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From Litigator To All Things Real Estate With Jonathan Liu (TFLP 084)

Jonathan Liu hated public speaking and basically everything about litigation. Even so, he spent 7 years as a litigator before leaving the law for a career in real estate.

On today’s episode of the podcast, Jonathan shares how he figured out it was time for him to leave the law, and how he developed his career as a real estate agent and investor.

tunnel-vision on a big firm

Jonathan graduated law school in 2011 when, as most lawyers know, the legal market was seriously struggling. He managed to land a position at a small firm doing litigation, but had his sights set on moving up to a bigger firm. Why? Because that’s what was held up as the gold standard for achievement as lawyer. As Jonathan said, “I felt like that was where I had to get to, or I was a failure.”

At the firm, Jonathan built a reputation on being responsive and was successful and on the path to partnership. But he hated public speaking, and he hated being a litigator. Not only that, but his job left him no time to spend with his wife and pursue other interests. He looked around and realized that the thing he was working towards (partnership) was not actually something he wanted.

jonathan’s path to real estate

Jonathan left the big firm to go in-house, hoping it would improve things, but as he says, it was still practicing law. He later landed a 100% remote work litigation position that didn’t require him to go to court or conduct depositions. It was basically as good as it was going to get for him—and he still wasn’t happy.

Jonathan had started investing in real estate for his personal portfolio, and as part of that, had gotten his real estate license. So, when he came to the conclusion that law was simply not it for him, real estate was an obvious fit.

In this episode, Jonathan also shares about:

  • Deciding to go to law school because his undergrad degree was in sociology, which was “basically a degree in unemployment.”
  • Choosing to go to law school even though his only idea of what practicing law was like was from what he saw on TV on Law & Order.
  • Originally planning to go into criminal law, and why he changed course.
  • The main reason he was gunning to go to a big firm: “The simple and dumb answer is that it was about the money.”
  • Why the legal profession’s obsession with prestige is so toxic.
  • Stopping to ask himself, “Am I working towards a goal that I even want anymore?”
  • Why he wishes he left the law earlier.
  • His advice to lawyers—if you hate what you’re doing, don’t settle.

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