025 Risa Weaver-Enion: Former Lawyer Turned Wedding Planner

This week I’m sharing my conversation with Risa Weaver-Enion. Risa graduated from Duke Law School and worked a handful of jobs in the legal profession while she and her husband moved around the country for his job.

Then, Risa started her own event planning company as a side hustle. In 2017, she transitioned to running her business full-time. 

I’m so excited for you to hear this story and all about Risa’s transitions throughout it. So, without further ado, let’s get right into my conversation with Risa Weaver-Enion.

Risa’s Decision To Pursue Law 

Half-jokingly, Risa said her decision to go to law school was made out of spite. She never really considered the legal profession. The only thing that she ever wanted to be was a doctor. 

However,  Risa realized that she didn’t like the premed classes she was taking. So, she had to think of something else. She decided to enroll in some legal courses but she hated both of them. 

Still unsure about the future, Risa spent her 20s working and having fun. She ended up working as an executive assistant for a real estate development company, where she stayed for 6 years. But by 2005, Risa wanted more from her life. 

She was in a relationship with a coworker at the time. They had a plan to get new jobs and move to Virginia. But their employer ended up talking Risa’s boyfriend out of leaving. Risa, however, was ready to leave, so she resigned. 

After a couple of days of silence, Risa’s boyfriend sent her a letter via FedEx to break up with her. He was going to India to work for the company she had just resigned from. 

Risa didn’t know what to do next. She remembered that her now ex-boyfriend had recommended law school as a good fit for her. So, she decided to take that advice and bought a prep book for the LSATs. She studied hard and eventually passed, which began her journey in the legal profession. 

Risa’s Journey In The Legal Profession

In 2007, Risa started her journey in the legal profession by attending Duke. When school started, Risa hated it right away. She seriously considered leaving after her first semester, but she couldn’t just bring herself to quit. So, she stuck it out and did her very best. She met her now-husband in law school too. By her second year, things were much better. 

During that summer, Risa worked at an entertainment practice in L.A. Even though she did well and the firm liked her, she didn’t enjoy her time. She started to question her decision to pursue the legal profession again. 

She decided to stay for the whole 6 weeks. She received an offer by the end, but it was for general litigation, which Risa was not interested in. So, she declined. 

Working In The Legal Profession

Risa graduated from law school, and she and her now-husband decided to register for the California Bar Exam since they planned to move to California. They both passed and Risa’s husband got an offer from UCLA. 

Later, Risa also got a job at UCLA  in environmental regulatory compliance. While it was interesting, it wasn’t what she wanted to be doing. However, Risa gained a lot of experience in this position. 

Three years later, Risa’s boyfriend proposed, and they began planning their wedding. He also had accepted a clerkship with a judge on the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. So right after they got married, they made the move to DC. 

Finding Event Planning As An Alternative Career

After moving to DC, Risa was left unemployed. There was too much involved in getting her license to practice in a different state, so she applied for different jobs that didn’t require one. However, she was unsuccessful. Then, Risa decided to reevaluate her career options.  

Her husband suggested event planning as an alternative career. Risa agreed, being passionate and experienced in weddings and event planning. She applied for different event planning positions, but they all required years of professional experience she didn’t have yet.

This prompted Risa to start an event planning business of her own. Being very risk-averse, she didn’t want to jump in head-first. She reached out to local event planners and interned for a while. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and saw herself being confident in event planning. 

Balancing The Legal Profession And Event Planning

While getting ready to launch her event planning company, Risa James Events, a job fell into my lap at a law firm. By this time, her husband’s clerkship was over and he was working at a boutique litigation firm. They desperately needed a new paralegal and Risa was recommended.

The money was really good and it was intellectual property, so Risa decided to take the job and launch her event planning business at the same time. By the second year, business was booming.

But by the end of 2016, Risa and her husband wanted to back to California. She stopped accepting clients even though they didn’t know when they were moving yet. Her husband got a job in Sacramento, so they moved. 

Risa booked her first Sacramento client just a couple of weeks after moving. Luckily, it was easy to transition her business from DC to Sacramento by advertising on WeddingWire. She was able to book several more weddings that year. 

With her husband’s encouragement, Risa decided to go full-time with her event planning business. While Risa had a bit of hesitation about leaving the legal profession, she realized that if she really wanted, she could reactivate her California license. But, she just doesn’t want to. 

Advice For Those Looking To Leave The Law

If you’re looking to get out of the legal profession, Risa has some valuable advice. First, as many of my guests have suggested, do some soul searching. Examine yourself and figure out what you love. Do you have a passion? Can you cultivate it? Is there something you can do to explore and cultivate your passion while you’re still working in the legal profession? 

A lot of attorneys work too much and get brain dead and burnt out. Take your vacation. If you don’t go anywhere, that’s fine. Just take time off, relax and think about what you want out of life.

If you don’t want to be a lawyer anymore, it’s okay. Nobody’s going to make your stay in the legal profession. You have the freedom to make your own choices. Your law school education and your legal experience will benefit you in some way, no matter what you end up doing next.

And if you need help finding that next step, I highly suggest you join Former Lawyer. Here, you can get access to the support and resources you need to finally leave the legal profession and find an alternative career.

Connect With Risa