Close this search box.

I’m outta here! – Leaving law behind‎

It’s no secret that over the past years, many lawyers seem to be ditching their hard-earned law degrees for new careers. These adventurists come from all walks of the law – from graduates, fresh out of law school, to partners who have dedicated years to climbing up the legal ladder

We at Robus Legal Marketing are trying to shed some light on this phenomenon. Mr. Casey Berman, graduate University of California, Hastings College of the Law, worked as an attorney and after a few years decided to do a career change and – leave the law. Today, with a rich background he is leading a community focused on one thing:  Helping unhappy attorneys leave the law

So if you are thinking whether you are in the right profession, the Robus Team conducted an interview with Casey specifically for you. We think that some of you will bond to the answers… Enjoy


A) How can somebody know that it is time for him to leave the legal profession

There is a lot that can trigger someone to think that this is the time to leave the law. Long hours at work. Unappreciative bosses. Not being made partner. Unhealthy lifestyle habits. Overall depression and dissatisfaction or desperation. Confusion as to why we aren’t happy

These are all justifiable reasons to want to explore leaving the law. But the most compelling reason I often see for people to choose to leave the law is a disconnect between one’s skills and strengths (what I call one’s Unique Genius) and the job description of an attorney

What I mean by this is that many of us went to law school and then became a lawyer for a number of reasons (because that is what nice Jewish kids do, because we wanted stability, because we wanted to make money, because our parents said so) that had nothing to do with whether we were good at what a lawyer requires

And so many of us feel we’re not using all of our skills and strengths as lawyers. We’re leaving our skills on the table … they aren’t being used. And they should be. If what we are good at is not a fit with what it takes to be a lawyer, we should consider leaving the law


B) In your opinion, what is the main difficulty in the process of – leaving the law

Risk. The unknown. Change. Failure. We lawyers are risk averse. We fear the unknown. We don’t really like change. And we are perfectionists who never, ever want to fail

And throw in our worries about where to start to leave the law, how we’ll find a non-law job at a salary that will help us pay our student debt if we were to leave the law, or how we’ll deal with telling people we’re not a lawyer any longer, and we have already constructed a number of difficult hurdles that we feel are insurmountable

So many of us don’t do anything. We keep being lawyers. What we need to realize is that leaving the law is unique and new for each person. It is full of surprises, new people to meet, new skills to optimize, new opportunities, new failures, and new tests. This is very scary, but also very exciting

We mainly perceive the unknown as scary because we’re just not comfortable with it yet. As a wise sage one said, Today is the Tomorrow we feared Yesterday. And guess what? Today turned out just fine

The unknown will come soon enough, and we will see that we can handle it very well


C) Which areas of practice do you find suitable for people who have chosen to leave law

People who leave the law come from all areas. Litigation. Transaction. Government. There is no practice area that lends itself best to leaving the law

The best trait that lends itself to leaving the law is the desire and motivation to change one’s life so that he or she can really use his or her skills and strengths to add value to others, enjoy what he or she is doing and make money


D) How can someone who has worked as a lawyer for years find his advantage in other areas of practice

They don’t. The main initial step if leaving the law is not to focus on how do we take this set of skills and apply them somewhere else

The first step is to first look at ourselves and find what our skills and strengths are. We feel we’re good at things that lawyers do (issue spotting, meeting deadlines, dealing with clients) but there are also other skills out there we are likely good at, but we’re not using as an attorney – being a connector between people, being a networker, being creative

We need to go back to who we are, explore and list what we are good at (not just legal skills, all skills) and then find jobs that fit these skill sets

You’d be surprised how many (non-law related) jobs are out there for us attorneys (Counselor, Focus group moderator, Agent, Legal Headhunter, Therapist, Lobbyist/government relations, Recruiter, Special Event/Conference Planner, Arbitrator, Mediator, Fundraising (for non profits, politicians), Business broker, Educator/teacher/instructor, Corporate trainer, Biz dev/sales, Public speaker, White boarding, Consultant , Account management, Project Management, Product Management, Local government, Advisor, Mentor/advisor to non profit/students, Commissioner of some kind, Educator, Director of Career Services, Admissions or Alumni Affairs and on and on and on


E) In your opinion, is there any particular area of practice which the majority of lawyers will turn to? And could you defined it as a trend

I don’t think you can find a particular area that lawyers will go into. I wouldn’t even want to guess about it, because I wouldn’t want lawyers to think they SHOULD go into a particular area

For people to sincerely leave the law, we need to let our skills and strengths, what I call one’s Unique Genius, really lead the way


F) What is the most important thing that one should consider before making a decision to leave the legal world

There is a lot to consider, but I think the most important thing to consider is the reason why we are leaving the law

Let’s not give the law a bad rap. The law is a great fit for many of us. It may align with our Unique Genius. We may like the other lawyers we work with. We may be really good at it. We may find satisfaction from it

For many of us, we shouldn’t leave the law. It is right for us. And we may be only considering to leave the law because we’re in a bad stretch or we’re in a funk or we have a bad case or a bad partner lawyers/boss


G) What made you decide to actively encourage people to leave the legal profession

That’s an interesting question. I think giving back aligns with my Unique Genius. I am very good at motivating people. I am very good at public speaking. I am good at being empathetic

I like to write. I like to connect with people. I like to add value. So in many ways what I do at Leave Law Behind is just a reflection of Casey Berman’s Unique Genius. In other words, it comes naturally to me


H) It seems that your website is talking mainly about leaving the legal profession in order to establish a private business. Is that indeed your main recommendation for lawyers? If so, why

No. My main recommendation to people is to find their Unique Genius. As we’ve discussed, when we went to school, many of us lost something. We stifled our creativity and uniqueness in order to conform and learn a trade

My main point is to go back to that creativity and uniqueness. Find it. Explore it. Revisit it. Dust it off. Optimize it – and then find a job, or a role, or a volunteer position or start a new business that is based on these skills

Let what we are good at and what e enjoy drive what we do


I) How can somebody tell the difference between the difficulties at work which all of us experience and the understanding that the profession just does not suit him

They don’t need to. I would suggest we don’t focus on anything but ourselves. Don’t focus on our current job, don’t focus on new jobs, don’t focus on the profession, don’t focus on what others think

The one thing to do is to focus on ourselves. Let’s be selfish … in a good way. Let’s find our Unique Genius and let that drive what we do next. We’ll know soon enough if we’re just in a bad stretch at work … or if our skills can be utilized better elsewhere


J) Do you get many requests for help from lawyers who are in the process of leaving law? What your most common advice to them

I get many requests, mainly from readers of Leave Law Behind. Many go through my coaching and mentoring practice

For those that I do not work with, we attorneys all need a structure of some kind to follow. Here’s a start – try and, and add to it as you need to

A – Think only of yourself – and not careers, or what you “should” do, what your parents think, your resume, money, security, your identity as a lawyer 

B – Focus on your skills and strengths. Do the Unique Genius exercises and poll your network to get a feel as to what you are really, really, really good at. Go high level, get really detailed, get obvious, get corny, get sappy, whatever. Get your strengths out on paper 

C – Organize them, into 3-5 buckets, with main strengths and sub strengths 

D – Read them. Feel them. Digest them. Feel really, really good about them. Since about them. Authentic. Confident about them 

E – Turn these 3-5 buckets into a narrative. What is your story? When someone asks “So, tell me about yourself? Tell me about your skills and strengths” you can say, “I’m so happy you asked …” and jump into your narrative

F – Find jobs and job descriptions that require these skills and strengths 

G – Find people in these jobs. Reach out to them. Meet them for coffee 

H – Do two things. Ask them about their day to day so (i) you can research if you like this job, and (ii) if you do like this job, ask for this person to introduce you to other people in the space with this type of job. Do not ask for a job 

I – Repeat a lot 

J – Create and find opportunities


And of course – all the luck in the world


BTW, If Casey’s words have touched you on some level and you want to read more about Leaving Law Behind – read more on Casey’s blog here

Or – if you are looking into leaving law, but still want to use your legal skills on a flexible basis – check out Robus’ new initiative – LawFlex – how to still practice law, but in a much flexible environment

In case you missed it... Check out more articles on our blog