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, to her current gig as a joy coach for high-achieving moms.
Along the way, one of the most significant questions that Meghan had to grapple with was: who am I if I’m not an intellectual superstar? Today she’s sharing about how she confronted this question and found her way to a career that’s fulfilling.
Meet Former Lawyer Meghan Smith
Meghan started her legal career with a year-long clerkship at the British Columbia Court of Appeal before joining a big law firm as a litigator. After having her daughter, she decided not to return to the firm, and instead took a position in an insurance firm that handled complex adjustments and other high end matters.
The job at the insurance firm was seemingly perfect—great pay and hours, walkable from Meghan’s house, lovely atmosphere, and genuinely kind and caring management and staff. But after a year or two, Meghan realized that while the job was fine, it was never going to be fulfilling for her. This set her on a path that ultimately ended with her becoming a joy coach for high-achieving moms.
Today, Meghan shares about:
- Deciding to go to law school at 30 because she wanted an intellectual challenge, and her next-door colleague at work was studying for the LSAT.
- Being VERY impressed with herself when she got to law school.
- How much she relied on the fact that she was a lawyer to communicate to people that she was smart, capable, etc.
- Realizing during her clerkship that working at a big law firm was not going to be a good fit with the life that she wanted to live.
- About a year in, being so over working at the firm that she added “quit job” to her to-do list for the day—and then discovering that she was pregnant and deciding to stay.
- Planning to return to the firm at the end of her mat leave—at least for the year she would need to work in order to not have to pay back the salary she was paid during leave.
- Putting her mat leave salary in a separate account “just in case” she decided not to go back.
- Planning to return to the firm “for” her newly-born daughter, to show her what was possible—and then realizing that she wanted to teach her something entirely different.
- Realizing that she didn’t want to return to the firm a week before her scheduled return date—how significant and courageous it was for her, and how anticlimactic it was in terms of the firm’s response.
- Finding an “ideal job” at an insurance firm that was founded by several female former lawyers who had wanted complex, interesting work with better hours.
- Believing that if she left the law (and took away the toxic culture and grueling hours), she would be happy.
- Realizing a year and a half in at the insurance firm that she still was not fulfilled.
- The trap of deriving her worth from her job, and how that trapped her inside a very specific (and small) box.
- Finding her identity in being intellectually capable, and being afraid to ask: “Who am I if I’m not an intellectual superstar? Who am I if what I am is my heart?”
- Why it was okay (and good even) that her first job after leaving the law in insurance was not the last step or a perfect one.
Connect with Meghan
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meghanlaurasmith
- Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/545869059533414/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meghan-smith-coaching/
- Website: www.meghansmithcoaching.com