Monday, April 16, 2012

Life Choice Explained

I realized after I wrote my last post that I haven't exactly explained on this blog the reason for my recent foray into unemployment. I did, however, share it on a fantastic blog written by a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom - But I Do Have A Law Degree - that I discovered upon typing the following search into google when I was looking for inspiration: "ex lawyer mom stay at home." She gave me inspiration. (So did the blog The Ex-Lawyers Club and so did numerous conversations with other former lawyer moms who saw the light and found another path, but I digress). So here is my story as posted (sightly modified) in But I Do Have A Law Degree:

I have been practicing as a litigator for nearly ten years, and I can't even believe it's been a decade. When I was a budding associate at one of the big firms, I thought for sure I would be out after year five. But here I am, ten years later, reevaluating my life and career choice.

I don't have regrets - I received a fantastic legal education that has not only benefitted me career-wise, but has been incredibly useful in life. My salary paid for a nice house in Los Angeles. We take nice vacations. My son goes to my preschool of choice.

I've worked at a big firm, at a small firm; for complete assholes, for lovely mentors. I've pulled countless all nighters. Most years I made - and far exceeded - my billable hour requirement, and last year, for the first time, I fell short. I was in trial until the day before my due date (I am probably the only woman relieved that my son came a week late because I needed the rest). I breastfed for a year and pumped in the most interesting of locations, including in a public restroom, during a break while deposing the plaintiff in a multi-million dollar case, while driving.

I always thought I would be able to balance it all, but when my son turned three, I realized that I could not be a litigator and the kind of mom that I wanted to be. Those two very full-time jobs simply don't mesh for me. I feel like a cliche in that I constantly feel guilty about my inability to either put in 100% at work or 100% at home.

Mostly, it's the stress of the billable hour requirement that I simply can't deal with. If I take a day or a morning off, I have to make those hours up sometime. But when? After a full day of work, followed by cooking dinner, bath time, play time, book time, and bedtime? After all that, I am spent and need to just melt into the couch.

So, inspired by the quote "She took a leap of faith, and grew her wings on her way down," I am giving my notice this week. And I'm scared. But extremely excited at the same time. Financially, it will be a big adjustment and a struggle, but I'm setting myself up with some contract work and other (hopefully) interesting work that I can do from home. I am also exploring the wonderful world of blogging (you can find me at A Tired Working Mommy - unfortunate name but I was clearly tired that day).

I wish I could have made it work, and perhaps this is just a phase in my life and I'll go back to full-time litigation in the future. But I haven't felt this happy and carefree in a very long time, and I'm looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. Wish me luck!


  1. I discovered your story on but I do have a law degree (which I found through a similar google search to your own). Thank you for sharing- I almost cried when I read your words because I am going through the same struggle. I'm a few steps behind you in terms of defecting, but I am planning my exit. I stepped back into big firm life about a year ago and have become an absentee mommy. I hate it. Keep writing-I'm sure I'm not the only one you are inspiring with each word.

    1. I feel your struggle. I really do, and am so happy to hear you're at least planning your exit. Just a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel can be inspiring to take the plunge. Funny story. As I mentioned above, I was in trial right up until my due date and when we realized there was no way the trial would end before I had my son, we asked the court to pause the trial until after my maternity leave (we had already been going for 3 months and this was a huge bet-the-company kind of case). The male judge denied our request, and proceeded to give a 30 minute commentary (on the record) on women in the workplace, essentially stating that women often don't return from their maternity leave and there is no guarantee that I would and so, no, he would not pause the trial. I was horrified and appalled by the speech. I lasted for three more years after my son was born. And now I realize, he was kind of right. I say kind of because he seemed to put the blame on women instead of on the legal profession, which is just too trying on a mom with a young family. Good luck to you, and feel free to reach out anytime!

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