Lawyer Quits to Pursue Her Real Passion: Ice Cream

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 03, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Before she left the law, Victoria Lai was on track to be a major legal success story. She'd worked for the Obama presidential campaign, clerked for an appellate judge, practiced at a BigLaw firm, and, at 34, landed an enviable gig as a government lawyer in the Department of Homeland Security.

But somewhere along the line, she picked up a home ice cream maker. Soon after, it was goodbye law, hello new career as an ice cream maker. After all, who can resist ice cream?

From Ice Cream Lover to Ice Cream Maker

Victoria Lai opened Ice Cream Jubilee in Washington, D.C. in 2014, but she'd been obsessing over ice cream long beforehand. When working as a lawyer, she would make ice cream before going to work, and come home to make even more. Eventually, Lai took a leave from her corporate law job to apprentice at the Brooklyn pie shop, Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

But after her apprenticeship, it was back to the law -- that is, until her ice cream creations won the DC Scoop contest in 2013. Having been labelled the best ice cream in town, Lai finally took the leap and opened her own ice cream shop. Now, instead of typing at her desk all day, she's concocting ice cream flavors like caramel popcorn and chocolate matzo crack.

Ice Cream Is So Hot Right Now

Lai is part of a movement -- no, not the movement of attorneys who've left the law for cooler jobs -- the ice cream movement. Ice cream, it seems, is the biggest desert craze since cupcake shops started showing up on every corner in the early aughts. Here in San Francisco, you can stand in line for hours for some salted caramel ice cream at BiRite, snack on the "secret breakfast" at Humphry Slocombe (it's whisky and cornflake flavored ice cream), try the Filipino flavors at Miyako's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, or have a made-to-order cone at Smitten -- and you'd still have dozens of other ice cream shops to work through.

If you're in D.C., though, you can just stick with Ice Cream Jubilee. Lai's shop has been written up as the best ice cream in town, featured on the local news, and even profiled by NBC.

But the ice cream life isn't always an easier one. Lai says that the she was surprised by how physically demanding the job was. "I'm used to working 70+ hour weeks as a lawyer, but on being on my feet, talking with hundreds of customers, and scooping hundreds of cones, I was spent at the end of each night!" Luckily, she could always reach for some cold brew coffee flavor ice cream to perk her up.

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