Failure, strength and a whole lot of hope

The last five months have had a whole lot of failure, some joy, and a lot of soul searching.  I have dreaded writing this for a long time now. Even as I plan to sit down and write it right now, I was thinking of excuses like it's late and I want to go to bed, not to write this, but I feel as though I have shared my journey with everyone for the last few years, especially the last few months when it came to my new job that I needed to give an explanation or share exactly what took place, because you were all part of my transition from consulting back to practicing, and how I'm not there anymore. 

I've sort of kept pushing it off and said, "oh, I'll explain. I'll explain later. I'll explain." It has taken almost a full month in my new position to really start coming to terms with what has happened over the last few months.  To understand what has happened I really need to go back well beyond the last few months.  I practiced for a number of years following law school and I was never really in a position that I loved or doing work that I loved. 

What I've come to realize now, after lots of soul searching, conversations with people who knew me when, a lot of personal development, going down to New Orleans for the Beach Body Summit where I really had some eye opening self-reflection (cheesy, but true).  What I realized (or remembered) was that I went to law schoolto be an advocate for people and I wanted to help people and specifically, I wanted to help kids. And so, I went to law school with this sort of pie-in-the-sky attitude and I was gonna save the world one kid at a time. That was my goal, but I wasn't actually sure how to execute that goal or how to make it happen. 

I assumed that I wouldn't be able to afford doing non-profit work, but I thought, "well, family law would be a good way to use my psych degree and use my law degree to help people and be a family law attorney." I did all of my internships and clerkship in family law from college through law school. After law school, I had my clerkship with a family law judge and that family law judge focused on DYFS, which if you're not familiar, is the Division of Youth and Family Services in New Jersey.  DYFS focuses on the issues when children may or may not being cared for appropriately and adequately by whomever their guardian is and so, they're dealing with thedeputy attorney general and law guardian that represents the kids and public defenderthat represents the parents. Sometimes these cases can lead to a termination of parental rights and they're very heavy and very serious, but I have to say that I absolutely loved it. I loved the court and I love the atmosphere, I love the concept that all of these people were working towards the best interest of the children. Even if their definitions of what the best interests of the children was different. 

Because of my experience during that year I really wanted to be a law guardian but at the time of my clerkship ending, they weren't hiring.  Instead I looked closely at family law positions.  I did have a number of interviews with family law positions, but after a year in DYFS, I really had trouble seeing myself working with people who are fighting over things like a couch. 

Obviously, most divorce cases and most separation cases are not as antagonistic as something like that, but that's what I had seen in court.  I decided when I had the option to take a position at a civil law firm rather than a family law firm and so, I did homeowner's associate work. In addition to homeowner's association work, I did ski mountain defense, interestingly enough, and I liked it, but it wasn't my heart's passion. 

When I left that position, I did a little bit of doc review and then I moved on to a firm that did insurance defense work and that was okay, too. It was a little more complex, which I enjoyed, but it was not, once again, what I always wanted to do and it was starting to get to the point where it really felt like I wasn't using my strengths. I wasn't really doing the best that I could be doing.

When I had the opportunity, it was a few months after I had my son, I applied for a position as a legal research consultant at Lexis. When I took that position, I loved it. I loved working in law firms. I loved working with other attorneys. I loved the flexibility. I mean, I really loved the position and as the years went on, I continued to enjoy the position. Obviously, every position has the good things and the bad things about it, but I continued to really like it. 

Financially though, it was a little tougher. I wasn't being paid what I could be as a practicing attorney.   Frankly, the job just got harder, which I didn't mind, except that one thing that had always sort of balanced out the salary was the fact that I had a lot of flexibility.  Over the years the work increased especially during off hours, the travel increased but the money didn't. 

I made the decision, and we as a family made the decision, that I would go back to practicing law and I have to admit, I was incredibly nervous. I didn't really know how that would work. I didn't know where I would end up, but I felt like if I didn't go back soon I would never go back.

I started looking around. I tried to be pretty specific about the firms that I applied to. I only applied to a few. I only applied to firms that I felt would be a good fit. In some ways transitioning was easier than I thought it would be. I enjoyed having an office. I enjoyed having some place to go.  It was hard to adjust to be an associate again. I went from working with partners and attorneys and really being seen as equals, to once again feeling like a new associate despite having even more years of experience.  There were a lot of factors but either way it was a bad fit.  Not don't get me wrong since this was my first opportunity to do school law, which is what I really always wanted to do in law school I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed learning about labor disputes and things like that. I counseling school districts.  I enjoyed special education law.  There was a serious learning curve but I looked forward to the challenge.  
I knew around July, so two months in that I this was not going to be sustainable. It was my assumption that I was going to continue practicing.  I wasn't in any particular rush, simply because I didn't think I could possibly have anything on my resume for less than a year. It felt incredibly flaky and I was really feeling the anxiety that I felt when I transferred from NYU to Lehigh.   

How will this look?

I was really mentally caught up in, how will this look? How is it that I went back to this law firm or to a law firm and it didn't fit and I went to law school and why does it seem that I continue to not fit in a law firm? I was at two law firms before, plus some as summer associates and some as internships and externships and it's never fit. That was probably the hardest thing to come to terms with.  I never actually wanted to be at a law firm, and I know that doesn't sound like a big epiphany, but to me, it was a huge epiphany. 

 I didn't want to be a lawyer practicing like that. I would love to have worked in a government agency or for a business or a non-profit, but I never wanted to work at a law firm. None of the jobs that I ever had in my head growing up had me sitting behind a desk for hours on end. None of them had me doing what I had to do as a lawyer. It became so incredibly apparent that this was not a good fit. I wasn't having the opportunity to talk to clients and that was no one's fault. That was the way it was, but this structure of this job, didn't work.  Even if there was a better fit, the actual work would've been the same. 

 After three consecutive Fridays of crying on my way home from work, for various reasons, but mainly just general despondence and unhappiness, I spent a weekend applying to new positions. It was hard thing to do.  I felt like failure.   It was hard to admit that I was applying to these positions after such a short period of time.

I really felt like a failure on so many levels.  Picking it a job.  Staying at a job.  Not to mention that for years I had said that I loved my job (which was true) and despite salary concerns I would keep my Beach Body business as a way to supplement the income.  I felt like a failure there too.   Of course part of that was the fact that there are only so many hours in a day and with the consulting having increased traveling and the need to actually sleep meant very little time when to health coaching.  
I was embarrassed. I felt like I failed by even deciding to go to law school. Here I am strapped with all of these law school loans and I'm not even gonna practice as an attorney, right. I felt like a failure because I didn't realize what I was doing wasn't what I should be doing. 

With all this in my head head I interviewed to be an attorney recruiter. I dug in and did some serious due diligence. I reached out to people. I reached out to my law mama's group and said, "Who's your recruiter? What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? What can you tell me about this company?" I really vetted people or vetted this position, both this specific position, but the position as a whole.  I was so afraid of making the wrong decision again.  

I accepted the position.  Another new job in such a short period of time but here I was.  

2017 has been quite a year.   Pivotal at best.  Wild to say the least.  I started my new position as an attorney recruiter just after Labor Day.  It has been quite a whirlwind filled with soul searching.  

I plan on still using my law degree for pro bono pursuits.  As an attorney recruiter I can do things I really love.   It taps into my competitive spirit. It lets me play around on social media to meet people and connect. It lets me connect people to other people.  It pushes me. It keeps me a little bit scared, but scared in a good way.

I'm only a month in, but I am enjoying it. I am cautiously optimistic. I can still use that fantastic lawyer wardrobe, but it can be a little funkier and a little more fun. I really wanted to share the journey of what is, insanely enough, only the last five months. 

I felt like I owed all of you a story of the last five months and an explanation and so, there it is.   I'm still processing it all myself.  Out of what I view as a lot failure is actually growth, strength and a whole lot of hope. 

We'll have another discussion on what being a health coach has done for me to get me this position, but we'll save that for another day. If you've made it this long I'm impressed.  Until another day..