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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For how long will you put up with the pain?

We suffer from so much pain as unhappy attorneys.

We have so much fear that prevents us from leaving the law.

But there is hope. Lots of it.

I shot this short 2:45 minute video below to ask you one very important question.


I can’t force you to leave the law and be happy. But if you are ready, I can help. Start here:$1-trial

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Only for those serious about leaving the law

The podcast episode with the leave the law expert Liz Brown is now at Love or Leave the Law.

A Harvard Law grad, former BigLaw partner, business law professor and author of the groundbreaking book, Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the JD You Have, Liz is an expert on alternative career options for lawyers.

Want proven, actionable tips to leave the law? We discussed so much, we broke it out into two episodes. Start with Episode 18 and then listen more to Episode 19.

And if you’re serious (really, really serious) about leaving the law … 

After you listen, buy Life After Law hereIt’s a fantastic, well written, insightful resource that has been an inspiration to me.

Get free 15 minutes to take with me about whatever you want? Schedule a free time to chat with me here.

Ready to leave? Trial the Leave the Law Course for $1.

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The root cause of most of your fear

I was a Jewish kid who didn’t like blood.

That’s the best explanation I can give as to why I went to law school. I wasn’t going to medical school but it was expected I get a graduate degree. I just went to law school. I didn’t think too critically about it. I just went.

And I suffered for this lack of critical thought. While my high school teachers felt my speaking and writing skills could be of good use as a lawyer (“You like to talk, be an attorney”), I actually didn’t enjoy or excel at law school.

Except for one class: Second semester as a 3L, I AmJured my Negotiations and Settlement class. The irony … I’m about to graduate, I’ve struggled and struggled and can’t wait to get out of law school, and I finally am good at something.

But looking back, it now makes sense

The class was a small, about 20 students. It was taught by a practicing attorney from the San Francisco Morrison Foerster office. He was engaging, insightful and encouraging. We would break out into smaller groups that had to reach agreements based on real life case studies we could relate to and align with.

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The Golden Handcuffs, the Guilt, and the Reluctant Prince

I was speaking recently with a reader who is interested in the Leave Law Behind coaching. She works in BigLaw. She makes a lot of money. Is respected by her friends and family.

But she is dying to get out.

She almost never sees her family. She almost never has a weekend without work. She almost never feels appreciation from her clients.

But a major obstacle in her way to leaving the law is the guilt she feels complaining about such a high paying job. She has all the creature comforts. On top of that, she was raised in a solidly middle class family where money was often a topic of mild anxiety and worry.

She asks, How can I complain about a job that makes me so much money? How can I stare my parents and family in the face and say I don’t like my job when I make so much money? How can I complain when I have a job that so many other people would die to have?

She says, I should realize I’m lucky to have this job. I should appreciate this job more so.

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