Why leaving law behind is like studying for a law school final exam

 January 11, 2013

By  Casey Berman

1.   You need to do it yourself.  While preparing for finals, I often deceived myself into thinking that I was actually studying, when all I really was doing was sitting through a study group or copying someone else’s notes or buying packaged outlines.  While I thought I was doing the work for the exam, I was only going through the motions.  I wasn’t doing the hard work, I wasn’t digesting the information, I wasn’t familiarizing myself with the case law, I wasn’t understanding exactly what the professor wanted.

The same goes with leaving law behind and making this life transition. You can read as many self-development blogs or buy as many coaching books or listen to as many inspirational quotes as you want.  But until you actually begin the hard work of changing your current situation (assessing your money status, exploring your unique genius, getting over your fears, actively networking) your progress and results will likely be limited.  No one can leave the law behind for you.

2.   It takes a lot of hard, incremental, focused work.  In law school, successfully cramming for an exam in the final weeks of the semester was almost impossible (trust me, I tried).  To do well on a law school exam, it is best to work diligently and organically and build momentum and greater understanding throughout the semester.

Likewise with leaving the law behind.  You don’t immediately “leaveâ€.  You don’t just “leapâ€.  You don’t miraculously “changeâ€.  You don’t instantly “transitionâ€.  Rather, you take the time to experiment and research and explore (what you are good at, what you like, what skills of yours can be monetized, what is in alignment with your happiness, what opportunities in the world match your priorities).  You take baby steps, which entails learning and building confidence from both your mistakes and your successes.  You can’t cram to properly leave the law behind.  In fact, the longer it takes increases the likelihood it’s sincere and grounded and real.

3.   You need to be prepared.  Excelling on a law school final requires you to know the law inside and out, to know how to issue spot, to know what is top-of-mind for the professor, to know how to write well.

When leaving the law, you also need to be prepared.  You need to know what changes your financial situation can support, you need to know what you are passionate about, you need to know the skills you truly excel at, you need to know what new industries and opportunities are in alignment with your strengths.  That’s a lot of information to gather and synthesize and digest to make sure you do it right.

4.   You can’t hate it.  Take it from me:  If you hate law school, you likely won’t do exceptionally well.  You don’t have to love taking a law school final to get an A, but those who got good grades often found a way to make the exam study process interesting and stimulating.  They enjoyed the challenge and found a motivation to do well.

And you can’t hate leaving law behind.  Many attorneys I work with do not like their job.  But they also find the hard work and preparing and planning required to leave law behind almost equally intolerable.  To successfully leave law behind, the transition needs to be embraced and enjoyed.  It won’t work if you view it as just another . . . job.

5.   It can’t be completed in isolation.  While final prep can be seen as all consuming, you also need to continue some of the regular aspects of your life.  You need to eat normally and exercise to stay healthy.  You need to take breaks and even socialize in order to refresh.  While you of course need to focus intently on the material for each test, you can’t fully lose sight of the world around you.

The same is true with leaving the law behind.  Leaving the law isn’t just about changing your job.  It is about everything about you.  It is about changing your whole life for the better.  It is about affecting almost everything you hold dear and important:  Your relationships, your money, your ego and your future.  Leaving the law isn’t just another task on your to-do list to check off.  It’s a major force growing in your life that when done properly, will align what you do each day with what you enjoy and excel at.

Contact me if you’re interested in exploring a one-to-one leave law behind coaching course.

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