The Five Steps to Leave Law Behind


Through Leave Law Behind, I work with many intelligent, driven, personable, resourceful, knowledgeable but nonetheless unhappy, dissatisfied, unmotivated, upset, and burnt out attorneys. They tell me that they want to leave the law behind and explore a completely new line of work. They tell me that they want to change their current practice of the law in order to enjoy their work more.

I tell them that there are five main steps that I use in helping people just like you leave the law. These are the steps I take my clients through in my one to one coaching or through the self-paced online course I just developed (I’ll be sending you more on both of these resources in later emails).

Five time-intensive-but-manageable, build-on-each-other-to-grow-your-confidence, incremental, rewarding (baby) steps one can take to leave the law behind for a fulfilling professional (and personal) life.


Let’s dive in with the first step: Facing, and mitigating, your fears.

You can plan as much as you’d like, disconnect from law school and be as self-analytical as you want. But nothing will happen, you will never be able to create a new life for yourself unless you face down and begin to manage your fears of change and of leaving the law. This is a life-long process, of course, but as with anything, there are small, incremental steps you can take now to build up the courage, emotion and structure to face your fears and begin to leave law behind.

I shot the above short video for you (it’s less than 2 minutes long) describing this first step …

… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.


What are some of these fears that prevent us from creating change and leaving law behind? There are many:

1. I’m afraid that if I leave the law, I’ll be different than all of my attorney friends

2. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make as much money as I make now

3. I’m afraid that I cannot do anything different than the practice of law

4. I’m afraid I won’t be able to convince someone else to hire me

5. I’m afraid to tell my firm I want to leave

6. I’m afraid that I will fail

7. I’m afraid to take a risk

8. I’m afraid everyone will laugh at me

9. I’m afraid I’ll get my bar license stripped away

10. I’m afraid I won’t be able to say I’m really a lawyer anymore

11. I’m afraid I’ll have to find a new identity

12. I’m afraid it’ll takes a long time

13. I’m afraid I’ll have to face some difficult facts about myself

14. I’m afraid it won’t be easy

15. I’m afraid I will be ridiculed and doubted

16. I’m afraid I will make mistakes

And there are likely many more we could think of.

Now let’s be honest – I’m not sure you can ever get over many of your fears. A lot of the anxiety from these fears remains in our lives, or comes back to mess with us throughout a given week, or arises when stimulated by something, or is just something we will always have to deal with.

But some of these fears you can wrestle down and get over. And those fears that you can’t totally eliminate, you can at least manage them so they do not utterly prevent you from making change, and leaving law behind.


At Leave Law Behind, we work on how to get over these fears, so they do not remain as obstacles in our pursuit of happiness.

– We begin to realize that these fears come from our own minds

– We begin to realize that we can leave the law by taking confidence building, momentum gathering, low or risk free “babysteps”

– We begin to realize that we lawyers actually have many transferrable skills to other industries.

– We begin to become comfortable with failure, and understand it’s an essential part of the process.

– We begin to realize that we are not alone.

– We begin to realize that the flip side of anxiety and stress can be exhilaration and excitement.

– We begin to realize that saying thank you more often is a powerful tool.

Fear of failure and embarrassment and risk and ridicule can stop us dead in our tracks before we can even get started leaving the law. This first step in leaving law behind is all about how courageous and creative and forceful we can be in showing these fears to the door.

And if you’d like to watch the video for this step, click above.


The second step in leaving law behind is about not letting our past undermine our future. More specifically, this step involves resolving any lingering demons law school may hold over your head (squeezing out more of an ROI from my law school “investment”, ensuring my identity is tied to being an attorney, what else would I do if I’m not a lawyer, etc.) that prevents you from moving forward with positive change in your life.

I shot this short video for you (it’s less than 5 minutes long) describing this second step …

… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.


The second step in leaving law behind? Before getting one’s resume ready or applying for jobs or networking, the second step often involves getting over law school.

It involves moving on from needing to maintain the identity of “being a lawyer”.

It means for us to stop living in the past.

It means for us to stop thinking you need to eke out more of a return on your law school investment.

It involves focusing on the road ahead.


One of the main factors that keeps us attorneys (unhappily) practicing the law is the simple fact that we went to law school. Because we went to and graduated from law school and studied for and passed the bar and applied to and became licensed by the state bar, we often feel that we need to keep practicing to justify all of this past effort and expense. Our thinking goes something like this:

1. I made that financial investment, and may still be paying off these loans, and I don’t want that investment to go for naught, so I’m going to continue practicing to justify those dollars spent (even if I’m not really that happy being a lawyer . . . )

2. I put a lot of time and effort and sweat and tears into getting through law school, and if I “quit” being a lawyer, I’ll have nothing to show for it (even if I’m not really that happy being a lawyer . . . )

3. Ever since I applied to law school (if not before) I have wanted to be an attorney, or so I thought. My identity is connected to being an attorney. My personal self-worth is intertwined with being an attorney. I cannot imagine calling myself anything else (even if I’m not really that happy being a lawyer . . . )

4. I actually kind of enjoyed law school. It was intellectually stimulating and I have some good memories of the place (even if I’m not really that happy being a lawyer . . . )


But … unfortunately, many of us are not that happy being a lawyer. We do not get that sense of fulfillment from practicing law that we thought we would. We are realizing that our skills and strengths may not be in alignment with what it calls for to be an attorney. We may not be making the amount of money we want to make. We may want to work for ourselves. We may not jibe with the people we work with. The world has changed so much since we graduated law school and we may want to enter new and other fields.

So if you are one of the many who dreams of leaving law behind, it can be wise to invest the time and effort to reconcile any unresolved feelings about your time in law school that could pose as obstacles to exploring new opportunities.

But this might be easier said than done. There will likely be doubters amongst family and friends as well as that “demon” voice in your own head which will hold one back. This second step in leaving law behind can be an ongoing process and one that an attorney struggles with over time, even after one has officially “left” the law.


At Leave Law Behind, we work to help mitigate the guilt that comes with leaving the law and disassociating oneself with law school.

– We help all of us face the fact that you may have gone to law school for the wrong reason. But this need not be a cause for regret; rather this can be a positive development and actually make it easier for you to leave law behind: Face it – the industry just really isn’t for you.

– You likely already received a great return on your investment. There is a good chance that all of the money and hard work you put into succeeding at law school has already paid off. You’ve made money, gained great, skills, built a network and understood better what you like to do … and what you don’t like to do. In other words, you likely have realized the ROI already.

– You’ll use what you learned and gained in law school forever. Remember, just because you have begun to leave the law behind, that doesn’t mean that what you learned law school and as a lawyer (issue spotting, strong writing skills, persuasive techniques, public speaking) was wasted.

– Realize, you’re a lot better than you think you are. The creative, dynamic, ambitious, helpful person that you know you are is still inside you.

This second step of leaving law behind is to get over any lingering demons law school may hold over your head. You cannot let a commitment of the past preclude you from being happy in the future.

And if you’d like to watch the video for this step, click above.


The third step in leaving the law involves money.

Before polishing your resume, or looking at potential jobs, or interviewing with a recruiter, or doing anything else, the first step in properly leaving the law requires becoming as confident and exact as possible in understanding (i) your expenses and (ii) your safety net and other sources of financial support you can call upon if needed.

I shot this short video for you (it’s less than 2 minutes long) describing this third step …

… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.

Why the initial focus on money?

Because one of the main obstacles lawyers face in leaving law behind is a fear around money: A fear of the unknown, a fear of a lack of financial literacy, a fear of facing their bad spending habits, a fear of having the “money talk” with their spouse, a fear that they can’t make money in any way other than being an attorney, a fear that if they leave their job as an attorney they’ll soon be financially ruined.

By facing this fear from the outset, with detailed analysis and responsible planning, you can mitigate the anxiety that you’ll run out of money as you make this life change. You can gain the confidence that you can manage your expenses in a new role. You can find ways to create a safety net that you can call upon through your transition. You can begin to explore alternative careers and lifestyles without the extreme worry that you can’t pay your bills.

And alternatively, if you do realize that your expenses are too high and your financial resources too low, you now have the information you need to recalibrate your financial situation in order to leave the law behind down the road.

Gaining a financial framework informs what we can and cannot do

At Leave Law Behind, we work to provide a framework for you to gain clarity around your financial situation as you begin to leave law behind. This involves easy to use spreadsheet financial forecasters, alternative jobs and ideas around support to help bridge transitions.

It can be easy to quit your job. But it is often more difficult to plan to leave your job. As a first step in leaving law behind, dig into the details of your money situation, sock away cash and consider a bridge or transition step.

I hope you enjoyed today’s email and video. Keep your eye out for the fourth step to leaving the law, which I’ll email out to you soon!

And if you’d like to watch the video for this step, click above.


The fourth step in leaving the law is where the rubber hits the road, and the leave law behind process can become highly rewarding.

The fourth step focuses on exploring your Unique Genius.

I shot this short video for you (it’s less than 2 minutes long) describing this first step …

… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.

What is your Unique Genius?

Your Unique Genius is made up of those skills and strengths that come so naturally to you, so effortlessly to you, that you don’t even think of them as a skill. It is upon these skills that you do so well that you will begin to base your post-lawyer life and career. It is with these strengths at which you excel that you will begin to create a life of confidence and self-worth.

In other words, you want to be conscious of incorporating those skills that you are good at, that you are strong at, and that are in alignment with what you enjoy into any new job and venture you pursue. This pairing can make life and work easier, more enjoyable, and you happier, more confident and satisfied.

Why it’s hard to find our Unique Genius?

Sounds great right? Do what you like and enjoy and then get paid for it. Simple. Clear.

So why do so many of us still struggle at finding what we’re good at, what we enjoy, what our strengths are? Why are many of us still confused or unclear as to our life purpose or our life mission? Why are we often unable to connect our skills to a job or venture we actually like that actually pays or earns us the amount of money we want to make?

There are a lot of reasons, but it’s mainly because we don’t know where to look for help. We don’t know who else to involve. We can get overwhelmed by all of the (ostensibly) helpful (but still vague) “self-development” questions or comments we find online. And we don’t know which questions to ask.

The 3 ways you find your Unique Genius

At Leave Law Behind, we focus on three questions to help you unearth your Unique Genius.

Three confidence-building, motivation-accruing, initial baby-step to gain a better handle on our Unique Genius, questions.

Three questions, the answers to which can provide you with tangible, understandable, actionable next steps on how best to understand what you’re good at…and then do something positive about it.

1. What are you already doing (or would you do) for free to help people? This points to what you enjoy.

2. For what type of advice do people come to you? This speaks to what comes naturally to you.

3. What do people compliment you on? This points to your strengths.

One attorney I spoke with said he has always been known for (and personally enjoyed) his good speaking skills, his comfort in front of an audience and his easy rapport with people. It was these reasons that led him to choose litigation as a career.

But he soured on litigation, and became very unhappy.

While as a litigator he did a lot of speaking in front of people, he did not like the adversarial nature of the courtroom or the zero-sum game of the business. He realized that he was also good at creating things and collaborating with others. As a result, he is now moving beyond litigation to find roles as a business advisor (a “consigliere” he likes to say) or a strategic consultant. This lets him utilize his speaking and people skills in a collaborative and creative way he likes best.

If you are having difficulty brainstorming compliments, meet and speak with some close friends or family and tell them that you are not just fishing for positive comments, but rather that you’re very interested in having them list and explain some of your positive traits…so that you can actually internalize what it is you are good at and act upon this. Whatever it is, this can be a good reality check for your skills and a way to carve out a niche that you can definitely succeed at, because you’re doing something well in a way that others perceive the value of it.

This third step in leaving law behind helps us unhappy, disgruntled, potential-unrealized, not- totally-satisfied-with-themselves attorneys to understand ourselves better, to change our course (altogether or just slightly) in order to ensure we do and get paid for what we are good at and what we enjoy. It is a main pillar in the planning required to properly leave law behind.

I hope you enjoyed today’s email and video. Keep your eye you for the fifth step to leaving the law – I’ll send it out shortly.

And if you’d like to watch the video for this step, click above.


We’ve gone through the first four steps of leaving the law. Now we discuss the fifth step: getting out there, networking, and creating opportunities.

I shot this short video for you (it’s less than 2 minutes long) describing this first step …

… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.


Getting out there and creating opportunities

Of course properly leaving the law requires careful planning and courageous self-analysis. It takes a lot of soul searching and internal and external discussions and personal due diligence. But there comes a point when you just need to execute. You just need to get out there. It takes time and patience and courage, but you just need to hit the pavement and begin meeting with people. That is today’s Fifth Step.

Getting out there can come in many different variations, but it really means reaching out and meeting with other people in order to build sincere connections of trust so these people will help you find opportunities.

Of course, you can apply to jobs online, or get a recruiter to help you. But the purpose of leaving law behind is not just to find another job.

The goal of leaving law behind is to create a new stage in your life that makes you the money you need while allowing you the schedule you want. The point of leaving law behind is to find an opportunity you love, so you don’t grow older and regret that you did something wrong. The goal of leaving law behind is to find a career that makes you a lot of money and is also in alignment with your strengths and skills and goals. The goal of leaving law behind is to find a job that makes you feel strong and creates more and more energy, as opposed to sapping you of your vigor.

How to create opportunities that align with your Unique Genius

And one of the best ways to do that is to speak to as many people as you can, in person (say over coffee) for a good amount of time (at least thirty minutes) with a warm lead (through someone you know) with someone who is qualified (they are in a field or have some connection to a field that you think would be a good fit with your Unique Genius).

And the output of these meetings is twofold: To research this person’s life and work – these people (who may not all be lawyers) actually do something you think you may be interested in (business development, marketing, product management, HR, Operations, compliance, technology, investment banking). You want to ask them about their life, what they like, what they don’t, how they like their work life balance, what is the money potential, etc. Instead of ruminating on other jobs in theory, actually use this coffee as a time to gain intelligence about these jobs. You may think you’d like it … but take the time to hear it now from the source.

And second, you want to get some leads. If you like what you hear, then at the end of the conversation (or later via e-mail), see if this person can provide you with the names and contact info of other people who might be beneficial for you to meet. In their industry or elsewhere. The best way to find that right opportunity is to find it through someone you may know or are referred to. And the best way to find that someone is through a friend you are close with.

For those of us who are introverts, lack confidence, feel we have a puny network, don’t know many people, feel we’re worthless, etc., this can be difficult. So, as with everything we do at leave law behind, let’s take it step-by-step.

Research jobs … and if you like them, get more leads

The first step in getting out there is to begin researching online, probing into your extended network, or checking out LinkedIn, and find someone, anyone, who you think you would like to learn more about and with whom you may or may not be connected. To make this first step easy, start by checking the networks of your friends and colleagues and see if there is anyone in their network you may be interested in meeting.

As a second step, once you have a good idea of who you want to reach out to, email your friend (i.e. your shared connection with this person you want to meet). The goal is to have your friend make an intro, if possible.

And remember: You’ll face some no-responses, or some rejections. That’s okay. Baby step after baby step.

This fifth step in leaving the law behind provides an easy to follow, step-by-step, warm way to meet new people in order to find an opportunity that meets with your Unique Genius. Networking requires us to get over our aversion to meeting people and it takes a lot of hard work. But it allows you also to put the hypothetical into play.

You’d be surprised how much help you can get once you get out there. As Woody Allen points out, 90% of life is just showing up.

I hope this helps.

And, if you’d like to watch the video I put together on this Fifth Step, click above.