Lawyer Brain, The Lawyer Bubble, And Other People’s Opinions [TFLP 074]

Lawyer Brain, the Lawyer Bubble, and Other People’s Opinions. There are a lot of different obstacles that you may be running into as you consider leaving legal practice, but these three are so common that I call them the Trifecta of Lawyer Doom.

The Trifecta of Lawyer Doom

(Admittedly that’s a bit hyperbolic. 😂) But let’s talk about each of these so you understand what I’m getting at.

Lawyer Brain

First, there’s what I call Lawyer Brain.

Lawyer Brain is the way that your brain has been trained to think about your career and who you are as a person after marinating for years in the toxic brew of various risk-averse, prestige-obsessed legal environments.

Lawyer Brain focuses on all of the downsides, every worst case scenario, and all of the possible mistakes you might be making—and makes you feel like it’s doing you a favor by stifling protecting you.

The Lawyer Bubble

Second, there’s the Lawyer Bubble.

The Lawyer Bubble is what happens when you spend all or most of your time around lawyers.

Between the lawyers you work with and your friends from law school, you’re surrounded by people who tend to all look at jobs and careers more or less the same way. It’s very easy to believe that perspective is simply reality, and the way that all motivated and successful people approach their careers.

(Spoiler: it’s not, but the Lawyer Bubble makes you think it is.)

Other People’s Opinions

The third major obstacle that forms the Trifecta of Lawyer Doom is OPO—Other People’s Opinions.

Even if you manage to wrangle your Lawyer Brain and find a way to get outside of the Lawyer Bubble, Other People’s Opinions are standing there, ready to shove you right back in.

You know that some number of people are going to judge you for diverting from the lawyer career path—believing that you’ve wasted your time, you couldn’t hack it, and/or you’ve made a huge mistake.

You also know that you’ll be giving up the easy prestige of telling new acquaintances that you’re a lawyer.

Your risk-averse Lawyer Brain says, “No! Abort mission!”

That’s why I call these three obstacles the Trifecta of Lawyer Doom. One feeds into the other, which feed into the other, and back to the first. It’s a cul-de-sac of anxiety and shame that prevents you from moving forward.

Vanquishing The Trifecta

So… how do you defeat the Trifecta?

It’s simple (though not easy):

  • Find people who understand what it’s like to have Lawyer Brain, and can help you recognize when your Lawyer Brain is getting in your way;
  • Get outside of the Lawyer Bubble and remind yourself that the world is a huge and wonderful place where most people DGAF what a T14 law school is; and
  • Accept that there are always going to be people who have opinions about what you’re doing and you will always care at least a little bit about what at least some people think. Focus your energy on figuring out what YOU think and what YOUR values are.

You got this.

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