To Lawyer or Not to Lawyer, That is the Question

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” ~Unknown

When I first left the law a little over one year ago, I always assumed that I would return to the practice sooner or later. Maybe it was because my entire identity was based on the idea of practicing law or the hoards of student debt I had accumulated in the process, but there was always a piece of me that felt I would don my “, Esq.” title again sooner or later.

After working as the manager of a yoga studio for a few months, I had a feeling that it was time to embark on the next adventure. Unsurprisingly, my ego jumped at the chance to remind me that I was a lawyer…and it was time to practice law again. So what did I do? I finished my application to be admitted into the New York bar and fell down the rabbit hole all over again…

Ever heard the saying that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again, expecting different results? Well, turns out there’s a bit of truth in that…

If you’ve read my story about leaving the law the first time around, you know that I was pretty miserable as an associate. But, as time began to pass, it was easy to forget just how miserable I really was. To make matters even more complicated, there was a piece of myself, a piece of my soul, that craved being a lawyer again.

Just as I’d done a mere 6 months earlier, I began to convince myself that I was destined to work as a public interest attorney. I left my job at the yoga studio, gave my résumé a much needed refresher, and told all of my loved ones that I was going to be a lawyer again. I drove up to Albany, New York with my fiancé to get admitted into another bar and decided that it was time to return to the law, once and for all.

Well, guess what? Those applications that I told everyone I was sending out? Yeah, never happened. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to avoid sending out my résumé and let me tell you, I came up with a LOT. From head colds to a dirty garbage disposal (and, I kid you not, everything in between), I was doing everything I could to avoid my inevitable life as an attorney.

When people started asking, I scrambled. Lie after lie crept up until I honestly couldn’t keep track of what I truly believed anymore. As the self doubt sunk in more and more each day, I knew that I needed to make a commitment. I needed to start the process.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I’m stubborn, and when I set my mind to something I do it (often, to my own detriment). So once I made the decision to re-enter the legal field, I did it at full throttle. I reached out to every headhunter in Boston, canvased online job postings, and even went on a couple of interviews. But no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many pairs of panty hose I squeezed back into or the number of blocks I trudged in my signature black leather pumps…it all just felt wrong.

I have a distinct memory of getting ready for my New York bar admission with my fiancé that has stuck with me for so long I can’t shake it. As he straightened his tie in the hotel bathroom, I gazed at myself in the full-length mirror that hung behind the door; what I saw was a fraud. A well-dressed fraud (I’ve always looked good in a blazer), but a fraud nonetheless.

After spending the better part of 9 months doing everything but practicing law, I hardly recognized myself in the mirror that day. I felt so out of place that I even told my fiancé that I felt like I was playing dress-up.

Things only got weirder when I went to the actual admission ceremony, where I was surrounded by one of the most intimidating sights you’ll ever lay your eyes on: the New York lawyer. As I flipped through my copy of “The Path of the Yoga Sutras” amidst a crowd of black suit-wearing, email crunching litigators, I had a startling realization: this was not my world anymore.

A couple of months later, I still couldn’t shake the feelings I’d had back in upstate New York. Here I was, a successful young attorney with a world of opportunities ahead of her…and I wanted nothing to do with any of it…again.

Feeling lost and hopeless all over again, I seriously considered giving it all up and working as a barista. But, luckily for the coffee-drinkers of Boston, the universe had other plans…

During the previous summer, I had written an article for HelloYoga about my experiences leaving the law in pursuit of my yoga career. Shortly after I had written it, the publisher informed me that it wouldn’t go live until after the first of the year and I had all but forgotten about it…that is, until I needed it.

While I was contemplating my seemingly inevitable future as a minimum wage cocktail waitress, I got an email: my HelloYoga piece was live and people were loving it.

I can only describe my next feelings as fate. As I re-read my own words, my own truth in that article, I remembered who I was; I remembered that long before I was the president of the mock trail team in high school or a pre-law college student or a stressed-out law school grad or a depressed attorney, I was a writer.

All of a sudden, the knot in my stomach that had been bugging me for months disappeared. It felt as though everything was falling into place…like I was finally headed towards my true purpose, my destiny.

So with little experience and no clue how to do it, I became a freelance writer. I had no idea whether I could actually make a living by writing but, for the first time in a year, I had my “spark” back. I knew I had to try, that I had to take a gamble on myself. After all, worst case scenario I can always be a lawyer again, right?

Fast-forward to the present, where I’m working as a full-time, freelance writer. I work where I want, when I want, and I get to work with clients all across the globe. Somehow, in a crazy twist of fate, my yoga practice brought me from stressed-out lawyer to yoga studio manager to yoga teacher to, eventually, writer.

So, do I regret any of it? Absolutely not. There is still a piece of my soul, a piece that will probably always be there, that loves the law. I’ve learned to accept myself fully in the last year, even the part of myself that is a lawyer; and I will never give up my license to practice law, not when there are so many people that can benefit from my knowledge.

I now complement my full-time writing career with pro bono work on the side (mostly in domestic violence prevention and women’s rights advocacy) and yoga teaching gigs. Today,  my law school diploma and bar admission certificates hang proudly beside my 200-hour yoga teacher certificate and the piece of paper that made me a certified Reiki Master. My job title is now Writer / Certified Yoga Teacher / Attorney and, just like the artifacts from my journey so far hang side by side in harmony, so do these pieces of myself.


The Yogi Lawyer

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Milind says:

    Interesting journey from a stressed-out lawyer to yoga studio manager to yoga teacher to, eventually, writer. My humble Namaste to the Yogi lawyer.

  2. Rhi says:

    I’ve never read a post before that I can relate to as much as this one. I don’t live in America, but the stresses of practising law don’t seem to be any different across the pond. Except I’ve not made it out yet. I’m still struggling along hoping something, anything, will save me from this. I should have been a teacher. To make matters worse, my colleague has just left the law to teach. But theres no suitable roles for me, so I bide my time. I hope, one day, I will get to write a post like yours and look back on my time in the law with fondness but having no regret leaving it. Well done. Enjoy it for the rest of us!

    1. You’ve got this! It’s no easy feat to leave the law and trust me when I say that I spent MANY nights doubting my decision. It’s a journey, but I know that you will find your way out of the profession when the timing is absolutely right for you. ❤️

  3. Sandy Creagh says:

    Thank you so much for the great article, it was fluent and to the point. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.