To recap, I was recently asked by a lawyer who shall be known as X about how I left the legal profession and launched my own startup called Anita’s Garden. For this topic, I think it makes more sense for me to start at the end and work backwards, even though this may seem back to front.
X’s email is founded on the assumption that I didn’t enjoy practising law anymore and that was the reason that I left the profession. This is incorrect. I didn’t leave law because I didn’t love it anymore. I left law because I found something else that I love even more.
I left a profession to which I dedicated many years of my educational and working life, a profession which I found incredibly rewarding and a profession for which I still have so much respect. Being a lawyer is so much more than merely a job. The legal profession is a fraternity, a family, an extended and complex support network. I am constantly blown away by how much encouragement fellow lawyers have given me over the years, both in New Zealand and when I worked overseas.
It was difficult balancing work at a large corporate firm with the maintenance of such a large, productive garden. I decided to devote myself full time to Anita’s Garden so I could inspire, encourage and assist others to develop their own private happy space – a sanctuary, a haven, an oasis at home which allows them to escape their problems, as well as the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood. I also created Anita’s Garden because I feel passionate about educating others so that they can learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables organically, feed their families, improve their health and reduce their grocery bills.
I’m genuinely horrified that my startup might encourage people with a similar academic and professional background to leave the legal profession and embark on a journey similar to my own. That was definitely not my intention! I don’t consider myself to be a trailblazer. I am surprised that anyone would want to follow in my footsteps. I’ve always just tried to make what I deemed to be the best decisions in the circumstances, after considering all the factors. For me, moving away from legal practice was the right decision but each person’s journey is different. There are no precise steps that you must follow. Each person must decide if and when the time is right. Trust your instincts. This might sound vague but I’ve always been reluctant to advise people what to do in personal situations, as I don’t like being blamed when things go wrong. Don’t forget that this isn’t a point of no return. Many lawyers in New Zealand have left legal practice to do something else, only to return to law at a later stage in their life. The grass always appears greener on the other side. Sometimes it’s better the devil you know than the one you don’t.
Don’t forget that it can take some time to settle into a profession. Give things a chance. For me, law was not exactly love at first sight. It took me awhile to understand exactly what it meant to be a lawyer and to really enjoy what I was required to do as part of my job. Basically, you get paid to read the really boring bits. Every job has aspects which are dull, so I’ve learnt to take the bad with the good.
In X’s case, as you become more senior, the dangling carrot of partnership becomes very lucrative. To start all over again means taking a cut in seniority and remuneration. This is a major consideration when one has financial commitments such as a mortgage and dependent children. But sometimes you need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. Nothing is ever a complete waste of time. Over the course of the past ten years, X gained valuable experience, contacts and confidence in herself. Sometimes what we are doing at present is a part of something even greater further down the track. In a nutshell, life is a journey rather than a destination. Relax and embrace it!