Starting on Monday, I’ll be working at a social media marketing agency.
In a non-legal capacity.
After 7 years of legal work, I’m branching out and moving into a new arena.
The full impact of the last three sentences hasn’t really hit me and settled yet. I started the process of making this move over 7 months ago (and have been thinking about it for a good deal longer), but the immediacy of it is really only hitting me now that it’s real.
I can’t really capture in words how excited I am. If you’re reading this blog and if you know me at all, you know that I’m fascinated by and unbelievably interested in how the Internet is affecting us and changing how we connect with each other. Now, I get the opportunity to work in that field every day. It’s amazing.
At a fundamental level, I’m not sure if I ever had that sort of passion or enthusiasm for the law. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed lots of the components of being a lawyer. But I don’t think that liking those components added up to liking the job of being a lawyer. Antitrust law is unique in that you immerse yourself in the business of your client so that you can figure out their market and how their business operates. Reading through documents, I found myself wanting to be on the other side of things – to be working at a company, helping to build things. Law is reactive. I wanted to be active. This was an incredibly tough decision. Walking away from something that you’ve dedicated a large part of your life to is never easy. But when you know, you know. And it only gets harder the longer you wait. Plus, I’m not thinking of this as shutting the door on anything. I’ll always still have my J.D. and be a member of the bar, so maybe I’ll find a way to combine these pursuits that make up my life.
But I wouldn’t trade the last 7 years for anything. Law school was great. It gave me a chance to figure out how I think. And it taught me that process never really ends. More importantly, it taught me to think critically about situations that I face and that asking questions is the best way to get to a solution. Practicing the law, though it isn’t for me, has also taught me a lot. It’s taught me how to work under pressure. How to work for demanding individuals. How to handle a flood of information. It’s taught me that the most important thing you can do at any job (and maybe in life also) is to do your best to make things easier for other people. It taught me how to do real “lawyer” things, like take a deposition (easily one of the most fun/nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done) and help write a summary judgment brief. It’s taught me not to be intimidated and to feel comfortable finding and using my voice. It’s given me an unbelievable opportunity to learn about so many things – from the Sherman Act to how many parts of a cow are used by beef processors to how concert deals are put together by promoters. And, of course, without the last 4 years I wouldn’t have met so many great people that have become friends and mentors.
When I was in the early stages of this process, when I did the really tough work about deciding that a move out of the law was right for me, I did a lot of reading. I picked up a book called “How Disruption Brought Order”. Ostensibly, it’s a book about advertising. But it’s really about a way of thinking. There’s a quote in the book from the Steve Jobs’ commencement speech that has been shared a lot recently.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
That had a strong impact on me. It’s not that I was forced into the law or that I did anything unwillingly – it’s that when I fully realized what being a lawyer is on a day to day basis, I realized it wasn’t for me. I went and found the rest of the speech and read it through. And then I found this:
I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
This is the first step along a new path. I’m confident and excited that this will be the right move for me. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. Before I start on it though, I do want to thank everyone that’s been so helpful and supportive along the way. From family and friends who have helped me navigate this process – asking tough questions, being supportive when I really needed it – I can’t thank you enough. To new friends I made through this process, that took the time to get to know me and were generous enough to vouch for me and counsel me – I promise to pay it forward and make good on what you’ve said about me.
So, this is it.
Wish me way more than luck.