I was done. Frustrated and fed up, disgruntled and exhausted, I knew that I had to get out of my firm. I didn’t know exactly where I would go, but I knew that my career needed a massive overhaul.
At this point in time, a few of my friends had already made the leap out of Big Law.
A couple of folks had gone in-house, several others had slipped into a boutique firm, and a handful of brave souls had started their own firms. These all seemed like safe, viable options for me… all I had to do was (1) pick an avenue and (2) get busy.
Big Law was done, that was certain, but precisely where I would go next was up in the air. After about a month and a half of interviews with small firms and corporations, I had gotten two nice offers: one was with a movie studio in Hollywood as in-house counsel, and another was with a prestigious litigation boutique in Santa Monica. Even though I preferred the movie studio, I ended up choosing the firm because of its flexibility regarding my start date. So, after a few weeks of serious contemplation, I accepted the firm offer, packed my bags, and took off for the summer.
And what a summer it was. It is hard to put into words what I experienced, but suffice to say it was the most important summer of my life. I met a ton of incredible people, learned an immense amount about myself, and pushed my mind to new limits. I commingled with a number of likeminded individuals who had abandoned their corporate careers to burn an entirely new path. These folks all wanted freedom, flexibility, ownership, and most importantly, happiness. I now wanted those things as well.
I returned to Los Angeles with a brand new mindset. Not only had I come to terms with my dislike of litigation, but I had completely prepared myself to part ways with my legal career. I finally knew that I wanted to start my own education services company. It felt amazingly liberating. I was overflowing with energy and inspiration, and I was ready to let my potential soar.
But I nearly forgot… I had a job that would kick off shortly. Shit. I had almost forgotten about my new firm. I knew I had no desire to pursue that type of work anymore, so I figured that I wouldn’t start the job. Simple. Easy. Done.
Ah, but do you remember that I’m Indian? Do you realise that my parents come from a traditional background where children must study hard, find a particular field, and then work hard to steadily move up a corporate ladder? When my father heard that I was leaving the law, he immediately tried to intervene. He was extremely disappointed and wanted me to rethink my decision. He urged me to at least try the new job. Even though I knew I didn’t want to start, I felt guilty. I figured I could at least appease my Dad and give the new job a go.
And so, on September 3, 2013, I walked into my new law firm. I met with the human resources department, introduced myself to the various partners and attorneys in the patent group, and enjoyed a firm sponsored lunch with my new set of coworkers. Everyone was extremely nice, and my office was fully stocked with standard legal supplies and a brand new MacBook Pro. It was official: I was back in the rat race.
But something was different. I had taken the red pill over the summer and nothing looked the same. I could finally see the green lines of streaming matrix code where shapes and objects once stood. I was no longer overwhelmed and enamoured by the corporate veneer and highfalutin lawyer lifestyle. Screw the system. Bring on the thunder, Agent Smith. It was time to free my mind, break out of my machine built cocoon, and zip down the rabbit hole to Zion.
I couldn’t do the legal dance anymore. Not for a year, not for a month, not even for a week. I wanted to start living my dream right away, start pursuing my real passions at that precise moment. Why waste any time once you know what you want to do? What is the point? There is so much emphasis nowadays on looking forward. We are told from a young age that we must wait patiently for that golden day when all our dreams materialise after much blood and sweat has been exerted. Bide your time, put in the hours, and eventually things will pay off. Pardon my French, but f*** that shit. I was ready to launch my own venture, and that was that.
I asked the hiring partner if he was free for a quick chat. He was, and he kindly came down to my office. After he entered, I shut the door and sat down. He looked at me with a suspicious look on his face and said “uh oh… you’re not leaving, are you?” Actually, yes I am. I then told him that I simply couldn’t stay any longer, that I had thought about it deeply, and I needed a change. He was noticeably upset, but reasonably understanding. He asked if I could stay a few more days to wrap up my outstanding projects. Of course I obliged, and did my best work possible before leaving.
During my last few days in office, not a single person came by to wish me well. But I totally expected this treatment. After all, the firm had waited all summer for me to begin, so I had obviously left a bad taste in its mouth. But it didn’t matter. Nothing about law firm life mattered anymore. I was on my way to a brand new beginning. When I walked out those doors for the last time, I felt like I could fly. I wanted to scream. Actually, I did scream. I raced out the doors, jumped in my car, and zoomed up Santa Monica Boulevard back to my apartment. I rounded up a few of my friends, charged down the street, and partied all night in celebration of my new life. The next day, I opened up my laptop and began my life as an entrepreneur.
Every day since, I have been sincerely, authentically happy. I am so stoked about the future, and can’t wait to see what happens with my business venture.
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