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8 Women Who Left the Law to Follow Their Passions

8 Women Who Left the Law to Follow Their Passions

I recently wrote a post about former lawyers that followed their passions. I received such great feedback that I decided to start regularly posting about lawyers who leave the law and successfully move on to doing amazing things. This week I decided to focus on women that are doing something other than practicing law. Below are 8 wonderful and accomplished female ex-lawyers.

If you know of anyone that would be a good addition to the list of successful former lawyers, please email me at

1) Allison Leotta / Harvard Law School

Allison Leotta - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Allison was a federal prosecutor in DC, prosecuting sex crimes, before becoming a novelist. She now writes legal thrillers such as Law of Attraction and Discretion, both of which have been widely acclaimed. She has been referred to as the “female John Grisham.”

2) Helen Wan / University of Virginia School of Law

Helen Wan - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Helen was a corporate lawyer at  Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz and then Associate GC at Time Inc. before becoming an author and speaker full time. Her novel, The Partner Track, detailing the story of a woman up for partner at a prestigious law firm, was published in 2013 by Macmillian and was a huge success.

3) Rachel Sklar / University of Toronto Law School

Rachel Sklar - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Rachel is the founder of the and Change the Ratio, which serves to increase opportunities for women in tech and media. She was an early hire and former Media Editor at Huffington Post. Prior to being a writer, she was a lawyer for 4 years, with stints at White & Case and Torys LLP. When asked about her experience quitting her law firm job she said “Quitting was inevitable, but scary all the same. I had gotten really used to a paycheck, and to knowing that the work would be there for me, every day – all I had to do was show up.”

4) Ellen Pao/ Harvard Law School

Ellen Pao - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Ellen, who is infamous for suing her previous employer Kleiner Perkins, is now the head of strategic partnerships at Reddit. She attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After working at Cravath Swaine & Moore, she went back to Harvard, this time to pursue a business degree at HBS. She joined Kleiner Perkins, a well known VC firm in 2005 and filed a lawsuit against them for gender discrimination in 2012. Kleiner denied any sort of gender discrimination and claimed that the termination was performance based.

5) Anna Palmer and 6) Christine Rizk / Harvard Law School

Fashion Project - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Anna is the CEO and co-founder of Fashion Project, a donation platform for luxury retail and accessories. Fashion Project is a Techstars alum and has raised over $5 million from venture capitalists. Christine, who is the COO and co-founder, met Anna in law school in 2011. After graduating, they both decided to skip the traditional big law firm route and try their hands at becoming entrepreneurs. Who says lawyers aren’t entrepreneurs by nature?

7) Martine Rothblatt / UCLA Law

Martine Rothblatt

Martine is the highest paid female executive, earning a whopping $38 million a year. She is the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics Corp and the creator of Sirius Radio. After graduating law school, she briefly worked at Covington & Burling. She then launched several communication satellite companies including Geostar and Siriu Radio, a satellite to car system. In 1990, her daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension which led Martine to found United Therapeutics, a medical biotech company which posted $1.1 billion in revenue last year and is valued at over $6 billion. Martine was actually born Martin Rothblatt but at age 40 underwent a sex reassignment surgery and changed her name to Martine Rothblatt.

8) Suzanne McKechnie Klahr / Stanford Law

Suzanne Mckechnie Klahr - Former female lawyers who left law to follow their passions

Suzanne is the CEO and founder of BUILD, a non profit organization that uses entrepreneurship to increase high school graduation rates and college enrollment. After graduating from law school she received the Skadden Fellowship and used the funding to start BUILD. She is an Ashoka Fellow and teaches social entrepreneurship at both Stanford and Harvard Law School.

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About the author

Allen Rodriguez Allen Rodriguez is a legal product development strategist who has been serving the legal industry for over 21 years. Over the course of his career, Allen has built a reputation for creating innovative legal services products as well as developing highly effective law firm business and marketing strategies. Allen is a valued speaker on the topics of law marketing, legal services product development, and future of law issues.

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