David Snyder: Life After Law

Not being much of a writer, but having known the RP for going on 30 years, I was offered the opportunity to contribute to the blog. The theme of all first timers on this site is (in the RP’s own words), “how you got to your second act.” Although I am not a recovering politician, I am a recovering lawyer.

I spent ten years practicing law and I am proud to say – IT CAN BE DONE – you can make it out alive. And there is life on the outside. This is in no way meant to disparage attorneys. Many on this site (the RP included) are attorneys, as are my own father and many friends. So many attorneys do great work and are still engaged in and excited by the practice of law, and it really is amazing to see. Law still remains the most noble of professions.

But I also know there are many like myself who had their fill and needed to move on. I was typical of many solo practitioners – doing criminal defense and smaller litigation cases, wills and trust work, and eventually part of a small firm, doing more complex business litigation. And I reached a point where the fight of other’s battles became a thankless and ungratifying place to be.

I had always wondered where my life would go if I left the practice of law. And as fate would have it, while I was contemplating this issue in my law office in downtown Cincinnati, an opportunity arose that put me on the path I am on today.

While considering my future in 2002, I was visited by my financial advisor who, while performing an annual review, began recruiting me. And within a day, I was already on my way to meetings, interviews and a whirlwind of education and licensing for four months that led me to Northwestern Mutual and being a Financial Advisor, where I have been the past 8+ years. The fit was perfect. I already had the legal background and a good knowledge of planning from the legal perspective and add to that the financial/investment education and the proper licenses and credentials, as well as a very supportive wife, and I was set to go.

Within a month, my entire perspective on being a professional had changed. While leaving an appointment in that first month, the clients actually thanked me for spending time talking with them and discussing their financial planning. No one had ever done that while practicing law and my life had been transformed. I knew I had found a home in this profession. I realized that I had a passion for this work. I have the privilege of making an impact, making a difference, of working with individuals, protecting families and businesses, and more importantly, building wealth in a most tax efficient manner.

This is gratifying and satisfying, something that many lawyers never feel. Despite all of the good work that attorneys perform, much of it is thankless and that took its toll on me. Practicing law was work. Now I have a career.

I must say that it has not been easy and without certain trials and tribulations. Being self employed is great, but requires much work to build up a going business. And the biggest bridge I have crossed is toeing the line between personal and professional life. In no other business I have seen does a person actively seek out so many people that you already know in an effort to help them out and make them clients. That can cause strife when your professional relationship creeps into the personal relationship. And it is the burden that all who work as Financial Advisors must carry.

I was very recently confronted with this situation – a client who is a long time friend, and there is most definitely a fine line between the appropriate times for business and the times when the relationship must remain purely social. I am comforted by my passion, because I know that even when I walk along that line, I am operating from a good place and with good intentions. My heart and passion are in the right place and this career offers me the opportunity to help not only those I have just met, but also those persons I have known for so long and care so much about. Where else can you impact people, including friends and family and help provide them with the security and peace of mind they so desperately want and need?

So here I am, 8+ years later, happier and professionally satisfied. And while being self employed has its challenges, I can make my own schedule which allows me to attend my childrens’ sports activities and school programs, along with other extra curricular and charitable work I have begun.

To all the attorneys out there in RP land – I applaud you. But if you are like me, there is hope – find what you like and go after it. It can make all the difference.

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