Above the Law

I haven’t written a post in weeks. No way around that. And this gap is likely attributable to the same reason many of you may find it difficult to take that first step to leave the law.

I was busy.

Very busy. Busy with work (I head strategy for a tech company here in San Francisco), busy with my family (our three year old and six year old just started school), busy trying to spend quality time with my family, busy (kind of) trying to exercise and play some sports, busy trying to manage a lot of little things (getting new DMV license plate tags, health insurance papers, cleaning out the garage, attending the obligatory weekend toddler birthday party) and busy trying to get at least six hours sleep.

So busy. So who has time to write a blog post? Who has time to even think about leaving the law, much less leave it?

It can be so time consuming (and extremely vulnerable) to ask your family and friends to compliment you so you can explore your Unique Genius. It can be so tiring to research potential people to network with when it’s 11pm and you need to get to sleep for that early morning meeting. It can be very hard to walk out of the office to head to an informational interview when you worry that a partner may be surreptitiously tracking your movements. It can be so boring to take another small, incremental, apparently insignificant babystep.

Managing and carving out the necessary time can be one of the most difficult actions to take to leave the law. But there is no other way.

And when something really needs to get done, there is no other group of people that can more adeptly, confidently and effectively manage their time in order to be productive as we lawyers can.

Remember, we carved out time on Sundays and weekday nights to study for the LSAT senior year in college or in our early twenties. We managed difficult workloads in law school. We managed multiple subjects in order to pass the bar. And right now, we manage multiple case loads, multiple client meetings, multiple briefs, multiple filings, and multiple deadlines, all the while battling the pressures and anxieties of the job while endeavoring to produce accurate, persuasive, and valued work product. We know how to get things done and manage our time … when it really, really counts.

The trick to leaving the law, then, might be not just in managing our time, but also in making it count.

Casey Berman (University of California, Hastings ’99), a strategic consultant, investment banker and former in-house counsel based in San Francisco, is also the founder of Leave Law Behind, a blog and community that focuses on helping unhappy attorneys leave the law.