Sarah Cottrell, founder of the Former Lawyer Podcast, discusses the challenges and identity struggles that lawyers often face, the misconceptions surrounding the legal profession, and the importance of exploring alternative career paths. Sarah shares her journey from practicing law to becoming an entrepreneur and offers valuable insights for lawyers seeking fulfillment outside of traditional legal practice.
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Sarah Cottrell, the host of the Former Lawyer Podcast, is a former litigator who practiced law for ten years before transitioning into coaching and entrepreneurship. She graduated from law school in 2008 and went through the ups and downs of the legal profession, including working in big law and a state appellate court. Sarah's experience of feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in her legal career led her to start the podcast, where she interviews lawyers who have successfully transitioned into other professions. She aims to provide support, guidance, and inspiration to lawyers questioning their career paths and seeking alternatives to traditional legal practice.
"Often what has to happen is something knocks you off whatever the path is that you thought you were supposed to be on, which can often feel really terrible. But actually, for a lot of people, it ends up being the thing that helps them break free," reflects Sarah Cottrell on You Are A Lawyer.
In the episode, Sarah Cottrell discusses the challenges lawyers face in finding their identity beyond the legal profession and the pressure to conform to societal expectations. She emphasizes the importance of understanding one's values, strengths, and motivations to make a career change that aligns with who they truly are. Sarah also highlights the need for lawyers to seek support through therapy or coaching to navigate the emotional and psychological aspects of transitioning out of the law. She encourages lawyers to challenge the narrow definition of success and explore their many options outside of the legal field.
Sarah chose to attend law school because she was a high-achieving, rule-following individual who excelled in school. She saw law school as a safe path that would allow her to continue her academic pursuits and provide her with a prestigious career.
"I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I graduated… law school is like a very safe path… You can do anything with a law degree… It's like, yes, sign me up for more school. That sounds great. Because that's what I know," explains Sarah Cottrell on Episode 117 of You Are a Lawyer.
However, Sarah didn't understand what being a lawyer entailed or whether it aligned with her values and personality. Her decision to attend law school was driven by external expectations and a desire to continue her pattern of achievement.
According to Sarah, there are various options for individuals with a law degree beyond practicing law. She emphasizes different ways to help and advocate for people, and being a lawyer is just one avenue. Sarah encourages individuals to explore their motivations and values when assisting others, as numerous career paths can align with those goals. She also highlights the importance of understanding that being a lawyer is one of many ways to make a meaningful impact and that there are many fulfilling options outside the legal profession.
"There are all different sorts of options and practicing law is one of them. But there are lots of other things you can do as a law student, or as a young lawyer. It might be the exact opposite," emphasizes Sarah Cottrell, on this episode of You Are a Lawyer.
Sarah Cottrell shares that a law degree opens up many possibilities and that individuals should not limit themselves to traditional legal roles. It encourages law students and lawyers to think outside the box and consider alternative career paths that align with their interests, values, and strengths.
Sarah is the founder of the Former Lawyer Podcast, a platform dedicated to helping lawyers who are unhappy in their careers explore alternative paths and find fulfillment outside of the legal profession. Through her podcast, Sarah interviews former lawyers who have successfully transitioned into different careers, providing listeners with real-life examples and inspiration. She also offers coaching programs, such as the Former Lawyer Collaborative, where lawyers can join a community, access a curriculum, and receive guidance on navigating career transitions.
"I create things that I wish I had when I was in a place that was not good," explains Sarah Cottrell in Episode 117 of You Are a Lawyer.
Sarah's mission is to break the stigma around leaving the legal profession and to empower lawyers to pursue work that aligns with their values and passions. She has practiced law for ten years and understands the challenges and pressures that lawyers face. Sarah's approach is rooted in empathy and understanding, as she helps lawyers navigate the process of self-discovery and find clarity in their career paths. Through her podcast and coaching programs, Sarah provides a supportive and informative space for lawyers to explore their options and make meaningful career changes.
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Learn more about Sarah: Former Lawyer
Kyla Denanyoh hosts the You Are A Lawyer podcast.
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