You hate being a lawyer and know that you want out of the law, but have no idea what you want to do next or how to figure it out, let alone how to position yourself for a non-legal job. Let me help you get unstuck!
There’s a simple framework that you can follow so that you can . . .
Ditch your soul-sucking job and figure out how to trade lawyering for a better life
Even if your identity is completely wrapped up in being a lawyer, you have student loan debt, and you’re worried about what other people will think.
Hey there, my friend,
If you went to law school because you wanted to make a difference, but somehow ended up in a career that seems to be doing the exact opposite . . .
If your law firm job has turned out to be way less glamorous than you expected, and you feel like your life is not your own . . .
If you became a lawyer thinking that you would love it, and it turns out that you actually hate it . . .
. . . and if you’re not quite sure how you got to where you are, but you can’t imagine being a lawyer for the rest of your life, then keep reading.
What I want to share with you is a simple framework that I’ve developed to help lawyers figure out what they really want to be doing career-wise, and how to get there.
If you don’t know me yet, my name is Sarah Cottrell.
Twelve years ago, I graduated from law school expecting to embark on my dream career.
Instead, I found myself absolutely hating my job as a Biglaw litigator, and desperate for a way to get out.
I left Biglaw after just a few years, but continued to practice law for a decade as I slowly pieced together a plan for getting out of the law for good and figured out what I actually wanted to do next.
During that decade, my husband and I paid off over $400k in debt . . . mostly our (double!) law school loans.
I left the law in 2018.
My only regret? I wish that I had left sooner.
Along the way, I learned some pretty valuable lessons, and one thing became incredibly apparent to me . . .
Most unhappy lawyers know that they want out . . . but have NO IDEA what else they would do.
I’ve been there.
Top law school? Check.
Coveted Biglaw job? Check.
Glowing reviews? Check.
And yet . . . when I realized I might want out, I didn’t know where to begin.
I felt like I was flailing. I was smart, I’d gone to a top law school and was successfully navigating a job in Biglaw, for pete’s sake . . . why did I feel so lost?
Not to mention guilty. So much guilt.
“I should like this. Everyone else seems to.”
“Most lawyers would practically kill for this job. What’s wrong with me?”
“You know the dismal numbers for women in Biglaw . . . you owe it to womankind to stay in the game.”
“If you leave, you’re throwing away all the time and money that you spent becoming a lawyer.”
“If you’re going to throw away this career, you better pick the perfect next one!”
And on and on.
The stakes felt impossibly high . . . and I also felt alone.
Statistically, I knew that there were a lot of lawyers (including at my own firm) who wanted to get out.
And yeah, we associates would complain to each other about our jobs.
The manufactured emergencies that never seemed to stop.
The fact that at any moment, your day, week, month, or year could be blown up by some new matter with virtually no notice.
The “urgent” emails that were rarely as urgent as the sender believed.
The stress of billing hours: you were either slammed with work and exhausted, but hey! at least you were on pace—or you were slow and actually could have a life outside of work, but with the knawing dread of “what if I don’t make my hours?”
“Difficult” partners and senior associates whose behavior was tolerated and normalized—and even rewarded.
A vague sense that having normal human needs, like having to go to doctor’s appointments or handle a family obligations, were gross impositions.
The stress of trying to achieve perfection (an impossible standard for anyone), because imperfections in your work might not just be flaws, they could be malpractice.
“Constructive criticism” that was mostly someone giving you a hard time for doing something exactly the way they directed.
But . . .
It never seemed like anyone else was as unhappy as I was and was ACTUALLY trying to get out.
So I did a lot of lonely Googling.
“alternative careers for lawyer”
“what else can I do with a JD?”
“non-legal jobs for lawyers”
“i hate being a lawyer”
Before I went to law school, I had heard that “you can do anything with a law degree!”
But when I went looking for some actual concrete information about what those other jobs were, it felt like there were very few specifics.
And I frankly didn’t feel very qualified for other jobs. I had spent so long becoming a lawyer, that I didn’t really know how to identify what I was good at—or even what I liked!
Slowly . . . and with a ton of trial and error . . . I figured out how to get out.
I knew there had to be a better way. I didn’t want other lawyers to struggle the way that I had.
So, I started a podcast, The Former Lawyer Podcast.
On The Former Lawyer Podcast, I interview former lawyers who have left the law for other careers.
If you’re reading this page, there’s a good chance you know about the podcast and may have listened to it.
It’s the podcast that I wished existed when I was still in Biglaw—real stories from real lawyers about how they figured out what they wanted to do next and how to get out.
It led to me receiving incredible messages like this one . . .
And the amazing thing was that as I talked with more and more former lawyers about their experiences and my own, some themes started to emerge.
Even though everyone had very different experiences, backgrounds, and specific life challenges, I realized the obstacles they faced were strikingly similar.
Lawyers face 5 primary obstacles to getting out of the law . . .
Feeling like you’re alone and the only one who wants out.
Knowing you want out, but having no idea what that looks like in practice.
Getting the information you need about potential jobs in order to get out (without getting completely overwhelmed by ALL THE OPTIONS that exist when you step off the lawyer path).
Having some structure to the process and a framework to follow that creates some accountability and minimizes the overwhelm.
Dealing with the psychological components of leaving the law because most lawyers find that their identity is very wrapped up in being a lawyer—even if they hate it!
A lot of career coaching (especially by non-lawyers) fails to address one or more of these obstacles and hurries people along to the “apply for new jobs” phase, and is therefore doomed to fail.
It doesn’t actually address of the factors that landed someone in a law job that they hate . . . and so they repeat many of the same mistakes they made previously.
And it definitely doesn’t address the loneliness factor—you can only do that with real community.
Similarly, when people do this work on their own, they almost always jump right to the “apply for new jobs” phase, which I totally get.
But, that often results in burning a TON of time on things that aren’t really workable.
If the higher-level work isn’t done on the front end, it can just be a lot of spinning your wheels.
Or, thinking you’re making a change that will work for you, only to realize that it’s more of the same because you didn’t know what you wanted to move towards, only what you wanted to get away from.
So I sat down and analyzed all of the wisdom I gained from my own experience and from the wisdom of the other lawyers I interviewed to figure out how to set lawyers up for success when they know they want out.
I took everything that I had learned and distilled it into a simple 5-part framework.
- Self-Assessment & Your Very Next Step
- Former Lawyer Fundamentals
- Identify & Clarify: Who are you and what do you REALLY want from your career?
- What Do You Want To Do? Exploring Career Options
- Chart, Strategize, & Execute: Nuts & Bolts, How-Tos, & Practical Considerations
(Of course, simple is not the same as easy . . . and I wanted people to have support while they worked through the process.)
So, I embedded that framework into a program designed to holistically address the obstacles lawyers encounter on the path to getting out along three different dimensions.
One part instruction and education . . .
One part confidential community . . .
And one part direct and individualized advice and support.
I call this program the Former Lawyer Collaborative.
And I’m inviting you to join us.
The Former Lawyer Collaborative
In the Collaborative, we’ll work together on overcoming all of the obstacles that are standing in the way of you leaving the law.
Essentially, you’re moving from the big picture questions like, “what do I actually like?” and “what do I want my career/life to look like?,” to super specific questions like, “what’s it like to do X non-lawyer job,” and “how do I rewrite my resume to target a non-legal job?”.
You can move through each of the five parts of the framework sequentially, or you can dip in and out of each part as it makes sense for you and your current status.
So, you’ll never be “behind,” but you’ll always have a clear idea of where to go next.
It’s a safe and confidential space for lawyers who are interested in exploring other career options (inside the law or outside of it).
The Former Lawyer Collaborative is the program that I wish existed when I was still practicing as a lawyer and trying to figure out my next steps.
Here’s how everything works . . .
Once you join, you get access to the Former Lawyer Collaborative platform.
The platform has all the materials, resources, and tools you’ll need to work through the process.
Everything is self-paced, so you can move as quickly or as slowly as you need to.
It’s also where you’ll be able to connect with the other lawyers that are part of the Collaborative. And of course I am available to answer any questions that you have, along with some other Former Lawyer mentors.
It’s been my experience that having those connections with other lawyers who are headed in the same direction (and have been there before) is HUGELY helpful and can make all the difference.
We have a monthly group call where you can check in, talk through issues that are coming up for you and where you’re getting stuck, and get direct feedback.
(People tell me this is one of their favorite parts of the program!)
We also have live virtual workshops every month on all sorts of topics (resumes, career mindset stuff, information panels about different careers), and the replays are always available inside of the platform.
When you join, you’ll have access to the calls and workshops (and the program platform and community) for as long as the Former Lawyer Collaborative is offered.
The total cost is $1,000 (or $175 x 6 months, or $95 x 12 months—your choice).
We offer a 14-day money-back guarantee so that you can be confident that we completely stand behind the quality and value of this program.
Here’s what people are saying . . .
Still have questions about whether the Former Lawyer Collaborative is a good fit for you? The Former Lawyer Collaborative is a great fit for lawyers who:
- are motivated & driven;
- don’t love the law and are open to the idea of leaving;
- want to connect with other lawyers who “get it;”
- want to access support and resources as they need them on their own schedule;
- know that figuring out what’s next for them is truly a process; and
- see the value in having a private community where every member has committed to strict confidentiality.
The Former Lawyer Collaborative is not a great fit for lawyers who:
- love legal practice (we see you, we love you, we don’t want to be you); or
- want advice about how to make partner and expand their legal practice (that won’t be the focus of this community).
Helpful FAQS About The Collaborative
Q1 – Who is the Former Lawyer Collaborative for?
The Collaborative is designed for lawyers who want to explore other career options and the possibility of leaving the law. It’s best suited for lawyers in their first 15ish years of practice, although the material is helpful for lawyers at any stage.
Q2 – Who isn’t a good fit for the Former Lawyer Collaborative?
The Collaborative is structured for lawyers who are actively trying to figure out what they want to do next in their career, actively exploring the possibility of leaving the law, or anticipating leaving the law eventually, even if that may be several years down the road. If you’re a lawyer who wants to market your legal services or a former lawyer who has found your new niche and wants to market those services, this is not a great fit. We have a strict “no promotions, selling, or spam” policy.
Q3 – When are the workshops and calls, and are there replays?
Currently, most workshops and calls are held on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
All workshops are recorded and the replays are available inside the Collaborative platform.
Q4 – What’s your refund policy?
We offer a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Q6 – I have other questions that you didn’t answer—what should I do?
No problem! Email us at email@example.com.