We made a huge lifestyle change a couple of years back. We left the big city rules and the career playbooks behind so we could have mountains and a gold medal trout stream for neighbors. That same stream flowing through the ice park we visited as often as winter roads and time off from the jobs in Oklahoma would allow. The decision to walk away from what we built came with costs and risks – we gave up our unorthodox but deeply loved family, we chucked a judicial robe and access to cutting edge medical research, and we left familiar behind.
Now we’re pushing two years later. I’m in a whole new world, often frustrated because previously unexplored areas of law ensnare me like trees on a careless back-cast. I have to learn to not sweat the small stuff and absorb the practice, but it’s hard for me. I like to get things right. I’m a catch on the first cast kind of girl. Representing municipalities and clients feels dramatically different than to me protecting novel strains of genetically engineered mice and new cancer treatments. In many ways, it is far superior and more connected to humanity, but it also has real consequence that I cannot put off for ten years of clinical trials. So I get worked up even when it’s a $70 traffic ticket on the line. I stress.
Last week I had my first trial as a recovering immunologist, patent attorney turned small town generalist lawyer. I won and I must admit I enjoyed hearing the judge say he was going to rule for my side. Afterwards I found myself beside familiar pools and pockets on my stream. The day in court was a success despite missteps, a few stutters, and nervous glances. I felt out of place in the courtroom but the river reminded me it is okay to be having all these new lawyer experiences despite ten years of being licensed to practice. And it’s okay because when the day is done, or even just on the way home from the trial, I can stop and throw a line in my river. The change was worth it. And eventually I will feel as at home in this new role as I do in the river.