Two people I recently worked with have just now left the law for alternative, non-law jobs that are in real good alignment with their skills and strengths and enjoyments.
Needless to say, when they told me they had received and accepted the job offer, I was ecstatic. They were ecstatic. It’s why we do this.
One comment jumped out. Constructing her Unique Genius narrative, one student told me, was how she was able to gain real momentum and confidence in leaving.
Once she felt good about her narrative, based on her Unique Genius skills and strengths, she could finally talk about herself (to friends, family, at informational interview coffees, in hiring interview meetings) with confidence, pride and clarity.
To put it another way, she said she could finally talk about herself without worrying she sounded pitiful or, alternatively, like a conceited *$&(%^$#.
Unique Genius, a refresher
One of the main tenets of Leave Law Behind is to not worry first about finding a non-law job, or what title our non-law job should have or what salary the non-law job should provide or what stature this non-law job carries with it.
We first need to understand who each of us is. We need to first understand what we want in a job and what we like in a job and what we’re good at and what we’re confident in and where we add value and where it comes easy to us.
This is what we call our Unique Genius.
Let’s face it: Many of us went to law school and took a legal job for practical reasons: It was just what our ethnicity/religion/family did, or our parents made us, or we wanted a path to security, or we didn’t want a job right away after college and thought law school was a safe bet, or we wanted to ensure we got a high paying, professional job … and on and on.
But we didn’t really consider what we wanted. We didn’t really consider what we were good at.
So by stressing our Unique Genius, we are finally able to do that.
By focusing on our Unique Genius, we flip the normal paradigm on its head:
is flipped instead to
Exploring our Unique Genius and coming to some structure around it is our first priority. And then we can find roles and jobs and paths that align with this criteria. That’s the order.
[Hold on! Thirty Seconds to Discuss Problems We Have with this Whole Unique Genius Thing]
But this whole Explore-Our-Unique-Genius thing can appear very hard for us to do.
We lawyers want conclusion. We want black and white. We don’t want to fiddle with this Unique Genius step. We just want to know what the new non-law job is. We want to know how all of this leaving the law stuff turns out. We want to know what salary we’ll make. We want to know what the title will be. We want to know how long the commute will be. We want to know … We want to know … At the end of the day, we don’t like the unknown.
But the more we focus on ourselves first (ie our Unique Genius) and don’t worry too much about the specifics and conclusion (as hard as that can seem to be), we can then really find an opportunity that is a great fit for us.
We need to do the Unique Genius work up front. It provides us with the chance to find that alignment between what we do well and a job. Yes, it’s exciting.
The Unique Genius Narrative … the story of you
And once we have worked through and explored our Unique Genius, we can then create a narrative of ourselves that we feel honest and great about. This helps us structure who we are, it helps us feel less fear and less lack of self worth, and instead feel authentically confident about our skills, and it helps us present ourselves better during informational or hiring interviews.
The narrative is based on cataloguing our skills and strengths, realizing what we are good at, and what we are not good at, understanding what we still fear, and doing research on real-life jobs out there whose job description is a fit with our skills.
We need this narrative so that when a hiring manager asks us why we left the law and why we are applying to this alternative (non-law) job, we can calmly say something like the following:
“Ah yes, thank you for asking that question. It’s a real good one. And it’s one I’ve thought about a lot recently, and exploring the answer has really powered and energized my career search over the past few months, and I feel it has contributed to why I’m in front of you now, interviewing for this position.
The reason why I don’t want to practice the law is because after three years of law school, after a number of years practicing as a lawyer, and after a thorough and patient and dedicated and fairly comprehensive exercise exploring my professional skills and strengths and identifying what I’m really good at, I feel very confident that my skill set is not in alignment with what is called for to practice law.
To put it simply, being a lawyer is just not a fit for me.
But in life, it is often times as valuable to find out what you don’t want as much as it is to find out what you do want. In that spirit, my assessment has empowered me to feel very confident that what is a fit for me is this potential opportunity at your company.
Let me tell you why. While at first glance at my resume may not place me as the most conventional pick for this role, I have done a solid audit of my strengths, I have comprehensively detailed a large number of skills I posses that are transferable and a real good fit for this role, I have met over coffee with a large number of professionals in this space and picked their brain, learned about their day-to-day, understood their best practices and have gained a deep understanding of what this job requires.
Through all of this personal auditing and industry research, I feel very confident in not continuing to practice the law and rather pursuing this role as a next step in my career.
And as such, I have catalogued my strengths and skills into three main areas: [SKILL AREA #1], [SKILL AREA #2], [SKILL AREA #3]. I’m more than happy to get into detail about all three.
And most importantly, I’ve read your job description thoroughly, and I feel that the requirements you list out here are in great alignment with, and definitely require, the skills I just listed. Please let me know where I can elaborate any further …”