One of the most important choices you make as you leave law behind – before identifying which career outside of the law to pursue or how you format your resume – is about how comfortable you feel with evolving yourself from being “just an attorney” to being your “ideal self” … is about how you overcome your fears … and is about how you just keep moving forward even in the face of doubt.
These are difficult topics to address and something most of us only talk about in private or in our own minds … so it’s a great topic for us as we go through the Leave Law Behind Program!
That’s why I asked recent Leave Law Behind graduate Jonathan Lozano (who left BigLaw and just started his own nutrition company) to share his experience in evolving from being just a restructuring attorney to becoming an entrepreneur, to embracing the unknown and to celebrating risk. His piece below is very insightful, inspirational and actionable, I encourage you to spend some time reading it.
And Johnny has just launched his new nutritional bar company,
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.
One of the major fears you have likely faced as you leave the law is the fear that you won’t be able to make enough money … you won’t be able to make a living when you find your “non-law” dream job.
As one Leave Law Behind Program Member just wrote me: “There’s still a lingering fear that I’ll trade a lucrative (if miserable) career that provides steady income for something less lucrative that I might also hate, not excel, or ultimately fail at. How do I get past that?”
Our views on money are taboo … loaded … and full of emotion.
And my partner here at Leave Law Behind, and fellow former attorney Adam Ouellette, just put together a short video for the Leave Law Behind community that deconstructs exactly what’s creating this fear of money. Watch the video here.
This will be helpful for those who attended last week’s training, or those who are looking forward to our next event.
And the recording of last week’s Leave Law Behind Live Training about Abundance and Money is available for purchase here.
I was thinking about what we unhappy, disgruntled attorneys want.
We say we want to leave our job as an attorney.
We say we want to never practice law again.
We say we want to never have to deal with our clients or partners again.
We say we want to do something else.
We say we want more money.
But that’s not really what we want.
You want freedom.
You want joy. And confidence. And purpose and meaning. And free time. And friends and warmth. And travel. And being your true self. And doing work that matters. And adding value to the world.
Leaving the law is just a way to get all you really want.
It’s easy to dream about leaving the law … and then not do anything about it, hiding behind your excuses and delays and fears and sabotaging your dreams.
But you are ambitious and smart and can make money and have proven yourself. So why are you still miserable and still unhappy and still practicing the law?
It’s because there is a price to attaining this freedom.
I love to share when members of the Leave Law Behind community succeed and leave the law. It shows to us all how possible this is.
Below is the email I received last week from an attorney just like you, who had a Free Consult call with me:
Thanks for following up.
Strangely enough, the reason I hadn’t contacted you again is because I had a “non law” job opportunity fall in my lap in planned giving at a major university.
I went through a few interviews with an open mind, not totally sure I was interested in making the change yet, but I ultimately decided today to make the leap.
All of that to say, thanks for speaking with me by phone that day. That conversation, and the videos I received from you by email, helped inch me closer to being ready to try something different. You guys are providing a great service.
As she and so many other Leave Law Behind members can attest, these methods simply work.
She left the law.
A core tenet at Leave Law Behind is exploring and then identifying and then continually refining your Unique Genius – those skills, strengths and enjoyments that you are so good at, that come so naturally to you that you don’t even think of them as special – and then finding “non-law”, alternative jobs and roles and careers and problems that call for your Unique Genius.
In other words, you identify your Unique Genius in order to see how you can best help and add value to the world and which jobs and roles are the best medium and channel to do this.
One of the reasons we are so unhappy as attorneys is because there isn’t a fit between what we do well … and what the job description of an attorney calls for.
But if you’re having trouble identifying what you’re good at, or what you enjoy, sometime it’s easier and a good first step to focus on what you don’t like … and what you don’t do well.
To be able to confidently and sincerely say “I don’t like this” or “I just kinda like it”
I was recently interviewed for a book about going to law school and the future of the legal profession in general.
The author sent me a draft copy to review and proof read for my sections.
And as I read more than just the sections in which she quoted me 🙂 I stumbled upon a fascinating 2009 quote from Justice Scalia that I wanted to share with you.
In response to a question about whether the quality of legal counsel appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court was too low, Scalia responded that he felt the opposite … and wondered aloud why so many bright minds were even entering the practice of law. Here’s what he said:
“I used to have just the opposite reaction. I used to be disappointed that so many of the best minds in the country were being devoted to this enterprise.
“I mean there’d be a … public defender from Podunk, you know, and this woman is really brilliant, you know. Why isn’t she out inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?
“I mean lawyers,
“My last day as a lawyer” is the subject line of an email I received recently from a Leave Law Behind Program Member.
He just left the law! His email to me is below:
I just wanted to send you an email to let you know that my efforts, the course, and your encouragement have paid off. Today is my last day at my law firm. On Monday, I’ll be starting a new job as an insurance adjuster.
I want to thank you for all of the help that you have given me during the process of transitioning out of the law. Your course and your encouragement have been valuable assets in making this happen. Meeting you in person back in December really lit a fire under me to find something new. I just can’t thank you enough!
I’m really excited to embark on a new chapter in my life, and you really helped me to see that there was a way forward for me. I just wanted to share my success with you.
He and I met at our live Leave Law Behind event last December here in San Francisco.
I love to have readers write in and share their successes, struggles and experiences.
The following was written by a current member of the Leave Law Behind Program, who as we speak is in the process of leaving the law behind. She reflects on a topic so many of us struggle with and fear facing … leaving the law in spite of our law school debt.
I know you’ll find this essay insightful, personal and motivating. I’ve re-read it multiple times and learn something new each time. I’m hoping she will write more for us!
How I Overcame My Fear of Debt in the Face of Leaving the Law
After financing my law school education in full, I had no idea what I needed to do to pay my debt down. I told myself that my only option was to survive at my firm as long as I could until the debt was paid.
The next two years were spent trying to work as many hours as possible to get a bonus that would help lower my debt. I didn’t do a lot of things for myself, and I told myself that I couldn’t have nice things because my debt load was so high.
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,