At age 49, I decided to walk away from my position as a partner in a prestigious law firm. To describe me as a workaholic during my 23-year career is akin to saying that Mark Zuckerberg is charitable or that Donald Trump is outspoken. Defense attorneys bill by the hour, more precisely by the tenth of an hour, and I routinely earned bragging rights as the "top biller" in the firm. As a result, I threw my partners for a loop when I announced my early retirement. I saw envy in their eyes and many confidently predicted that I'd be back. They overestimated the lure of the paycheck and misjudged my resolve. My announcement may have seemed impulsive, but it was actually a well-reasoned, deliberate determination.
In deciding to move on, I applied my well-honed legal reasoning skills. On the one hand, the money was good and unlikely to be equaled in a less stressful second career. And, despite the derogatory term "ambulance chasers" and the popularity of snarky lawyer jokes, a JD still garners respect except in physicians' offices. I'd valued those perks for a long time, but found myself in a different place in life.
I was about to begin my sixth decade on the planet and despite my Jewish upbringing, it was starting to dawn on me that racking up more achievements might not be the be-all and end-all of life. In addition to "Father Time" peering over my shoulder, two other factors weighed on me. While I still looked forward to going to the office, that "been there, done that" feeling started to permeate my psyche. I'd had a successful career by any standard. By dint of unwavering determination and perseverance I'd gained entry into the male-dominated partnership ranks. In the face of my partners' predictions of failure, I'd founded and managed the firm's only successful branch office for six years. What more was there to prove? Besides, I'm a 110%er and had no desire to stay on as the deadwood occupying the sacrosanct corner office.
But by far the biggest driver was my recent marriage to a man worthy of a major investment of time and attention. I'd already had a roommate-masquerading-as-a-husband first marriage and wasn't eager to become a two-time marital loser. My instincts told me I was headed down that path unless I made a big change. I was firmly convinced that having a personal life and continuing to be a hotshot litigator were mutually incompatible endeavors. It was time to choose happiness.
I had no idea what direction my life would take at the time I announced my decision. What I did know was that traditional retirement held no allure. I'd rather shoot myself in the head than play golf all day. It was time to take a deeper dive into Lorie to unveil whatever traits and nascent skills lie buried under that tough litigator with the take-no-prisoners New York attitude. I thought I'd better start before I was too tired and feeble to take on the exploration.
The last decade has been quite an adventure. Despite the financial and emotional ups and downs of running my own start-up business as a Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach, I have no regrets. For better or worse my "Lorie the Lawyer" persona remains largely intact. I now proudly declare myself "The world's only Type A Nutritionist and Wellness Coach."
The best part of my post-law journey has been peeling back the onion layers. To my great relief I discovered some squelched but developable skills and talents outside of being a kick-ass attorney. I love a microphone as long as it's not in a judge's courtroom. Give me an audience and I can educate, amuse, and beguile. I'm still an education glutton and a straight A student. There's a part of my brain which sometimes cranks out HuffPost-worthy creative writing. And, to use a trite phrase, "I've found my passion in life." I've successfully turned my longtime avocation -- health and wellness -- into a second career.
It's all good. I'm a happy camper. It took guts to make the change but I'd do it again in a New York minute.