Over the weekend, I did a BIG thing.
I don’t know if you know this, but I am an attorney. I don’t really say that very much because it hasn’t been a large part of my identity for some time now.
For years now, I’ve been “inactive,” which means that I cannot practice law, but if I wanted to, all I would have to do would be to switch to “active” status simply by making sure I was up to date on my continuing education credits and pay some money.
But this year, when I got the renewal fee notice, I had a decision to make as I do every year: renew or give up law forever. Up until now, I have decided that I wanted to keep the option open to return to law.
My Career Evolution
I started law school at 22 years old and graduated at 25. I practiced for about 3 years and then decided it wasn’t the right fit for me. I took a few years off, during which time I did some writing and lived abroad.
Eventually, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy which leads me to my work today as a therapist.
After graduating, I looked into merging law and psychology and pursuing a career in family law and meditation. But it still didn’t feel right for me, either.
I’ve been a therapist for two and a half years now, and I believe I’m in the industry I’m meant to be for a very long time.
Still, the decision to hand in my resignation is huge. It means that if I ever want to practice law again, I will need to take the bar exam again. Which means that I’m never practicing law again. I’ve done that once, and it was brutal. Hence why I’ve been paying the inactive fee for several years now…I wanted to be as sure as possible that I was done with law before making it tremendously hard for myself to practice again.
After careful consideration and talking with Logan, I decided that it was time. Ahhhh!!
Lessons from Law
I’ve been asked before if I think that going to law school was a mistake, and my answer has always been absolutely not. I wholeheartedly believe that what I went through led me to where I am today. I also believe that I am much better equipped to be a therapist now that I would have been then because of the growth I’ve experienced in my twenties. (This is not to say that you can’t be a wonderful therapist in your twenties; I have friends who are amazing therapists in their twenties. I’m only speaking for myself.)
I was shy and unsure of myself back then, and I grew so much during my three years of law school. Law school was incredibly challenging, and I pushed myself more than I ever had before.
Law school taught me that I am tough. That I am determined. That I can do whatever I want, including something really scary like leaving law behind in favor of becoming a therapist.
Thoughts on Change
But, even though I’m confident that I made the decision that’s right for me, it’s still really scary!
Just before I dropped the letter into the outgoing mailbox, I second-guessed it. I thought – but what if I need this career to fall back on someday?
Even though it was only for a split-second, doubt crept in.
And I reminded myself that this is normal. I tell this to clients on the reg. Change is HARD. Even when we feel good about a decision, it doesn’t mean that it won’t come with mixed emotions.
So, I did it. I mailed the letter.
And soon it will be official. I’ll always have that degree, but I’ll no longer be an attorney.
That’s perfectly okay. I am not defined by my career or the career I used to have.
I am so much more than that. I realized through this process that I am not someone who plays it safe, and I was playing it safe for many years by continuing to pay the inactive fee every year. And sure, there’s something to be said for not making a rash decision. But that’s not the case for me. This decision has been a long time coming.
I’m finally ready to say it…Good-bye legal career…I’m ready to move on!