Standing on Pennsylvania Avenue down the street from the White House, Gina Dowd decided to take a big leap with her career as a lawyer. She decided to quit her job as a financial attorney to travel the world. It was during the time of the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama that she decided to make a change. Dowd had been working for nearly 24 hours, people were crowding the streets and it was nearly impossible to make it home. Her life was engulfed with work and she was at her breaking point. Dowd spent the next 12 months selling almost all of her possessions, and gave her employer a one-month notice. Her traveling trip began in Hawaii, island hopping to Fiji, and ended up in Australia. Surf lessons, diving in the Great Barrier Reef, exploring eucalyptus forests and driving through Tasmania were some of the highlights of her trip.
After 3 months in Australia, Dowd decided to go somewhere less expensive, and was encouraged to visit Southeast Asia. The first stop was in Phuket, Thailand. There, she took on freelance clients because friends and acquaintances started asking her for legal advice. Along her travels and work, Dowd visited Malaysia, Singapore, and ended up in Europe. In Seville, Spain, Dowd spent 7 months freelancing on websites like oDesk and Elance to help find foreign clients who needed attorneys with knowledge of American issues.
Most of her work freelancing was based on business, intellectual property, financial regulatory work, and e-commerce. All work she could do from anywhere. Dowd says doing these freelance jobs were a great way to fund her travels, and were interesting too since she was able to experience the lives and cultures of her clients rather than working from afar at a desk in D.C. To keep her traveling business afloat, Dowd had to rely on stable technology and advanced planning. WiFi is all she needed to use her laptop, and phone calls could be made via Skype. If she needed to meet a deadline, or make a phone call, she would have to plan when there would be a reliable WiFi connection, and privacy as well.
In addition, she had to take into account the time differences of her clients, which meant working odd hours. In addition, many of her clients were world travelers also, and understood the difficulties of traveling and working. Dowd returned to the United States in September 2011, and has since then been able to support herself with the freelance clients she built.
Dowd’s adventures as a traveling lawyer are not for everyone, but for her, it worked out nicely. She was able to travel the world and fund her travels by still doing what she does best: being a lawyer. “I have never once regretted leaving my job”, says Dowd.
Have you ever thought of being a traveling lawyer? What do you think would be the biggest challenge for you would be should you follow in Dowd’s footsteps?