Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I Finally Left the Law

Ok, I know my posts make me sound like a bitter ex-lawyer or a disgruntled, underemployed J.D., but the truth is, I am neither of those things. Although-believe me-I sympathize with those who are strapped with 6-figure debt and a worthless law degree because I am now in the same boat. The difference is that I chose to leave a job that held promise if I had decided to continue with my legal career.

I loved the attorneys I worked with (emphasis on "attorneys" because one of the paralegals there was a complete bitch to me, although we never actually worked together so I never figured that one out). I liked the fact that I represented the underdog in most cases. I liked those few and far between moments of victory, and the even rarer occasions when a client actually thanked me for a job well done.

But every day, I felt like a phony because I had absolutely no passion for what I was doing. I slowly realized over three years of practicing that I could not stay in a soul-crushing career just to experience those few and far between moments. I cried at night when I thought about years ago, when I dreamed of being a writer or working with animals. Then in the morning I would get up and stare at Westlaw all day, trying to muster the motivation to begin yet another tedious brief or motion.

I looked for work for months, with no prospects in sight. I thought about the fact that each day I lived was a day closer to death, and that I was wasting precious days feeling unhappy and afraid that I would never again feel hopeful about the future.

So I quit and began working as a temp. A couple weekends ago, my husband and I went camping (with our dog) and I read him one of my scary short stories before we fell asleep in our tent. I felt like myself again, happy to be sharing my writing with someone I love and not dreading Monday morning, when I would have to go back to Hell, also known as My Office.

So that's why I quit. I didn't want to be a phony anymore. I am bitter about my debt, but it's mostly my fault. I'll get over it, though. I just need a few more weekends camping with my husband.

Image courtesy of Federico Stevanin.

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