You’ll leave the law with these 99 tips

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Last week, we discussed why we unhappy, dissatisfied attorneys need to forgive ourselves for all of the things for which we had previously been hard on ourselves.

Our true self is not to be unhappy. Our true self is to be happy and full of self worth using our skills and strengths to add value to others.

It sounds great. And it is really true.

 

Now let’s act

And we also need to act. We all need to put things in motion, we all need to visualize, we all need to manifest … in order to bring about this true self.

It’s not necessarily hard work. It’s not necessarily work that’ll take forever.

But it is work that takes action … incremental, confidence-building action.

That is where baby steps come in. The “baby step” is the basis of leaving law behind.  The baby step is so essential because leaving the law can be so difficult and overpowering and murky.  Leaving the law takes internal exploration, courageous action, and consistent follow up. 

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Identity, money and that novel we all want to write

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This week, I am very excited to have former BigLaw attorney now author Amy Impellizzeri come by Leave Law Behind to answer a few questions that seem to always come up for many of us looking to leave the law.

And Amy is perfectly positioned to help us out. Amy practiced for thirteen years as a corporate litigator at Skadden Arps in New York City. She left the law, became a start-up executive and now is a full time author.

Her most recent book is a non-fiction piece, Lawyer Interrupted, published through the American Bar Association. I was honored to be interviewed by Amy for the book, along with others in the space like Liz Brown and Marc Luber.  It’s an extremely informative, well written and entertaining description of what it takes to leave the law (buy the book).

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So, without further ado, let’s ask Amy some of our pressing questions!

How can an unhappy attorney “give up” all they worked on to become an attorney (law school,

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My 21 step guide on how to leave the law and find an alternative career

The issue many of us unhappy attorneys run into when attempting leave the legal profession for an “alternative career” is we have no idea where to begin.

By its nature, leaving the law is kind of a formless, unstructured exercise.

Sure, there is precedent of some kind in that other lawyers have left the law and we can read their stories.

But even though their stories may be inspiring, it still can be so difficult to muster the courage or find the motivation or suffer the desperation that these (now ex-) lawyers faced. Each of our situations is still unique.

And then besides just finding which step to take first, we are held back by so much more: Managing the weight of our student debt, our (sometimes) tortured relationship with money, the fear of relinquishing our identity as a lawyer, finding the time in our busy week to devote to identifying our Unique Genius, or dealing with the doubters in our life who don’t understand how an esteemed lawyer could ever be unhappy.

So we don’t do anything.

We may google “alternatives to legal career” or “non-law jobs for lawyers” or “how to leave law”,

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What bungee jumping and leaving the law have in common (and how I did both)

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The following guest post was written by a Leave Law Behind reader, who was formerly of BigLaw and moved into technology. I hope you enjoy!

 

Every year, I try to do something that scares me.

In 2011, that meant jumping off the world’s highest bungee bridge in South Africa.

In 2012, I put on a parachute and jumped out of a plane.

In 2013, feeling that my fear of heights was more or less conquered, I turned inward and focused on something that’s always been scary: saying no.

Last year, in 2014, I confronted my fear of vulnerability and performed 10 minutes of stand­up comedy.

This year’s challenge was something just as scary and just as rewarding: leaving the law behind. While each of these personal challenges of the past five years presented a new fear ­and a new opportunity for growth, ­both bungee jumping and leaving BigLaw especially reinforced my understanding that fear is illusory and that big challenges can only be conquered through small steps toward a goal.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw the Bloukrans Bridge for the first time and gazed down to the sleepy river below­­ 708 feet,

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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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How I learned a major aspect of leaving the law from riding on the subway

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I take the subway to my office each morning. In San Francisco, public transportation is called the MUNI. I catch my MUNI train at the West Portal Station and ride underground to the Embarcadero.

Usually it’s uneventful. Trains run (fairly) on time and it gets you where you need to go.

And then there are the days when things don’t go so right. Trains are late. An accident happens. Every car that comes through is packed and you have to wait for the next one. Maybe you do catch your train, but it’s a herky-jerky, uncomfortable ride. The drivers don’t seem to care at all.

And then there are the (very infrequent) rides that are really kind of different and even enlightening.

Last week I took a T train downtown, and all the way from West Portal to Forest Hill to Castro to Church to Van Ness to Civic Center to Powell to Montgomery and then to Embarcadero. It was one of the nicest subway rides I have ever had.

It was the driver who made it nice. I couldn’t see his face,

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Real life stories of lawyers who have left the law

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When Casey asked me to write a blog for Leave Law Behind, I asked myself what would be most helpful to the LLB community. Having interviewed hundreds of former lawyers, and profiling 30 of them in my book, Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the JD You Have, I thought it might be helpful to offer some specific, practical, realistic advice on how to leave the law for a more rewarding career. I hope these guidelines will help get you through what is rarely a simple or straightforward process.

First, let me tell you a bit about me. In 2009, I was a partner in an international law firm and had been in private practice for a dozen years.   Although I enjoyed law at first, as my 20s became my 30s, I found litigation more and more draining. It took having my daughter for me to finally take a somewhat blind leap out of my firm. Despite being miserably sleep-deprived, my maternity leave was the most fun I had had in years. As I developed my new career after a few false starts, I learned so much from interesting ex-lawyers all over the country that I decided to write the book I wished I had had when I was trying,

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I was interviewed by Slate.com and all I got were some further thoughts I’d like to share with you

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As some of you may know, I was interviewed for yesterday’s feature on Slate.com titled “You Can Do Anything With a Law Degree: That’s what everyone says. Turns out everyone’s wrong.” (read it here)

The article explores the misconceptions around the perceived broad usability of a law degree. Writer Jim Saksa (former-lawyer-turned-freelance-writer) encourages readers to critically assess as best they can if law school is the ideal path for each of them. He also explores the difficulties lawyers face in making a career shift and securing non-legal jobs. At press time, the article is one of the “Most Read” on Slate.com and has over 600 comments. I am excited to be included and I applaud Jim for bringing awareness around this topic.

I did a careful reading of the article and while a lot of points resonate with me, I also wanted to highlight some viewpoints that I feel are important for us to get our arms around to inform our progress as we explore leaving the law behind.

1.

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Here are three reasons why looking for a job can doom our efforts to leave the law

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It’s courageous to admit to ourselves that we may want to leave the law, that we’re not happy continuing as a practicing attorney. It is a sign that we have the ability to know ourselves, that we aspire for more than we are currently achieving, that we are strong enough to take on new challenges.

It’s the first step most of take in our journey to leave the law.

The second step is where we sabotage ourselves. Since we’re so desperate to leave our law job, since we’re so excited about the opportunity to do something else, since we’re on a high that we’ve had our “aha” moment, we want to act. And so we then begin to think of, dream about and comb indeed.com for actual new jobs.

It’s understandable. A new job is exciting, a new job holds promise, a new job will provide us a new version of the self-identity we’re desperately short of, a new job will validate our need for change, a new job will set us free.

But it actually won’t … at least not yet. And here’s why: 

1.

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