Biglaw, Career Alternatives, Pictures, Sheppard Mullin

Departure Memo of the Day: Take a Picture of Your Bank Account Because It’ll Never Look This Good Again

The economy must be heating up, because lawyers are leaving their jobs to do all kinds of crazy things. I mean, maybe the legal economy is still crappy, since these people aren’t leaving for other legal jobs. But there must be a general sense of optimism if all of these people have decided to just “walk the Earth,” as it were.

We had the guy who decided to quit Sidley to walk across the country. I’m following him on Twitter. He’s near the Chesapeake and his feet hurt. Then we had the guy who left Skadden to move to Nepal.

Now we’ve got a person who is leaving her Biglaw job to take photos. No, she doesn’t have a job or anything, but she wants one!

This isn’t the “official” departure memo the associate sent to her colleagues when she left Sheppard Mullin. Instead, it’s the more full explanation for her departure that she shared with her Facebook friends. We weren’t able to get in touch with the associate, so we figured we’d leave her name out of the post.

I really like this memo. It captures all of the randomness that leads so many people into a Biglaw job in the first place. And as a person who once quit to “wing it” myself, I can only wish her the best in her future endeavors. It’s a tough road, and if she’s really committed to her artistic pursuits, things will get much worse — at least on paper — before they get better.

But any day spent in furtherance of your dream is better than every day you spend wasting your time in a profession you know you do not like. Good luck.


Dear Friends and Well-Wishers,

Thank you for the birthday blessings, and thank you for indulging me
by reading this missive.

Many years ago, each of us had impractical aspirations, our own
personal equivalent to “astronaut” or “superhero.” Me, I wanted to be
a shaman. I looked for gnarled grasses and herbs (read: weeds) in my
backyard, crushed them with rocks into turd-like pellets, and fed them
to my army of garage-sale procured stuffed animals and, shamefully,
occasionally to myself. But I digress.

The point: I gave up my dreams of being a shaman (Dr. Quinn Medicine
Woman, the source of my elementary school tauntings, soured that for
me). Later, I gave up on the impracticality of being a musician, a
charcoal sketch artist roaming beaches, one of those people who takes
standardized tests for other people (kind of illegal), a shady
politician, etc., etc., etc….and became… a lawyer. A corporate

I was, and am, deeply grateful I was lucky enough to procure a big law
gig in a drought-y economy, a position from which I learned so much,
and allowed me to fall in love with, and in, New York with shameful
bombast. But, having been bred by a woman who practically swam the
whole of the Pacific Ocean with a violin strapped to her back to
achieve her own dreams, I would always be mediocre practicing law
(which I like but am not inspired by) regardless of “objective”
measures of my achievement.

So, after months and months of overanalysis and fear and guilt, I quit.

Today, on my 27th birthday, I am officially an (aspirational) photographer.

Translation: I’m winging it.

I’m winging it so I can live every day boldly. I’m winging it
because I believe romanticizing life can be a viable survival
mechanism, at least while we are young. I’m winging it because
I won’t always have the energy to do something batshit crazy
like this. And, I’m winging it so I can make my mother proud.

Will I go back to the law? Maybe eventually, if it will still have
me. I certainly wish I had gone the other way around (dreams first,
THEN law school!). But those of you who know me well know I don’t
love many things (see, e.g., babies, warm fuzzy feelings, humanity).
But I genuinely LOVE photography. I’m at heart a storyteller and a
dreamer, and I love the way a photograph captures moments, and you can
use your imagination as to what came before and after the moment.

So, I am looking for you fine people to help me with my photography
business in its baby stage. Please keep me in mind when you or your
friends are looking for a photographer (weddings, engagements, events,
headshots, etc.)! I’m cheap (for now!), I’ll fly, I have experience,
and I think I’m pretty good (but I’ll let you be the judge of that).*

Thank you. Seriously, thank you. Today, more than anything else, I
am grateful to you, friends, for your good humor, for your support,
and for your empathy.

“Our firmest convictions are apt to be the most suspect, they mark our
limitations and our bounds. Life is a petty thing unless it is moved
by the indomitable urge to extend its boundaries.” – Jose Ortega y

* For the many of you for whom being a lawyer is fulfilling, or even
inspiring, I salute you, I envy you, and this post certainly isn’t
trying to insinuate that law is a “settle for” kind of career for all.

* I’m also looking to find gigs (legal, photo, or otherwise) flexible
enough to let me pursue photography (read: need my weekends), so I can
continue to pay my creditors before they repossess my dog.

Earlier: Want Out of Biglaw? Take a Hike!
The Skadden Associate Who Picked Up and Moved to Nepal: An Update

(hidden for your protection)

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