Hobbies and side hustles can seem like a distraction when you’re on the law firm treadmill. But cultivating interests outside the law is often the ticket to figuring out what you really want to do career-wise. In this episode, Helynn Nelson shares about becoming a level 3 sommelier—and how it helped her figure out that […]
You went to law school with this vision in your head of what being a lawyer would be like, but the reality is far different.
You thought that as a lawyer, you would be helping people, but you don’t really feel like you’re helping anyone—and you’re miserable.
You cry on the way to work because of the stress of dealing with difficult clients, toxic partners, and all of the minutiae of legal practice.
The distinction between weekdays and weekends has basically lost all meaning, because your life and schedule can be blown up at any time by an errant email from a partner, opposing counsel, or court pinging into your inbox.
Sunday evening rolls around and you feel literally sick with dread about your week full of obnoxious opposing counsel, thankless doc review or diligence, awful depositions, or stressful hearings and trials.
You are so over hunching over your computer at some unholy hour of the night blearily completing work that half the time is the result of a manufactured “emergency.”
You’re sick of billing your life in six-minute increments and feeling constantly stressed because you’re billing like mad on the one hand with no time to be anything other than a lawyer, or worried about making your hours and whether you’re going to keep your job on the other.
Your family and friends think you’re crazy for wanting to leave the law—or maybe you’re too afraid to even tell them that you don’t want to be a lawyer anymore because you’re afraid of how they will react.
You feel guilty when you’re not working because you feel like you should be billing more, and you feel guilty when you’re working because you feel like you’re neglecting the important relationships in your life, whether that’s your friends, family, spouse, or significant other.
You regularly think, “I went to law school for THIS?!”
And you’re thinking—am I the only one who hates being an attorney?
Is there something wrong with me because I don’t like being a lawyer?
Is leaving the law even a possibility for me?
Is leaving the law just throwing away all the time and money I spent getting my J.D. and becoming a lawyer?
I know I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I have no idea what I want to do instead.
And maybe the biggest question of all… if I’m not a lawyer, what would I even do?
Do you dream of leaving the law? I get it.
I help lawyers in their first two decades of practice explore alternative careers and what else they can do with their J.D., figure out what they want to do next and how to get there, and overcome the mental hurdles so many lawyers face in leaving the law, so that they can trade lawyering for a better life.
The lawyers I work with either know they want to leave the law, or are trying to figure out whether they should find a different legal job or leave the law entirely.
I worked as a lawyer for 10 years, first as a Biglaw litigator (exited that as fast as I could!), then in legal publishing, and finally as an appellate court staff attorney. During that decade, my husband and I paid off our combined law school loans, which along with a small amount of consumer debt totaled over $400k!
In 2018, I bailed and haven't looked back, because now I get to do meaningful work and have a meaningful life. My identity is no longer wrapped up in my job, and I no longer make career or life decisions based on what other people will think about them.
I host a weekly podcast, The Former Lawyer Podcast, where I share honest conversations with former lawyers about how they left the law to find careers and lives that they love, plus all of the things that I learned during my own experience practicing and leaving law.
If you’re looking for clarity, support and a safe space to share your curiosity about a different reality—one where you no longer practice law—you’ve found the right place.
I help lawyers in 4 ways…
The Former Lawyer Podcast
Honest conversations with former lawyers about leaving law. Advice and insight for your own journey.
First Steps To Leaving The Law
A free guide for when you want out, but you're not even sure where to start.
What's Next Intensive
For lawyers who know they want to leave their job, but have NO IDEA what to do next. Discover it here.
The Former Lawyer Collaborative
A confidential community that gives lawyers the tools and support to get out.
The latest on The Former Lawyer Podcast…
Have you ever looked at the people senior to you at your firm, the partners and senior associates, and thought, “I don’t want your life!” So did former lawyer Helynn Nelson, my guest on this episode of the podcast. Helynn landed a coveted employment litigation associate role in Biglaw, but the lifestyle of a Biglaw […]
Who am I if I’m not a lawyer? We often talk on the podcast about how leaving the law (or even thinking about it!) creates a crisis of identity for lawyers. My guest today, former lawyer Meghan Smith, shares about her own journey from big firm lawyer, to seemingly perfect job in an insurance firm, […]
In this episode, I want to leave unhappy lawyers who want to leave law with one simple message: don’t wait until you feel ready. I’m reflecting on the one-year anniversary of The Former Lawyer Podcast, and all that I’ve learned over this last year. It’s honestly hard to believe that it’s been a whole year […]
How do you figure out what you want to do next once you realize you want to leave the law? In this episode, I’m sharing the second half of my conversation with former lawyer Annie Little. (I highly recommend that you listen to the first half as well, all about lawyer stress and anxiety.) Annie […]