Greetings Attorney Mustachians:
I am a long-time lurker, and enjoyed this thread. (Hi and good luck in particular to Truly Stashin', whose fight for associate status I am cheering on). This is my introductory post to the forum, as it seems like it will draw a smaller community of readers, familiar with my predicaments. I seek advice - thanks in advance for reading and answering if you take the time.
About me: 30-something, 2013 T15 grad, no debt, lower half of class, live in big city with partner of four years (also an attorney). I have been onto frugality / mustachianism since last April. I changed a lot about my life, and also got my live-in partner more or less on-board. When I found MMM, I was in my first attorney position at a small creditor/debtor firm. The work was slow, and they laid off the three most junior attorneys. I was only 10 months into my practice. I have been unemployed since October, with a few interviews, but no solid leads. I now volunteer 2x a week at my dream non-profit. I also obtained my real estate license recently, hoping to start learning the market for personal use in the future, and to also possibly help a few people I know who are in the market for housing.
My unemployment is running out really soon. I have no debt, but when I first read MMM, I got a little eager and put a larger chunk of my emergency fund in investments, which means my funds (~$20k) isn't particularly liquid. My two main issues are (1) Cashflow; (2) Career trajectory.
With regards to cashflow; I have no full-time job on the immediate horizon. I think in the short term, contract work might be my best bet. However, I fear getting stuck in the contract attorney pigeonhole. Also, I want to maximize the earning potential in my profession, and I am not confident contract work is the way to do it. (I know I missed the boat by not performing as well as I would have liked in law school). Should I seek out a staff attorney position with big law? (How does one even find such a job?). Keep gunning for boutique and small general practice firms, even though they can be precarious employers and have so far not been responsive?
Complicating the matter, I love the nonprofit I volunteer for. It focuses on an issue that is #1 important to me. They operate on a shoestring. I would probably have to consistently volunteer there for 3-4 years before I could expect to get hired on, and then it would be for peanuts by attorney standards. However, this is death-bed-no-regrets-type work which in a few short months has given me better experience, and better colleagues, than anything else I have done in the legal world thus far.
So in summary:
What do you think is the maximum earning possibility in the law for someone in my position?
Have any mustachian attorneys made a decent living doing contract work?
Has anyone struck a good compromises to incorporate significant pro bono work?
Thanks for reading! I am grateful to tap into the collective wisdom of this online community.