OK, continuing in my answers to the questions you asked to help me fill out JennieBoo‘s eight things meme, (see parts one and two of my answers if you need to catch up), today I’m taking on NYC/Caribbean ragazza’s million-dollar domanda regarding my move to Italy:
“How did you decide to leave the law? Were you afraid about making money?”
This question required much more than a few sentence answer, so I’m devoting a whole blog post to it—but I’ll start with the quick answers:
Quite easily, and of course.
Now to expand a bit. Beware for a roundabout, but we’ll get there.
I never actually wanted to be a lawyer. Well, maybe when I was in high school, but what do you really know about anything then anyway? Have you seen photos of yourself from those years?
And yet it was always set in my head to go to law school once I finished college. I think, quite honestly, that it was just so ingrained in me (by myself) by the time my senior year came around, that I just did it without much thinking. That’s what smart, overachieving (working class) people do, right? They do things like become doctors and lawyers. Writers? Too risky!
Sure, I considered grad school for English or history, but never really seriously—and only as an additional part to law school.
Truth be told, I always knew I’d end up writing for a living. I could’ve done an Master of Fine Arts or gone to work for a publishing company right out of college (and perhaps I should have), but I figured the law would give me something solid, respectable if you will, as a back-up. Not a back-up career, mind you, but a back-up skill set.
I promise to post another time on the wisdom of this thinking, but I’ll get too off-track if I do that right now.
So, suffice it to say, that my decision to leave the law wasn’t very difficult; when the itch to move to Italy struck, I was in the middle of a 2-year appellate clerkship, which for those who don’t know, is fancy schmancy way of saying you work for a judge, researching and writing memorandums on the cases s/he hears.
I was going to have to do something different when the clerkship was up in August of 2003, and after I got stuck on Italy, I thought, well, here’s your chance.
Was I worried about making money? Sure, but I had some savings to tide me over for a while. I had done a bit of freelancing/contract work throughout law school, so I carried those contacts with me; since then I’ve gained many more of course.
Now to be clear, I’m still actually a lawyer (paying dues and whatnot) and I still do legal work–I just don’t do it the traditional way in a firm or, you know, the United States. The Internet is a lovely thing (now with broadband!).
Changing careers is always difficult—doing it while changing countries/continents/languages/cultures too, well, perhaps that’s kind of insane.
And if I had the chance, I’d do it all over again–exactly as I did the first time.
Sometimes you just need to be brave enough to take that first step,
and the rest seems to happen on its own.