One of my favorite kinds of Life After Law stories is the “law to food” transition. When I left Big Law, I thought seriously about starting a food tour company, since I loved sharing cool new food finds with friends. I also thought about working for Whole Foods, for entirely different reasons. Although my own transition led me elsewhere, there are many true, inspiring stories of lawyers who made the switch into foodie careers, including:
* Valerie Beck, who left corporate law to work for Mary Kay and then to build an empire of chocolate walking tour companies, including Chicago Chocolate Tours and similar operations in Boston and Philadelphia. I admire Valerie not only because she channeled her love and encyclopedic knowledge of chocolate into a career that fits her outgoing personal style, but because she gives back in so many ways. She helps other women entrepreneurs through her WIN network, and partners with a different charity in every city she tours in.
* Warren Brown, pictured above, who left government practice to bake cakes and became a hugely successful entrepreneur. Warren is the founder of CakeLove, the popular cupcake bakery chain around Washington DC, the author of several cookbooks, and a former Food Network star. His most recent success is Cake in a Jar. I had the chance to taste some of this amazing stuff in the development stage, and the buttercream frosting literally made me swoon.
* Shannon Liss-Riordan, who hasn’t left law per se, but who is balancing her career as one of the most successful wage-and-hour litigators in the country with a sideline as co-owner of the Just Crust, a cooperatively owned pizzeria in Cambridge, MA. The Just Crust rose from the ashes of the Upper Crust, a pizzeria chain that she successfully argued was underpaying its workers and which subsequently filed for bankruptcy. I find it especially wonderful that Shannon is running a restaurant when she has built her career by ensuring fair treatment for restaurant and coffee shop workers.
* Robert Rook, the lawyer who founded the Emack & Bolio’s ice cream empire in Boston. Rook represented rock and roll musicians, and worked closely with the homeless on the side. He named his “hippie” ice cream chain after two of his pro bono clients in 1975. My advice for first-time visitors to E&B is “peanut butter oreo.” You won’t be sorry.
Readers, have you left law for a food-related career? Are you thinking about it? What kind of foodie life after law do you want for yourself?
Valerie and Warren are among the 30 ex-lawyers profiled in my new book, Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the JD You Have. Get your hard copy or e-copy now!