I left the legal practice over six years ago to pursue my passion for writing and coaching. There were many things I learned along the way that prepared me for the 180 degree shift in my career, as well as things that served as excellent lessons for my further entrepreneurial journey. Over the years since leaving the law and writing articles about my trip on HuffPost and CNBC, dozens of attorneys have come forward asking about their own business interests. In this week’s piece, I want to walk you through the cornerstones of a transition of laws and mindsets that you can take with you as you work through your own journey and process.
Know that if you break the law, you are not a failure
In the first few months after leaving the law, between telling my friends and family about my career jump and sharing my story on social media, I encountered negativity and backlash. Even lately people have been scouring my social media accounts and telling me I couldn’t cut it off as a lawyer, so I became a “career coach” or a “resume writer”.
The irony of being judged by internet trolls or other Debbie Downers is that I now consider myself much more successful than as an attorney with the most prestigious law firm or firm – I have built a well-known brand that is widely used in major media and countries Showing page by page on Google I’ve worked with some of the most respected and respected lawyers and executives in the world, creating financial security for myself and most importantly, starting a company where I wake up every day with passion for what I do and I love helping clients reach the next leadership opportunity in their executive careers. These things stand higher in my “eyes of success” than in another decade of feeling trapped in a career that just didn’t fulfill me (even though I’m good at it).
If you’re on the fence about breaking the law and worrying about being considered a “failure” for doing it, stop and flip that attitude. Perhaps success for you will be trading Biglaw for an in-house consulting job, having a better quality of life, or being able to do what you really love and find a way to monetize it. Maybe success doesn’t have to work for someone else or create new opportunities in another industry. Remember that success means different things to different people and is an individual, subjective feeling.
Be honest with your finances
Before I left the law, I knew it would be heavy weight not having a paycheck or guaranteed health insurance every two weeks. I didn’t just wake up one day and walk out of the law without a plan. On the side, I’ve spent 18 months building and investing in my writing business to create a nest egg and continually save for it. I also had a plan if things didn’t work out.
If you are planning to take the plunge out of the law but still want to ensure a flow of income until things really start, sign up for some contractual legal work or commit to part-time or project-related work. There is no shame in taking on some part time in the short term to achieve this long term entrepreneurship goal.
Focus on your best skills and interests
As a practicing attorney, I was excellent at legal research and writing, I made a living from testifying and being in the courtroom, and felt energized writing winning briefs in mediation and negotiating cases that cost my clients thousands of dollars save. These experiences led me to where I am now and formed the basis for what I do every day. My process competence formed a basis for me that catapulted my public speaking and led to lucrative lecture commitments. My exercise practice has been focused on quickly delivering compelling arguments to the judges which then enabled me to write a compelling story for a person’s career in order to effectively market it as well as condense and effectively summarize their career information. My best legal skills turned into my best business fortune. Think about your best skills and interests that you can bring to your future business and how you can market and leverage them.
Think like a businessman, not a litigator
One facet of being an entrepreneur that I wasn’t expecting was how much I would use my law degree and remove it at times. In business you will approach situations differently. You will hire a Business Counsel for Retainer to remove the emotion and subjective perspective from challenging business situations. You will sometimes go against the grain to build relationships, increase goodwill, and make decisions based on what’s better for the company and your reputation in the long run. Don’t be afraid to take it.
Remember, leaving the law is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a new life, a new opportunity, and a new journey. I hope these strategies and tips inspire you as you are thinking about transitioning from the law or feeling stuck on the jump. Feel free to get in touch and join in as I share the ups and downs of the law on Instagram and my other social media channels.
Wendi Weiner is a lawyer, career expert and founder of The writing guru, an award-winning executive resume writing company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for lawyers, executives and C-suite / board executives for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications on alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach them by email at [email protected], connect with her LinkedInand follow her on Twitter @ thewritingguru.