From Practicing Attorney to Retail Store Employee

Once upon a time, I found myself in a situation where I had to make a decision. I was a young, practicing attorney. I had recently transitioned from working in BigLaw to working for a smaller, more specialized firm. I was finding my groove and getting used to my new surroundings.

Then, I was placed in a difficult situation.

I was required to really check in with myself, my values, and my integrity. I felt lost, confused, and disheartened that I found myself in a situation that I believed to be unethical. After much thought, prayer, and a nudge from a Frank Sinatra song, I knew that I could no longer stay at that firm.

After only six months I gave my notice, packed up my stapler and pens, and left.

Except …

I had nowhere to go. I did not have another law job to go to. At the time, I did not even know whether I wanted to continue practicing law.

I needed space. I needed perspective. I needed a distraction … so I went to the mall. I looked at all the pretty things while sipping my coffee from Caribou. And then, I saw it. Like a ray of hope, I saw a “now hiring” sign hanging outside of a clothing store.

I walked in, filled out an application, and before too long I was helping people find their size and ringing up their purchases at the cash register.

You may be wondering why I went from being a practicing attorney to working as a sales associate at a retail store. Why not keep looking for a law job? Why not find something I could use my degree in?

I needed space. I needed perspective. And, I needed a paycheck. I had just gone through two challenging experiences at two different firms. I had felt discouraged by my experiences so far and did not want to go back to the law without first taking some time to rest.

And this is why a temporary and/or contract position can be a wonderful opportunity to explore, learn, reset, and breathe. I will admit that my Ego was a bit bruised, especially when someone would ask what I did for work. But as time went on, I realized that I was still doing something important: I was taking care of myself while continuing to earn a living. My address was different, but I was still helping people, showing up, and doing my best. And eventually, I came to truly understand how valuable it is to have temporary and contract roles available to us. And I will always be an advocate for them.

As time has marched on, I have found myself taking on temporary and/or contract positions more than once. Each time, these roles have helped me figure out my next steps all while continuing to support me financially. They have been there for me when I had all but given up on practicing law, when I had become a new mother, and when I was trying to start the New Firm.

If you ever find yourself in a position where you need to regroup or take a breath, I invite you to consider what a contract/temporary job could bring to your life. It could be just what you need!