Simple But Not Easy: Finding A Post-Legal Career [TFLP152]

In the latest episode of the Former Lawyer, Sarah takes a break from interviewing former lawyers to talk about a realization that many of her clients have when they start the process of finding a post-legal career.  

Something can be simple and still not be easy. While these two words are often used synonymously, they aren’t the same. Not in the case of the process of leaving the law.

Figuring out what you really want to do is quite difficult. And while there are things that can help make the process easier for you, that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to find the best post-legal career option. Keep reading to learn what WILL make it a little simple. 

Finding a Post-Legal Career Is Not Easy

After leaving the law and searching for a post-legal career, people tend to realize somewhere along the way, “Oh, I thought this was going to be a lot easier than it actually is.”

It’s easy as a lawyer to feel that if you decide to do something, you should be able to figure it out quickly. And if that doesn’t happen, you’re doing something wrong. But that’s not true. If finding a post-legal career doesn’t happen easily or quickly, it’s not because you’re doing something wrong. It’s because it just doesn’t happen that way. 

Finding the right post-legal career is not easy or quick. The work needed for self-discovery and knowing those next steps is not easy work.

That’s a big part of why Sarah created Former Lawyer and all of its programs. That’s why the podcast was launched. So you know this is a worthwhile process, and it can be surprisingly difficult, especially for people who are used to getting everything right.

Simple Versus Easy

Often, we confuse something simple for being easy. As an example, we’ll look at the Framework inside of the Former Lawyer’s Collaborative, 

The framework is simple. It’s five steps.  There’s a free masterclass called The Simple 5-Step Framework to Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actually Like!), where Sarah talks through the framework and some details of each of those steps. 

But here’s the thing. Simple is not the same as easy. Often, we think that something simple should also be easy. That often gets in the way of finding a post-legal career. 

You feel like you should be able to figure it out, and it should all be easy. It traps you into thinking that figuring out what you want to do happens at the drop of a hat and should feel easy. That alone can stop you from doing the work needed to actually find it. 

One of Sarah’s clients recently spoke about how helpful the different exercises in the framework were. They specifically mentioned that a lot of what I recommend is something that no one would otherwise think to do. 

Even if you’re a very self-reflective person, it can be hard to know exactly where to start when you’re trying to answer difficult questions about who you are. These are really difficult questions for many lawyers to answer.

Just Because It’s Simple, That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy

This myth that because something is simple, it should also be easy creates a situation where you automatically think something is wrong with you if you can’t find a post-legal career easily. 

Lawyers who work through this process on their own find it difficult and run into barriers. They’ll have questions that they can’t figure out the answer to, and they think, “Oh, this is difficult. I must be doing something wrong.”

It’s very normal for the process of finding a post-legal career to take time. It’s also normal to run into questions that you don’t immediately have the answer to. 

Working through a difficult process like this is much easier when you have help and support, you know what direction to go next. When you have an existential crisis, and you need to talk it out with someone, you need some encouragement or some advice, it’s all right there for you. 

Things That Are Worth Doing Are Often Challenging

The reality is that finding a post-legal career takes time, and it’s hard. But, it’s also worth doing, and it’s totally possible. It truly is simple. It’s just not easy. Understand that when they’re thinking about working with me or going through this process in general. 

Former Lawyer won’t represent that it’s going to be easy. Because the reality is that the self-reflection you need to do to have success in this process is going to be challenging. That’s one of the many reasons Sarah always recommends working with a therapist. They can help you work through some of these things.

Then, you can get that career support from Former Lawyer, whether it’s working with Sarah 1:1, the Collab, or the Guided Track. Support is part of what makes it possible to tackle this challenging process and get a successful outcome.

Get A Simpler Way To Work Your Way Out Of The Law With The Guided Track

Remember that though it’s not easy, finding a great post-legal career is simple. It is possible to figure out what you really want to do. And, you’re not the only lawyer out there who doesn’t know where to start. There are many lawyers like you, including people who have come on the podcast and all my clients. 

If you would like some personalized support, Former Lawyers has a Guided Track coming up in a couple of weeks. The Guided Track is a live 10-week intensive for a small group of lawyers who want to jumpstart their search for a post-legal career. 

The Guided Track builds on the curriculum of The Former Lawyer Collaborative and adds this experience of a small group that you meet with, along with Sarah, for 10 weeks. During the weekly calls, you get coaching as you move through The Former Lawyer Framework, the curriculum that forms the backbone of the Collab and Sarah’s work with her one-on-one clients.

The next session of the Guided Track is kicking off this fall. The orientation call is going to be on September 13th. There are nine spots available, so you’ll want to jump on that ASAP to reserve your spot

If you’ve thought about working with Sarah, you want more support than what you get in the self-paced collaborative, but you don’t want full-blown one-on-one coaching, the Guided Track is a perfect opportunity for you. If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out. You can email Sarah at [email protected].

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Hi, and welcome to The Former Lawyer Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Cottrell. I practiced law for 10 years and now I help unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs. On this show, I share advice and strategies for aspiring former lawyers, and interviews with former lawyers who have left the law behind to find careers and lives that they love.

Today, I want to talk about a realization that many, many, many, most of my clients have as we're working together to help them figure out what it is that they want to do that isn't practicing law. At first glance, you might think like, “Sarah, why are you telling me this? This is not encouraging. Is this really the best thing for you to be telling people who might be considering working with you?” But I really think it's so important for you to know.

Here is what I want you to know. This happens all the time. It just happened again, the week that I am recording this was we had a call for the summer Guided Track and one of the conversations that we had last night was all about how the process of figuring out what it is that you really want to do is actually quite difficult.

People tend to have a realization somewhere along the way, “Oh, I thought this was going to be a lot easier than it actually is.” Either people will say, “I thought this was going to be easier” or “This is actually really hard.” I want to talk to you about this because of a couple of things. One, I want you to know that this is the reality. I think it's so easy for us as lawyers to feel like, “Well, if I decide I want to do something, I should be able to figure it out quick. If I'm not doing that, that is because I'm doing something wrong.”

The reality is that none of my clients, none of the people who I talk to on the podcast when they talk about this being a challenge and this being a process, none of them were doing anything wrong. It's just the work that you need to do to truly know yourself and to know what is really going to be the next-best thing for you is not easy work.

That's a big part of why I've created the programs that I have created. This is why I do the work that I do. This is why I put the podcast out into the world so that you can know, “Hey, this is a worthwhile process. This is something that's going to get you where you want to go, and also it can be surprisingly difficult, especially for people who are used to getting the gold stars, getting the A pluses, doing all the things.

I am super excited to let you know that I am bringing back the Guided Track this fall. The Guided Track is a live 10-week small-group intensive for lawyers who want to jumpstart their search for an alternative career. As you know, I have a group program called The Former Lawyer Collaborative which is self-paced that you can join at any time. But the Guided Track is a little different. It builds on the curriculum with The Former Lawyer Collaborative and adds on to it this experience of a small group that you meet with, with me for 10 weeks, where you can get weekly coaching as you move through The Former Lawyer Collaborative which is the curriculum that forms the backbone of both the Collab and the work that I do with all of my clients, including my one-on-one clients.

The next session of the Guided Track is going to be kicking off this fall. The orientation call is going to be on September 13th, and then it's going to run through November 22nd. Tuesday evenings at 8:00 PM, Eastern. There are nine spots available. This is a small-group experience where you're going to be able to get a lot of personal feedback from me. That's why I capped the number of people who can enroll.

What is involved in the Guided Track? You have a week-by-week Guided Track action plan, which is designed to take you through the framework in 10 weeks. We'll have weekly coaching calls. Typically, they're about an hour and a half, starting at 8:00 PM on Tuesdays where we can check in on your progress that week, the questions that have come up, the issues that are arising.

Also, as part of the Guided Track, I will be bringing in a GALLUP Certified Strengths Coach to run a half-day virtual interactive workshop. You will get a free Clifton Strengths Assessment and 34 Report. You will also get custom analytics that elaborate on how your talents drive your motivation. Plus, we'll be doing some hands-on exercises for gaining additional insight into how your strengths relate to your potential career path. That's included when you join the Guided Track.

In addition to that, included in your enrollment in the Guided Track is also membership in The Former Lawyer Collaborative so that you are supported beyond the 10 weeks of the Guided Track. When you enroll in the Guided Track, you get access to the Collaborative immediately.

If you've thought about working with me, you want more support than what you get in the self-paced collaborative but you're not quite wanting to do a full-blown one-on-one coaching package, this is a perfect opportunity for you. Again, there are nine spots available. Go to formerlawyer.com/guidedtrack. I am really excited to kick this off in a couple of weeks. If you have any questions, always feel free to reach out. You can email me at [email protected] Back to the episode.

Another component of that is we often forget or confuse in our minds the idea of something being simple and it being easy. I'm sure you've heard me talk about the framework that I use with my clients to help them figure out what it is that they want to do. The framework is extremely simple. It's five steps. If you haven't yet, I do have a free masterclass where I talk through the framework and some details of each of those steps. You can always sign up for that at formerlawyer.com/masterclass.

The name of that masterclass is The Simple 5-Step Framework to Identify An Alternative Career (That You Actally Like!). The framework itself is simple. Simple, however, is not the same as easy. Often, we think that something that seems simple should be easy. Often, that is something that is getting in our way when we're thinking about wanting to do something else, wanting to leave the law, we feel like we should be able to figure it out and it should be easy.

Which is another reason that I wanted to talk about this because when we fall into this trap of thinking that figuring out what it is that we really want to do should be easy, should feel easy, it often keeps us from doing the work that we actually need to do. This came up again last night in the conversation that we were having. One of my clients was talking about the different exercises that you do as you work through the framework. They were saying that this is super helpful.

One of the things they particularly remarked on was the fact that so many of the things that I recommend that people do in order to figure out what it is that they want to do are just not things that you would otherwise think to do. Even if you're a very self reflective person, it can be hard to know exactly where to start when you're trying to answer some of these difficult questions about who are you, what are your values, what is your personality? What are your strengths? What do you like? What do you dislike?

That's a really, actually a very difficult question for many lawyers because we are so used to thinking that we like things that we're good at. Often, for many of us, we're very good at, or at least competent, at lots of things that we don't really like.

This myth that because something is simple, it should also be easy creates a situation where especially when lawyers are trying to work through this process on their own, they find it difficult, they run into barriers, they have questions that they can't figure out the answer to and they think, “Oh, this is difficult. There must be something wrong. I must be doing something wrong. This is taking time, this is taking a long time. I must be doing something wrong.”

The reality is that it's very normal for it to take time. It's very normal for you to run into questions that you don't immediately have the answer to. Again, this is why I have created the programs that I have because working through a process that is difficult is so much easier when you have help and support, when you know what direction you should be going next, when you have an existential crisis and you need to talk it out with someone, you need some encouragement, you need some advice.

One of the things that we joke about in the Collaborative is if you haven't had at least one existential crisis, are you even part of this program? Are you even doing this process? Because this process is challenging and we want it to be quick and we want it to be easy. Often, to be clear, I am not judging that desire for it to be quick and easy, 100% that was where I was when I was at the law firm and so unhappy because you're just like, “I just want to get out of here. I do not want to be here anymore. I don't want to be doing this. I want to be doing something else,” so you want the solution, the answer to be “quick and easy”.

The reality is that it takes time and it's difficult, but it's also worth doing and it's also possible. It truly is simple, it's just not easy. I just always want to make sure that people understand when they're thinking about working with me or just going through this process in general, working with someone else. I never want to represent that it's just going to be so very easy. Because the reality is that doing the kind of self reflection that you need to do in order to really have success in this process is going to be challenging.

That's one of the many reasons that I always recommend on the show, in the Collab, with my one-on-one clients, that people work with a therapist who can help them work through some of these things, and then also get the other support that you need.

Whether that's working with me, whether it's in the Collab, whether that's in the Guided Track, whether that's something else entirely, working with someone else, whatever it is, know that getting support is part of what makes it possible to really tackle this challenging process in a way that will result in a successful outcome for you.

Especially as it takes time, as time goes on, having someone, multiple someones, who can encourage you, who can support you, who can help answer questions, connect you with resources, et cetera, is so critical for you as you move through this process.

Remember, even though it's not easy, it is in fact simple. It is possible to figure out what it is that you want to do. You're not the only lawyer out there who is never going to figure it out, or doesn't know where to start. In fact, there are many, many, many lawyers just like you, including people who have come on the podcast, including all of the clients who I've worked with. If you would like some personalized support, we do have a Guided Track coming up in a couple of weeks from when this episode is going to release.

The Guided Track has capped this round at nine participants so go to formerlawyer.com/guidedtrack to see more information about that if you're interested. Otherwise, thanks so much for listening. I will talk to you next week.

Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven't yet, I invite you to download my free guide: First Steps to Leaving the Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.