We think ahead. It’s just what we lawyers do. We consider scenarios for our clients, we do long term planning for our clients, we plan for the obstacles our clients may face.
And as we personally explore what it takes to leave law behind, we also can’t help but plan for the many obstacles we may face.
But this planning can sidetrack us from the start.
The mean ol’ HR Manager
One of the biggest obstacles we think we’ll face in this process of leaving the law is some big, mean, close-minded, lawyer-hating HR manager. This HR manager will be the one last obstacle between us and our non-legal dream job. This HR Manager will have a lot of trouble understanding why we no longer want to practice. This HR Manager will think we are too “overqualified” for any non-legal position (no matter how much we think this position will be in line with our Unique Genius). This HR Manager may be threatened by us, simply because we are an attorney. This HR Manager just won’t understand us. This HR Manager could ruin all the hard work we have done to leave law behind.
But really, we don’t need to worry about this HR Manager at all.
The HR Manager is a good thing
Don’t focus on someone you may meet 3 or 6 or 12 months down the road. Let’s just focus on baby steps now to leave the law.
To worry about some ominous HR Manager down the road is like worrying how the judge is going to view your settlement proposal or how the opposing counsel will react to your version of the purchase and sale agreement. In both cases, if you’re at the stage of settling a case or negotiating a sale, you’re likely doing pretty well for your client.
The same goes for you as you leave law behind. If you’re in front of an HR Manager interviewing for your dream (non-legal) job which really seems to align with your Unique Genius, then you’re in a great spot. And while the HR Manager is someone else you’ll need to convince and impress and speak with, this moment only means you’re successfully leaving the law. You’re doing it! This potential HR Manager meeting should be something to celebrate, not worry about.
Some HR Managers won’t like you … (which I still find hard to believe)
Okay, fine, some of you aren’t convinced. Sure, some HR Managers possibly won’t like you. They will prove to be the ultimate uncooperative gatekeeper. And you won’t get that job. It’s a bummer, but it can and will happen.
But it won’t happen that often. Here’s why: When you really, truly explore your Unique Genius, and when you really, truly research the job opportunities you excel at, you’ll begin to see how well your (supposedly legal-only) skill set aligns with these (non-legal) job responsibilities. And so will others, like HR Managers.
When you think about what a lawyer does (issue spot, solve problems, calm clients, meet deadlines, write persuasive material, traing, upsell services, retain close customer contact, lead teams, distill complicated terms into simple language, help people …) which company/tech firm/government department wouldn’t want someone who could do all of that, while being smart, disciplined and loyal?
Let’s reframe the dynamic right here and right now: It’s not about which companies would want a lawyer to work for them in a non-legal capacity; rather, it’s about which companies can afford not to have a lawyer working for them in some non-legal roles.
In reality, the HR Manager won’t be an issue for you at all
And here’s why. Because when you get out there, and meet people for coffee and meet them at their offices, and research, these people will be drawn to you and will find opportunities for you at their company and will champion you internally so that the HR Manager won’t become a sole gate-keeper, but rather will function just as someone else interested in ensuring your skill set can match the needs of the role.
Let’s not be sidetracked by anxiety over a future meeting with an HR Manager. As Seth Godin writes, anxiety is “experiencing failure in advance.” Instead, let’s create a well spring of bold energy as we leave the law behind, not a self-fulfilling prophecy.