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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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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He first had to forgive himself

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 a Leave Law Behind reader, who recently left his BigLaw job doing M&A. He asked me if he could share how he just left the law.

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

Forgiving myself

The decision to leave my six-figure law firm job didn’t come quickly. But as I looked down into my desk drawer, I realized I had to do it. Lined up neatly were orange prescription bottles of Adderall, Xanax, Effexor, and various headache medicines. I had the Adderall to wake up in the morning, the Xanax to relax at night, and the Effexor as a backup if I had to stay all night at the office.

I knew the statistics. Lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse at higher rates than most professions. I could see it around me; everyone looked miserable,

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How I shed the blinders that were keeping me from leaving the law

I love hearing 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 Alexandra Devendra, a Leave Law Behind reader, San Francisco, California attorney and former BigLaw lawyer who took the steps to leave the law and just recently formed her own consulting business. Alix has some personal experiences I think you’ll find very interesting and actionable.

 

BigLaw Blinders

For me the biggest obstacle to leaving the law was what I call the BigLaw blinders. Even though I knew I wanted to change careers, it was hard to even imagine what else I might do.

Working with Casey helped. A lot. His process for discovering your Unique Genius helped me understand what my skills and interests are, and I began to research different jobs and careers that might be a good match for me. I also followed his advice and started keeping a journal, where I jotted down ideas that eventually developed into what I’m doing now: legal design.

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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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Lessons from someone who just left

I love hearing 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.

Lately I’ve received a lot of emails from younger attorneys, maybe just a year or two out of law school, who already know they want to do something else, but have no idea of what to do next.

Here is the story of West Kraemer, a Leave Law Behind reader, Florida attorney and recent ex-lawyer and newly minted programer and entrepreneur. He has some personal experiences I think you’ll find very interesting and actionable.

 

I left law behind to become a programmer, making websites and pursuing my dream of one day becoming an independent entrepreneur.

There are a few lessons I took from my transition that I would like to share, which would have smoothed my transition had I known them at the beginning of this process. I hope these lessons can help your transition go as efficiently as possible as you begin your process of leaving the law as well.

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The 5 main reasons why lawyers leave the law to join a startup

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Quitting your job as a lawyer is hard. No one should ever tell you otherwise.

As an associate at a law firm, you have a  stable career and an almost bullet proof trajectory to making six figures each year. Despite the freak-outs you may have about whether or not this is what you want to do for the rest of your life, the money is good enough for you to live comfortably and pay off your student loans.

Being a lawyer is justifiable. Being a lawyer is rational.

So why would anyone want to leave the law for a startup?

Those of us that leave the law to join a startup have an intense desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to innovative, push the edge, hate following precedent, and we function extremely well in chaotic environments.

Here are 5 reasons why lawyers leave the law to join a startup

1) Your passion lies outside the law

You can always tell what someone is really passionate about by what they do during their spare time.

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She recruits lawyers who want a change in their life. Here are 5 things she has to say.

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When Casey asked me to write a guest post, I thought it might be good to critically think about what is driving you to explore leaving the law. Before declaring to the world that you’re ready to leave law, it’s worth confirming whether you’re actually ready or if you’re just expressing frustration with your current situation.

While the latter is definitely the first step (and an important one), here are 5 things to consider to determine if you’re really ready.

1. Is your financial house in order yet?

Obviously, first things first, have some savings.

However, coming in as a very close second: consider your expenses.

Many of us make the mistake of increasing our standard of living each time our salaries rise. We justify this by saying, “I work hard. Why shouldn’t I treat myself?”

I’m definitely not suggesting becoming a monk, but if you’re serious about leaving, the best way to prepare is find ways to increase the space between your paycheck and your expenses.

The reality is that most jobs will pay less than half of what you’re earning as a lawyer (especially early on).

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Everything one reader went through to leave the law and finally love his job

Crossing a log bridge

Mom and Dad beamed with admiration. Their faces were alight when they described my achievements to their friends: “he studied computer science and economics at a great university, graduated with honors from a top law school, found a coveted law firm job in D.C., and will be making a comfy six-figure salary.” Awesome sauce.

My parents emigrated to the U.S. from India in the early 70s. Their circle of friends consisted of people from the same working class background. Everyone valued education above all else because it was their means to a happy ending in America. As such, for our lovely community of foreign-born residents, academic accolades and money are everything. They are the heart and sole of all Indian conversations—which, by the way, are nothing more than mere pissing matches between each other, and by extension, each other’s children. My status and level of success was excellent fodder for my parents’ passive aggressive bragging battles. Now that I had ticked off the “school” and “money” categories, all that remained on the “good son checklist” was to find a nice Indian girl, have 2.3 kids, and purchase a house in the suburbs.

Yes,

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