Fulfilling alternative careers for lawyers and consultants stuck in soul-sucking jobs


Hi, I'm Sudeshna from The Abundance Psyche, and you are listening to the Not-so-Corporate podcast. Here we talk about all of the not-so-corporate things that we corporate entrepreneurs do within and outside our work.

And today I have with me the former lawyer- Sarah Cottrell. Sarah has been actually one of the major inspirations behind this podcast.

Sarah, welcome to the show. I just wanted to read a couple of lines. She's amazing. She's the founder of formula, and the host of the formula, your podcast, and she helps unhappy lawyers ditch their soul-sucking jobs inside her confidential program called the Former Lawyer Collaborative™. Welcome to the show. Sarah, It's so lovely to have you.


Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.

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Sarah initially, we got in touch because I felt like lawyers, and most of the folks that I tend to work with, who are consultants, both tend to have quite intense careers. But also, if I may use this word, we also tend to be “insecure overachievers”, I'm air quoting because I don't know how that will fly with folks.


Yeah, you know, it's interesting. I think it's really true. And I can only speak to my experience as a lawyer. And then, of course, the people I interviewed for the podcast and the people in my program, but law- the legal profession tends to be very focused on the procedure. This is something that I talk about a lot.

So if you've listened to me before, you might be like, “yeah, we get it.” But the thing about prestige is that essentially, you get into this cycle of making career choices because you think that it will impress someone. And in doing so, you, instead of sort of having an internal source of security and confidence, base it on externals.

So to your point, insecure overachievers, you actually are looking for validation from those external sources. And of course, the problem becomes, and again, speaking, just in sort of the lawyer space, the problem comes that you have to keep finding things that will bring you that validation, because it's coming from these external things, as opposed to something that's internal. And it's also very, like subject to change, right, based on your external circumstances. And so I think it kind of breeds this sense of insecurity, people don't necessarily think of it that way. because like you said, overachievers, high achievers, but when your sense of validation is all from outside of you, it is very insecure, because you don't have control over it. And you have to keep seeking after it.


I love that. And this is such a crucial point when folks talk about a career change and career pivots. And, you know, getting that promotion that hike...

I work in data, I work in strategy- all of the 21st-century cool jobs is where I have worked. And the reason I have worked there, apart from that I love business, and I love data is because I used to believe that if I don't work there, I'll be perceived as not smart. I feel like that's probably true for most of the folks out there. And they don't even realize it... you don't even know it till you know it.


Yeah, well, you know, it's especially so for most lawyers. In my experience, most lawyers are type A- good at school, getting the gold stars sort of personality type. And the thing about being a lawyer is that if you tell someone, you're a lawyer, there, all of these kinds of assumptions about you that are sort of like, loaded into that, like, for example, the assumption that like you're a smart person, and so it becomes thisshorthand, where if you can introduce yourself to someone "Oh, I'm a lawyer", you know, there are certain things that are being conveyed about you, whether it's like that you're smart, or that you worked hard in undergrad, three years of law school passed the bar.

And it's a little bit different places, but still, regardless, like there's this sort of progression that you have to go through To your point, I think one of the biggest struggles that lawyers have when they start thinking about doing something else is it's not just like, "Oh, I think I'll do a different job." It's like, "oh, I'm going to like divest myself from this identity that makes it easy for people to know certain things about me" and especially as gold star getting high achievers, overachievers, it can be really difficult.

And to your point, it can almost keep people from seeing some of the things, some of the dynamics that brought them to where they are, because of the fact that it's like- well, if I look at the fact that all of my life choices have been driven by what will people think of me?

That's a big, that's way beyond career, right? That's a revelation that can affect a lot of things, not just what job should I be doing?

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That is so true. You think it's a career change, or you think it's a change in your profession, but it actually is life transformation, effectively, because you are digging into that identity. So Sarah, tell me, how did you become a lawyer? How did you realize that you did not want to be a lawyer anymore?