Bye, bye BigLaw

March 24, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Starbucks, tax law is sexy, the firm | 9 Comments

Tomorrow is my last day at the firm. Yes, it has been a few weeks since I posted — and, obviously, I’ve been busy. I decided to pursue what I hope will be a truly life-fulfilling path — the one I almost decided to follow after my maternity leave. I do not regret returning to my firm, though. Not one bit. I leave knowing I have left nothing on the table. I leave having been re-immersed in tax law and hard work. I leave having reestablished my professional and personal connections here.

I’ll write more about my new opportunity soon — next week, in my week off between jobs. Right now, however, I’m sending almost three years of files to records, having good-bye coffees and lunches with the colleagues who have become my friends. And I’m surprisingly emotional. Change makes me anxious, even good change. I am not sorry I’m leaving all this behind. But what is “all this”?: A huge, multinational law firm in a gleaming high rise. A nod of recognition when I tell people where I work. The confidence that came with knowing that, after years of professional hopscotch, I actually was capable of landing a prestigious job. (“Prestigious” — I feel the need to surround that in quotes, recognizing all of the external validation implied by my last few sentences. But it’s true! I’ll admit it! I’m proud that I work(ed) here.)

No, I’m not sorry to be leaving on my own terms in an anxiety-producing economy. But I’m still nostalgic about the milestones. I came here with one baby, I leave with two. At times I felt like I did a good job. Mostly, I felt rather stressed, but that, too, is part of the fun of being a BigLaw attorney — you can sit around and kvetch with your other lawyer friends about how stressed you are. Highlighters and sticky tabs and blackberrys and binder clips; empty Starbucks cups, free dinners after 7, free cab rides after 8; the same turkey wraps at every department lunch. Getting into my car with NPR and a mug of coffee and seeing my skyscraper in the distance as I headed for the highway, wondering what would happen today. Seeing the clock tick towards 5 and wondering if I’d be able to leave in time for bathtime.

Oh, I have so much more to write about this experience and the one that lies ahead. But right now I’m strangely overwhelmed. I ache to talk to my father, to compare my corporate law experience to his, to dissect it in a detail that only another corporate lawyer would want to listen to.

Tonight, some law school classmates who work here are buying me a glass of wine; tomorrow I’ll have a farewell lunch with some friends in my department. Saying goodbye can be strange and awkward, but I hope and trust that my new job will be a bridge to maintaining these connections. It still doesn’t feel real — seven years ago, almost on a whim, I decided to take the LSAT and take control of my life. Without this experience I don’t know that I’d have the confidence to maintain that control and take the leap I’m taking now — out of BigLaw towards a big unknown. I’m nervous and nostalgic, but also grateful and proud.

More soon…


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  1. CONGRATS. I am soon leaving my law firm, not sure if I will continue to be a lawyer for much longer or not. I am leaving by my own choice and thought I would feel relieved. Instead I feel a bit sad and adrift- being a lawyer at a big law firm has been my “identity” for the past 5 years, and it feels very strange to let go of that rope, even if it’s just for a break. I know it’s the right choice, but it’s much more bittersweet than I thought. Good luck in your new adventure, I am excited to read about it!

    • That is EXACTLY how I feel. I thought I’d feel so relieved, so free. But I’m getting teary boxing up my stuff! Maybe it is the identification — what will I do when I can’t say I work at “Big, Name & Firm”? Good luck to you too!

  2. So sad that I’m not there to take you out tonight, but I’m thinking of you and am SO excited for you. Change is always challenging, and sad, but there is so much to look forward to. I just know you are doing the exact right thing at the exact right time. Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t miss the ease of dialing your extension!

  3. What you will do is say, “Hi, I’m Kathryn. It is so nice to meet you!” And, the conversation will begin from there, which, in my mind, is exactly where it should begin.

  4. Congrats on whatever comes next! I left my firm 9 months ago to go back to school and work in a public interest setting. It’s terrifying to let go of that big firm identity, and security, but I haven’t been this happy or optimistic about the future since….well, since I entered law school. I’ll definitely check back in on your blog and see what you’re jumping into. Good luck!

  5. “seven years ago, almost on a whim, I decided to take the LSAT and take control of my life”

    I did the same a little over a year ago. Boy am I glad.

    Savor the transition, including the vertigo. You’re doing terrific things.


    (by the way — check out my podcast, including the Feldman thing)

  6. Congratulations! I can’t wait to hear about your next steps.

  7. Awesome Possum! I am so excited for you! Big things await and I can’t wait to hear what you are doing next. (Is it a writing gig? You’re so good).

    Enjoy your week off!!!!


  8. You were sensational way before law school or biglaw. You will be more than fine, and your experiences at the big-time law firm will inform you new professional path.
    Congratulations for letting go of the safe and the prestigious in favor of the unknown and the personally fulfilling.
    It’s hard to do, but I don’t think anyone who has taken the plunge has regretted it.

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