Q: Once JDs reach their career goal, whether it be making partner, becoming a tenured professor, or leading a law department as GC, do they ever opt out of their highly regarded roles?
A: Each may have a different set of reasons, and it may be rare, but yes, they do. Rather than seeing it as opting out, however, they tend to see the transition as choosing to do something else; rather than downshifting, they see it as moving on to a new career challenge. Based on their additional interests and life stage, they take a step, grounded on a leap of faith that their abilities and aptitudes will propel them in a positive direction.
This is the ultimate in career control, and it can be a process…of overcoming their own questions about “who does that?” or any qualms about how others will perceive their paths. But yes, lawyers do opt to use their law degree and lawyering skills in additional, sometimes creative ways after attaining classic success. Exercising options can take courage, and of course the right set of supporting circumstances. But in this day and age, when some question the very value of a JD, others continue to see the diverse opportunities it affords as one of its many pluses to be conscious of and to celebrate.