Why I Made a Change: Andrew Ayers

Andrew Ayers writes about why he made a change from working at a small firm to hanging his own shingle. While that change may seem daunting to some, Ayers shares that it is possible.

Car-Window-ClingEverything seemed to be on cruise-control, and then we found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child. I was working for a solo practitioner in Manhattan who consistently professed the importance of family. He took lots of time away from the office for his family events and his secretary got to do the same, so I was expecting that I would be given the same courtesies when I had children at home. Little did I know that having a child would be such a defining moment that it would cause me to switch my career away.

The signs were there almost immediately after our daughter was born. This was 2010, before paternity leave really became a benefit for fathers. I was given a couple days off after the birth and then was expected right back at work. Even when we escaped New York City for the month of August, I was still expected to work remotely (long before that was a normal occurrence) and often had to make hours long drives back to New York City for court appearances. I was miserable and drowning my sorrows far too often at the local bars.

It took about eight months before things hit the breaking point and it was time to go. I was adrift and wasn’t sure what was next. For a couple of days, I thought I should go find a job at another law firm, but I kept getting contacted by my former clients who wanted to know where I went and if they could hire me at my new law firm. I still remember the conversation with one of my favorite former clients who said, “Why would you work for someone else? I worked with you, you were my lawyer, that’s what I want.” And with that conversation in May 2011, my solo law practice was born.

If you aren’t sure about making that next step in your career and are waiting for some grand sign from the universe, let the stories in this series be that sign. There’s no better time than now to make a change. Chances are you already know this deep down, but you are waiting for someone to tell you to go for it (Go for it!). There have been many sleepless nights wondering if the next step was the right one. But the only way to find out was to take that step.

If you’re looking to start a family and have a law career, it can be done. The resources for parents in the legal field have exploded over the past decade. You don’t have to schlep to your downtown office on -23 degree January days anymore. If you work for a law firm, it costs them a lot more money to hire and train someone new than it does to make accommodations for you to spend time with your family. And if they don’t understand that, there are plenty of law firms out there who do and would love to hire you. If you doubt me on that one, just read some of the stories on the war for talent over the past couple of years—you aren’t stuck where you are!

"If you aren’t sure about making that next step in your career and are waiting for some grand sign from the universe, let the stories in this series be that sign."

If you’re looking to start your own law firm, there’s no better time than now. It seems scary before you start, but once you get going, it can be exhilarating and fun (two words you don’t normally hear about law). You get to choose who you want to work with and what areas of law you want to practice in. The local bar associations have lots of resources to help you get started, and you’ll actually find that other lawyers will be great resources to help you get started as well. Some will have overflow clients that they can pass along to you, but many will have something more important: wisdom and advice on how not to make the mistakes they made when they started out.

What do you do next? Take that first step. Even if it’s just a few minutes to sit and think about what you’d really like to change, one little step is all it takes. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to (or just want someone else to give you that motivation to take the next step), send me an email ( and we can brainstorm some next steps for you. Now is the best time for that change!


Andrew M. Ayers

Andrew M. Ayers represents businesses in all phases of their life cycle, from starting up to litigating dissolutions, and provides estate planning services for clients in Minnesota and the New York City area. In addition to assisting them with legal needs, he enjoys mentoring entrepreneurs and lawyers seeking to start their own law firms.

Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter