I Quit Biglaw. Do I Miss It?
About a year ago, I quit my job as a lawyer in Biglaw. You can read all about my reasons for quitting here, here, here and sprinkled elsewhere throughout this blog. Since I’m a year removed from the job, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my experience and thought it was a good time to look back on what, if anything, I actually do miss about it.
I was recently out to dinner with a group of former co-workers and one of their wives asked me if I missed anything about the firm. “These guys,” was my immediate response. Followed by “and basically nothing else.” We laughed a little and moved on to a new topic. But my gut instinct was correct – the number one thing I missed about working at my law firm was the people I had developed true friendships with over the years.
After the dinner, I thought about her question a little bit more and while I do mainly miss the people, there are a couple of additional things I miss about Biglaw. I thought I’d share with you everything I miss about working in Biglaw so if you’re considering taking the leap as well you are a little more prepared than I was for what you are leaving behind.
I Quit Biglaw and I Miss (Some) People
As I said above, by far the biggest thing I miss about working in Biglaw is that I miss seeing my friends every day. The bonds you develop in Biglaw are similar to ones you develop in college dorms or on sports teams. You develop deep friendships with your fellow summer associates and even deeper friendships with those with whom you work long days, late-nights and weekends.
(I’m not going to get into it, but as you can imagine some people who work in Biglaw are, shall we say, difficult, so I don’t miss all the people ;))
I miss seeing my friends – so what am I doing about it? What should you do about it if you can relate to this?
It was a bit of an adjustment to go from having friends around all the time for daily lunches, coffee breaks, happy hours or just chats throughout the day, to being mostly on my own during the day.
After some time, I realized that whatever it was that was missing could mostly be re-created (aside from the time wasted in each other’s offices chatting about office gossip, which to be honest, I don’t really miss).
If you’ve left a job, or are worried about leaving one and leaving behind the relationships you formed there, remember that those relationships are still going to exist, you just need to be proactive in planning things and getting together.
While it’s harder to plan spontaneous lunches or happy hour drinks when you’re not longer working in the same office, you can still get together with some planning. You can even do new things together, like dinners with people’s significant others on a Saturday night (something I never did while working – since we saw so much of each other during the week, weekends always seemed like “non-coworker time”).
The bottom line is that if you put the effort in, your friendships can remain intact, they just might be a little different since you’ll be doing new activities together and talking about new things (i.e., a lot less office gossip).
I Quit Biglaw and I Miss the Money
I’m not going to lie and pretend that I don’t miss my Biglaw paycheck. Especially since I’m still finding my groove and figuring out alternate income sources, I definitely notice the absence of those bi-weekly paychecks and that big end of the year bonus.
I miss the Biglaw money – so what am I doing about it? What should you do about it if you can relate to this?
I miss the Biglaw money, but my life when I was in Biglaw also used to be more expensive. When I needed groceries, I ordered FreshDirect delivery because it was more convenient than going to more cost-efficient neighborhood places. I don’t dry clean anything, ever, anymore and I don’t buy anything that could pass as business casual.
Aside from doing more of my own grocery shopping and cooking and not clothes shopping as much, I’m definitely trying to stick to a stricter budget. Luckily, I hadn’t really fallen victim to the golden handcuffs like many do, so there wasn’t much to give up when it was time to leave Biglaw behind.
Avoiding the trap of the golden handcuffs remains my number one piece of advice for anyone considering leaving a high paying job at some point in the future.
I Quit Biglaw and I Miss Having a Clear Work Identity
Something I didn’t realize would affect me so much was losing my identity as “law firm associate.” For so long I had done what I was supposed to do: go to college, go straight to law school, get the good summer internships and land the Biglaw job. I never had to pause or think about what to say when someone asked me what I did because the answer was easy and it was acceptable.
When I left Biglaw, I left mostly to get my freedom back and to figure out what I wanted to do next. A year later, that’s still hard to explain to people. I hate it when people ask me what I do all day or when new people ask me what my job is. Some people ask because they are curious, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that others ask because they are judging me for my choice.
I miss my identity of “law firm associate” – so what am I doing about it? What should you do about it if you can relate to this?
For a long time, I hated having to think about what I would say to a new person or someone I hadn’t seen in a while about what it was I did all day. If you can relate to this, your biggest obstacle to overcome is probably your own mind.
I’m constantly working on trying not to care so much about what other people might think. The best thing to do is to remind yourself that nobody really cares about how you choose to live your life! Sure they might judge you for a split second, but even then, consider whether it’s judgment or a twinge of jealousy and realize that, either way, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.
I Quit Biglaw. Do I Regret It?
If you’re contemplating leaving Biglaw or another job behind, and after reading about the three not-so-inconsequential things that I truly do miss, you probably want to know if, overall, do I regret my decision?
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and I absolutely, 100 percent do not regret leaving Biglaw when I did.
My overarching piece of advice for anyone else who might be contemplating a jump of their own is to realize there will be some things you miss and that’s ok! Even if you hate your job, I bet there are plenty of things (and people) you’ll miss.
If you acknowledge this and prepare yourself for it ahead of time, hopefully things like this won’t stand in your way of leaving if that’s what you truly want.
If you are thinking about leaving a job, what is holding you back? What things are you too scared to give up? Is it all about the people, the money, your identity or something else?
If you, too, have left a Biglaw or another traditional job for another path, what (if anything) do you miss? Do you regret leaving your job or are you, like me, happier and more fulfilled after having done so?