Do you want to be happy … or perfect?

Leave Law Behind is a blog and community to help unhappy and dissatisfied attorneys find ways to leave the law behind and create new career paths for themselves.

It’s an active community that comments on blog posts, emails me each week and interacts with each other.

It also contains a huge amount of self-admitted perfectionists, myself included.

You see, while it is rare, every so often I may make a mistake and include a typo in my writing.

No matter how many times I review and re-read my posts, sometimes there is a small grammatical error or some other type of inconsistency.

A few years ago, I saw a typo for the first time right after I hit “Send” on the email newsletter … and published it on Facebook … and tweeted it on Twitter. It was repeated as people forwarded the post along and retweeted. Some readers even emailed me directly to let me know it was there.

My mistake was out there and there was nothing I could do about it. I should have taken the time to re-read the post more carefully before sending and publishing.

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My dad wants you to know this

While my parents wondered for years what this whole “Leave Law Behind” thing was, and really just wanted their nice son to have a respectable career as a lawyer, they now are big fans of what we are doing … my dad was even in attendance at the Live Event we held in San Francisco in December of 2017.

And he recently sent me an Albert Einstein saying to share with you all: “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”

It got me thinking about all of the people in your life that influence and impact you as you explore leaving the law.

Some of them are supportive and positive: They encourage you to change your life, they tell you it’s okay to want to be happy, they provide great feedback on your Unique Genius, they help you network and find job opportunities, and they are the first to toast you and your success in finding your dream career.

And then there are the negative people that Einstein warned us about. We can of course encounter negative people in all aspects of our life,

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How to have one of the most insightful, inspiring and life-changing talks of your life

Hello ~Contact.FirstName~,

At Leave Law Behind, we are real people who are committed to helping you leave the law and transform your life for the better.

One way we do this is by offering you free consultation calls with us to talk through your fears of leaving the law, identify best next steps and discuss how we can help you.

These calls are life changing. As one fellow Leave Law Behind community member exclaimed at the end of our call, “Casey, it has been a very long time since I have had this much hope for my life!”

We want you to have the same hope

But I know some of you aren’t signing up for our calls, because you think you can’t find the time, or you feel you can’t find a safe, confidential, quiet place to talk.

You don’t want to call from your law firm desk, or you can’t sneak away from the office, or you feel someone at work might hear you talking about leaving the law.

I spoke with a Leave Law Behind community member this week while she sat in her car in a parking lot safe enough away from her law firm’s building.

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The email you are struggling to write

Dear Soul,

I have to admit, I’m a little embarrassed writing this to you. I don’t often get “touchy feely” or think about my “soul” or “spirit” that much, so to sit down and put this note together for you is taking some effort.

As an attorney, I really only think in terms of the tangible, of the measurable, of what’s evident. I try to avoid, or at the very least, prepare my best, for the unknown, the risky. I have faith in logic, science, precedent, and the objective …

… oh man, who am I kidding? That sounded pretty good, didn’t it? I mean, I’m reading this now and it sounds authoritative!

But it’s not the whole picture of me.

I’m more than a negotiating/litigating/redlining/billing/rainmaking robot.

Ah, now I get it … I now know why I was compelled to write this note to you.

Something is missing. I feel something is missing. Something is off with me. But I don’t know who I can tell this to.

Sure, I can tell a few people in the office here, but the conversation usually devolves into us just complaining about bad clients,

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Imagine one day writing me this email

Last week, I received the below email from a fellow Leave Law Behind reader.

She was suffering as an attorney.

But she kept reading our weekly posts. She kept becoming inspired. She kept taking baby steps.

And she finally left the law!

I asked her if I could publish her letter and share with you. Besides anonymizing her name, below is word for word what she sent me.

And I’m grateful she let me share this with you … she wanted to pay it forward and show everyone that you too can leave the law!

Hi Casey,

We’ve never met, but I want to thank you for all that you have done for me and my career.

A little over a year ago, when I was starting my third year as a litigation associate, I realized my mental health had hit rock bottom. I was crippled with anxiety that was only getting worse with increased responsibility at the firm.

I was ignoring phone calls from angry opposing counsel, hiding under my desk at work during panic attacks,

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Join us in watching the movie we call your life

The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” — Joe Polish, Entrepreneur and founder of Genius Network Interview Series

I write each week because I enjoy it. It makes me feel good.

It’s also become my art form. How I like to express myself.

And writing is also something I do for me. When I write, it’s because I want (or need) to work through an idea. To understand a concept. To grow into something.

And I write because I like to give. People have given to me. And I give to others. This is a better place because we can all receive help and provide help.

And I am proud that the free content I provide is good enough to help many of you leave the law on your own.

So now, let’s think of who you can help.

No, I don’t mean helping the client you don’t align with. Or helping the associate you’re competing with. Or helping the partner you’re actually afraid of.

Working for them is not really help. It’s fear driven reaction.

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Help

Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.

Les Brown – Motivational speaker, author, and former member of the Ohio House of Representatives

It’s so difficult for us to ask for help

I was speaking with a client last week who I’m helping to leave the law and he said to me at the end of our session, “I’m really happy I put aside my initial apprehension and reached out and asked you for help.”

This comment is so extraordinary in our little part of the Universe because of the simple fact that we attorneys are not inclined to ask for help.

Sure sometimes we can walk down the hall to a colleague in the firm and ask for his or her opinion.

But so many of us sit for long periods of time isolated in our offices, behind a Word document, pushing to complete briefs on our own.

So many of us project an image to the client that we know (or can know) everything.

So many of us work very hard to make sure opposing counsel and the judge think we have the upper hand and that we know what we’re doing.

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You are crazy and so am I

In San Francisco subways a new ad campaign is running. Its for Fiverr, an online marketplace that connects business owners with freelancers who can help them with tasks in order to grow.

I took a picture of one of the ads that stood out to me. See it above. It reflects two core truths about starting a business: You need help to grow your business … and you also may be crazy.

Entrepreneurs need a lot of help to get started. That’s why they get co-founders and venture investment.

And they also always run into naysayers. They always run into doubters. They always have people around them who are worried about them and say their ideas are crazy.

It’s good to be crazy

And can’t we say the same thing for us unhappy attorneys leaving the law? For most of us, if we were to tell those close to us that we wanted to leave, many would likely dissuade us. Doubt us. Call us crazy.

They’ll first ask:

How can you leave such a stable job? How can you throw your law school education away? Who else will hire you?

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The real-life journey from lawyer to award winning author

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 Sheila Agnew, a Leave Law Behind reader, former family law attorney and now published author. She has a compelling life story, of leaving the law … going back to it … and now finding her Unique Genius as a writer. I hope you enjoy.

 

In 2003 I was a new, lateral, commercial litigation associate at a fairly small firm in downtown Manhattan. On my first Tuesday morning, a senior partner stepped into my office:

“Welcome to the firm Susan. How are you getting on?”

“Fine,” I said.

I didn’t point out that my name wasn’t Susan. I didn’t care enough to bother.

“Wonderful,” he boomed, “we’re quiet in commercial litigation at the moment but there’s lots of work for you in matrimonial litigation. There’s a case going to trial in a few weeks.”

It was not my dream as a little girl to grow up to be a divorce lawyer.

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