Many people assumed four years ago that I was having a mid-life crisis. I left a mid-size firm where I had been a partner, including spending a few years as managing partner. I started with a large firm as Of Counsel. The first year after deciding to change firms, I was often asked why I walked away from what many viewed as “having it all”. I had a lot of great cases, some wonderful clients, and several colleagues who had become close friends, but I did not have it all. I still don’t have it all, but I never expected that changing firms would allow me to have it all. I also don’t think I was having a mid-life crisis. If I was, I did not get a new relationship or a new sports car out of it! That’s ok, though, as I have two children who are starting to forge their own ways, and a husband who has put up with me for 19 years.
Being Of Counsel allows me to work on matters without the time pressures of partner meetings, and the struggles of having to make critical building, technology, and staff decisions. It of course comes with sacrifices, the primary ones being reduction in compensation and a lack of ownership. On balance, however, I have been happy with my decision.
Shortly after becoming Of Counsel, a major transportation client was looking for counsel in Springfield, and we started working together almost immediately. Their issues are more complex than trucking. I have met a new group of lawyers on the plaintiff’s side that I may never have met had I not changed firms. That has brought some challenges of its own as you have to know your opponent to be a good lawyer, especially a good litigator. I have also been able to do some products, professional, and premises liability work, and occasionally work as an arbitrator or mediator.
Remember to keep your eyes, ears and mind open, not only to your profession, but to your family and friends. Don’t forget to take the time to pick up the phone or write a hand-written note (not only to a client, but also to your spouse and/or children). Consider meeting opposing counsel, your client, or a witness for a cup of coffee unrelated to any case or matter.