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You have permission to quit.
Sometimes it’s just too hard to continue. Sometimes the larger forces make it close to impossible. Sometimes you’re better off giving up, regrouping, and finding another mountain to climb.
When the economy turns against you, it’s very difficult to fight the larger forces at work. We’re swimming upriver. We’re fighting nature.
A rising tide lifts all boats, but a falling tide beaches just as many, leaving them high and dry.
You don’t need my permission
Of course, you don’t need my permission. But I wanted to give it to you. Sometimes having someone–anyone really–tell you that it’s okay makes it easier.
In times like this, we get a free pass to quit. Everyone understands. No one thinks less of you.
Many of us are driven by a fear of embarrassment. We don’t want to fail. We especially don’t want others to see us fail.
When the economy turns against you, it’s not failure. It’s an unexpected change in the business climate. It’s not you–it’s everything. And everyone understands. If there was ever a time when changing course was okay, it’s now. The trigger for this event surprised everyone.
You don’t need to decide today
The current economic climate is evolving quickly. There are stimulus packages, incentives, and compensation coming in a variety of ways. We’re well situated to understand what’s available, and take advantage of the opportunities. There’s no rush to make a move if you have money coming in the door.
It’s always difficult to pivot. We’ve all invested so much in getting to where we are now. But those sunk costs are behind us. The future stands in front of us. We hesitate to give up one dream for another. We agonize, we evaluate, we wait.
Just don’t wait too long.
Indecision is a decision. It’s easy to become paralyzed in these circumstances. A few dollars dribble in, and we feel a small injection of hope. It’s easy to ignore the trend when we want it to change so badly.
Marshall your resources
Starting a law practice is tough in the best of times. These are not the best of times.
You’ve got skills, or you wouldn’t be where you are now. You’re very good at speaking, writing, and working with people. You’ve been trained to do things others can’t do. Your skills apply in the courtroom, the boardroom, the office, and the home office. You have already reached heights that place you well above many of the rest.
Your value in the marketplace is significant, even in tough times. But running a small law practice on your own, when the economy has shifted against you, may not be the highest and best use of that value.
It’s time to organize your thoughts, figure out what you have to offer, and package it up in a presentable form. You have assets that others need. Now it’s time to get ready to show off your skills.
There are many other options
I went to law school because my dad told me it would “give me options.” He was right. I’ve got a great business going now which plays off my law degree but doesn’t require a law license. I’ve watched other lawyers do amazing things unrelated to the practice of law.
A law degree truly is a valuable credential. Its value extends way beyond the practice of law.
I’ve seen lawyers shift into technology, finance, insurance, hospitality, association management, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, manufacturing, education, transportation, aviation, construction, retail, and more.
These industries all need articulate people who write clearly, think logically, and speak well.
There’s always next time
Shutting down a law practice doesn’t mean you’re out of the game forever. There really will be a next time. I’ve known countless lawyers who’ve entered and exited private practice repeatedly over the course of their careers.
Some go from private practice to government and back. Some take in-house roles, and return to private practice after soaking up that experience. Some leave the legal world, enter the business world, and then return with added perspective.
You don’t have to say goodbye forever. You can take a break, gain experience, build net worth, service student loans, find free time for your life and family, and relieve some stress.
There’s dignity in making the right choice for yourself. You’re the only one truly paying attention to your decisions. Do what’s right for you. You’ll never regret doing what makes sense to you.
You have permission.