. I did end up losing my job, but thanks to your advice, moving on has been a lot less painful than I feared. Now I have a question about how to explain to potential new employers a) the circumstances of the termination, and b) my reasons for leaving the practice of law.
First, I want to thank everyone who responded to my previous question with so much compassion, I can’t begin to express how grateful I am. I sobbed with relief as I read your kind replies. It was the first time in a very long while that I didn’t feel utterly alone and hopeless.
Those of you who guessed I was a lawyer, you guessed right. I worked at a very small firm with three partners (I was the only associate). There was very little training, guidance, or mentorship given. When I started there, I was told that one of the partners would take me out for a lunch meeting every week or two weeks, and that I’d have a formal review every three months. That never, ever happened, which is how we got to the end of my year-long contract without them becoming aware that anything was amiss.
The partners told me that although I was a poor fit for the firm (they acknowledged that they couldn’t give me the support and structure I needed to thrive), they felt I was intelligent and capable, and would gladly give me positive references to help me find something I’d be better suited for. That was a relief, but I’ve been struggling to figure out how to explain to new employers why I was turned down for a renewal.
One of the partners suggested I should explain that I was going through a lot of personal difficulties at the time (for example, my father being diagnosed with cancer, and you can see what else I struggled with here
), and the heavy workload overwhelmed me. But I would hate for that explanation to come off sounding like I’m prone to making excuses for poor performance, and that I let my personal life interfere with my performance to the extent that I couldn’t do my job. It also feels icky, like I would be using my father’s illness to get sympathy points. Are my concerns here valid, or should I take the advice of my former boss? If I don’t take his suggestion, what could I say instead?
As well, I’ve been searching for new career directions with the criteria that the hours should be more conducive to a healthy work-life balance, and the work itself should be less stressful. If asked why I no longer want to practice law, what should I say? I don’t want to give the impression that I don't like challenging work and I think the position I’m applying for will be a piece of cake, or that I’ll be out the door the second the clock strikes five. But I do want to emphasize that I’m no longer interested in practicing law, and won’t skip out on my new job the second I find a way back into law. How can I do this without sounding like a lazy ass who couldn't cut it as a lawyer?
Lastly, I’m glad to say that the last couple of months have been nothing like I was afraid they’d be. I’m so much happier and finally beginning to feel like myself again. Thank you everyone who told me things would be okay.