting down of ideas, planned productive story/blog writing.

There is one cost:  In order to create,

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Come Join Me in Person on Monday February 6th at 6pm to Discuss “Should You Really Be A Lawyer?”

This coming Monday, February 6th at 6pm Pacific at the Book Passage at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, please join me as I interview Deborah Schneider, Esq., co-author of Should You Really Be A Lawyer? The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During and After Law School (click here to buy the book on Amazon).

If you are, or know of, a prospective law student, a current law student or a lawyer who’s wondering (a) if they should become, or remain, a lawyer and (b) what they should do with their life, this event shouldn’t be missed.

We’ll discuss how aspiring and practicing lawyers can learn to make better career choices that will lead them to work they love, and answer your most vexing career questions.  Whether you’re thinking about law school, currently in law school or practicing law, this program will help bring clarity to any current career confusion.

Once again, the event is scheduled for Monday February 6 at 6pm at the Book Passage at the San Francisco Ferry Building, where Market Street meets the Embarcadero (map).

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