What is Leave Law Behind?

Leave Law Behind is a consulting practice through which we assist attorneys in all stages of professional satisfaction.

We work with disillusioned lawyers who want to leave the law altogether and start their own business.  We work with lawyers who like what they do, but feel trapped, either by the demands of the firm, their physical location, or inability to spend more time with their families.  We also work with lawyers who like their current job as it is right now, but are interested in building other side businesses or ventures.

There is an easier, less painful, less stressful and lucrative way to make money, enjoy your day-to-day, and feel good about who you are.  I know, because I’m on that path right now, and I want to share with you what I’m doing.

Why Should I Contact Leave Law Behind?

Are you wrestling with any of the following?:

•       I do not like the practice of law.
•       I do not like my job now.
•       I feel I should continue practicing law because I paid for law school.
•       I practice law as so much of my identity is tied up in being a lawyer.
•       I wish I could leave my job.
•       I want to be an entrepreneur.
•       I like practicing the law, but I want to work from home.
•       I like practicing the law, but I want to leave the firm grind.
•       I like practicing the law, but I want to work in another city.
•       I want to work from anywhere I please.
•       I want to make money from what I enjoy.
•       I’d like to create my own business, but I don’t know how.
•       I’d like to create my own business, but I don’t know what I am good at.
•       I’d like to create my own business, but I don’t know where to start.
•       I’d like to create my own business, but how I will pay my bills?

Below are stories from two members of the Leave Law Behind community.  We have not identified them by name here, but are more than happy to put you directly in touch with them if you’d like to learn more about their experiences, in leaving law and being part of Leave Law Behind.

Here is the experience of a San Francisco based employment law attorney and UC Davis School of Law graduate.

I was at my wit’s end. After spending two years at a small “lifestyle” firm, on top of time at two other firms, I knew I had had it.  I just could not take it any more.  The billable hours, the lawyer egos, the stress, the lack of ever feeling like you could get ahead.  I had had a particularly horrible experience at my women-owned firm that turned out to be worse than the “big firms.”  My confidence was shot and I was, basically, a disaster.

I had to go, but where?  When?  How?  I had already decided I was leaving, I just did not know where I was going or what in the world I was going to do.  It was the worst economy ever, I had no idea what to do, and my husband was trying to build a business after being laid off a year prior.  I was sending resumes out left-and-right – to law firms, in-house jobs, and business jobs.  I was grasping at straws.  These were the issues I was facing while on a work trip in Sacramento during September of 2009.  A little e-mail and where it led helped bring me to where I am now – a business owner, lawyer, entrepreneur, teacher, and all-around happier person!

That e-mail, from a mutual friend, announced Casey’s introductory dinner for “Leave Law Behind.”  Of COURSE I wanted to go!  I begged to get in to that dinner, despite that I had no idea what exactly the dinner was,  who Casey was, and it was beyond capacity!  I knew that I so desperately wanted to make sure I did not get left behind IN the law (firm).  Would this be the answer?  Would this dinner/program help me figure out what the heck to do with my life?

At that introductory dinner, I learned two very important things: there are a lot of people out there just like you and you can make a change!  I also made some important contacts.  After the dinner, I decided to join Casey’s first formal small-group coaching, an 8-week three-on-one program designed to help me delve into my issues and decide what to do next.  The program was fabulous.  Really.  I learned so much about myself, how I tick, who I want to be accountable to, what works for me, what I want, why I went to law school and how that information drives me to this day, and so much more!

My new life 5 months after that fateful dinner?  I started a law firm, I teach at local law schools, and I am starting my own business which helps women organize and clean their closets and re-vamp their wardrobes.  I also have the time and flexibility to do wonderful things I never had time to do while at a firm – participate in a charity walk, meet friends for drinks (before 8:00pm), and go to the gym regularly.

I won’t lie.  It can be rough sometimes.  I doubt myself and wonder whether I can make money on my own, let alone what I was making before.  I stress.  But, I only have myself to answer to.  And, all of the scary things that I thought might happen have not happened.  The difficult things that have happened have not been as bad as my imagination conjured up.  I have learned not to be so afraid.

I traded in all that law firm “security” for my freedom.  Freedom to be my own boss, to work when I want and how I want, to take off from work more than two weeks per year, to actually spend time with friends and family and see friends when they are in town.  I used to think that it was too scary to go out on my own.  But really, it is too scary to stay in a situation or career that makes you miserable.  I had always thought “I’m not an entrepreneur.”  Well, who cares about the labels!  It is so much more fun to pay yourself and stop lining someone else’s pockets.  I am not saying that I will not ever take a job again, or that I will pass up on a W-2 opportunity that might come my way as soon as tomorrow.  I do know, however, that I am my own asset, I need to focus on now and not the future, and that the only way to be truly “secure” is to build something that is your own.  Casey and the Leave Law Behind program gave me the confidence to make the leap, and the tools to do it intelligently.

Below is the story of a San Francisco based corporate attorney and UC Hastings College of the Law graduate.

In 2004, if you asked me why I was going to law school, you would have gotten a pretty typical prospective law student answer: need for intellectual stimulation, need for a more clearly defined career path, desire to leverage my strong written and verbal communication skills, etc.; all of which basically translates to “I am smart and can’t figure out what else to do with my life.”  Unfortunately, this story is by no means uncommon among lawyers and arguably, might describe the experiences of a majority of lawyers.  Even worse is that law school did nothing to dispel my delusions about the fulfilling and intellectually challenging experience being a lawyer promised to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed law school.  It was everything I thought it would be in terms of intellectual experience.  I naturally assumed that experience would translate over to my legal career.  WRONG.  Knowing that I had no desire to deal with big firm insanity, I didn’t participate in on campus interviews, and ended up taking a position at a mid sized construction defect firm that touted its work/life balance friendly culture.  That lasted for my first year, after which I was told that despite billing 1950 hours (100 more than the first year minimum), it wasn’t good enough and furthermore, I should be billing 2100 hours.  That disingenuous turn of fate, coupled with the anti-intellectual drudgery that comprises approximately 95% of construction defect litigation was enough to drive me to kick my burgeoning construction defect litigation career to the curb.

After leaving my firm in May of 2009 I started my job hunt and supplemented my income with contract document review assignments.  Early on in the process I decided to meet with one of career counselors at my Alma Mater, UC Hastings, and in addition to getting some great job search and resume advice, she told me about an upcoming talk the career center was hosting called “Leaving the Law Behind.”  It sounded interesting and I got MCLE credit for it, so I checked it out.

The talk was great.  The speaker was a very energetic, intelligent, and eloquent Hastings Alum named Casey Berman.  He talked about grassroots techniques for developing low cost small businesses using the internet.  He talked about using your inherent skills to combine with your legal education as a way to break free of the shackles of firm life. All of this was great, but the thing that resonated with me most was when he talked about his personal experience working as an in house counsel earlier in his career and realizing that he felt like a chump because although he was doing well financially, he was making money for someone else and working really hard to do it.  Being that my ultimate goal as an attorney was to end up in-house, this was a striking revelation for me.  That, coupled with the ease and confidence with which Casey outlined the process of making the move, made me want to learn more.

I followed up with Casey briefly after the talk and we exchanged contact information.  About a month later I got an email from Casey about a dinner with 10 or so other attorneys to discuss our interest in a Leaving the Law Behind program, which Casey was contemplating putting together.  Naturally, I attended and after talking with Casey a bit further and hearing a few stories from some of the attending attorneys, who had made the move out of law themselves, I knew for certain that the course was something I definitely wanted to do.

Without getting into a play by play retelling of the entire Leave Law Behind process, I can just say that my experience was phenomenal.  It was everything I was hoping to get.  Casey is truly gifted in his ability to help people recognize the “rules” aka “bullshit” they allow to govern the way they live their lives.  He was able to quickly help me break down why I am where I am in my career and where I deviated from pursuing the things I really want to do in my life, but abandoned or postponed in the name of practicality and “growing up.”  On top of that, Casey helped me pinpoint the combination of personality attributes, skills and personal interests that I can use to create the career and lifestyle that I want to have.

I don’t think I can be more enthusiastic in my praise for Casey as a mentor and friend or in my recommendation of the Leave Law Behind course as a fundamental building block in the process of gaining the courage to give yourself permission to leave the law and begin the process of building the career you really want.

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