Deciding to leave the law is not a decision to make lightly. There are personal, professional, and financial ramifications when you choose to leave your profession. While there will certainly be aspects of your life that you will give up by leaving the legal profession, it has been my experience that what you gain from leaving the law is much more valuable than what you give up.
For me, the most important thing I have gained is a balanced life.
Before Leaving the Law…
Between law school, studying for the bar exam and practicing as an attorney, I found that somewhere along the way my priorities had been skewed. The things that I loved and valued, such as spending time with my family, reading a great book, and writing were all pushed to the back burner or off the stove completely.
I started scheduling time with my fiancée and family in my planner and blackberry. I scheduled and cancelled and rescheduled dinner with friends.
I could no longer read a novel in the course of a weekend. I was falling asleep with the light on and the book open after barely finishing one page.
Saturdays became the time for a never-ending to-do list of everything I didn’t have time to do during the work week. By Sunday night, I was exhausted and dreading the start of another week. For days, then weeks, then months, I told myself that this wasn’t a way to live. Something needed to change.
I longed for a different life; a balanced life that reflected my priorities. I found the ability to create that life when I decided to leave the law.
After Leaving the Law…
“It’s time to start living the life you imagined.” Henry James
This quote was my compass when I decided to leave the law. It spoke volumes to me as I reorganized my life and my career. The life I imagined was a balanced life with time for the people and activities that I valued most.
While I certainly don’t claim to have a perfectly balanced schedule each and every day, I absolutely have a more balanced life since leaving the law.
A balanced life means different things to different people.
To me, a more balanced life means:
- Having autonomy and flexibility over my daily schedule;
- Plenty of time to spend with my family and fiancé without having to calendar it;
- A career that fits my skills and interests;
- Volunteering to teach a weekly religion class at my church;
- Reading a great book (or two, or three…); and
- Writing (almost) every day.
These are my priorities; the people, things, and activities that use my talents, bring me joy and give me purpose. By reorganizing my life to reflect my priorities, I have begun to live the life I imagined.
What would you change in your life to live the life you imagined?
Amy E. Jensen, J.D., is Director of Programs and Publications at Marc Garfinkle Seminars, LLC. Her blog, Making Networking Work, is a resource for new graduates networking for career success. Her book The Graduate’s Guide to Networking is available on Amazon.
Have a leaving law story you’d like to share? Email Jennifer Alvey, firstname.lastname@example.org, to start the conversation. Or schedule a discounted sample coaching session on how to leave law.