You may distinctly remember the time frame between 2008 and 2010 as one of the worst periods for job seekers and workers. There were mass layoffs due to companies going bankrupt, and people losing their homes in the mortgage crisis. In the legal profession, opportunities were scarce, and lawyers were in a panic. I had been practicing for several years, but I carried the weight of six-figure law school loan debt. Private lenders were unkind to forbearance requests because they too were in a panic.
In the beginning of 2009, I accepted a position as an assistant general counsel at a growing insurance company in Miami. This role was my first taste of in-house counsel life and I vowed to never go back to a law firm. I rose to the top in the first two months when the company’s deputy general counsel walked out. I was now directly partnering with the other general counsel, the CEO, and CFO on legal matters.
About 6 months into my time there, I walked in on a Monday, and everything in my office was labeled. The Department of Financial Services had arrived to shut down the company and dissolve it. The company went into bankruptcy and I was laid off. My dreams were crushed.
I struggled to find another full-time job. I spent a few months doing document review as a contract attorney to stay afloat. I remember having to borrow $1,500 from my parents to pay my rent because I depleted my savings account during that year. I was a 31-year old attorney borrowing rent money from my parents, something I never imagined would happen. It seemingly felt like the lowest point of my life.
Embarrassed. Mortified. Scared. Defeated.
All of those adjectives accurately described the wave of emotions I felt.
Where would I go next? What would I do?
Over those few months, I attended every local lawyer function I could, contacted every local recruiter in my rolodex, and I pounded the payment to hand out my resume. Despite being rejected many times, I refused to give up. I achieved my next position at a large law firm, and 8 months later, found myself in a health crisis. Yet, that health crisis led me to open my company and run the NYC and Chicago marathons.
With each difficult event, an opportunity of change and transformation appeared. I ingrained myself in the notion that we are never given more than we can handle. Each struggle is there to teach us to grow, learn, and move past the obstacles.
A few years later, I accepted a corporate attorney role with the third largest insurance company in the country. I watched my own career continue to grow and flourish. I had it all — the dream job every attorney wants (with no billable hours), the company car, the 401K, and the large merit bonuses on top of the 6-figure salary. My writing business continued to grow on the side to immeasurable levels. I sat in my car on lunch breaks in a grocery parking lot taking consultation calls from clients all over the country. I worked on writing and branding projects at nights and on the weekends after the 60+ hours a week I worked as an attorney. Then it came down to making an important and life-changing decision: continue working 100+ hours a week or follow my heart.
At the end of February 2015, I boldly left all of the glitz and glamour of lawyer life to make my part-time dream business of almost 5 years my full-time passion. I began the journey of devoting my time and energy to help experienced and talented executives reach the pinnacle of their careers with confidence, conviction, and certainty. I had a vision, and I knew I could make it happen.
I know what it’s like to have to start over and take a salary cut only to re-build and flourish again. Resiliency is what got me to where I am today, and that’s my message to you: a setback is just a setback. Be positive, be proactive, and do not give in to the defeatist thoughts. If you are going through a difficult time in your career, keep moving forward and put your dreams into motion. Starting over can be the beginning of a great new chapter in your story.