Friday, November 1, 2013

Your Turn - "Big Law Rebel's" Story

"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally.  If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at, or click here.

Lawyers are straight up legendary.  They wear awesome suits, make tons of money, intimidate witnesses in court, and fight exhilarating battles before judges and juries.  It's a glamorous existence rife with prestige and academic accolades.  Firms are bursting with supermodel associates and badass partners who drink bourbon and enjoy playboy lifestyles.  And do you know why all of this has to be true?  Because Hollywood says so.  Law and Order, Suits, Franklin and Bash, Ally McBeal...  If you place any credence in these gripping dramas, the world of law has to be the absolute pinnacle of the professional world.  That's IF you place any credence on these shows.  For some bizarre and idiotic reason, I did... subconsciously at least.  This is how I began my tumultuous tumble down the legal rabbit hole.

When law school kicked off, I hatched my master plan to take the legal world by storm.  I would work hard in school, do well, get the big firm job, toil day and night, make partner, buy a house, join a country club, eat filet mignon, drink scotch, hire a personal tailor, buy a private locker at the cigar bar, drive a high end sports car, purchase a collection of monogrammed shirts, wear custom made cuff links, buy a second house in the country, buy a sailboat, play golf, install a pool, build a patio, and achieve fame and fortune as a legal wizard.  It sounded like a fairy tale existence at the time.

But what cruel joke the world played on me.  Working in big law proved to be far from glamorous. For me, the only benefit was the money, and every other aspect suffocated my soul.  I spent hours slaving away in an isolated office doing mundane busy work late into the night, while listening to other associates brag about how much they worked (and how late into the night).  As an extrovert who craves attention and real communication, I felt completely out of place from day one. And yet I stayed in the field for four long years.

Why?  Fear.  Straight up.  I was terrified that my friends would think I was a failure, that my parents would be disappointed in me, and that my life would be too difficult without the hefty income.  And how could I simply thrown away my law school education and training?  All that money and time could not go to waste.  Accordingly, my only choice was to suck it up and stay miserable for the rest of my career.  Yes, that argument actually made sense to me once upon a time.  AND I WAS TRAINED TO ARGUE FOR A LIVING!

During the summer of 2013, everything changed.  I took a brief sabbatical and traveled the world with an entourage of close friends.  I took inventory of my life, reevaluated my priorities, and finally arrived at a groundbreaking conclusion: I wanted out of the law game.  Moreover, I wasn't scared anymore.  I didn't care what my friends thought or how my parents would react.  I realized that I had to take full responsibility for my fate.  If I trudged along into a miserable and unfulfilling existence because of someone else's misguided expectations, I would have no one to blame but myself.  Good things come to those who wait go out and earn it.

When I returned to LA after my epiphany, I had a job waiting for me at a patent litigation boutique.  I was certain that I wanted a change, and I knew that I wanted to blaze my own trail as an entrepreneur.  But then came the phone call from my father.  He was unmistakably distressed, nervous, angry, disappointed, and terrified.  He didn't say that's how he felt, but I could sense his emotions through the tone in his voice.  My mind was made up, but in a moment of weakness, I buckled under pressure and followed his advice to "take the job and just see how it goes for a year or two."

My new job lasted a mere 1.5 weeks before I knew I had made a terrible mistake.  I hated it.  This was due in part to the fact that the work sucked, but also because I now knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I yearned to launch my own math tutoring company.  It's a field of work that I've wanted to break into since I was a kid.  I'm an awesome teacher, I love doing it, and I'm even more jazzed about the idea of building my own business from the ground up.  So just like that, I strode into the partner's office and told him that I had to leave.  To say the least, the firm was not pleased.  But once the gears in my head had finally shifted, there was no way I could return to that life.

So began the wonderful existence that I enjoy today.  Mathematics has always been a passion of mine, and working with bright students on a daily business is an absolute thrill.  In addition, I now advise disgruntled lawyers on how to follow their unorthodox dreams.  You know that excitement you feel when you're deep into a passion project?  The rush you enjoy during the creation process, the satisfaction you feel as you revamp and reconfigure your product, and the absolute thrill you get when the product is complete and your expectations are met?  I now feel this exuberance every moment that I'm working.  No joke, no exaggeration, no BS.  I am having trouble sleeping nowadays only because I can't stop myself from working on my business ideas.  I love life, and it loves me back.  I have left the legal world behind, and don't plan to so much as glance in the rear view mirror as the big law life fades into the horizon.

This post was written by "Big Law Rebel."  You can read his blog at

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