Transitions: Don’t Be Afraid to Roll the Dice
Transitions. I have had a lot of them in my career. Some planned. Some not.
Just a couple years out of law school, my significant other, Kathy, and I decided to chuck Boston winters and move to the U.S. Virgin Islands. At the time, I was a staff attorney for the state labor relations board. I still remember the going-away party they gave me. A senior attorney pulled me aside and told me I was making a big mistake, throwing away a promising career.
I did not know then that I would arrive in the V.I. just as the territory’s first labor board was getting underway and searching for an experienced labor relations lawyer to be its first chief counsel. Right place, right time. With the experience and visibility that job gave me, I later launched my own practice focusing on labor and employment law. Soon, I represented most of the V.I.’s major labor unions. Still a fairly young lawyer, I was regularly conducting trials and handling appeals, including to the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia.
Eventually, family issues compelled me to leave paradise and return to Massachusetts. As I arranged to close my law practice, I began to search for gainful employment in Boston. Near the end of my time in the V.I., a lawyer who I often went up against threw me a going-away party. Unlike that senior attorney who pulled me aside several years earlier, this lawyer didn’t tell me that I was making a mistake by leaving. She did, however, tell me I was taking a big gamble with my career. To prove her point, she gave me a crystal desk ornament in the shape of dice.
As it happened, the state’s legal newspaper, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, was looking for an editor – a lawyer trained in journalism and with hands-on experience practicing law. Right place, right time. Becoming editor-in-chief of MLW, I was a kid put in charge of the candy store. That job started me down a path that I continue on today, with stops along the way as head of an editorial division at ALM and as editor-in-chief of the National Law Journal.
By no means was that the last transition in my career. Later, the need to care for my ailing father led me to leave ALM and find work I could do from home. That transition led me in more new directions, and to more transitions, bringing me to where I am today.
I write all of this not to bore you with my stories, but to offer you a bit of courage to pursue and embrace transitions in your own career. Early on, as I made one transition, I was told I was throwing away my career. A bit later, as I made another, I was warned I could be gambling it away. Instead, each time, I found new and rewarding opportunities, ones I would never have encountered otherwise.
Had I not changed course so many times, my bank account would no doubt be richer. But the variety of paths I’ve traveled has enriched me in ways money never could. My career has been nothing if not eclectic. In hindsight, I would have it no other way.
Do you spend your days in the office secretly craving a change? Whatever it is, go ahead and roll the dice. Odds are, you won’t regret it.