Mike Chestnut’s Leave the Law Practice Behind Success Story

Mike Chestnut

Mike Chestnut

"I go to work now and love it! I have my bad days and stressful days, but nothing like what I had in private practice. My age and years of experience are appreciated, and there are plenty of resources to learn the technology that I don't know. It was an excellent move for me. I am on a whole new path now. I look forward to going to work, and I look forward to my future."

Mike's Story

A little bit about me

I am a former criminal defense attorney who last year was hired as the in-house counsel for a multi-company pharmacy firm. I know that many think that transitioning from a law firm to in-house counsel is not actually "leaving the law," but I am so glad that I took this route. It now allows me to move into increasingly more "non-law" roles, which are fantastic and right in my wheelhouse. 

I have a great company that is using me as in-house counsel for contracts, compliance, HR, operations, etc, but is also training me by including me in the leadership team, operations team and are soon going to begin training as a project manager. Project manager aligns perfectly with my skills and strengths (what Leave Law Behind calls your "Unique Genius"), and my COO recognized it and suggested it. I am treated as much like a second COO as I am the attorney. The dual role is incredible!

And I'm making more money in this role than in my average years, I've matched my highest years' earnings!

Why I left the law

I did not hate being an attorney. I was just done with the litigation and criminal defense. I was not too fond of the constant backbiting, positioning, and adversarial roles everyone took in the litigation practice. 

When I joined LLB, I was 57 years old and had been practicing law for 20. I was in solo practice and did primarily criminal defense in a rural southern Indiana town. None of that made me hopeful that I would be able to find a job that paid what I wanted. But I knew the law was no longer for me. I would get ill on Sunday's just thinking about having to go back to the office on Monday morning. So out of desperation, I tried LLB.  

How I Found Leave Law Behind

I have shared my story to help give hope and motivation to anyone who is looking to leave the law. I was depressed and lost and thought there was no hope for me to leave the law, given my age, experience, and being a small-town attorney. 

Then Leave Law Behind appeared in a tweet across my feed. I can't even tell you why I bothered following the link, desperation maybe, and as Adam can tell you from our initial telephone conference, I was really on the fence due to my fears. Man, am I glad I watched the LLB video, and happy Adam reached out personally in response to an email. Thank you so much for that, Adam!

I'm not religious, but I think everything in the universe has a purpose, and things happen for a reason. I know that if I had not attended the LLB training sessions or worked the program, I would never have applied for this position.  

How Leave Law Behind Helped Me

I worked through the program, watched the live feeds, and soaked up as much information as possible. I also used their resume bank and sample cover letters to help me develop mine. I would not have been able to prepare my resume, cover letter, or kill the interviews without the training I received from LLB. I was able to confidently convey my years of experience in a way that showed my value to the firm and not just another litigator. 

I used many of the phrases and language that I heard from Casey's and Adam's training along with those from the folks I watched on the Wednesday night monthly training. Every question they asked, the answers were just there from the live coaching/trainings. Your membership fee was the best money I ever spent. If I remember correctly, I think I joined LLB around either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and left the law around six months later. Thank you all so much.

Segueing Out of the Law as In-House Counsel

I decided that I wanted to seek an in-house counsel position because I had no idea how the corporate world worked, but I knew the law. About six months or so of working through the LLB program, I landed my current position as in-house counsel for a pharmacy and PBM company. I didn't know anything about health law, but they liked my experience and leadership. I have been with them for around nine months now, and I just finished the first round of project manager training that they are sending me to in order to expand my responsibilities outside of just legal matters.

It has not come without its challenges and a steep learning curve, but that is what I expected and was looking for. I am the oldest guy next to the CEO. I am not the best with technology, but all my coworkers are great and are showing me what I need to know. Plus, there are plenty of online self-paced classes to teach me what I need to know. Working for someone besides myself was a change as well, but it was a trade-off to get out of the practice.

What I get to do now that I’ve left the law

  • Make more money than I did make as an attorney
  • Leave criminal defense litigation for the corporate world, a space I've always wanted to explore
  • Be a "consigliere" and right-hand man/advisor to the COO and CEO
  • Be the "CEO" of this new legal department
  • Learn and become an expert in ERISA, the ACA and pharmaceutical law
  • Be trained in project management

And look at all of the fears and blockers I had to overcome

  • I was 57 years old when I started the Leave Law Behind course
  • I live in a small town, not near any major metropolitan area
  • I primarily only did criminal law and had nearly no corporate experience
  • I wasn't sure I could make as much money if I were to leave my current lawyer role
  • As a former U.S. Marine, I am admittedly not very "touchy-feely," so I wasn't sure how the inner work from Leave Law Behind would work for me

I go to work now and love it! I have my bad days and stressful days, but nothing like what I had in private practice. My age and years of experience are appreciated, and there are plenty of resources to learn the technology that I don't know. It was an excellent move for me. I am on a whole new path now. I look forward to going to work, and I look forward to my future.

That is my story. If you have any questions about how I used LLB or anything, feel free to ask. Age equals experience, and that is a unique thing that people our age bring to the table that the young people can't just get. I learn from them every day, and since not a day goes by that I don't have one of them in my office, or online now, asking me things, I am confident that they appreciate me as well.

Mike on LinkedIn

Mike used the Leave Law Behind course to help him find his dream job out of the law. The course can work for you too. Click here or on the below button to learn more about the Leave Law Behind Course.

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