Misconception About Me or From Lawyer to …

IMG_0714 copyStay at home Wife.  I bet you thought I was going to say Romance Writer.  hahaha! Everyone thinks I gave up being a lawyer to write Romance.  The truth isn’t that pretty.  After 4 years of college, 3 years of law school and one year (my husband claims it was 8 months.  You can guess who’s fudging here)  as an associate at Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal in Manhattan (a satellite firm of the Chicago office where Scott Turow is a partner), I abandoned the practice of law to … curl up in a ball.  Not exactly.  But the fact is, I couldn’t hack being a lawyer.  To say I hated it is an understatement.  Did I like going to school? Yes.  I passed the NY and CT Bar Exams the first try, unlike JFK Jr, who was sworn into the NY First Circuit along with me – with Jackie O. in the back of the courtroom.  (Because I like you, I am going to humiliate … I mean share a pic of me at my law school graduation, circa 1991 – wish I could say my hair wasn’t as big now, but basically I have to use a straightener to pull the underneath layers DOWN).

Did I like the actual practice of law? No.  The profession ate me up and spit me out.  I spent nearly a year with weekend migraines (yes, every weekend) – a resulting stress release from the pressure of the week.  For me, practicing law wasn’t like the rapid banter and wit of The Good Wife.  It was more like The Good Wife gets snapped at, lectured, told to wait for a partner to call with work – which they would do – AT 4 PM at which point I’d stay all night (Yes, ALL NIGHT) for a closing.  Nothing went right.  I wanted to learn real estate closings.  I chose a firm who specialized there.  They hire in 3rd year of law school.  A year later when the job started, the stock market had crashed, the real estate market too and the firm was almost exclusively litigation, the one department I did not want to be in.  Anyway, yes, I had to tell both my husband and my parents who I was fortunate enough to have pay for my education that I wanted out.  I did send resumes to local firms after we moved out of Manhattan but then we agreed to start a family and I was lucky to be able to stay home.

Which segued into 4 months of vomiting and morning sickness … and ended with a beautiful COLICKY baby girl.  And that resulted in me reading to escape when I could (I was always a reader), an argument with my husband about the cost of the hardcovers I was purchasing at Waldenbooks, and my introduction to paperbacks and Romance … beginning with LaVyrle Spencer’s Separate Beds, which I am certain is the book that made me want to try and write a romance myself.  10 completed manuscripts which each made rounds of rejections and revisions and more rejections … and over 7 years later and I sold BRAZEN (working title, Weekend Lover) to Harlequin Temptation, Heat and Brenda Chin, Editor.

And there you have it, how I became a romance writer.  Questions, LOL!?

41 thoughts on “Misconception About Me or From Lawyer to …”

  1. I am glad to read your background…you are one of my favorites…you make me laugh and I love reading your books! I am so happy that you were able to leave the law profession and enterain us! You work hard for your fans and I am very thankful you have chosen this path…I am sure your family does as well!

  2. I didn’t know you were an attorney! I graduated from law school in May, at the age off 46, sat for the NH and MA bars in July and was admitted to both in November. I have taken a gentler path, though. My practice area is ERISA, and I’m working for the Dept. Of Labor in the Employee Benefits Security Administration. No crazy hours – I’m too old for that. Do you ever thin about going back in to practice, but in a different context?

  3. Carly, I love this post. I finished school and worked but wasn’t happy either, and stayed home with my 2 girls (one of which was colicky. GAWD). Not only that, the first Romance I ever read was LaVyrle’s VOWS, which started my love affair with the genre. Separate Beds is still one of my favorites.

    And then? I too wrote 10 books, got tons of rejections over a five year period… and finally sold. I’ve never looked back. Colicky kid is now a teenager and I think I’ve got the best job in the world.

  4. Wow, that’s quite a story! It just shows that what we think we want to do doesn’t always turn out to be the best path in life.
    I’m in a similar situation (kind of sort of), started off selling insurance, then opened my own business, let it suck out my soul for the last 5 years and now I’m closing on Friday to be a stay at home mom to my 2 kids. Its the first time I’ve ever not worked out of the home. So, it will be interesting.
    I also love to read, always have. When I was a kid/teen I would stay up late at night w/ a flashlight and sneak reading when I was supposed to be sleeping.
    I’ve also thought that I would like to write and have started a few times but don’t know where to go w/ the rest. Now that I wont be working, maybe I’ll have some time to tweak it some more.
    Looks like you made the right choice with your career change!

  5. You made the right decision to quit your profession. There is no sense in being sick every week-end. With a law degree you have no problem reading the small print of your contracts…you just need a magnifying glass to read the small print.

  6. We all have to go through different experiences to find our niche in life. Some find them and some search their whole life for it and never do. I am glad you found your true calling. You have made so many fans happy with your writing. I always look forward to your new books. I have passed them on to many who have now become your fans too. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  7. Can I just say Wow! Thanks to some insight to what makes Carly Phillips tick! Can I tell you that the 1st book I read by you was The Boyfriend (Chandler Series) one of the few my local library carried so I ordered the rest of the series from Amazon. They also had Brazen which I read. I bought more after I ran through what the library had or I could get through the inter library system. Then I started purchasing thru Amazon everything that came out and donating to the library after I’d read it. This month I finally purchased a Kindle Fire HD. So I’ve ordered the first Dare series and pre ordering the next!. I’m a huge Fan and certainly happy you left the Lawyer profession and started writing!

  8. I can sure relate to the story of your life and your decision. I retired after working almost 30 years for 3 different attorneys as a legal assistant (now called Para-Legal) in a small town in the Midwest. I did everything for them except appear in Court and I could sure relate to the 4 p.m. deal, used to happen to me too. You made the right decision and I love reading your books.

  9. I think you made a great decision. I’m glad for all of your troubles, because now, we are blessed with your books! I’ve always thought about going back and becoming an attorney, but I’m more into the whole “researching and figuring out arguements’ aspect of being an attorney. I did, however, become a teacher (oddly I got an endorsement in special ed because when I substituted, those were the days that I really enjoyed and felt that I made a difference). Go figure, that I’d have a special needs son. I hope to go back to teaching someday, but for now, I am content being a SAHM. I use my skills and volunteer in the schools. Who knows what the future brings!!

  10. So interesting. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Not only today, but in each of the books you write. I found myself in the position of supporting my three kids and went to school to become a legal secretary. My first job after school was not in the legal field nor were any of my jobs after that. I spent 26 years working for state government in various fields and I’m now retired. Never having worked in the legal field! BUT, that training gave me a great basis for every job that I had. I don’t regret the training, only that I had to take shorthand classes that I never had to use 😉 I’m so glad you became an author because I love all of your books and just can’t get enough. Like lots of other readers I’d love to write but just can’t seem to get started. In my retirement I think it’s time to take some classes in how to write. Then I’ll get to it. I’m so used to rejection that I’m sure my first hundred of them won’t bother me. After all, it’s only blood, sweat, and tears that go into each book, right? Love you Carly!

  11. I never knew you gave up law because you hated it! Wow! I can certainly understand why though. I actually worked for almost 20 years as a computer programmer. Most days were good but every now and then there was a day from hell. I was fortunate to be able to quit working and stay at home with my girls 7 years ago…just as they started being teenagers. I miss programming…miss the money…but love being involved more with their lives. And I truly feel that they needed me more during those growing years than when they were infants and toddlers!

    And I’d LOVE to have your hair (coming from someone who hardly has any)!

  12. How wonderful you posted this!!!

    We’ve always told our sons that you might pick your area of study and what you want to do with that but sometimes, and this has been the case for them, God choses a field you’re better suited at. I think that’s what God did for you because you, like them, are FINALLY enjoying what you want to do in life!!

    Thank you for all of the great books!! You keep writing winners and all of your fans will keep on buying them!!!

  13. OMG you and JFK Jr.. I am seriously in awe of you. I was hoping that two of my nieces would go into law.. I think they would have both made great lawyers, but one is a Social Worker working on her PhD, and the other one is going through University right now to become a Social worker.. I guess they have a calling to help them with the law in another capacity.. You never know where life will take you…

  14. I graduated from law school in 1994 and worked as a Staff Attorney for Shook, Hardy & Bacon for eight years. It was grueling and, like you, the hours I put in were just horrendous at times. But I learned from some top-notch attorneys and I traveled all over the country for trials (the firm represented tobacco companies). This May marks 20 years since I graduated from law school and, yes, I have continued in the practice of law. I’ve worked for huge firms, small firms, and now I am out on my own (scariest job yet — but rewarding as well!). I admire you for your path Carly. It’s not easy to make changes and be true to ourselves, but in the end it’s the way to better health and happiness. Me — I’m still waiting for my HEA. Someday!

  15. And we are glad the journey ended this way. I am making my own jump in about six months. I am ending a twenty year career as an analyst in law enforcement to go back to school to be a teacher. I am terrified.

  16. We always end up where were supposed to, my computer programming degree in college, I quit before I graduated, my father said I was supposed to be a nurse, I balked.. my second child born with a muscle disease.. etc. 6 children, all with different disabilities, none shared, one severely disabled son, and all these years later, I have spent them tending to the disabled, sick children, who were my own.. my one son is 27 and total care.. guess I became the nurse I was supposed to become all along..
    loved hearing your story, not being a lawyer brought you the most miraculous years spent loving your children and bringing us all joy, thank you!

  17. I loved reading this about you! Makes you think of where you were and where you are now and what makes you happiest along the years. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. I loved reading the story behind the author. I worked in HR (yes, I was one of “those people”) for over 40 years & was lucky enough to work for companies that knew their employees were people first for the first 30 years and loved it. During the last 10, the company I was unfortunate enough to work for only saw them as a resouce necessary to run a business (sort of like machinery) and I hated it! I’m retired now (yay!) and take care of my grandchildren while their parents work.

  19. Great story about your start as a writer. Too bad your lawyer experience couldn’t be like the Good Wife, but then we all would have have great books to read.

  20. So interesting that you have such a back ground, so glad that you did not enjoy or want to do the legal work. I think your hair looked great, that from someone with perfectly straight hair who hates perms.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us.


  21. Thank you for sharing. I knew you had been a lawyer but wondered how that led to romance writer. I for one can say that I am very glad you switched because I love your books. I also love getting to know more about my favorite authors.

  22. What a great post! I did it backward. Ended up single parent and worked until he was 11 when I married my knight in glowing armor (we met at work, nuclear industry). He said if I wanted to go home and finish raising son, go for it, he’d love it. So I shakily took that first step to leave the workforce which was HARD HARD HARD. It was the best move I ever made. I’m still home and like you, maybe that education seems wasted but I don’t think so. It is part of what made me who I am today! I still have my original copy of Brazen!! As a stay-at-home mom did you run into, “Yes but what do you DO all day?” or “Well you don’t work so why can’t you be on this committee or do this or that?” Or feel like you were treated as someone with half a brain?

  23. I recalled reading you were previously a lawyer & quit to be a stay at home mom. I love the way our lives are dreamed up & planned out in our minds, but take on a life of their own once we start living that life. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us.

  24. I think it is so interesting how we try to plan the life we want and when we aren’t doing what we are supposed to God will give you a kick in the butt and totally turn you in a different direction. Fortunately for me God meant for you to be an amazing romance writer.

  25. Thank you for sharing it!

    I went to college (BA poli sci), my paralegal certificate was an additional year, then to a bank (3 years). I hated it, made me physically ill. I had paid nearly 100% of my education–minus a few scholarships–myself. My parents were upset that I was wasting my life and degree. My husband was concerned for my health. Quitting there saved my life–literally.

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