I’ve been talking quite a bit here at Former Lawyer about how miserable working as a lawyer can be. There are lots of unhappy lawyers out there working in legal jobs that are not suited to them. So, naturally, people want to know—do I think that everyone should leave the law?
My answer: absolutely not! If you’re a lawyer and you’re thinking, “I love helping to fight against injustice/serving my clients/working on big-name deals/the thrill of trial, etc.!,” then keep on keeping on. High fives all around, congratulations, and I am so thankful for you. Our justice system and communities need qualified and dedicated lawyers practicing all different types of law with excellence and integrity, and you are doing important work.
But here’s the thing. Just because the world needs committed, excellent lawyers, doesn’t mean that you are meant to continue working as a lawyer. Did you read the previous paragraph where I described what a lawyer who loves their job might be thinking and think, “How could anyone feel that way about being a lawyer?!”
If that was your reaction, then you’ve probably at least entertained the thought of making a career change and leaving the law. But perhaps you haven’t allowed yourself to really explore the idea because it seems so outlandish. Most people have an inkling that they don’t want to be a lawyer, but often they haven’t quite admitted it to themselves yet. If you’re a lawyer and you agree with one or more of the statements below, you are probably an aspiring former lawyer.
- I hate billing my time.
- I feel dread when I see a new email pop into my work inbox.
- I have at least once Googled some form of the following phrases: “hate being a lawyer,” “alternative careers for lawyers,” “leaving the law,” “non-law jobs for lawyers,” “what can I do with a law degree,” etc.
- My legal career is nothing like I imagined it would be.
- I didn’t really know what being a lawyer would be like, and I wish I had known.
- I dream of chucking it all and opening a coffee shop/yoga studio/landscaping business/wilderness adventure company or similar.
- My friends are sick of hearing me complain about my job.
- I’m sick of hearing me complain about my job.
- My dog is sick of hearing me complain about my job. (Impossible!)
- I regret going to law school.
- I feel trapped in my job as a lawyer.
If you agreed with one or more of these statements, then Former Lawyer is here for you. There are lots of people who are meant to be lawyers—and there are lots of people who aren’t. If you’re ready to make a change, click here to grab the free guide I created, “First Steps to Leaving the Law,” and let’s get you headed in the right direction.