Career Monday Morning Practice

Think again – Are money fears keeping you trapped in a job you hate?

Written by Allison Wolf

Money fears, we all have them.

What if I lose my job?

What if I can’t make the mortgage payment?

What if I can’t feed my kids?

My respect goes to those of you who have faced these money issues head-on, they are tough. Job loss is tough. Being responsible for the well being of not just yourself but your family is also hard. I am the primary provider for my family and so experience that responsibility every day.

And here’s what I know – money fears are a major trap keeping many lawyers in jobs that give little satisfaction and lots of stress.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Thanks to AWAL contributor David E. Behrend for pointing me to the Above the Law article by Zach Abramowitz: How to say goodbye to your big law salary.

Abramowitz had some assets that made his transition from lawyer to entrepreneur easier – no law school debt thanks to his parents – and it is important to note that wealthy parents or a spouse with a big salary are not requirements for making a successful career transition.

Big Law works as a great career choice for some and not so well for others. I have been privy to many successful transitions out of big law firms by people without major financial backing.

  • Former trial lawyer Doug Jasinsky moved out of a big Canadian firm and founded the marketing agency Skunkworks.
  • My friend, a single mom and former McCarthy Tetrault business lawyer, opened a successful boutique legal practice with a close friend.
  • I know a single mom and former big firm lawyer who now happily runs her own solo wills and estates practice.
  • A sole-provider dad with a young child at home, who left his big law practice to join a small regional firm.

And I know many other lawyers who have successfully transitioned their practices out of large firms to smaller firms, in-house, or out of law all together.

If your job feels like a straightjacket that is squeezing the life out of you, trust me on this one, change for the better is possible. It doesn’t have to be done in one go. Making a career change happens in small steps. The steps to take will depend on the transition you want to make. If you are feeling stuck, the first step is to reach out for help. A Coach or a Lawyers Assistance Program Counsellor can help you with figuring out your path forward.

Money can be an obstacle and not an insurmountable one. Beware of assuming that no movement is possible – get some advice instead.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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