Law Professionals in US Find Passion in Alternate Careers

by Julie Taboh

October 01, 2014


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Across the United States, men and women who spent years training to practice law are baking cakes, arranging flowers and walking dogs.

More and more lawyers - like Warren Brown - are turning their backs on their legal careers to become entrepreneurs.

It was a good job; a lot of authority, a lot of responsibility, Brown admitted. I got to practice law which was interesting, but three months into it, I knew that I wasnt going to be a happy, satisfied lawyer the rest of my life.

He says the work didnt call on his creative side, so he turned to another one of his interests: baking. His friends and coworkers encouraged the move.

I brought in cakes to work, I would bring them to parties, Id show friends what I was doing and people all said the same thing, 'You should build a business around this, you should open a cake shop. You should sell these, he said.

And thats exactly what he did. After two years of practicing law, Brown traded the courtroom for the kitchen. He opened his first CakeLove bakery in Washington in 2002, and soon added another in nearby Virginia. He employs more than a dozen assistants who help him create his popular cakes and cupcakes.

If youre in the food business, you got to get something out of the fact that people are going to eat your product, he said. You need to want to share and I do and it gives me a lot of pleasure to know that people are enjoying CakeLove and its not just people that Im handing the product to, its beyond that and it just warms my heart.

A growing exodus

According to a recent survey by the American Bar Foundation, almost 20% of lawyers who passed the Bar exam in 2000 were not practicing law in 2012. A study by the American Bar Association suggests that 45 percent of attorneys are dissatisfied with their work.

And those numbers are growing.

Casey Berman is a former lawyer and founder of the blog Leave Law Behind. He helps unhappy attorneys transition to other careers.

Often times, people go to law school not necessarily for the wrong reason, but they just sometimes dont think about it critically, he said. And they end up in a job where they really havent researched, explored, assessed or optimized their skills and theres that disconnect.

He estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the million or so lawyers in the U.S. are unhappy or have considered doing something else.

Warren Brown, for one, says hes happy to have found a satisfying alternative.

Im very, very happy that I am not practicing law," he said as he frosted a cake. "Im very happy to be in business as an entrepreneur.