I get a lot of questions about quitting the law. “How could you do it?” “Were you scared?” “Do you think you could go back?” So the day before I gave my notice, I started writing about it. Hopefully, some of my thoughts and feelings at the time will answer some of those questions.
Here is what I wrote the night before I gave my notice. Note that at time I wrote this, I had an interest in pursuing a career in education, but had not yet committed to Teach for America.
Today is the day before my life starts. [I have always had a flair for the dramatic.] Tomorrow, I quit my lucrative legal career and embark upon the unknown. I, somewhat seriously, refer to tomorrow as the day I will take my first risk. Exciting stuff, huh?
I have been a practicing attorney for the last eight years. I represent major insurance companies in coverage disputes and litigation, often involving large machinery breakdowns, alleged professional negligence, and employment liability. I fill most days with studying insurance policies, reading and analyzing files, and conducting extensive factual investigations of insurance claims. I will confess that although reading insurance policies may sound like pure hell to most people, I actually like it. I get a little thrill when I start reading the policy and thinking about the interplay of the provisions. I annotate my policies when I get to the endorsements, leaving strikethroughs and notes in the margins of the pages. I leave colorful sticky tabs to help me navigate through the policy upon later readings. I tease that insurance policies are like Scripture—different parts speak to you on subsequent readings and bring new insights each time.
Very little of my time involves going to court, but I relish those brief moments of action away from my desk. Depositions, hearings and the ever-so-rare trials are the adrenaline rush that every litigator craves. But these high-energy events also bring with them high expectations and high stress levels. They are often preceded by countless hours and late nights of preparation.
So why am I leaving? I believe I was meant to do more with my life. The cliché that law is a jealous mistress is all too true. Although my performance evaluations have always been extremely positive, the law tells me every year, “We are going to need more of your time.” Well, I have no more time to give to the law. I want to give my time to something else.
There are many things that compete for my time, and I have decided that a number of things are entitled to more of my time than the law. First, my relationship with God should get more time than the law. My husband, my family, and my friends should get more of my time than the law. Serving others should get more of my time than the law. In short, the law comes in sixth place, but I find that it easily occupies most of my time. It’s time to change that. It’s time that my time commitments match my values. At the very least, if I am going to spend so much time on something, it should be I find meaningful.
So—what will I miss? It’s hard to tell. I do love that I work alongside of some of the best and brightest people imaginable. I love that I have the opportunity to do intellectually challenging work. But aside from that, I cannot think of much I will miss. And the things I think I will miss, I hope I can find elsewhere in my future opportunities. Join me on this journey! I hope it is exciting and entertaining.