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Leaving law - other options

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Hi all,

I have been practicing law for a few years now and have struggled to find work-life balance. I’ve tried hard but it isn’t working for me anymore. I know the lawyer lifestyle is to be available most of the time for your clients or the firm, but it’s unsustainable for me personally. I like working hard, but I don’t want to work this volume anymore. It’s taken over my whole life.

I’m terrified about leaving law, given how much I wanted it and worked to get here (I love the content of my work and the practice of law, it’s just the volume I can’t accept). I also have a real sunken costs mentality (“I spent x amount of dollars and effort to get here, I’m too old to go back to school now, I spent all the time learning how to practice law and certain specific skills” etc.).

I’m really discouraged and wondering whether anyone has had experience with this and can share. I’ve been looking for alternative jobs where my law degree would still be an asset, but I haven’t found many. Has anyone left law and just started all over? Did anyone find something law-adjacent? 

Thanks,

C

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Check out this thread which discusses some alternatives: 

 

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27 minutes ago, providence said:

What's your undergrad in?

Psychology 

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24 minutes ago, NucksFTW said:

Check out this thread which discusses some alternatives: 

 

Thanks :)

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Posted (edited)

there are many options

government - not restricted to justice

corporations- not restricted to in house legal dept

which area of. Law are you practicing?

Edited by Luckycharm

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I do regulatory investigation work. Most of the investigation team are lawyers and the work is generally 9-5. Even the pay cut isn’t too bad in the scheme of things. PM me for info if you’re curious (especially because there is a job posting up—it’s a contract but that might not be such a bad thing if you are not 100 percent certain).

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I think I posted in the other thread but I went from labour law to labour relations.  I had a lot of the same feelings about leaving law that you ha e written here but I have pretty much gotten over them fully.  It probably helps to have a law adjacent career though. 

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There's always teacher's college. Both of my law teachers in high school were former lawyers who left the profession because they couldn't handle the work-life balance with young families. Both said they made the right decision.

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3 hours ago, UpAboveIt715 said:

What area are you currently practising? 

Mostly criminal, some regulatory and family. 

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2 hours ago, chaboywb said:

There's always teacher's college. Both of my law teachers in high school were former lawyers who left the profession because they couldn't handle the work-life balance with young families. Both said they made the right decision.

 

Doesn't it take like 5+ years to get a full-time, permanent job after graduating? And it is also 2 years of school now as opposed to 1. Not sure it's a viable option for the OP.

I am only in year 1 and share OP's concerns. I work 6 or 7 days per week, every week. I don't think it's sustainable. Once I have a family I'll want out. I can already see it. I already dislike it now in terms of the hours but it's bearable for the compensation because I'm young without kids. I am basically hoping I can transfer info government one day just by selling transferable skills. I mean, the government hires BAs every year fresh out of undergrad without much in the way of employment experience or many real tangible skills to contribute. So why not a washed up lawyer? ;)

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12 hours ago, happydude said:

 

Doesn't it take like 5+ years to get a full-time, permanent job after graduating? And it is also 2 years of school now as opposed to 1. Not sure it's a viable option for the OP.

Depends on the circumstance and market you choose to work in. I was in a smallish town (<100,000) and one of the teachers was full-time one year out of teacher's college. Although, she also had a science background which gave her more teachables.

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2 hours ago, chaboywb said:

Depends on the circumstance and market you choose to work in. I was in a smallish town (<100,000) and one of the teachers was full-time one year out of teacher's college. Although, she also had a science background which gave her more teachables.

How long ago are we talking about? 

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Getting a teaching job these days is very difficult. Typically, you'd have to supply and hope for an LTO but even to get on a supply list these days is difficult. Very few people are getting permanent contracts one year out of teachers' college.  The only ones I know of are bilingual and qualified to teach French.  Not to mention, no one should go into teaching who doesn't love the idea of doing that for a living. 

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A few thoughts which may or may not be helpful or be outdated etc.:

1. I knew some people who didn't want typical lawyer hours (family, etc.) and for that reason were eventually able to find relatively stable (series of) document review positions. But with more automated, and issues generally with stability, and very difficult because of stigma to get back into regular practice of law, strong concerns about that, wouldn't recommend it without doing some serious research and talking to people with more current experience - I've read about some US staff lawyer positions (fewer hours and pay than associates, but doing real lawyer work not just document review) but not in Canada;

2. Some lawyers have gone into offering therapy for lawyers, or career advice for lawyers, or the like, that might work with your psychology background (background, or just degree?) and your being a lawyer;

3. I practice law part-time and another job full-time. More because I find the law interesting (not the hours!) especially litigation (even small claims) and have a modest but reasonable expectation of profit, so do a few things from referrals - when I was looking for something different I found a position for which having a legal background was a plus, but I earn less than I would as a full-time lawyer.

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If you do criminal OP, have you thought about maybe doing work with Legal Aid? Duty Counsel typically have courthouse hours with minimal if any work in the evenings or weekends (really only happens that you stay late when the court runs late, but we're usually talking a few hours a week, not working late into the night). There's also supervisory work with the Legal Aid clinics, etc.

 

There are ways to do law that don't involve working with a firm that expects you to be available when your clients need you, aka at all hours of the day.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Adrian said:

How long ago are we talking about? 

She was my teacher six years ago, which was her second year. It certainly could have gotten worse since then.

Edited by chaboywb

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11 hours ago, chaboywb said:

She was my teacher six years ago, which was her second year. It certainly could have gotten worse since then.

They have completely changed the hiring system since she was hired which makes it harder for new teachers to get permanent positions. 

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I am in house now, and although I still have days and weeks where there's a lot of work and it's inflexible. But for the most part, it's a great gig that leaves me plenty of time for my personal life as well as work. I have friends who work in government (in legal and non-legal roles) who would say the same about their jobs.

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