I’ve announced it on facebook, so it’s out there in the world, I’m switching jobs. I’m leaving a flexible in-house counsel job to go to one of the most recognized Ivy League institution in the world. It’s a big change on many levels. For starters, it puts us in a more difficult situation financially and creates challenges for us child care wise (for now). It will alter my commute from 6 minutes to 50 minutes each way. It puts some stress on us to move at some point in the not-too-distant future, which is something we cannot even contemplate right now.
And yet when I’ve been telling my co-workers and business people over the last two weeks, every single person says, “Wow! Great for you! I totally know why you’re leaving our company and going to X!”
I’m excited, nervous and just feel like I’m nuts. But right now, it’s not all of the scheduling and juggling of resources, time and money that I’m dwelling on mostly. It’s that, after over 11 years, I’m going to drop the “ATTORNEY” or “ESQUIRE” title from my signature line. I’m going to cease being a lawyer.
This isn’t an hugely newsworthy event but it’s a very real switch for me because I’m changed my career identity. My career identity is something I’ve worked so hard at and spent so much on education for, it’s hard to just walk away from that title.
Since 2003, I’ve been a “lawyer”. It’s a title that I am sometimes shy about and sometimes proud of due to the work I put into it. I did fairly well in law school and passed the NY and CT bars. I’m proud of those accomplishments, dammit. But, I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my legal career just feeling like “ugh, this isn’t me.”
This summer, I had some soul searching and thought about 2 potential choices:
(1) take on this same corporate lawyer role at a company that pays me substantially more to compensate for my level of time and stress, or
(2) make this salary and do something more rewarding.
Having to support a family makes #1 the smartest choice, doesn’t it? But I knew that #2 would be the right direction for me. For the first time in my career, I’m more excited to answer question, “what do you do?”
During the interview process, I was asked several times “you won’t be able to use your Esq., you aren’t a lawyer in this job, are you okay with that?”
Without hesitation, my answer was “absolutely.”
My new job is not sexy. It’s small behind-the-scenes, no frills, no attention work that helps makes something incredible happen. I’ll be providing better long-term benefits for my family, college tuition help (that’s huge), great medical coverage, fascinating work and supporting a great institution. But I won’t be a lawyer anymore.
I’m realizing every day, more and more, that I’m really totally okay with that.