The Second Step to leaving the law – Gaining a new identity

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 “investmentâ€, 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 lawyerâ€.

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.

I hope this email and video were helpful. Keep your eye out for the third step to leaving the law, hitting your inboxes soon!

Again, I am so happy to have you as part of the Leave Law Behind. I’ll be back in touch via email soon.



PS Questions? Thoughts? Just want to vent? Email me at [email protected].


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