One constant theme emerged from the emails I received after last Friday’s Leave Law Behind phone chat: We often, if not all of the time, only think of ourselves as attorneys. We focus on our title, not our underlying skills and talents. We think that we can only be one thing.
It can be difficult to think of ourselves as anything but a lawyer – we worked hard to get through law school, we have paid a lot of money to gain the degree and license, we have spent a lot of time building up our practice, we have put a lot of effort into positioning ourselves strategically within our firm or organization.
This emphasis on title, however, serves as a major hurdle to leaving the law – once we convince ourselves that being an attorney is our sine qua non to income, self-worth and (perceived) satisfaction, than not being an attorney is . . . well . . . unnatural, just plain scary, crazy or akin to professional suicide.
In order to leave the law (or to make you happier in your practice of the law) describe yourself through your skills and talents, not just your title: I write well. I speak in an enjoyable, persuasive manner. I provide clear, actionable advice. I lead. I mentor. I provide comfort. I bring clarity.
When you choose to describe yourself through your talents, and not just your title, a universe of as-yet-unthought-of career choices and entrepreneurial opportunities opens up. You begin to realize that if you were to leave the law, you could be and do anything.