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Ex-Lawyer Turns Jewelry-Making Hobby Into High-Fashion Career

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 18, 2012 7:02 AM

Introducing our Ex-Lawyer of the Week: Susan Hanover.

A former corporate and labor-law attorney in her native South Africa, Hanover no longer crafts legal arguments for clients. Instead, she crafts a dazzling array of designer jewelry for customers and high-fashion retailers worldwide.

Hanover launched her first collection in 2005 after years of designing jewelry as a hobby -- and after moving with her husband to the United States, where she is not licensed to practice law. "So really I fell into this by default, you could say," Hanover said.

Susan Hanover started her design business by making jewelry herself and then selling the pieces door-to-door to people and small stores in her New York neighborhood. "I was tremendously shocked at the responses I received and before long I was unable to keep up with the demand," she said.

Now, Hanover and a co-designer create stunning and stylish pieces that have been featured in fashion magazines and been worn by celebrities including Beyonce and Paula Abdul, according to Hanover's online biography.

But what Hanover's public bio doesn't delve into is her feelings about being an ex-lawyer.

"I was very programmed to choose a 'practical' career," Hanover explained. "Law was the easy way out. I chose it for the wrong reasons and never found my voice as an attorney."

Though Hanover admits her legal career wasn't a perfect fit, she doesn't totally regret the experience, either. "My legal training has definitely helped me focus on my bottom line and has helped me grow my company into a profitable business venture," Hanover said.

Her advice for other attorneys who may feel trapped in their legal careers: "Follow your passion," she said. "I know plenty of lawyers who ... have had to switch fields but still stay within the profession, and some follow a road out."

All of Susan Hanover's featured jewelry pieces are hand-crafted with 14-karat gold-filled or gold-plated materials and semi-precious stones. They're available for purchase at select retailers worldwide, and online at SusanHanoverDesigns.com.

Curious about other ways to use your JD, or how ex-lawyers have found success in other fields? Check back here for more ex-lawyer profiles and success stories. And if you have suggestions for our Ex-Lawyer of the Week series, let us know by posting your tip on our FindLaw for Legal Professionals Facebook page.

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