Alternative Legal Careers, Shabby Chic Style

I love things that are old and battered. Sometimes I feel like the whole shabby chic style was invented for me. Weathered paint, a bit of rust, a patina that cannot be faked in a factory. The old and battered evoke beauty and survival in the face of time’s onslaught.

Vintage travel gear

Battered and tattered just might hold the key to your alternative legal career happiness.

I love how some things that many look at and judge “trash,” can become transformed into something highly desirable and expensive with a little imagination and work. I realized this morning that coaching unhappy lawyers is a lot like that—rescuing their beauty and value from what they see as the trash bin of their lives.

A lot of us lug around an enormous yet invisible trash bin. It’s the receptacle of discarded hope, dreams and fun. Particularly as I start relationships with clients, we spend a lot of time rummaging around in that bin.

Those crazy times with friends in high school, just hanging out, that you remember so fondly? Maybe that’s part of a desire to create more community in your life. The riffs you still make up when you’re driving, or in the shower, that you’re sure are crap? Maybe they are. (Though I have to say, I doubt it.) But maybe the quality of the riffs isn’t what’s important. Maybe what’s important is spreading the joy of music, somehow. Or maybe you need to find a way to sing your special, unique song and be heard.

That’s what I listen and look for when I coach: the buried clues. Hidden treasure. The thing that is old, that can be combined with something else to create a stunning masterpiece of a life. Sometimes, I don’t even have to dig, because that beauty is sitting already exposed; my job then is to point it out, and help with a good polishing so it can shine.

At the end of the process, you probably won’t have a career that looks like that bright, shiny BigLaw success story. But you will have one that lets you be treasured for exactly who you are, imperfections and all.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who goes virtual dumpster diving with her unhappy attorney clients all the time to find treasures. Find out how coaching can help you dig up your buried gold, in career and life. Schedule a discounted sample coaching session with Jennifer by emailing her at

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