When you’re super miserable in your job as a lawyer (been there!), you often find yourself wondering: can I just quit? Is quitting law without another job lined up a bad idea?
Some jobs really just are that bad. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a place where continuing to work as a lawyer is just too awful for your mental or emotional health for you to continue.
My guest on today’s podcast, Andrea Yang, is a lawyer who quit her job without any other job lined up. Not only that, when Andrea quit litigation seven years after she graduated from law school, she moved back in with her parents to give her some time to figure out what was next for her.
Is quitting law without another job lined up a bad idea?
Maybe you can’t imagine being so miserable in your job as a lawyer that you would be willing to quit without another job lined up.
But for Andrea—and for many of us—this level of daily misery was (or is) a reality.
Law school was the path of least resistance.
Growing up with immigrant parents, Andrea assumed that she would be a doctor. In her mind, there were only three career paths: medical school, law school, or business school.
When she arrived at Harvard for undergrad, she realized that she didn’t really like her math and science classes, so medical school was out. She didn’t have enough credits is business and econ classes for business school, so law school it was!
“Law school was the path of least resistance,” Andrea told me. And she would continue to engage in this type of “unconscious decision-making” for the next almost decade.
Her fancy law firm job quickly lost its shine.
Andrea graduated and got a fancy job at a big law firm, but quickly realized that she detested it. An unexpected opportunity to clerk for a former partner at her firm who had been appointed to a federal judgeship arose and she jumped at it, hoping that she would figure out a better path.
That clerkship led to another clerkship, and she didn’t have any more clarity than she had at the beginning. As her second clerkship was coming to an end, she decided to take a job at a firm in Seattle, because she really loved the outdoors and could be close to multiple national parks.
Within the first week of starting her Biglaw job in Seattle, Andrea knew it wasn’t going to work out. She felt like she needed to stay for a year “for her resume” (although now thinks that’s a completely arbitrary rule that provide a convenient excuse for avoiding pursuing what you really want).
When the start of Andrea’s second year at the firm rolled around, she didn’t have any more clarity about what was next, but it was becoming increasingly apparent that she was utterly miserable.
Quitting law without another job lined up was the solution for Andrea.
Andrea called her parents and asked if them if she could move home if she quit her job. They said yes, and Andrea quit her Biglaw litigation job with no idea what was going to be next for her.
With time and space, Andrea was finally able to figure out what she really wanted to be doing with her life. She was able to do the inner work necessary to move forward in the way that was right for her. She got a job as a career counselor at Pepperdine Law, and coaches people individually as well.
In this episode, Andrea shares about:
- A question to ask yourself: how much is the way that you’re living now costing you, and how long are you willing to put up with that?;
- The relief of being able to be her wherever she goes, and not having a separate work-self to maintain;
- OPOs (other people’s opinions) and how to deal with them;
- Spending most of her non-working time as a lawyer just trying to recover from the strain her job put on her, with little time spent actually feeling like herself;
- Why you can’t compartmentalize “work” and “not work”;
- What she did to land her next gig (from the NALP jobs board!);
- How hard it was to let go of the prestige-focused mindset that she had made all of her previous decisions with, and the role she thinks that ego should play in your decisions;
- “I am so much more than just my job. A job is just a thing I do—it’s not who I am”;
- why changing jobs is about so much more than changing jobs; and
- much more!
Connect with Andrea:
- Website: https://www.andreayangcoaching.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-yang-5129017/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrea.yang.9