I Quit Law … For Now

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

It’s a cliche that really takes me back. I’m talking way back. I can see myself gleeful in my graduation gowns: high school. college. law school?

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Wow, my hair was SO straight! And short!

Law school graduation was a strange day for me. I was proud of what I had accomplished. I was tearing up because it had been such an ordeal.

Six months ago I decided I’d had enough. I didn’t know what would come next or where I was going, but it was one of those “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” moments. I knew that my time in the firm had to end.

So yesterday, April 15, was my last day at the firm. I am grateful for the last few years. I worked with wonderful people who I am quite fond of. I’ve learned so much about myself. And I did something that it was important for me to do in order to let go: I asked myself whether there was any circumstance under which I could thrive in a firm. There isn’t. Letting go of something you’re really good at isn’t easy. But just because you’re good at something, doesn’t mean you ought to keep doing it.

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Me whenever I wasn’t in class during law school.

As you know if you’ve read other posts on this blog, I’ve struggled with mental illness for about 10 years now. Law school took a real toll on me. For most people, getting into my law school was the hardest part. Getting out and doing well in life were givens. For me, getting through and getting out were real struggles.

Knowing what I know now, my struggle wasn’t evidence that I was losing my mind. I was simply going against something that was ringing true deep in my spirit. My body was trying to tell me that law school had nothing for me. Or at least, law school the way that I tried to do it was not for me.

Had I known then what I know now… Right?

I don’t know when I’ll go back to practicing law other than on pro bono matters. Or if I’ll go back. Right now I can’t imagine what would draw me back in. I’ve been miserable for the last 4 years. Much of the last 8 years really.

For the first time in a long time I feel like I don’t need an outfit or afro or song to let the true, hidden parts of me shine through — hell maybe I’ll go get a perm right now!* For the first time in so long I’m just being myself.

I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a door recently and I realized that the woman I saw there is exactly who I want to be.

j4pae7e2_ws-jared-eronduAfter so many years of self-loathing and feeling like I am failing, so many years of going against my gut because I had something I needed to prove and I was trapped, and so many years of being terrified of taking any kind of risk, I finally stood up for my self.

For complicated reasons, I turned my back on my true self years ago. I thought that I was saving myself. And maybe back then I was. But the outcome of trying to stuff myself deep down was a broken heart. And in many ways I broke myself. But things can change. People can change.

I have changed.

Today the woman you see is, in fact, really me.

 

*JK. JK.

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10 thoughts on “I Quit Law … For Now

  1. Vered says:

    Hey Kristin- proud of you for being and staying strong and for making a hard decision that sounds like it will bring many positive changes. Sending hugs from across the ocean!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chikodi says:

    I love you! But, you’ve always known that. You have always been a strong yet soft; bold yet simple;honest soul. I’m happy that you’ve made the choice that so many before you have struggled with, but lacked the courage to make. I’m glad that you didn’t have to make the choice after a breakdown. You know you can count on me to be a micro investor in whatever your next venture is. Better yet, call me! We’ve got to set sail and toast to this new chapter. I repeat, I love you. More importantly, I respect your informed choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristin says:

      It’s hard to say what advice to give. Personally, I wish I had the courage to drop out back then. That said, many loan repayment assistance programs aren’t available unless you finish the program. So for me it made the most sense to tough it out. The law school is helping me to pay off my loans now even though I’m not practicing anymore. Unless you’re sure you will have a way to pay off the loans I would stay the course.

      That said, one thing that I would definitely do differently is if you are certain you don’t want to practice, reorient your life. Take very few black letter courses, take classes that are more in line with what you believe in and take advantage of any opportunities to take classes in other colleges/degree programs if they can be counted toward your degree.

      And build a network with people outside of law.

      There are a whole host of careers and options for you out in the world that maybe you’ve never even heard of. Resist the standard law firm track and try to learn about and meet people doing things that are interesting and that maybe would still benefit from your strengths and skills as an attorney and an INFJ.

      Law school teaches us to be on the lookout for the worst possible outcome and encourages us to stick with the safe path. I agree that one should be responsible, but I also think that it doesn’t do anyone any good — you, your employer, or the countless people who would actually like to have a law firm job — if you don’t do work that is a bit better aligned with your natural strengths and skills. And to that end, learn what those skills are and lean into them. Showcase and strengthen them as much as possible as you will need all the experience you can get to convince non-lawyers that you will be useful to them. I hope this was helpful!

      Like

  3. whimsandquips says:

    Kristin! I’m so glad that I stumbled upon your blog. Thank you for sharing something so personal to you. I’m an INFJ as well, currently finishing my 2nd year of law school and entering into my final year in fall 2017. In order to practice over in my country, one need only pursue law as an undergrad degree and then sit for a professional Bar paper.

    While I do find law to be interesting and something I’m rather good at, I think I’m more inclined to do something other than practice. i.e. public policy, social justice advocacy, or education.

    Honestly, I’m already dreading practice. I don’t know if I’ll survive. But having uttered this to my family sparked some chaos lol. They want me to stick to the conventional path of practice because they think it’s a lucrative, respectable and stable career. I’d be wasting my time and money if I do something else, according to them, which I don’t agree. But the long hours though. And the stress. They probably wouldn’t see me as often then. Anyway I choose to give myself a taste of practice — say 2-3 years, then decide if I love or hate it, then do something else.

    Liked by 1 person

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