June 25, 2018

How to Switch Careers if Being a Lawyer isn't for You

What to do if you end up not being a lawyer or suffer from lawyer burnout. How to go from a lawyer to an entrepreneur. How being a lawyer helps you run your own business. Advice to attorneys who want a career change. Lawyer career change. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello again everyone! I know you're probably surprised to see me again and are probably wondering shouldn't this girl be bar prepping instead of blogging?? Well yes, but I somehow got ahead this week and had some spare time so ta-da! 

Anyways, this post has been a long time coming but I actually think now is the perfect time to share this post because I'm sure at some point in this life, at least one of you is going to be doing the whole lawyering thing and think, wait, what if I should be doing something else with my life??? And this post is for you! Or really, anyone just curious because it's nice to know that you always have an out. Or maybe that's just the Bar-prep cynicism in me haha! 

So backstory... today's post is an interview/kinda guest post with Andrew Lynch of Jackson Wayne. He reached out to me last semester about his amazing briefcases (mentioned in my gifts for law school grads post) and I was really intrigued when he told me that he was a former lawyer now in the leather business and I figured that some of y'all could benefit from his story. I guess also an alternative title for this post could have been how to switch from a lawyer to an entrepreneur because he's got such great advice. So, here's the interview! 

from JacksonWayne.com

What law school did you go to?

University of Iowa

What type of law did you practice?

Litigation mostly. Early in my career I worked at a large law firm and represented large corporate clients in commercial litigation matters. Once I started my own practice, I represented mostly small businesses and individuals in business and consumer litigation.

How long were you in law before taking on Jackson Wayne?

I was in private practice for about 10-12 years, but started to transition out toward the latter part of that.

What made you decide to switch from law to leather goods?

I always enjoyed entrepreneurship more than law. I had started side businesses very early in my legal career. I just had a sense that I would end up running a business someday and not involved in the traditional law practice. I wasn’t sure exactly what form that would take. But I knew I wanted to start trying things early on in case it took awhile. I never saw myself practicing law for 30+ years. I have a lot of respect for the law and what lawyers do. But I knew it wasn’t for me long term. Also, my personality lends itself more to creating, building, entrepreneurship, etc., rather than litigation.

The leather goods business is something that had been floating around in my head for awhile. It was sort of borne out of my own experiences carrying briefcases as a litigator. We did a press release that explains it a bit more here.  

How did you make the move from lawyer to business owner?

It wasn’t easy. I would say most of my lawyer friends (probably 75%) aren’t particularly happy with their career choice. But they don’t know how to change because the pay is pretty good and hard to replace. Also, the longer you do it, the more you are sort of pigeonholed into that – it’s just how people see you.

I only worked at a law firm for a couple of years before starting my own practice (my first toe into running a business). As a young lawyer with no book of business, I had to figure out how to generate clients, fast. At that time the Internet was certainly around, but not like it is today. Most lawyers had a basic website that was really just a glorified business card. I decided to learn everything I could about web marketing. I started generating my own content and clients pretty early on.

I used that web marketing knowledge to start a couple of other Internet businesses that did pretty well. Over time, that momentum allowed me to transition out of law and to pursue Jackson Wayne Leather Goods, which is really where my passion is.

Did you have any debt from law school? If so, did this make it hard to have a career change?

Yes, I had student loans. I was fortunate enough to lock them in at a low interest rate, but it was certainly a factor in my early years as to how much risk I felt I could take on.

Does your legal background help you at Jackson Wayne?

It’s funny, the law license both helps and hurts you in business. It helps for the obvious reasons because it’s easier to form an LLC, handle a lot of the business admin, avoid legal battles, draft documents, etc. But it hurts because law school and litigation in particular trains you to be risk averse and to anticipate all the things that can go wrong. This is the exact opposite of what an entrepreneur needs to do. Every day you have to take risks, do things outside of your comfort zone, etc. If you approach business like law, you’ll never get anything going in business. So I had to sort of “untrain” my mind a little bit and act more like my clients! I recently went to inactive status with my license.

What advice do you have for a lawyer that wants to make a career change?

The best piece of advice I could give is to not put it off. I can’t tell you how many lawyers I’ve talked to over the years that are interested in a career change but just end up putting it off and becoming perpetually miserable. It doesn’t get easier with time – it gets harder. So get started now. You shouldn’t give up the income just yet but you need to start taking steps that will eventually lead to your exit. That may mean starting a business like I did, or it might mean getting retrained for a different career or simply applying for non-law jobs.

Also, while planning your exit, be sure to avoid the “golden handcuffs.” It’s very natural for young lawyers to want to enjoy the new income they’re receiving. It seems many law firms actually encourage it, at least implicitly. Ramping up your lifestyle/expenses can be a killer for getting out of law. If you’re monthly living expenses are high, it can be nearly impossible to get out of law because other jobs may not pay as much or other businesses you start may have a growth period where you’ll have no income from it. So living beneath your means will give you a great shot at getting out of law.

One last thing, I don’t mean to be down on the legal profession. I do know lawyers who are genuinely happy with their career, even litigators! I think most people will have a sense early on in their career. Thanks!

June 18, 2018

How to Save Your Law School GPA

What to do after a bad semester in law school and 4 strategies for if you're failing out of law school. How to get better grades in law school. Law school grades tips. 4 ways to raise your law school GPA. How to raise your grades as a a 1L. How to raise your grades as a 2L. What to do if you're failing law school. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Surprise haha! I plan on doing a post about graduation and several posts about what I learned from my internship and about Bar prep, but today I'm taking a quick study break to write this because I feel like I need to say this now so here it is. 

Okay so look, literally EVERYONE in law school will have *that one semester* where they didn't do so hot (even yours truly). Even if you're on academic probation, I want you to remind yourself of that! Law school is hard and sometimes it can be too much at once and your grades can suffer, but that doesn't mean that you should drop out (unless you truly hate it). So here's some ideas to help you get back in the game and raise that GPA.

Related: How to mentally bounce back from bad grades

Take the professor, not the class

This was some advice that one of my 1L professors gave our class and he was so right. If you find a professor that you click with and did well with, take that professor again as much as possible. Each time you retake him, you're starting out a little bit ahead because you already know what to expect in class and on exams. This little edge can help you get repeat good grades to cushion your GPA. And, usually if you retake a professor a lot you get to know them and then wow look at you having a go-to person for scholarship or job rec letters or other opportunities. Even if you don't necessarily need these classes, take them if your schedule will allow it.

Take summer classes

I'm a huuuuge proponent of summer classes in law school. Not only are they normally cheaper than regular law school classes (so you're getting credits at a discounted rate and taking out less loans), you also are getting ahead on your credits so you can take less classes in during the regular year. This will help your grade during the regular year because you can take less classes so you'll be less overworked and will have less to study during finals and more time to study for your other classes. 

Anyways besides all this, the summer classes that I've taken are usually easier because you are taking only one or two classes at a time and generally the classes aren't as intense as regular law classes because they're shorter. Now a warning that summer classes are usually smaller and you know how that's not fun with the curve so try extra hard in these classes! I mean after all, it's a lot easier to take one class and throw yourself in to it and then put yourself in a position to beat the curve  than treat this like a regular class. Don't worry if you're working during the summer or gone, because you can still take advantage of this if there's some flexibility with your schedule.

Take the easy A

Now, there's some debate on whether this is sabotaging you with the Bar if you are taking pointless classes that aren't covered on the Bar or are taking Bar-covered classes but not really learning anything. I took an easy Wills class and while some of this stuff is new to me I don't really feel all that behind my classmates who took the harder Wills professor and learned more than me, because the Bar prep companies do a good job of catching you up. If your grades are fine then maybe you don't need to risk this, but I think if you're on the edge then it's worth it to chase the grade. I mean, after all, being prepared for the Bar is useless if you failed out of law school right? 

Try a new study style 

Each year of law school, I ended up having a totally different study style. Not because one was bad so I had to do another but just because I had to adjust to my circumstances and also I guess I wanted to experiment for the purpose of weighing in my opinion (just like Carrie Bradshaw's dating life right? haha). Anyways, here's some different styles for you to explore:

Breaking your day down into sections

If you were working or were in extracurriculars, then maybe it's time to cut back on those or even stop. I know you're probably trying to set yourself up to get a job, but again remember that you're not going to get a post-graduation job if you don't graduate. Also, it might be worth the investment to look in to getting some supplements to help you review and make sure that you're understanding the material like you need to be.

This is a short post, but I just wanted to give some of y'all out there some motivation and ideas to get you started on saving your GPA! If you got bad grades because you realized that you hated law school, then I totally support your decision to drop out (I mean hey at least you tried and now you know). But if you don't hate law school, don't think just that one bad semester or a few less-than-mediocre semesters should make you stop. If you have any other suggestions of how to help that GPA creep back up, leave a comment below (even if it's anonymous!) and pass on the knowledge. 
let's be friends!