In helping women leave big law, I see common pitfalls where they get stuck.

One of the biggest is pleasing people. This is a complicated one for women.

There is a tremendous double standard. If they’re not nice and “a pleasure to work with” they get bad reviews, less plum assignments, and relegated to less interesting tasks.

While this is a challenge to be navigated, many women who want to leave big law have a hard time with their perception of disappointing others.

They have developed relationships, are integral members of their teams, have been taken under the wing by a partner or mentor. They don’t want to “let anyone down”.

Women who want to leave report feeling guilty or selfish.  As one client said, “Leaving a partner who champions you is very difficult.  Truly, you have to be your own champion.”   

If you want to leave (big) law here are…

 Four Ways to Stop People Pleasing

1. Collect Data

Observe. Watch how others say no, and take care of themselves. As we’ve seen recently with #MeToo, speaking up for yourself is powerful. Even if it begins with noticing in your head.

2.  Recognize when you’re doing it

Ask yourself, “Am I putting this person’s needs ahead of my own?”   Pause. Breathe. Listen to that inner wisdom, you will know.

3.  Re-evaluate your options

There’s usually more than one solution to a problem.  A tool I share with clients is for them to ask themselves, “What story am I telling myself?” Often it starts with “I can’t…” or “I’ll never…”  

Then ask, “What other story could I tell myself?”  Start that thought with, “I can…” or “I will…”   Write it down.  Let the ideas flow

4.  Trust – True relationships transcend transitions

Real relationships come with you. 

A true champion will be supportive. Clients who were trembling, crying and nearly puking as they went to tell a partner or mentor about leaving, have maintained these valuable relationships. 

Now it’s your turn to take some action.

Go through the list above and pick ONE thing you can implement. Make a commitment to doing it this week.  

From getting more sleep, to creating time to figure out your next move – write it down.

Writing down goals is proven increase your chances of success.

Use that as a foothold.  Begin your climb out from the pleasing others pitfall.


If you want to get out of big law, grab your free copy of Exit Plan.

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4 Steps to Escape from (big) Law

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