The Leave Law Behind Blog

I’ve been writing since 2010. Below is a sampling of my popular and helpful blog posts.

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A note from your future self

Dear Myself,

Hey Self, it’s Yourself from 2022.

I know this may seem a little spooky to hear from your future self, but I wanted to let you know that this whole “leave the law” thing really has worked out. We are doing really well right now in our alternative, non-law job. We can’t even believe it’s happening.

Well, we can believe it. Because, we’re living it. It’s been 4 years since you decided to leave the law in 2018 and we wanted to write you this short note to say thank you for the courage to leave.

Now don’t get me wrong, we are not sitting on a beach all day, all year.

It’s not all roses. We don’t just call it in each day.

We work … we work very hard.

And yes … sometimes we work weekends.

And there are still deadlines, and stress, and office politics, and angry customers.

And we deal with a lot of issues and projects that are new to us, so we’re often initially unclear what is the best first step.

And we have had a steep learning curve,

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Money

The biggest obstacle most of us think we face in leaving the law is overcoming our fear of lack of money.

I just worked on this in detail with a client last week:

  • She is afraid she won’t make enough money to support her family if she leaves the law.
  • She is afraid she will lower her future earning potential if she leaves the law.
  • She is afraid she won’t be able to live her current lifestyle if she leaves the law.

So let’s use this as a moment to take a step back and revisit what money really is.

A long time ago, before we had money, we traded.

I grow apples. My apples have within them the energy from the sun and the energy from my pruning and farming and tending and nurturing.

You’re a carpenter who makes tables. Your table also has the energy the sun emitted to the tree, as well as your energy in crafting and shaping and sanding the wood into a table form.

I need a table on which to now eat my apples with my family.

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My struggle with finding what I am good at

 

Our Unique Genius is something I like to write about a lot.

Our Unique Genius are those skills and strengths and enjoyment that come so naturally to us, so authentically to us, so easily to us that we don’t even think of them as a skill. We just do them.

Unique Genius is something I am always working on for myself. It’s something I am always talking with my coaching students about.

It’s something that is the crux of leaving the law: Instead of pursuing jobs and a career based on not-the-most-fulfilling reasons (money, status, title, security, what other people think is right), we can use our Unique Genius to help inform and identify a more authentic and aligned and happier career path and job search.

For me, throughout my life I have kind of had an idea of what I was good at (speaking, writing, interpersonality).

But, admittedly, I never had a firm grasp on what it was. I didn’t ever think that critically about it.

And that’s because I didn’t really need to think that much about it –

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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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Seven skills attorneys have that the rest of the world would die for

Some of us lawyers want to leave the law: We are unhappy and dissatisfied with our work situation. We suffer long hours. We find our day-to-day lawyer tasks mostly uninteresting. We are demotivated because we are not included in the partner track discussions. We feel we receive little-to-no mentoring. We are weighed down by high student loans.

And maybe most important, we feel that our professional skill set is not really in alignment with the duties and responsibilities required to be a lawyer. We are not fully confident that we can be a real good lawyer. It’s turning out that what we are good at doing and what we enjoy doing isn’t what an attorney does. We’re pretty sure that this lawyer gig is really not for us.

But we don’t leave the law because we have sincere doubts that any of our legal job skills are transferrable to any non-legal jobs. We find it unrealistic that someone outside of a law firm would even consider hiring a lawyer like us. We don’t believe that we have any marketable skills that a non-legal business would want.

But we do. We lawyers who want to leave the law possess a skill set and an array of talents that are actually in high demand by many businesses.

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How you can tell if staying in (and not leaving) the law is actually best for you

Leave Law Behind is a blog and community where we support each and share ideas of how we can leave the law. As I mentioned in a recent comment to a reader, that’s because many of us have realized that we do not want to be lawyers any longer. For many of us it was a mistake to go to law school in the first place. For many of us, our skill set is not in alignment with the role’s requirements.

Many of us are not confident in what it takes to be a lawyer. Many of us are not capable in, nor do we enjoy, managing the anxiety and responsibilities and duties that being a lawyer requires. And our working environment in reality does not allow us to find or create paths to lead a career in law that we would like. And the legal jobs that we might enjoy are few and far between, or we feel intimidated even applying to them. In short, for us, the law isn’t fun, it won’t ever be, and we need to change.

But what if all of this talk about leaving the law actually isn’t right for you?

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What we need to keep in mind as we work yet another Sunday

Is that it doesn’t need to be this way.

Many of us may have worked yesterday. Or are working right now. Or have a few hours of work to do tonight after the kids get to sleep. Our weekend can often times be full of work.

And don’t get me wrong. Some of the most exhilarating, productive, meaningful, passionate work can get done on a Saturday or Sunday. The office (or home office) environment is more relaxed, quieter, less pressured. There may be an exciting event (trial, negotiation, client board meeting) in the coming week to prep for. Or you could just be working on a project you really like with people you really like and use the weekend to collaborate in ways that the busy weekdays do not allow.

But a lot of the work we do on weekends is just that – work. It’s catching up on an inordinate amount of emails. It’s making sure your billable hours are on track. It’s ensuring the partners view you as “dedicated” when you show your face on a Sunday in the office. A lot of the work on the weekends can be monotonous, grueling,

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