Tell us your story. How did you get to where you are today?
When I graduated from law school, I started working as a litigation associate in biglaw and I HATED it. It took me a while to realize that it was okay not to like it, because I thought that since I was doing well, I should like it, and that there was something wrong with me because I did not. But eventually, I realized it was not for me, and that that was okay! I took a six-figure pay cut to take a job at a legal publishing company and got some breathing space to think and dream. After a year there, I spent six years as a staff attorney at a state appellate court. When our second child was born, I left the law to stay home with our kids and do some writing and editing on the side. I also took that opportunity to launch The Former Lawyer Podcast, which was a longtime dream of mine, and that's how Former Lawyer was born!
Why did you want to go to law school?
I thought the law was interesting and I liked research and writing. (Not actually great reasons to go to law school, it turns out.)
Was it a smooth road becoming a lawyer and getting to where you are now? If not, what are some of the struggles you encountered?
Becoming a lawyer had its challenges, but for me, the biggest challenges were on the road to leaving the law. Lawyers have so many mindset hurdles to overcome in order to leave. There's the financial piece (how do I deal with my massive student loans?), the identity piece (who am I if I'm not a lawyer?), the sunk costs fallacy (but I've spent so much time and money to become a lawyer, isn't leaving a waste?), the illusion of security (if you're at a firm, a set path with a known income versus ??? if you leave to do something else), how others will respond (what will my family/significant other/law school classmates/colleagues etc. think?), and so much more. There are a lot of things to work through in order to make the jump.
As the creator of Former Lawyer, what are you most proud of? What do you love the most about what you do?
I absolutely love getting to share the stories of former lawyers with the world. Countless former lawyers have told me how much they wished the podcast existed when they were getting out of the law so that they would have felt less alone. And the stories I hear from people who are making their own way out of the law are so encouraging! I love that I get to share something that helps lawyers develop an imagination for what could be next for them in their career, and to mentor, coach, and teach lawyers who are looking for more support on their journey.
If you could change, improve or disrupt one thing about the practice of law, what would it be?
I would get rid of the billable hour, because it discourages efficiency and innovation, penalizes excellence, and creates a terrible work environment.
What are you doing when you're not running Former Lawyer?
Reading, enjoying introducing my family to our new home state of Pennsylvania (where I grew up), MommaStrong, listening to podcasts & audiobooks, and decluttering and organizing (my not-so-guilty pleasures).