Lawyer Turned Full-Time Mom on the Post-Law Life

“[M]y current boss (age 2) rivals any partner at a big law firm – he is demanding, prone to melodramatic outbursts, is not always reasonable, and gets crazy if lunch is late.”

Elizabeth S. (Cornell Law ’00) from San Gabriel, CA left the law in 2009 to become a full-time mom.  “In general, I am using this time to figure out my next career,” says Elizabeth.  “More specifically, I play with fire trucks, garbage trucks, dump trucks, crayons, more fire trucks, and building blocks, and enforce nap time and bedtime routines.”

Here’s what Elizabeth had to say about life after the law:

1. Life for a lawyer who leaves the law is…wide open.  I left legal practice by degrees.  After a public interest fellowship right out of law school, I worked for an internet company that provided legal services (such as 50-state surveys), and then did legal compliance work for several start-ups.

2. The hardest thing about being an ex-lawyer is…letting go of the career you prepared for.  Although I do not wish to practice again, law school was a challenging and rewarding experience that is hard to dismiss.

3. The best thing about being an ex-lawyer is…the relief at leaving a profession that was never a good fit.  I have many compassionate and peaceful friends who are successful lawyers, but what stood out for me when I worked as a lawyer was the antagonistic nature of legal work which was simply not for me.

4. The primary misconception about ex-lawyers is…working as a lawyer was a total mistake.  I don’t regret law school – I feel like it was a second round of college with interesting professors, a great reading list (sometimes) and an incredible opportunity to collaborate with fellow students (which I did not get out of college).  There were positives about my legal career, but the negatives far outweighed them.

5. The main different between my life now and my life as a lawyer is….  I worked part-time for about a year after having my son, and it was during that time I decided to leave the legal profession altogether.  My start-up employer worked with me to make part-time work possible, which was great, but switching gears between home and work gave me the perspective I needed to see that my career wasn’t adding anything other than a paycheck.  As a full-time mom, my current boss (age 2) rivals any partner at a big law firm – he is demanding, prone to melodramatic outbursts, is not always reasonable, and gets crazy if lunch is late.

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