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Alternative careers for lawyers

After a decade of practicing law and experiencing chronic health conditions, Mairin left the corporate world and the rat race along with it, for the pursuit of a more rewarding, free, and more purposeful life. She sold her house and 99% of her belongings and moved abroad. She started her business to help other entrepreneurs easily protect their businesses without the high cost and hassle of hiring an attorney, DIY contracts, templates, and other legal resources that could be required for their businesses.

This week, we spoke to Mairin Van Shura on her journey into and out of her corporate life.

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Why did you get into law and then what made you leave the corporate world?

It's kind of funny, my brother would say that this was mockingly he's he just kept calling it my Eat Pray Love My version of Eat, Pray Love. In the US, you have to decide your college major from your freshman or sophomore year of college. Who knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they're 18? And for me, I went into college premed, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. And then I got to organic chemistry and realised probably not the best fit. And, and I'd always been good at persuasive writing and persuasive speaking. And so law seemed to be a logical fit for somebody who likes English history. And I was a political science major. And honestly, if you're a political science major, your options career-wise- law, or being a political science professor, so I went the law route. You know, I thought at the time, I thought I wanted to be a prosecutor, I thought I was very black and white in my thinking when I was, you know, 18 or 19. And I thought, I would put the bad guys in jail, that was going to be my goal. That was my life's purpose. And, you know, it's amazing how things have monumentally shifted from my thinking when I was 18 or 19.

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How did your thinking evolve from then?

I think that my, my thinking was so compartmentalised. Like, I knew that Okay, so and most of your listeners can relate, you know, we're intelligent, driven, successful individuals, and I was smart and driven in college. And so I knew that I wanted to do well, financially. And so to me, law just seemed logical, this is a way to make a good income have a successful life. So, my thinking was really kind of siloed in that respect, if that makes sense. Like, I didn't realize how many other options there were for people who wanted to think out of the box. And I mean, even then, I was unconventional. Like I studied abroad, and I graduated college early and I lived abroad for a year, but I still kind of was like, by my, like I said, my thinking was pretty siloed. And it's amazing, like the more life experiences you have, and the more things that you explore like I tried so many different things and law trying to find something that really felt right. And that really resonated. And, you know, so it's been an interesting journey, but that really influenced my thinking to and realizing that okay, there's so many different ways to look at life and careers and not everything has to be okay. It’s not like, this is the decision you make and this is your course for the rest of your life.

Sarah from the former lawyer mentioned exactly those things. So what I'm hearing is actually, even within law, there are several options that you can take and you chose the corporate career route first, why did you give that up?

I actually tried multiple different areas of law. So I tried family law for a bit I did a bunch of other things and, one thing I did like, was consulting because that was an involving a lot of legal research. And I love to research, but consulting for a legal company, and our clients were the federal government. So that was interesting. I did a little bit of intellectual property law, a lot of business law, just trying to get again to find the right fit. And then I did insurance Defense Law for a few years.

So to answer your question, a couple of reasons why I left, it was miserable. I hated the billable hour, I hated that. I felt like we were capped as far as income. It just it the whole mall model to me is so antiquated. And I know that this will probably resonate with a lot of your listeners as well. It's like it's not designed for people to work smarter because you're disincentivized to work more efficiently. Because with a billable hour, it's all about how much you work is how much you get paid. And to me that never felt right. Especially when I was helping small business owners to protect their businesses. It's like, well, how is that fair to just continue to work slower than I really could? Because that's the way the firm would make more money.

So do you want to tell us a bit of your journey on how did you quit the corporate world? What was difficult for you to do? What were the things that you were thinking about? Or? I mean, I'm sure you did not make a decision to sell off everything and move abroad overnight? Or did you?

It was something that was kind of germinating in the back of my mind for a while. But then once I made the decision, it was like, boom, boom, boom, and I sold my house, sold everything moved abroad within I think three or four months, but it's interesting. So the genesis for all of this was really started probably in June of 2019.

And I had a moment it sounds probably so melodramatic, but I was actually in Cuba on holiday, and I was sunburned to an absolute crisp, and I was so miserable. And I was just sitting there like, you know what, I have a good life. On the surface. I have a good job, good income, good house, good friends, but I just felt like I was mired in mediocrity. Again, completely melodramatic, I realized this right now. But at the time, it felt like this watershed moment for me and I realized I was like, I want to uplevel every aspect of my life, I don't feel fulfilled. I'm not living my purpose. I didn't know what my purpose was at the time, but I knew I wasn't living it and so it was like this low-level depression because I just felt like there was so much I was meant for a bigger life.

And then also a big part of it too was that I had chronic health issues, which weren't getting any better. And they were just continuing to get worse regardless of what I did. Like your listeners can't see me right now. But I have a wig on like I had profound hair loss and completely unexplained. I went to doctor after doctor tried supplement after supplement written diet after diet and I started meditating and going to hypnotherapy and acupuncture, the list of things that I tried was long and distinguished but I just wasn't getting any better.

So I had that moment in Cuba. And I was like, You know what, there's something much, much deeper here that I need to address. And so that's when I started looking and I was mercenary. I looked at every aspect of my life. And I was like, okay, what's working and what's not working. And then I tried as best as I could to eliminate what wasn't working. And I knew that I wanted to start my own business. So one of the first steps was quitting my law firm job. And when I quit, I had no idea what I was going to do, I knew it was going to be something law-related, but hadn't figured it out. And then as far as the house and the belongings, once I was location independent. I was in Charleston, South Carolina at the time, which is lovely. But I'd been there for four or five years and was just kind of, it wasn't challenging to me anymore. I didn't feel like I was growing as a person. So I was like, Well, I don't, I don't need to be here. There's nothing keeping me here. So let's sell the house. And then, and then it was kind of a domino effect. It was like, well, I want to move abroad, I've always loved living abroad. So let's move abroad. And honestly, I don't need a three-bedroom house worth of furniture and, you know, this fancy-schmancy wardrobe, because I'm certainly not going to black-tie events anymore. So, you know, sell or donate all of that. And then you know, as I said, it was just kind of things Boom, boom, boom. In retrospect, probably not the best time to do it. Because my house, the closing on my house was March 31, 2020. So exactly when COVID was really starting to hit the US so and I've actually decided to move to Australia, I was going to end up in Australia, and you know, Australia's borders are still closed. So it's been, it's been an interesting journey.

So when you were looking through all of these different bits of life, Marine, I know that we have spoken before, I know we are interested in a couple of common things, which are biochemistry, neuroscience, meditation, all of those good things, when you were going through this phase of health issues, etc. I don't want to lead you to an answer. But what was wrong? And what helped you get back on track with all of those?

It's such a great question. And the answer is, it's, it's still in progress like I still have not gotten, at least from conventional Western medicine, a diagnosis for my hair loss. So it was and this was also to the way I'm wired that if there's a problem, I'm going to do everything in my power to solve it. So through my own research, and trial and error, and biohacking, I've been able to see improvements, I realized it was a combination of factors. And I actually am in the process of creating a website for women with hair loss, just because in the process of doing all this research, I accumulated so much knowledge I spent over, you know, 40 or $50,000 us on testing and doctors and supplements. So I would say that I think it's a combination of things. And stress is one of the biggest. And you know, it took a while for me to accept that because I grew up always thinking that when people said that they were stressed, or it was a cop-out, it was almost like you are weak if you admitted that you were stressed and busy as a badge of honor.

So to say that you're stressed and use it felt like an excuse. So it took a lot of deep work for me to realize that okay, stress is at the root of so many medical issues that, you know, worldwide we're experiencing, and to just say, Oh, you need to get stronger and like why is up? You know what, like, that's so detrimental. So I really had to accept that. I played a role in all of this like a huge like and doing a better job of managing my stress. And like for me, at the time managing my stress was going out for a hard five-mile run. I thought that was me managing my stress. Well, I had to do a lot of work and say okay, well actually that's maybe is the worst thing for me right now. Maybe I need to go out for a short 30-minute walk in nature and not abuse my body. So to answer your question, I keep going down these rabbit holes, but it's a work in progress. I've tried so many different things, I really dove into spirituality. And that's been a huge piece of all of this. So it's almost like I had to address the physical and which is still a work in progress, but the mental, even so much more than the physical, because everything starts with a mental aspect.

Sometimes I feel, and spirituality sort of tells me that you are actually built from the inside out, not outside in. And whatever you do to change your body unless you change the inside, it's not going to go away. How did spirituality help you and all of this, were are you spiritual to begin with?

So that has been an evolution that I never expected and entrepreneurship, you know, it's absolutely brilliant, but it also forces you at least for me, it's almost like a razor blade-like ripping open your soul and you have to address every single limiting belief, every single trauma that you didn't even realize you had, you have to address it if you ever want to progress in your business. So that was part of my journey into exploring my spirituality.

I was raised Catholic, I tried to and I don't mean to disparage Catholicism, but there's a lot of indoctrination. That goes on at least with I went to Catholic school for high school, college, and law school. And I love the spiritual aspect of it. But the organized religion part of it never kind of felt right with me. So in 2018, I think I had a ton of stress, a ton of emotional stress, I'd had multiple surgeries on my ankle on my foot, I was bitten by a poisonous spider and almost lost my toe, it was the most absurd year, it was just the thing after thing after thing. And looking back on it, I almost feel like it was God the universe, whatever you believe in being like, okay, Marin, like you need to address this, you can't, you know, go out on a long run and ignore your problems, you need to face all this. So I started actually, with Reiki, I think in the summer of 2018. And that just felt like I'm a rational type A, pragmatic lawyer. And I thought that that was so woo-woo. And I was like, this is like a prayer circle where everybody's gonna sing Kumbaya, and they're in dreadlocks. And, you know, it's, it just felt so far from any frame of reference I had, but like, you know, what the Reiki practitioner came highly recommended. And that first session, it was like, she peered into my soul. And I was hooked. And so I saw her weekly for two years, I think. And that was kind of the catalyst for a lot of the spiritual development.

I did kind of like the neuroscience part of spirituality, I saw a great hypnotherapist. And that felt like the science part of spirituality, if that makes sense, because it was almost like, so we were addressing the limiting beliefs, we were tackling the subconscious, but at the same time, from a spiritual angle, it felt like it unlocked this intuitive channel for me. So we were addressing things that needed to be addressed, but I was also getting more in touch with myself and my ability to make my own decisions. And then I mean, I'm trying to think of some of the other things I did, I did theta healing that was interesting. I did one of the most interesting things that were actually profoundly life-changing for me, which, like when you were saying all the woo-woo like you never thought that you would be Woo, okay, I hired a femininity coach, as a feminine energy coach. And coming from such a masculine energy-dominated profession, like law, it's just it's like night and day, but you know, exploring everything as an entrepreneur and the limiting beliefs and realizing that like, Okay, I have huge aspirations for my business. But the thinking that got me where I am with my current problems is not going to get me to where I want to be. So, I got the strategy. I need to look at the energetics and I realized that my feminine energy was off. I was just masculine, energy-driven like strategy process. Doo doo doo doo doo. So yeah, I worked with her for months. And that was fascinating.

Moving on to the woo versus the lawyer, how has your lawyer self taken on all of this? What does your lawyer brain say?

You know, the law, your brain struggles, especially I am kind of in the middle of some big changes with my business in my business, and in a good way we are leveling up. And as I'm sure some of your listeners can relate, anytime you level up, there's that feeling in your stomach, like you know, it's what you want to do. And you can see your next-level self. Sometimes it's very far in the distance. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns, and roses. So that's kind of where I am now. But I'm also realizing, so my default is still that law, your brain has to figure everything out, what's the strategy? How is this going to work? And my brain- sometimes it's like a war up there between that side, trying to dominate and then the other side being like, you know what, let's just see kind of, let's be open to things unfolding in maybe a different way than you ever expected, and being open. And like, I literally had to say to myself, I am open to any opportunity. However, it comes to me that has been such a game-changer for me in my business, because there were certain things that I said that I didn't want to do. Like I did not want to do this aspect of law, I did not want to do custom work, I did not want to do this. And then when I started being like, Well, okay, well, maybe I do this temporarily.

It's been amazing to see the different types of opportunities just kind of fall into my lap just by being more open to Okay, man, maybe it's all going to happen. But it doesn't necessarily have to happen exactly how I thought it would on my timeline. So there's still that part of my brain that has trouble with relinquishing control. But I think also, and I'm going to say God because through this spiritual journey, I mean, it's been interesting because I've tried so many things that have brought me back to God. But it's been, I feel like I'm placed in a situation now where I have no control over being able to move back abroad. Like I had the plan. I was going to move in July, and I was going to move to Ireland. And I was going to do this, this, and this. And so many different variables in my life have popped up that have made that very challenging. And so I'm choosing now it's a work in progress. And this is where I'm trying to cultivate that feminine energy and say, Okay, well, I don't know how this is going to work out. My brain wants to control the situation and say, Okay, this is the plan, this is what's going to happen, but I need to be open for something that maybe is even more magical than what I had planned happening. And so that's kind of to answer your question. I would just say the lawyer brain tries to dominate, but the more I work on being open to receiving, surrendering, and relinquishing control, the more I feel at peace. And that's one of the biggest things about the spiritual journey is that I'm a much calmer human being. That low level of anxiety that I had when I was practicing law, it's still there to a degree, I mean, every business owner, especially if we just hit the one-year mark, there's gonna be some anxiety. But just, overall, I would say, I'm just like, I'm a much calmer, peaceful individual.

Tell us a bit more about what sort of work you do now.

I created it because we talked about the billable hour in the beginning and how I hated that. I wanted to create a cost-effective way for business owners, online business owners to protect their businesses. And originally it was just solopreneurs. Even the name Solvigant Legal like in retrospect, choosing a business name that nobody knows what it means is probably not the best idea. But still living it means, you know, it's basically like traveling alone. raveling and solo travel and adventure. And so I always thought like, to me entrepreneurship was as a solo trip. uncharted territory, without a GPS without directions. So that's kind of like its travels a big part of my brand. But anyway, I wanted a cost-effective way for business owners to protect their businesses as quickly and painlessly as possible, legal, which I know can be so overwhelming. And I see this time, it's time in and time out with business owners that they haven't done anything as far as contracts or just basic protections for their business because they were scared. So they put their head in the sand. And then they've had all kinds of issues.

So I create customizable DIY contract templates. So the goal with the business is to be a one-stop-shop where let's say a brand new coach needs. When she's setting up a website, she's setting up her business, she needs to know how to set up her business legally, she needs contracts for her clients, she needs her website protected, I want it to be that one-stop-shop and do it in a way that was painless, and quick and hassle-free. So the customizable templates, people can download those and then you know, get their businesses protected in under an hour. And then I kind of branched off and did some courses. I'm doing some workshops, and next week, I'm launching my trademark services. So then I can really be a one-stop-shop where somebody can start to finish, they can start their brand, and then they can comprehensively protect their brand.

Is it only solopreneurs that you work with right now? Are they smaller businesses?

No. solopreneurs it was just because when I started I was a solopreneur and so there was kind of that like unspoken bond with other solopreneurs but now it's pretty much online businesses of varying sizes. Usually, for the most part, as far as people that come to me just needing one contract. It's smaller businesses solopreneurs or maybe they have a couple of employees, but I also wanted it to be I don't work with larger companies. They also have sometimes unique needs that I as a location-independent lawyer can't cover because they don't know I'm trying to think of an example like I don't know, maybe they need some sort of joint venture agreement or purchasing agreement or something like that. I could do it but I want my wheelhouse to be very narrowly tailored to serve the solopreneur or the small business owner as best as possible versus trying to be, you know, really diverse. And yeah, serve large businesses, small businesses. So yeah, small business, small business owners who are online is my bread and butter.

You mentioned location independence- how does that matter? And why is that important?

From a personal standpoint, it allowed me to move abroad, which is huge from the freedom aspect professionally, it's so contracts, I have clients from all over the world, I probably have almost as many Non-US clients. And when I say clients, I mean, people purchasing my, my contracts, or courses or whatever that are outside of the US than in the US, which is amazing to me to have, like, you know, this little very, very tiny global business. So the local, and that's why I specialize in what I do. Because if I tried to broaden the scope and say, offer employment agreements, that is very specific to a country and also two states, within a country, like in the US, for example, different states have different employment laws. So I didn't even want to go there. You know, I wanted to provide what I can provide to business owners across the world.

That's actually really cool that I wouldn't have thought about it that way that it's actually not probably something that most law firms also even deal with, they are not dealing with location-independent laws and contracts.

It's a good point. Usually, law firms are dealing with local clients and in their town in their state, but the nature of online businesses, I just worked with a business owner last week, who is basic, she's an Australian, based in New Zealand, who is serving clients all over the world. So you need to have contracts that reflect you know, universal contract principles, I guess I should say. So online business is very, is very unique in that respect, it's not specific to any one location really.

So if we talk about one year from now, what are you most excited about?

Wow, that's a great question that I haven't really thought about, I would say excited about the fact that I've created this well-oiled machine. And meaning, I finally have all my systems in place, I have a website that's representative of the, you know, the high-quality stellar brand that I want to be, and I have, you know, I have a couple of virtual assistants now, but maybe I have, you know, other people doing marketing and ads and things for me. So then I am so laser-focused on what I love doing, which is creating unique content. And then just having the ability like last week, I randomly had an idea for our workshop, being able to have the time to just say, Okay, I'm going to do this next week, versus being mired in a lot of just the working in my business versus on my business. And any year, I will have structured everything, so that I am as passive as possible. And, you know, working three, three days a week, and then traveling the rest of the time, that feels really aligned and free to me.

If you had to choose one piece of advice for the listeners, what would you tell them?

I guess I would say to really think about what you're passionate about. And it can be, I was told once that people when they're looking for their purpose, they, they can have trouble because they're looking for that thing that they love that they can't wait to get out of bed in the morning. But somebody told me to look at it, paradoxically, and be like, What is it something that you hate that makes you angry because that can be your purpose as well.

So I would say, you know, figure out what you're passionate about, whether it's something you love or something you hate, that makes you angry, and go at it full force, be relentless, and figuring out how you can live that purpose. And as much as possible, tune out the noise. Because as you really start to live your best life, you're going to get a lot of people objecting to how you're living your life, people aren't going to understand people are going to be triggered, everybody has an opinion.

And I always say, you know, stay in your own lane.

So that's probably like five pieces of advice. But I would say, identify your passion. Go after it relentlessly, because at the end of the day, that's what's going to make you happy and feel fulfilled, at least in my opinion. And then stay in your own lane and tune out the noise because you can never make everybody happy. And at the end of the day, the person that you need to make happy as yourself. That sounds really cliche.

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