Have you ever googled “Leaving big law”? Lately, I have caught myself googling those words a lot. I have googled them in the morning while having breakfast, during a quick social media break at the office and even in bed at the end of a long day of work.
In these google searches, I have come across a lot of blogs, reddit posts and podcasts from law students considering futures in big law and lawyers, who have practiced for quite a while (5 + years), and who have successfully transitioned into careers outside of big law.
I am not a student nor a senior associate. I am only entering my second year as a lawyer, and have been left wondering, (1) where are the search results for me and (2) what exactly am I looking for?
So, where are the search results for me? Well, I cannot verify this, but I wonder if there is a lack of discussion online by more junior lawyers, because our questions are more open-ended. As a junior, we aren’t looking to find out how to land a job or how to leave our firm. Really, we are looking first to find out if we can survive and thrive in our firms and current positions. The search results may also be scarce, because perhaps we don’t want to admit that after all of the studying we’ve done and money we’ve spent, we might not be happy in law.
It is hard to admit that you are not happy, especially when you do not want to seem ungrateful. When speaking to my colleagues, I have found that we recognise the many positives to our current work situations and that we have much to be grateful for, including that:
- We are financially independent, working on paying off our debt and beginning to save for our future after years of school.
- We are learning at a breakneck speed, noticing how our research, writing and other lawyering skills are improving.
- We are working with talented (though always demanding) senior associates and partners on interesting files.
Now, what am I looking for when I type the words “leaving big law” into the google search bar? I think that I am looking for permission to be unsure about my future at my firm. I am looking for advice on how to build a practice that is sustainable for me, after being a student at a firm where I said yes to everything and was happy to prove myself by being on call and putting the firm first whenever needed. I also wonder if other juniors like me look at the more senior associates or partners at their firms and wonder if their husbands/wives/significant others or children mind that they only take an hour or two off every evening from work and if they really are fulfilled by giving so much of themselves to the practice of law.
How about you? Have you ever looked for answers online about leaving big law? What were you looking for? Did you find an answer?