Why Entertainment Law Isn’t the Escape You Might Think with Jordan Nahmias [TFLP228]

Today’s podcast episode features a conversation between Sarah and Jordan Nahmias. Jordan used to practice law as an entertainment lawyer and is now a coach and strategist in Toronto, Canada. He talks about his experience and his path out of law. Many people consider exploring this area when thinking about leaving the law.

Background on Jordan’s Entertainment Law Career

Canada is a hotspot for the film and television business. Jordan practiced as an entertainment lawyer for about 12 years. He started out on his own and then became an associate at a boutique shop. Eventually, he opened a firm with a friend. Starting a business is not something they teach in law school, so there were plenty of challenges there in marketing, bookkeeping, and all other aspects of business ownership.

When Jordan started his career in entertainment law, it was for a few reasons. He wanted to start making money quickly and knew he could do that if he were in charge. Being his own boss while connected to the arts felt like a good move. He thought it would give him some time to engage in the other things he was doing then, like running a film festival, practicing photography, creating artwork, and teaching yoga. It seemed like being an entertainment lawyer could be a great part-time job. 

Everything worked until life changed for Jordan. He got married, had kids, and the world changed as well as the nature of the business. It all started being less fun. There was less time for creative outlets, and the artist part of him was no longer able to work. 

Will Entertainment Law Be More Exciting?

When it comes to entertainment law, many lawyers think it might be different from their situation and more enjoyable. It’s a tough space to get into, but it’s popular. Jordan breaks it down into two reasons. One is about the practice itself, and the other is about the person.

Entertainment law is a part of the entertainment industry. The perception is that you will be hanging out with celebrities and working on creative things. People believe they will be reading scripts, talking to agents, and going to movie premieres. There is some truth to that, but you’re still a lawyer. You’re helping your clients sort out problems. 

When it comes to the person interested in entertainment law, the question is, “What is it about you that is drawing you to that practice?” Many people who end up in entertainment law are artists who either can no longer be artists or have not let themselves be artists. Many lawyers thought they needed to go to law school but would have rather done something creative. Entertainment law feels adjacent to creative work.

Jordan mentions Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and her concept of the shadow artist. People often do things that are adjacent to what they really want to do because something is holding them back. He experienced this concept in his life because he always thought he was going to art school. At some point, something happened, and he said to himself that he should take the other path. 

Entertainment law might seem like an interesting option, but at the end of the day, it’s still law. Most of Jordan’s days were spent negotiating, drafting contracts, navigating tax and labor laws, and dealing with all the legal issues that arise with the film and television business. There’s no entertainment law code, either, so finding answers to problems can be time-consuming and involve a lot of research. The language and terminology can also be quite challenging. It took Jordan years to learn all the shorthand and strange terms that came up. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to know that you are still a lawyer and not a creator. You are the person servicing the client, listening to them, and acting as a trusting advisor. Your creative opinion will not be asked for. So, if you’re hoping to be in the creative space, you must know you’ll still be the lawyer. You’ll help to determine whether you can show a certain logo or say something on TV, but if you want more creative input, you’d be better off being a producer or getting back into the creative field.

Digging Deeper is the First Step

Sarah sees many clients who change careers within the law, like becoming in-house lawyers, but at the end of the day, they are still lawyers. When people think that switching to entertainment law will be a fun and exciting change, it’s important to step back and ask some more questions.

Both Jordan and Sarah work with their clients to ask more questions and understand the motivation behind the decisions in any changes. Often, the thing drawing people to a different niche has nothing to do with the practice itself. Instead, it has more to do with the fact that they want something other than practicing law. 

Therapy is another fantastic tool for those searching for something different. Having someone ask you the questions that help dig deeper and get underneath the surface can help you find answers before making big life shifts. 

Jordan points out that law is an incredibly uncomfortable position regarding the volume of work and how difficult the work is mentally. But those are the same things you need to do in order to understand yourself better, and for some reason, it can seem even more challenging to put the energy into it. 

The things that lawyers are excellent at are the same things that are terrible for lawyers as people. Sarah has said before that she was excellent at being a lawyer, and being a lawyer was terrible for her. Lawyers are always turning off emotions and looking for issues. So, when the time comes to tune into emotions and just be with thoughts, it’s extremely challenging for lawyers. 

Leaving Entertainment Law Was a Way Back to Art

Jordan had a reckoning which led to his experience of leaving the law. He likens it to a snake shedding skin. It’s uncomfortable and continues to be a very, very hard process. From the outside, it all looked good, but he noticed he had made no art in a long time. He knew that he was critical to the team and was working to keep things afloat nonstop, but at a point, a shift happened, and he stopped feeling that way. He realized that there were plenty of guys that could do his job. 

When looking at his daughter, Jordan knew that at some point in life, he would need to explain work and how to find meaningful work. He didn’t think this could be a genuine conversation with his current situation. He felt distracted as a husband, a father, and a friend. It was an existential thing, and it was definitely time to make a change. 

Jordan’s process is ongoing. He’s had a therapist for a long time now. She helped him say out loud that his identity is that of an artist, and he’s still working on fully accepting that. In addition, he stepped back and looked at what gave him the feeling of satisfaction, and he has always taken a lot from helping people. 

Once Jordan figured that out, he started researching therapeutic training, psychotherapy programs, and coaching programs. After considering his family and the time and cost of the options, he went with the coaching certification program. He learned what kind of work it takes to be with people differently. In some ways, it’s harder than being a lawyer, but it’s incredibly fulfilling.

Sarah asked Jordan if his art had found a way back into his life. He explained a concept from David Whyte’s book The Three Marriages: Life is about three marriages—the one between you and yourself, your relationship with a special person, and your relationship with work. Those three things are fundamentally what life is all about. Jordan has gotten much better at making time for his art. He’s found more space in his life since leaving the law, and still struggles with the options and uncertainty of how to spend his time. 

Jordan’s Final Advice

If anyone is considering leaving the law, shifting practice areas, or engaging more fully with art, life, beauty, or relationships, you can do it. It will be uncomfortable, but you have to move through the discomfort. On the other side of it, you’ll find so much greatness. If you want to connect with Jordan, visit his website or reach out on LinkedIn. Make sure to download the free guide, First Steps to Leaving the Law.

Sarah Cottrell: 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 on the podcast, I'm sharing my conversation with Jordan Nahmias. I asked Jordan to come on the podcast because he used to practice law as an entertainment lawyer. By far, one of the number one and a few areas of law that people think of or tell me they're thinking about when they're pretty sure they want to leave law, but they maybe want to consider one more area, entertainment law is one of the top options.

So I wanted to have Jordan on because he was an entertainment lawyer and can talk about what it was like and all of the things that I think are helpful to know if you're someone who is thinking about becoming a former lawyer but also is interested in entertainment law. So, without further ado, here is Jordan talking about his path out of law as an entertainment lawyer.

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Hey, Jordan. Welcome to the Former Lawyer Podcast.

Jordan Nahmias: Thank you. Good to be here.

Sarah Cottrell: Let's get started with you introducing yourself to the listeners, and then we'll go from there.

Jordan Nahmias: Sure. My name is Jordan Nahmias. I am a coach and strategist in Toronto, Canada. I used to practice law. It's been a couple of years since I left practice. I was an entertainment lawyer, so I worked primarily in the film and television business here in Canada.

Canada has a fairly robust film and television business, and I did that for about 12 years or so. I started on my own, although on my own really depends what you mean by that. I had a lot of help, of course, and a lot of luck. But the first incarnation of my legal practice after I finished my articles was as a solo practitioner and then from there, I became an associate at a boutique shop and then that didn't work out, and then a friend of mine and I who were both working at this boutique decided to go out on our own and we set up a shop.

That was called Goldenberg Nahmias. It's no longer called that because when I left the practice, Daniel took the practice with them so now I think it's just called Goldenberg & Co. But yeah, it was a very interesting journey through the world of setting up a firm, learning how to be a lawyer, and what that really means, which is not really something they teach you in law school, at least when I went to law school, and then understanding how to run a business, how to get clients, and how to do accounting and bookkeeping, and how to really be of service in an industry that is not like other industries.

I don't want to say there's more or less ego, the construction industry for instance has a lot of ego, but there are just different things to consider and when you're dealing with creative people and when you're working with creative people, and I count myself as a creative person, there's a lot of things that are going on that really have nothing to do with business.

It's about personality, it's about emotions, it's about art, it's about love. I liked working in that world until I didn't and life changed and work changed. I took a little bit of time off and then decided that I still liked helping people and I still cared about helping people make meaningful things happen.

But I thought that working with people in a way that could help them navigate life transitions, particularly around career, tends to manifest in all sorts of other different ways, I thought that would fill my cup a little better and a little differently. That's where I'm at. I'm always learning. Who knows what's next, but this is the phase I'm in now.

Sarah Cottrell: Okay, so many things from what you just said that I want to talk about. So the listeners know, so Jordan and I were connected by a mutual friend who was also on the podcast, Kara Hardin, which if you haven't listened to her episode, I highly recommend that you go back and listen to it.

She is one of the first lawyers turned therapists that I've had on the podcast. I've now had quite a few because that's a career that many, many, many lawyers consider. But one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on Jordan after we talked, and I know you and I have spoken about this before, but entertainment law is one of the few practice areas that when I talk to lawyers who think they want to leave law but they're not sure, a lot of people have one of a couple areas that they're like, “But maybe if I got into this type of law, I would feel differently about being a lawyer.”

Entertainment law is one of those. It's a bit of a challenge because it is a difficult area to get into. Then, well, I have lots of other thoughts about that. We're going to start with this. First, do you have a sense of why so many people are interested in entertainment law, even if they haven't necessarily done anything in that practice area previously?

Jordan Nahmias: Oh, I have all sorts of thoughts. Some drawn from my own life and career and some from having spoken to, I don't know, how many young lawyers who said they wanted to be entertainment lawyers.

I think it stems down to or draws down to two things. One is about the practice area and one is about the person seeking the practice area. Let's talk about the practice area first. It looks fun. You're in the movie business and you're going to hobnob with celebrities, you're going to be going to set, and you're going to be working on creative things. You're going to be reading scripts and talking to agents and producers and you're going to be going to movie premieres.

I can go on. But that's the perception. I'm not bursting any bubbles here because anybody who takes 10 minutes to speak to an entertainment lawyer is going to know that it's still law. There's going to be a little bit of that. I would be lying if I said I didn't meet one celebrity or I didn't go to premieres.

I got invited to my client's premieres, and that was always very nice. But is that what my calling was as an entertainment lawyer? No, my clients are calling me to sort out problems. They were problems that largely my clients didn't want to sort out themselves. That's law. I mean you get paid to fix a problem and the problems in the film business are certainly interesting. They're very multifaceted so you do become a bit of a jack of all trades.

But that's not what I thought when I went into entertainment law. When I went into it, I was very much like the young guy or gal who knocked on my door when I was 10 years out being like, “How do I join you? How do I do this? How do I get in?” So there is a bit of this romanticization, if that's a word, around the practice area.

But I think it also really is related to the person seeking the practice area. I think that is a bigger question. That's actually, frankly, the question I'm more interested in, which is, “Well, what is it about you that is drawing you to the practice?”

I think for many folks who end up in entertainment law, they are either artists who can no longer be Artists, and I'm using artists capital A artists, so it's broad, or they are artists who have not let themselves be artists, and they think that the best way to do it is through the side.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I think especially that second type is I see with lawyers all the time people who went to law school because they thought that they should when they were actually more interested in something that shall we say was more creative.

I mean, one of the top three things that people talk about when they're talking about wanting to leave is that they want to be able to be more creative. So I think it makes total sense to me that for many people, part of the draw is, “Well, I'm not getting to do the creative thing, but maybe I can be adjacent to the creative thing.”

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, but she has this really amazing concept, which is the shadow artist. You end up doing the thing that is adjacent to the thing you really want to do, because something, and we could unpack that, but something is holding you back from actually doing the thing you really want to do.

I can speak in my own life, I always thought I was going to go to art school, honestly. At some point, something must have happened where I said to myself, “Nope, that's not what you should do. You should take the other path,” which in many ways is harder, but it's also easier in many ways. I feel like that's a common thing.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. It's interesting because I was just interviewing someone else for the podcast recently and they said something about the saying that lawyers are failed actors or something like that, which was so interesting to me because I was not someone who necessarily thought I wanted to go to law school from the beginning of time, but I was definitely a theater kid in high school and very much was like, “Oh, acting,” and was definitely discouraged away from that as a potential career path.

So I think that is often the case. Here's why I think this is so important for people to hear. It makes sense, for all of the reasons that we're talking about, why so many lawyers might think, “Oh, maybe entertainment law will be a better fit or at least better than whatever they're doing.” But I think, what did you say? It's still law.

Jordan Nahmias: It's still law. Yeah.

Sarah Cottrell: Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah, sure. It's still law in the sense of both the career path and the work. I had a highly unconventional career path, and maybe I'm not the best to comment on that. The work is still legal work. Most of my days were spent negotiating and drafting contracts, really a ton of contracts, working on financing, navigating tax law, regulatory law, labor law, and all of these things that touch the legal issues that come up in the film and television business.

My former partner used to always say, and I think this was fairly apt, “There's no entertainment law code.” It's not the income tax act, you open up the act and you see, “Okay, that's my answer.” Then you look at some case law and you have some new ones.

With the film business, it's not like that. You have to really spend a lot of time understanding multiple areas of law that touch on all the things that come up in the film business and the television business, and by the way, in different jurisdictions, because the film business is global, but also understanding the language around that because there are tons of shorthand and weird terms that it took me years to understand.

A lot of that wasn't really law. It was the business. I'm trying to think off hand, a BOB. Okay, a Box Office Bonus. There is no reason for anybody to know that. You're not going to learn that in law school. That's just a term of art that at some point is going to come up in your practice.

You're going to not know it the first time somebody drops it in an email in shorthand. Unless you have somebody who's taught you very well. I know I've veered a little bit here, but it's very interesting in that regard but it's still just law.

The reason why it's still just law is fundamentally the role that you play. We can talk about the work until we're blue in the face, but I really do believe that when you're a lawyer, there is a question of identity that comes up. You need to be okay with your identity being the person who is servicing the client, who is listening to the client and being a trusted advisor, and there's a lot of honor in that. Frankly, I think it's an important role to play, but not being the creator.

You are not the writer, you're not the director, and your creative opinion is generally not needed. In my life, it was asked for a handful of times, but it's not important. The creative voice in a film or television show is ultimately between the writer and the director. The producer is going to certainly have input on that as are the financiers. But the lawyer's input is really just like, “Can you say that on TV or can you show that logo?”

Maybe I'm going too deep here but this is where I think if you're a lawyer and you have a creative personality or there is a part of you that is an artist and you want to create but your day-to-day job is to keep telling people, “No, don't create this,” or “No, you can't create this,” then you're probably on the path towards some sort of reckoning.

In my life, that was a big reckoning. Maybe for others, it's less so. A lot of entertainment lawyers end up being producers. The skill set is really similar but you can be a lot more creative as a producer. I mean you get hamstrung by other factors, but that's any career.

I think fundamentally, it comes down to a question of identity and what identity do you really want to embody in your work life? By the way, that's a really hard big question.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah, yeah. It's much easier, and I say this with zero judgment, it's much easier to be like, “Maybe there's another area of law that will be a better fit than this, magically, despite the fact that I can't really envision wanting to be a lawyer,” and that's such a normal human impulse.

This is something that I hear a lot. For example, for my clients who have gone in-house at a company that makes a product that they really like, for example, which it can sound really cool to non-lawyers when you say, “I work for X and such whatever company,” but the reality is that even if you're in-house with a company that makes a product or something that you really like, as a lawyer, you're playing the role that you just described the lawyer plays.

You aren't participating in the creation in the way that I think a lot of people want to be and are trying to get closer to you by making that move. So I think to your point, whether someone's thinking about entertainment law as a potential fix for “I don't like being a lawyer,” or something else, one of the most important questions that you can answer for yourself is “Why? Why do I think entertainment law would be a fix?”

To your point earlier, so often, the thing that is drawing people to that particular niche has nothing to do with that practice itself and has a lot more to do with the fact that they are wanting something that actually isn't practicing law.

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah. The why question, sometimes I'll phrase that with clients, “To what end am I doing this?” Because it tends to get to the nub of sort of, “Okay, I want to be in this practice area, but how does that serve my needs? What hole is that really filling?”

Again, hard question to answer, it takes time. Maybe that answer changes over time. But it's certainly something that I think needs to be reckoned with. Because without that, I think there's a risk of playing into this idea that it's like, “Oh, when I'm doing that thing, then I'll be happy.”

That can only work for so long. I mean, I know how cynical this all sounds. But I think it's important that we can catch ourselves when we're doing that. In my life, just to speak about my own experience, I chose the film, the entertainment practice, because I knew a few things.

Number one, I needed to make a buck. I needed to make a buck fairly quickly. I also knew that I needed to do it in a way that I was in charge. I was never going to go back to get a job at a law firm. I wanted to be my own boss and I was coming from a place of I needed it to be connected to the arts.

Now there was for sure a shadow artist component there, using the term I used earlier, but also, I knew that if I was my own boss, then I would have time to engage in the other things I was doing.

At the time, I was running a film festival, I had a photographic practice, I was selling artwork. I was teaching yoga. I was doing so many things. At best, it was like, “Okay, I'll be an entertainment lawyer part-time.”

That plan worked until it didn't, until I got to a point where the work changed, my life changed. I got married, I had kids, the world changed, the nature of the business changed, and the volume of work and the quality of the work changed. So it started being less fun.

It started leaving less space for the creative outlets that I had originally designed my practice for. That art part of me, that artist part of me was no longer getting served by the work. I mean now, was it ever really served by the work? Probably when I was a little younger and it was okay for me to make more mistakes because that's a fundamental part of being an artist, making mistakes, a ton of mistakes. In law, that's not a thing. Clients pay you to make no mistakes.

Sarah Cottrell: I was going to say it's basically the opposite. It's part of why I think so many lawyers struggle when they think about doing something else because among other things, they've been conditioned to feel like, “I can't make mistakes, I can't experiment, I have to know with 100% certainty that everything that I do is going to come out a particular way.”

That's one of the many, many, many reasons why I talk about therapy on this podcast all the time, because of this and so many of the other things that we've talked about today already, this question of identity, this question of, “What is it that you're really looking for in your work?” for most people is something that is very deep-seated and definitely can benefit from therapy.

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah, or somebody who is asking, whether it's a coach or it's a therapist, or a mentor, somebody who is asking the questions that are getting underneath what the presenting thing is.

There's a certain finesse, it's challenging, it's also very hard for people, I've found, myself and other lawyers I know and clients included, facing that question as a lawyer tends to bring up that voice which is just like, “No, no, no. Don't ask that question. No, no, no. Stay in this very safe place,” because you don't want to be uncomfortable.

It's odd because law is an incredibly uncomfortable profession in terms of the volume of the work, how hard you have to work mentally, how you have to put emotion aside a lot of the time. Yet, those are the exact areas that we actually need to move into in order to better understand ourselves.

Recently, I was speaking to somebody and she said to me, and I've used this since, by the way, so I'm not taking any credit for it, but she said, "The things that lawyers are really good at are the same things that are really bad for lawyers as people."

This just like, “turn off your emotions, be hyper-critical all the time.” Everything is a potential issue because you're always issues spotting. So it becomes very difficult to just be with things, to drop arguments, to tune in and feel your body and your feelings because we're all trained to be incredibly cerebral. That's hard. I mean, that's just hard.

So then when you make a choice to be like, “Oh, whoa, I'm going to either leave law or I'm going to change my path in law,” then all of a sudden, those voices come back and be like, “No, no, no, no, you don't. You don't want to open up this can of worms.”

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah, I tell people I was very good at being a lawyer and being a lawyer was very bad for me. I think the challenge, and you've touched on this already, is that for many of us who became lawyers, we don't really have a category for “I'm good at this thing, and also, maybe it's not what I should be doing.”

I think that's why so many of us have to have, I think you use the term reckoning, have to have a bit of a reckoning in order to move beyond our role as lawyers. Can you talk a little bit about, when you say a reckoning, can you give the listeners an idea of what that means, what that looked like?

Jordan Nahmias: I mean, I can speak only to my own experience. I don't want to say what anybody else's reckoning is or isn't. But yeah, for me, it felt like I was putting aside a question I can put aside no longer. That question or the avoidance of that question manifested in severe anxiety, severe depression.

The only feeling I can liken it to is I was shedding skin. I have to imagine that when a snake sheds skin, it is not comfortable. It was and honestly continues to be a very, very hard process.

Now, I can analyze so I'm blue in the face the reasons why this happened. But I think it was a few things. Number one, it was 10 or 12 years out and I always said I'm going to practice law for a couple of years and before I know it, it's 10 or 12 years out. It's just like, “Wow, how did this happen?”

Particularly when I was good, I was very well respected, we had a great practice, we had very prestigious clients, we were making really good money, frankly, I never built an obscene amount of hours I could take “vacations.” You're always working on vacation, but I could do those things.

I had very good control. I didn't have a Bay Street or Wall Street lifestyle. From the outside, it all looked very good, but that's what even made it harder because my critic voice was saying, “Jordan, you're crazy, you haven't made, why would you leave this?” So that was a big part of it.

I noticed that I had made no art for a very long time. That was even getting me increasingly every day. The work was no longer fulfilling. I didn't really feel like I was being of service anymore. That was actually a very big shift. Because there was a time when I felt like, "Okay, I'm a critical part of this production. They need me. I need them. I'm on a team."

My input, even if it's not "creative input," is still helping get this thing over the finish line. At some point, I just stopped feeling that way. I really just felt like a functionary and felt very much like, "You know what? There's a million guys like me that can do this.”

That might not have been true. That might have been my own hang-up, but it didn't help. There was that. Then in my personal life, we have kids. I just remember coming home and every day just being like, “Oh, my god, I can't keep doing this.” And looking at my daughter and just being like, “At some point in life, I'm going to have to have a conversation with her about what is it to work and how do you find meaningful work and what's important to you.”

I just felt like a liar. I really just felt like, “How is it that I can tell my kid, ‘Go out there and do what you want to do, find meaningful work,’ when I'm coming home every day being like, ‘This is absolutely killing me and I hate it.’” It was making me a worse husband, a worse, well, maybe not worse, but certainly more distracted husband, more distracted father.

I didn't feel present with my friends and I didn't really feel like I was alive. I wasn't engaging with life. I know that we've gone from a question of “What is it like to switch tables to this existential thing?” But quite honestly, it was an existential thing for me.

Sarah Cottrell: Oh, it absolutely is an existential thing. I mean, one of the things that we joke about in my program all the time is if you haven't had at least one existential crisis, are you even in this program?

To be clear, the program is for people who are trying to figure out what it is that they want to do that isn’t practicing law. In fact, I just recorded a podcast episode that was basically like, “If you're going through this process, and you're having an existential crisis, that's normal. It doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It's actually part and parcel of all of it for so many of us.”

The other thing that you mentioned that I just think is so important, I talk all the time about how after I left Biglaw, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, there are so many lawyers who experience clinical depression, anxiety, etc. And I think so many of us, we don't see that as a message from our nervous system that this is not a good situation.

We see it as something that is broken about us that needs to be fixed in order to become the lawyer robot we were meant to be or that we're supposed to be. The reality is that, and this is an oversimplification, but experiencing anxiety or depression, especially connected to your job, it is often your body's way of telling you, "Hey, this is not good."

Even in a situation like you were describing where in your mind, you're saying to yourself, "I'm crazy to want to leave this. It's so much better than so many other people have it." blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and all of this stuff.

I know you mentioned Somatics earlier on the conversation, but we have so much bodily wisdom, so much intuitive knowledge that I think especially for those of us who are trained as lawyers, we have been taught to completely discount and focus solely on our mind and what we can think. I think that's why so many of us find ourselves in these situations where what we think and how we feel bodily is in conflict.

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you can't think your way through every problem. Again, I can only speak to my own experience and as a lifelong person who has worked with anxiety and depression, oddly enough, it really only started when I was in law school so maybe I should have taken a hit then. But yes, it's a world in which we are living with the message of should, not could.

When we know that there are methods, rules, and things we can do to find what is the “right answer,” then we turn to those things. The language that our body is giving us is not like that. It requires a level of feeling and knowing the feelings and not even really saying, "Oh, what does that mean?" It's a lot of just “I'm just going to be with that,” and trust it.

Law is not trusting. Law is a highly skeptical way of being. It's a highly cynical way of being. It requires a constant churning of thought and answer and thought and answer and thought and answer and anticipation of the worst possible outcomes. That doesn't sit with what our bodies, I think, want to do most of the time. It's hard.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I'm curious, can you talk a little bit about how you began to figure out what it is that you would want to do that wasn't the thing that you were doing that didn't feel like it was actually the thing you should be doing?

Jordan Nahmias: I mean, I'm still figuring it out.

Sarah Cottrell: Stay tuned.

Jordan Nahmias: I make no illusions. But I mean I think we're all figuring it out all the time. But for me, I've had a therapist for a very long time, and when I was very seriously contemplating getting out of law, which is a long time ago, I mean, this is not something that was ever just a dormant idea, my therapist was like, “Okay, what are the things you need, you don't need?”

She says something to me that always stuck with me and I still find it hard to really accept, but she's just like, “Look, Jordan, your identity is you're an artist. You got to start just accepting that.” That took me a while and maybe I still haven't fully accepted it.

But I took that and then through some other experiences with people and spending some time looking at what I did, what I'd like to do, and what gave me the feeling of satisfaction and of meaning, and when I say the feeling, I don't mean the thought of it, I mean the actual feeling of it, I always took a lot from helping people.

So I knew that I was probably still going to stay in some sort of helping profession and it was really only on the recommendation of someone else when they were like, “Well, have you ever considered becoming a therapist?”

Now, I'm not a therapist by the way, but I was like, “Well, no, I hadn't thought about that,” but then I started to look at it like, "Hmm, that's actually really interesting you're saying that because I don't know how many hours I've spent trying to understand people and trying to really understand what my clients are doing a lot."

I always thought I was a good lawyer. I know I was a good lawyer, but I actually thought I was a better person with my clients as somebody who they would come to with the real things that were happening. It's not about the clause and the contract. It's about the way it makes the person feel about the clause and the contract.

That, to me, was something that I investigated and then toyed with and investigated and toyed with. Then I started to look at therapeutic training, psychotherapy accreditation programs, and the coaching programs. I looked at the fact that I have young kids, what these things cost, and how much time they would take. Then I settled on a coaching certification program, I went through that, and I learned a ton.

I learned a ton about myself. I learned a ton about other people, but most importantly, I learned what kind of work it takes to really be with people in a different way than just "Tell me your problem and I'm going to fix it. You're going to send it into my black box and I'm going to send it back to you."

This way of working is way harder than being a lawyer. There's no question. But it really requires you to get into your own mud and then help people get into their own mud. That's very fulfilling to me.

Now, do I think that this is the be-all and end-all? I have no idea. I have no idea what's going to happen in life. Knowing me, it might change again. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, this is something that I enjoy doing with people and answering the hard questions of “Okay, I'm at this crossroads. What is meaningful to me? What kind of work am I going to take to fill my soul?” Or at least as much as work can fill a soul because it can't be everything.

That, to me, is the interesting question. It's hard work. Maybe it's not typical coaching work but it's a hard sell. That's for sure. But even still, it is something that I find very meaningful and it lets me contribute to the world in a way that I find deeper, more fulfilling, and more impactful than what I was doing in the law.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah. I think the point that it can't be everything is such an important one. I think especially for those of us who became lawyers, especially if you're someone who works a lot of hours, there's a way in which you feel like you have to get everything from your job because there's literally very little time for other things.

I think it puts a lot of pressure on the idea of your work, what you're doing to pay the bills, because there is this sense of like, “Oh, well, it needs to be everything because it's basically all that I'm going to have.” I think a huge part of the process for many lawyers is being able to see their work as just one component of a life that is meaningful for them.

I know you mentioned, Jordan, that you had basically stopped making art and I'm wondering if that's something that you had to structure back into your life or if it was just something that came back in as you made space for it. Does that make sense?

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah, it does. If I can add one thing to the point you just made, David Whyte has a book called The Three Marriages. He's a poet, so, of course, it's a poetic way of talking about it. But he says that life is really about these three marriages: the marriage between you and yourself, the relationships you have with those marriages, and the relationship you have with work.

Those three things together are fundamentally what life is potentially about. I would say they are. Anyhow, I think that's an interesting way of looking at it because they both take a ton of work, or they all take a ton of work.

As far as creative practice goes, I'm a firm believer that your creative practice is only going to be as “good,” I don't want to use that word but let's just say good as what you put into it and that requires scheduling.

Whether that means you are spending 10 minutes a day on your creative practice or whether you're spending seven hours a day in your studio doing it, it's going to require time and focus. For me, in terms of my own creative practice, it shifts because it's all over the place, but music-making, let's say, which is a little part of my creative practice, I’ll put aside, let's say, half hour to an hour every day to do that.

Of course, I reap the benefits of I get better at it. But it's less about that, it's more about, “Okay, this takes me outside of the idea that I need to be producing anything. It takes me outside of the idea that I need to be good at it or that I need to make money off of it.”

Again, this all comes down to productivity. It's almost like it becomes this non-productive thing, and that inherently is enjoyable. Now some typical lawyer's mind is going to be like, "What are you talking about? You couldn't build for that." But yeah, yeah, I couldn't build for it. Somehow that fills the cup in a very different way.

I think it's funny, for me, one of the biggest challenges of shifting out of law has been the idea of having so much more space. When I was practicing law, it was like, “Great, I know I'm going to sit down at my desk, I'm going to pump out four hours, I'm going to take a 20-minute lunch, I'm going to pump out another four hours, I'm going to go home, and I'm going to pump out another four hours.”

I knew exactly what I was doing every minute of every day because I had work to fill all that time. When that disappeared, and it disappeared quite quickly, because I left law very quickly, the expanse that it opened up was full of possibility, but also full of terror.

That's a challenge I still face, and I think that's another one that a lot of lawyers face when they're considering getting out. It's like, "Oh boy, if I'm not working this much, if I'm not this productive, then what is my meaning? What is my purpose?" I have no answer to that. But I think that's a part of the reckoning that we discussed earlier of that question.

Sarah Cottrell: Yeah, in so, so many ways, it is easier to feel like you have no options and no one would hire you for anything, but this and be miserable than to feel like you have a ton of options, so many that you don't really know where to start because I think for a lot, especially those of us who became lawyers for so many of us, possibility combined with the unknown is so terrifying that it is easier in certain ways to feel stuck and miserable, which in and of itself is one of the reasons why I recommend therapy because I get feeling that way and you don't have to feel that way.

Okay, Jordan, as we're getting to the end of our conversation, is there anything else that you'd like to share that we just haven't talked about yet?

Jordan Nahmias: The only thing I would say to anybody who's listening who is considering getting out of the law, shifting practice area, or engaging more fully with art, their lives, beauty, or relationships is you can do it, but it's going to be uncomfortable and you got to move towards that discomfort. Because on the other side of it, there's a ton of great stuff. That would be about it in terms of insight.

Sarah Cottrell: Exciting times.

Jordan Nahmias: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a bit of an invitation to something that is scary. My ethos is if you do things that scare you, good things are going to happen. All you got to do is just see what scares you because that's the invitation. That's the cue like, “Hmm. Maybe I should do this.”

I know in my life, I avoided that really, really scary thing for a really long time until I just couldn't ignore it anymore. I'm much better off for having done it. So, yeah, sit with that one for a little bit.

Sarah Cottrell: Love it.

Jordan Nahmias: Other than that, I mean, no, this has been a wonderful conversation.

Sarah Cottrell: Awesome. Okay, Jordan, if people want to connect with you, where can they find you online?

Jordan Nahmias: The best way to find me is my website. It's jordannahmias.com. I can spell that if you like. It's not the easiest one.

Sarah Cottrell: Sure. We'll also link it in the show notes, on the blog post, and everything. For anyone who's listening, you can always just look in your podcast app or go look at the blog post and it'll have the link there.

Jordan Nahmias: Then we'll leave it like that. That's easier.

Sarah Cottrell: Perfect. Love it. Okay. Well, thank you so much, Jordan, for sharing your story. I know this will be very helpful for so many people, but especially those lawyers who are thinking about entertainment law, I think this has given them a lot to think about.

Jordan Nahmias: Good, well, it was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Sarah Cottrell: 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.