THE ADVOCATE 413
VOL. 80 PART 3 MAY 2022
By Shari R. Pearlman*
CAREER TRANSITION FOR LAWYERS
The words “career change” can conjure up trepidation and possibilities. We
oscillate between nervousness and uncertainty on the one hand, and excitement
and enthusiasm for a new life chapter on the other. Much of the anxiety
surrounding a career shift is tied to how we go about actually tackling
this life change. For lawyers, the prospect of a professional change may be
especially daunting given the years of investment in school and perhaps a
specific area of practice. Five steps, outlined below, will not only provide
clear guideposts on our journeys but are tailored to the natural skills that
lawyers possess, regardless of specialty.
The first step en route to a career shift is the “transition process”. This stage
allows us to become acquainted with the idea of a professional change.
Transitions always start with an ending. Sometimes this change has a definitive
timeline, if our current job has a specific end date. Often it is an emotional
ending: a realization that our career or job no longer suits us. We then
move into a middle zone of exploration and self-assessment prior to finding
and moving to our new beginning. Taking this initial time to transition our
mindset from our current work situation to beginning something new, sets
us on the right trajectory to move forward. During the transition phase we
can begin the other steps while tending to our well being.
Self-assessment is filled with tasks that allow us to evaluate likes, dislikes,
strengths and limitations. Defining what we value about work and at the
* Shari R. Pearlman, LCSW, JD, is the assistant director of the Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia (“LAPBC”) as
well as a lawyer/counsellor.