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. Continue reading

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Where Are the Depressed Lawyers? #imnotashamed

The Numbers Say We’re Out There

Lawyers suffer from extremely high rates of depression and other mental health disorders. Estimates for the rate of depressed attorneys range from 2 to 3.6 times the national rate of depression in the U.S. A recent study of lawyer mental health in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that 28% of respondents were experiencing symptoms of depression and 19% were experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.

I’ve seen the numbers.  I’m a lawyer. Research is what I do. So you can imagine how confusing it was last summer when I became depressed and my colleagues behaved as if they had never seen anything like this before in a law firm. They had no idea what to do with me. They kept turning to me to figure out all of the potential accommodations.

Not exactly easy to do while you’re in the throws of a moderate depressive episode. (Skip to the end of this page for a list of resources.) Continue reading

When You Come to a Fork In the Road, Take It

Three months ago I decided to leave my firm job three months from now. The clock is ticking with no new job in sight. I’m afraid. I’m stressed. I’m worried that nothing will work out.

I don’t regret trying firm life. It wasn’t a good match. So be it.

I do, however, regret giving in to my paralyzing fears about quitting. I regret staying much longer than I should have. It took a long time to make peace with not being able to make it work. But it hasn’t been working. It’s never worked.

I’m ready to move on.

But what the hell I am supposed to do with myself now? Continue reading

Mastering the Fine Art of Letting Go

I’m starting to realize that a lot of my anxiety about what to do next with my life is rooted in the fear of being outside of the “circle.” I seem to have an intense fear that I won’t be able to get another law firm job or work in BIGlaw and that keeps me here. Couple that with the sunk costs fallacy and it seems I’m sunk.

Think about that for a moment.

I am afraid to leave a job that is a bad fit because I am afraid that I won’t be able to obtain another such job in the future. Say what now?!

I guess this is classic “Feeling” over “Thinking” at work. Fortunately, over the years I have learned to speak to myself in words I can understand, e.g., “Hey, think about how you’re depriving the person who would actually be a good fit from getting this opportunity.” (See guilt I get more clearly than reason.)

Continue reading