What Else Can You Do With Your J.D.?

Life After Law is a blog about alternative careers for lawyers, and a launchpad for Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have, to be published in September 2013 by Bibliomotion.  We discuss what you can do with a law degree aside from traditional big-firm practice.  Are you sitting in your fancy office, trying to figure out what else is out there?  Are you still in or considering law school, and not sure whether you’ll enjoy what you do when you graduate?  Have you already made the leap from your old practice to something more interesting?  What do you think are the joys and challenges of finding nontraditional work after law school?  I want to hear all of your stories.

My story is this: After Harvard College and Harvard Law School, I spent twelve years working my way up in large law firms, ultimately making partnership in a well-known international firm.  I was a litigator, focusing on intellectual property and working on all kinds of commercial law cases.  I slept with my Blackberry, but not exclusively.  I earned a ridiculous salary and felt outwardly successful, but I struggled constantly with the question of whether I was on the right path.  Part of the struggle was whether it was foolish to even consider happiness as a personal goal, when it seemed to me that so few people were genuinely happy at work.  I was lucky, I felt, to have a high-paying, high-status job that I finally believed I could do well and to have clients that I liked.  Eventually, the change I was experiencing inside manifested itself outside.  After I gave birth to my daughter in 2008, I left my partnership – with no real plan other than to spend time with my adorable child.  In retrospect, this might not have been the best planned exit: leaving a lucrative job in a recession, a month before my husband was to be RIFfed at his – but it was the best risk I ever took.

Fast forward to now: I am the Executive Director in Boston of Golden Seeds, the third most active angel investor network in the country.  I teach advanced business law at Bentley University to undergraduates and MBA students.  Because both are part-time jobs, I spend at least one weekday with my daughter.   I take every opportunity I get to mentor people who are considering a change in their legal career.  My dream is to share the principles and practices that led me here, and to help everyone who thinks there might be more to life that a law practice that saps their soul.  Because there absolutely is.

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