While leaving the law takes a lot (of courage, effort, desire, confidence, momentum, hard work, flexibility, mindfulness) most of all, it takes time. A bunch of it.
And for many of us, time is hard to find.
We have trials to manage. We have court hearings to attend. We have agreements to draft. We have hours to bill. We have new clients to find. We have fires to put out. We have emails to catch up on.
And we have family obligations. We have workouts to complete. We have weekends to enjoy. We have sleep to catch up on. We have dinners to eat. We have children and spouses to love.
And so, understandably, we find it so difficult to get motivated to leave the law … as unhappy as we are in the law, come 3pm in the afternoon or after dinner or on the weekend (if we’re not working Sundays) we are just so tired or overwhelmed or obligated to do other duties that being inspired to act by the 5 Steps to Leave the Law Behind is the furthest thing from our minds.
So what to do? We may just need to redefine how we view the relationship between leaving the law and the time it takes to do so. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Realizing that leaving the law has to take time. While many of us ambitious lawyers look at our to-do list and feel we can get it all done, in reality we really can’t. No one can.
So it’s best to realize that as we move to leave the law, it’s just going to take time. We didn’t study for the bar in a day. We didn’t write that brief in one sitting. So nor should we pressure ourselves to find a way to leave the law in short order.
It takes time because all good things often do. And it also takes time because for each of us leaving the law is experimental and unknown. We need to let ourselves align with and gradually drive the process.
This orientation reduces the sense of overwhelmingness, which enables us to focus clearly on the important tasks at hand, which increasing the chances of completion and success, which results in greater momentum and drive, which results in increased courage and confidence, which results in identifying and pursuing opportunities in line with our Unique Genius. Which results in us properly leaving the law.
2. Don’t save it all up for later. In our time-impacted lives, it can be so difficult to find those large blocks of time needed to get everything done in order to leave the law.
Instead, initially identify those smaller windows of time – a half hour here, forty-five minutes there – and use them to start one task, to get just one thing done, in order to leave the law.
We cannot assess our financial situation, explore our ongoing connection with law school and define our Unique Genius in one sitting. Let’s use these smaller bits of time. Let’s break these large tasks into more manageable actions. Let’s see some initial results. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t. Let’s gain some momentum … incrementally.
3. Enjoy. It takes a lot of time to leave the law, there is no doubt. But it also is so much fun.
Once our momentum builds, once we begin to identify our Unique Genius, once we hear that other (non-legal) people are interested in our skill set, once we learn of the multitude of opportunities in the world beyond Transactional, Litigation and Academia, we begin to truly realize the import of what we are going to accomplish. We truly see the possibilities in store for ourselves. And we truly begin to enjoy this work to leave the law.
It no longer becomes difficult. It no longer becomes scheduled. It now becomes exciting.
Time is at a premium in our lives. But if we really, sincerely want to leave the law, the time is there for us. We just may need to look for it in new ways.
I don’t mean to sound rude, but finding time to leave the law isn’t all that difficult these days. Many lawyers simply DO NOT HAVE JOBS.
Frankly, I know one too many unemployed lawyers to believe that this drive to leave the law comes from a dislike of it. Leaving the law is a NECESSITY for a great number of us. We need a job, so we must leave the law.
Not rude at all. That is so true … the perceived promise that a law school degree would equal a secure job is no longer proving true. It may be that people are leaving the law because they have to just find a job. But so many are stuck in the law and want to leave, but don’t because they feel there is so little time for them to do so. So they keep doing what they are doing.
Thanks for the comment.
I think if student loan debt wasn’t an issue a lot more people would leave law quicker or wouldn’t even start it. And I agree, JJ is right, a lot of law grads are unemployed or underemployed on the doc review circuit. Doc review isn’t a career and outside of some quick cash there is no way anybody would do it, but people do it because they don’t have alternatives.