Wednesday, March 9, 2011

born again

If all change is a "little death," there is also a little birth.  It being Spring, and given my New Year's Resolution (number one) that seems appropriate.  A piece of us dies, but a new piece also comes into existence.  And that is why, today, on the day that I gave notice at work, I think I feel so light and so happy.


To be honest, I expected to have feelings more associated with the death.  I expected fear, and yes, some grief.  Instead, I felt feelings I associate more with birth (like joy, and relief -- although I suppose that feeling could accompany either transition).  There was a little fear as I walked into the office of the Director of Attorney HR, and again as I walked in to speak with one of the co-chairs of my department, a woman I have a lot of respect for.  I have spent weeks agonizing with Kathy over the right way to say what I wanted to say, the way to spin it that would burn the fewest bridges and maintain these relationships, in case I change my mind and want to come back.  In the end, what won out was the simple truth.  I simply told them the Plan.

Step 1A few weeks ago, I found out that my firm was offering a sabbatical program of sorts to all associates.  For one year, I can quit and receive a fixed percentage of my salary and the firm will pay my COBRA premiums.  That means I will have health insurance, hooray!  At the end of the year, though, I am not guaranteed a spot back at the firm.  To me, this basically looks like glorified severance.  But that's okay.  Today, I took it.  I doubt that I will want to come back at the end of my year anyway, because...

Step 2.  I am going to spend the year preparing and applying for grad school.  Yes, more school.  Apparently 4 years of college and 3 years of law school were just not enough for me.  I am going to apply for either a masters or a PhD program (I have not decided which yet) in English.  That will probably not come as much of a surprise to anyone who reads this, but actually was somewhat of a surprise to people at work, who know me as the mathy one.  What am I going to study in particular?  This is a detail I have not yet precisely worked out.  For now, I am talking to some people in the field, gathering information, and trying to put the rest of the Plan in place.

Step 3.  Get a job.  Ideally, I would love to have a job teaching college-level English.  That is where I started when I was thinking about what to do if I took the year of free money and health insurance -- how to get a job teaching college-level English.  But those jobs are fiercely competitive and highly sought-after.  Will I get one?  I don't know.  I do know that my odds of finding a job (any job!) that I love increase dramatically when I study something I love.  So for now, the focus is on getting into a program that will serve as a basis for me to find that job.  A program that, hopefully, will require me to read a lot of books.

My last day as a Biglaw associate will be March 31, 2011.  So, two and a half months before my 30th birthday, I find myself soon-to-be unemployed, unmarried, and with student loan debt roughly equivalent to the average American mortgage.  And, for now, happy with the choices I have made.


  1. Congratulations - so delighted for you. Following your blog (possibly, actually, quite like a stalker) and the thinking process behind making new and exciting plans, as well as the endless little miseries and successes of being Biglaw, has helped me so much in deciding to resign as well as sustaining me through my job search. Not sure I am as brave as you and so can't face going back to school again but hopefully my next step (once I work it out) will be more fulfilling, more engaging and help me to love what I do again.

  2. Wow. I can't even tell you how much I appreciate your comment. Maybe if enough people resign, they will change the way Biglaw treats associates. Or lawyers in general. So many of the partners that I talked to yesterday when I was in the process of letting everyone know that I was leaving the firm said things along the lines of "I totally understand. I would quit if I were you, too." Something is very wrong with a culture if everyone who has this job would quit.

    Best of luck on your job search. You will find something you love. If you don't find it this time, quit again and keep looking. We only get one life, right? Why spend all of our days (and sometimes nights) doing something we don't love if there are other alternatives?

  3. Love you, honey. So proud of you!! -emily

  4. Congratulations! You did it! Yeehaw!