Walking Away From My Career . . . Sort Of

I have never disclosed my occupation on this blog for a variety of reasons, including concerns about anonymity.  There have certainly been discussions about work-related things over the past few years, like “big projects” and lots of student loans.  However, my exact job title has been a secret . . . until now.  In my last week of work before starting a new job, I’ve decided that it’s time to finally share this information with all of you.

 

 

 

Ready for it?

 

I am a trial attorney. 

 

There seem to be so many negative views about lawyers, I hope that doesn’t change your opinion of me at all.  It should help you make sense of why the student loans are so high and why I struggle so much with work-life balance.  And those “big projects?”  They were trials or appeals.  One of the best/worst experiences of my life as an attorney was winning a big trial that required me to be away from Goofball and Tornado (then 4 and 2 years old) for more than a week.  Excitement in the courtroom was tempered with guilt while singing lullabies over the phone from my hotel room.

 

You should know that lawyers don’t all make three figures.  My salary definitely does not have that many numbers.  In addition, I am guilty of falling into that trap of feeling the need to “dress the part” during the first few years of my career.  Nice suits and shoes were a contributing factor to our debt problem.

 

There was a point when I was working towards becoming a partner at my firm.  The promotion would have meant more money that we could apply towards debt, and then investments to support early semi-retirement.  Over time and with the addition of more children to our family, it became clear that I had to revise my expectations about the future in order to find balance and happiness.

 

Why I am revealing this now?

 

This reason behind this reveal (as the title of this post suggests) is that I’m leaving my firm and switching to a less-traditional attorney position.  I’m walking away from trials and giving up eight years of tenure (minus four maternity leaves) that could be used towards obtaining the big promotion coveted by young attorneys.  It’s a huge leap right off of the “partnership track.”

 

Instead, I’m entering into a type of long-distance employment arrangement.  There is an out-of-town firm that needs someone to handle court appearances in my neck of the woods, with some working from home.  It will involve less hours and my take-home pay should actually increase.  Commuting time will count towards my work hours.  There will be no more sitting in an office, doing work that could be done elsewhere, just because it’s standard business hours.  Most importantly, this job should be less stressful and I will have more flexibility to spend time with my family.

 

It was difficult to make the decision to walk away from my career and the people I’ve worked with for the past eight years, but I was really only planning on being there for a little while longer.  This new job is a great opportunity and a near-perfect fit for our current needs.  There is much less potential for long-term advancement, but I never wanted to grow old as a partner in a law firm anyways.  The goals are paying off debt and funding our semi-retirement, not status or titles.

 

Are you surprised?  Go ahead and ask me your questions  😀  

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Oohhh, a trial attorney, how exciting! Congrats on being able to find a gig with more take home pay, better work life balance and still in your field. That’s impressive, good job!

    I know when Mrs. SSC left her career to teach it was a huge reduction in pay, but that wasn’t our focus at the time. We’d gotten to a savings point that we had options to be able to make that move if it came along. It has been wonderful on so many levels for our family.

    I hope you get the same benefits we’ve found with your new gig. In my current company, I’ve started talking back any team lead types of positions. I’ve ben pushing the last few years for a leadership spot because it was something I wanted to do before I left this career. Now, I don’t want the hassle, responisbility, or anything that goes along with that role, so I’ve let everyone know – Technical track for me, thanks! 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…I Found My Tribe! FinCon 2017My Profile

    1. Thanks! I have high hopes that this new gig will be just what our family needs right now. My colleagues seem to understand the family aspect – I do have five kids after all – but they all kind of assume that I will want to come back and get back on that partnership track at some point. This new opportunity will allow me to continue doing some of the same work, which would keep my options open for the future. They just seem to be so obsessed with status, I think it’s hard for them to consider that maybe I don’t want all of those responsibilities . . . ever.

  2. My dad and brother are both trial attorneys, so I understand how stressful and time consuming that can be. He had a knack for getting assigned a lot of pro bono capital cases when he was younger, and I think he was really happy when he got old enough to opt out.

    Now that he’s only doing civil law, my dad loves it so that he’s still going strong at 77. He’ll still tell me how tired he is when he’s got a big trial or deposition coming up, and still ends up driving across the state and flying all over for his work. My brother, on the other hand, got happier when he went from associate lawyer to his own practice, but the financial and workload struggle of being a one-man shop gets to him.

    So I certainly understand what you’re doing and applaud you for it. Getting a more flexible and more lucrative job in exchange for giving up the life-encompassing partner track sounds like a good deal to me.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…State of the Blog: October 2017My Profile

    1. Hi Emily. I remember reading about your dad and/or brother before on your site, and wanting so bad to chime in. I definitely wish that I had spent more time with lawyers before going off to law school – there’s a reason why this career has some of the the highest rates for depression, suicide, and divorce.

      I’m impressed that your dad is still going strong at 77! I don’t hear of many lawyers actually retiring – they all kind of dabble in it as long as possible. It’s something I want to explore in a future post.

      Thanks for the well wishes <3

  3. Good luck. It seemed that once you decided to jump off the partnership track, you knew it was time to leave. From what I’ve heard, you’re either working toward partner or have become a partner in a firm like that.

    Either way it sounds like you’re excited and will definitely be given some new challenges. Thanks for sharing.
    Money Beagle recently posted…Peak Debt – What Is Your Story?My Profile

    1. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      You’re right – I definitely hit a point when I realized that being a partner just wasn’t a priority. This reveal has certainly given me ideas for a bunch more blog posts.

  4. That’s terrific to see another attorney in the personal finance world. It’s funny, Biglaw Investor and I both try to advertise the fact that we’re attorneys, but when I was at FinCon, I met so many other bloggers that are attorneys too, but seem to hide that fact.

    I also recently made a job change, switching to a non-traditional legal career after 4 years of litigating (3 years in Biglaw, then 1 year in govt). There’s an entire world of non-traditional legal work that I’m just discovering.

    1. Hi there fellow counselor 🙂

      I recently searched the Rockstar Finance Directory for attorneys and was surprised about the number of them.

      Congrats on your own switch. I assumed for too long that there weren’t many other options – at least ones with decent pay. It’s a good thing I kept digging!

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