Author Topic: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?  (Read 88063 times)

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #350 on: December 14, 2015, 12:00:43 PM »
I understand the case is a contingency case, but you are financing the cost of experts?

DCKatie09

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #351 on: December 14, 2015, 02:18:44 PM »

DCKatie09, when the semester ends do you get time off or do you use that time to regroup and plan?

A little of both - school is closed the 23rd-3rd, which is lovely, but we're also having an office planning retreat this Weds, and I'm in the midst of recruiting volunteers for a big program I run starting January. Also going to sit down to plan out the spring program schedule this week. It's a nice balance.

Good luck with the case - sounds exciting!

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #352 on: December 15, 2015, 06:44:33 AM »
I understand the case is a contingency case, but you are financing the cost of experts?

Yes.  That's my deal with the client.  He paid a $10k retainer, which I've completely exhausted, and that's the cap on his exposure.  I talked to a couple of solo friends and this is the structure they typically use.

Edit:  One benefit of this arrangement is that I choose the expert which ensures that I'm relying on someone I trust.  Plus, my client is 75 and lives in Florida.  He'd be uncomfortable with retaining experts independently.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 06:47:15 AM by TrulyStashin »
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Daleth

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #353 on: December 15, 2015, 12:28:01 PM »
I understand the case is a contingency case, but you are financing the cost of experts?

Yes.  That's my deal with the client.  He paid a $10k retainer, which I've completely exhausted, and that's the cap on his exposure.  I talked to a couple of solo friends and this is the structure they typically use.

Edit:  One benefit of this arrangement is that I choose the expert which ensures that I'm relying on someone I trust.  Plus, my client is 75 and lives in Florida.  He'd be uncomfortable with retaining experts independently.

I only really know how big firms work, but in big firms the client pays for the expert but the lawyers choose the expert. In consultation with the client, of course. So I guess I'm just posting to point out that it's not either/or--in other words, it's not either the client pays for the experts and hires them independently or the lawyer pays for the expert and hires them. Normally it's lawyer considers a few experts, vets them, runs them by the client with the lawyer's advice (i.e. "I recommend this one" or "this or that one seem good, here are the pros and cons of each"), and then the client pays for them.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #354 on: December 21, 2015, 07:40:43 AM »
So...as I've posted on here before, I've struggled to get work the past few months. I'll be 100% honest...I've been billing less than 100 hours per month for four months now and just haven't been able to get out of the rut. I don't know if it's because there's no work or because partners don't trust me (I thought I was doing good work).

It's been very stressful and has been a huge reason why I'm looking to potentially open up my solo practice here soon.

And now...the president of the firm (who otherwise never talks to me) just stopped by and said that the board wants to meet with me tomorrow at 9:30.

I'm stressed as hell. This has to be one of two things: (a) them telling me I need to bill more hours in 2016, or (b) them firing me.

Can any of you guys talk me off the ledge? I would greatly appreciate it haha.
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TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #355 on: December 21, 2015, 12:37:54 PM »
So...as I've posted on here before, I've struggled to get work the past few months. I'll be 100% honest...I've been billing less than 100 hours per month for four months now and just haven't been able to get out of the rut. I don't know if it's because there's no work or because partners don't trust me (I thought I was doing good work).

It's been very stressful and has been a huge reason why I'm looking to potentially open up my solo practice here soon.

And now...the president of the firm (who otherwise never talks to me) just stopped by and said that the board wants to meet with me tomorrow at 9:30.

I'm stressed as hell. This has to be one of two things: (a) them telling me I need to bill more hours in 2016, or (b) them firing me.

Can any of you guys talk me off the ledge? I would greatly appreciate it haha.

Honestly, I've been fired before and it was a huge favor to me.  It freed me.  If you get fired tomorrow (pretty shitty, right before Christmas) YOU WILL BE OKAY.

Though I don't know you, you have to be pretty resilient and resourceful.  First, you're a MMM reader.  Second, you made it through LSATs, law school, the bar exam, and a few years of practice.  You can do this too. 

If you have a "go solo" plan, spend the afternoon dusting it off and adding to it.  Even if you don't get fired tomorrow, start building that bridge to your next thing.  It sounds like it is time.

Really, you can do this.  You will be okay.
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bridget

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #356 on: December 21, 2015, 06:46:40 PM »
So...as I've posted on here before, I've struggled to get work the past few months. I'll be 100% honest...I've been billing less than 100 hours per month for four months now and just haven't been able to get out of the rut. I don't know if it's because there's no work or because partners don't trust me (I thought I was doing good work).

It's been very stressful and has been a huge reason why I'm looking to potentially open up my solo practice here soon.

And now...the president of the firm (who otherwise never talks to me) just stopped by and said that the board wants to meet with me tomorrow at 9:30.

I'm stressed as hell. This has to be one of two things: (a) them telling me I need to bill more hours in 2016, or (b) them firing me.

Can any of you guys talk me off the ledge? I would greatly appreciate it haha.

First off - you will be fine. You will bounce back from this. In my experience, these things aren't as bad as I worry they will be ahead of time. Nice people to work with might ask you what's up, and want to hear your game plan for the future, but won't start with the "you're outta here" speech right from the gate. If they suck as people, then maybe it'd be a blessing in disguise to get on the job hunt.

That's my encouragement. If you want unsolicited advice re: low billing, continue reading. Otherwise, stop here. :)


Are you affirmatively asking for work? (Obviously, this only applies if your meeting tomorrow goes okay and you decide to stick it out for at least a little longer at your current firm). At my firm, partners easily forget about associates. They were uniformly impressed, however, if I saw a conflict check for a matter that looked interesting (they were sent to the whole office, with a short description of the kind of work), called the responsible partner, and asked if I could help out on it. Doing good work is only half of the equation.

Relatedly, have you been spending your free time looking for business to bring to the firm? If you have, BRING THAT UP AT YOUR MEETING. Even if the raw dollars and cents aren't there in the billing records, talk about how you've been using your time to find paying clients. If the meeting is about your hours, that will really take the sting out of it for your bosses. If you haven't ... um, I kind of think you should put a hold on the going solo plan, at least until you have a little bit of client-finding practice under your belt. If you go solo, you won't have ~100 hours a month of work from partners. Going from zero to sixty on your own hustling will be a rough transition, IMO. (Full disclosure, I have never [and will never] go solo. I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. This is why I stick with larger firms, and really focus on asking for work from partners I like to work with. I often end up overwhelmed with work while associates down the hall are twiddling their thumbs.).

FIREby35

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #357 on: December 22, 2015, 07:00:06 AM »
Hey TS, I was thinking about your issue with being low on cash and possibly needing additional expert services. It sounds like it is a good (BIG) case from your description. I recommend that you do some research and see who is a good solo attorney/small firm attorney in your area. For example, I know exactly who the top Plaintiff trial attorneys are in my area. If I get a "too big" case, I call them and ask them to co-counsel the case with me. I've never had anyone say no (Why would they I'm giving them a big case and promising to do the heavy lifting). They have more experience and resources (i.e. $$ for expensive experts) and, sometimes, there presence can make the other side perk up a little. You can cut a deal for a percentage. It doesn't have to be 50/50. Of course you don't want to give up a percentage, but it is much better than half working up the case due to lack of experience/funds. If you choose the top attorneys in your area to associate with, then you now have a powerful ally/mentor. Also, sometimes the better result achieved pays for itself as well. I think I said it previously, you are solo, but not alone. Look for those relationships.

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #358 on: December 22, 2015, 09:53:12 AM »
RSM, hope you come back to update us on your meeting!  Keeping my fingers crossed for you.



ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #359 on: December 22, 2015, 10:21:33 AM »
So, the main thrust of the meeting was that the firm perceived that I had a general lack of enthusiasm for being a lawyer. They pointed to a couple (admittedly) lazy but big mistakes I made this past year (e.g., didn't respond to a big client's email while I was at a CLE). They also were very curious as to why I didn't ask questions all the time, why I wasn't hunting down work more, etc.

I basically owned that this has been a frustrating year due to my lack of work: told them I failed to communicate about my lack of work, failed to follow up on assignments, failed to follow up on files, etc. Basically owned everything.

They obviously took that well, so I followed up with just being candid about my lack of work. I told them a couple stories that illustrate why I'm lacking work and they said they've all experienced the same thing, and that they as a board will do a few things to get work flowing more in my direction.

Things got a little weird when they asked if I planned on staying here for a long time. I said yes, of course, because what else was I supposed to say.

Basically this was just a kick up my ass.

And the meeting ended with them giving me my Christmas bonus.

Time to get to work.
No more zero days. Promise yourself that you will do one thing every day that takes you one step closer to your goal.

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #360 on: December 22, 2015, 10:27:24 AM »
Thanks for the update.  The board sounds like a decent bunch and I figured they would give you another chance ;-) 

Honestly, I know you only from your posts here but I also detected "a general lack of enthusiasm for being a lawyer" - are you sure you are in the right area of practice? 



onlykelsey

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #361 on: December 22, 2015, 10:43:10 AM »
The main thread may be dead, but I'm a transactional lawyer in NYC.  I'm in BigLaw, V15, I believe.  Don't want to get more specific than that.

I like the people I work with, but it is a brutal, billing 2500/year sort of job.  Trying to save up and get out. 

Is there a thread somewhere on exiting biglaw?  I've been thinking about things I'd like to do as supplemental income once I'm FI or close it.  I've come up with:
  • legal translation work (would require some capital and time up front, but maybe it's a possibility)
  • project attorney work

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #362 on: December 22, 2015, 10:48:29 AM »
Thanks for the update.  The board sounds like a decent bunch and I figured they would give you another chance ;-) 

Honestly, I know you only from your posts here but I also detected "a general lack of enthusiasm for being a lawyer" - are you sure you are in the right area of practice?

One of the things I mentioned to the board was that I was hired to do labor/employment type of work and none of that work has been flowing my way. I've been doing PI and real estate research and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff (including an almost week long project of researching the admin code regarding firework wholesalers).

So I just made it clear that my general lack of enthusiasm is because I'm doing so much piecemeal and feeling like I'm not making progress in carving out a practice area.

They said that's a normal feeling for a new associate and that I need to keep an open mind. They said a lot of people end up practicing a niche even though they never thought they would.

They have the experience, so I'll defer to them.
No more zero days. Promise yourself that you will do one thing every day that takes you one step closer to your goal.

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #363 on: December 22, 2015, 11:00:03 AM »
Thanks for the update.  The board sounds like a decent bunch and I figured they would give you another chance ;-) 

Honestly, I know you only from your posts here but I also detected "a general lack of enthusiasm for being a lawyer" - are you sure you are in the right area of practice?

One of the things I mentioned to the board was that I was hired to do labor/employment type of work and none of that work has been flowing my way. I've been doing PI and real estate research and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff (including an almost week long project of researching the admin code regarding firework wholesalers).

So I just made it clear that my general lack of enthusiasm is because I'm doing so much piecemeal and feeling like I'm not making progress in carving out a practice area.

They said that's a normal feeling for a new associate and that I need to keep an open mind. They said a lot of people end up practicing a niche even though they never thought they would.

They have the experience, so I'll defer to them.
Based on your experience so far, is labor/employment law the area that interests you most?  If so, you need to approach the specific partners in your firm who do this type of work and ask them if you can help with any of their matters.  You need to tell them that you are interested in working with them and learning from them.  Be persistent.  Unless you take matters in your own hands and show initiative, it is not likely that you will succeed. 

I remember junior associates at my old firm complaining about lack of mentoring or lack of interesting work.  My answer was always the same: it is up to you to get mentoring or the work you want.  You have to reach out to the partners or senior associates you want to work with, ask for feedback, ask for work, and do it regularly.  If you show interest and willingness, you will not be turned down.



LeRainDrop

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #364 on: December 22, 2015, 12:15:23 PM »
Based on your experience so far, is labor/employment law the area that interests you most?  If so, you need to approach the specific partners in your firm who do this type of work and ask them if you can help with any of their matters.  You need to tell them that you are interested in working with them and learning from them.  Be persistent.  Unless you take matters in your own hands and show initiative, it is not likely that you will succeed. 

I remember junior associates at my old firm complaining about lack of mentoring or lack of interesting work.  My answer was always the same: it is up to you to get mentoring or the work you want.  You have to reach out to the partners or senior associates you want to work with, ask for feedback, ask for work, and do it regularly.  If you show interest and willingness, you will not be turned down.

This advice is so spot on.  It sucks when you're getting assignments that aren't particularly meaningful to your interests, but all the more reason to take control of your direction and make sure that is known to the right people.  Partners and senior associates love hearing genuine enthusiasm and willingness to help from a junior associate.  I'd so much rather give work to someone who really wants it, will prioritize it, and will do a good job, than just to the next schmoe who has availability.  It's up to you to keep yourself visible and proactive in getting work, especially in your preferred practice area.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2015, 12:17:18 PM by LeRainDrop »

OneCoolCat

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #365 on: December 22, 2015, 09:59:23 PM »
I'm having a hard time finding jobs to apply to.  Florida is notoriously difficult to get a midlaw or biglaw job but dang I wish I had something to apply to.  I have saved all the mid to large sized firms to my favorites bar and check every other day but it seems most firms have slowed in hiring.  I'm hoping it picks up in January because I want to change practice areas!
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Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #366 on: December 25, 2015, 08:58:39 AM »
They also were very curious as to why I didn't ask questions all the time, why I wasn't hunting down work more, etc.
  I used to be an associate.  Here is what you do.  On Monday morning, poke your head into the office of one of the partners with the type of work you want to do.  "Hey, Mr. Smith, how are you?  Christmas go well?  Great.  Hey, I just wanted to let you know I am low on work.  Would you please keep me in mind for any future assignments?  Yes?  Great, thank you!"

Then find another partner, and do the same.  Repeat.  And again. And so on until you are covered up with work.

Then try to impress each and every one of them.

Rosbif

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #367 on: December 27, 2015, 08:19:31 AM »
The main thread may be dead, but I'm a transactional lawyer in NYC.  I'm in BigLaw, V15, I believe.  Don't want to get more specific than that.

I like the people I work with, but it is a brutal, billing 2500/year sort of job.  Trying to save up and get out. 

Is there a thread somewhere on exiting biglaw?  I've been thinking about things I'd like to do as supplemental income once I'm FI or close it.  I've come up with:
  • legal translation work (would require some capital and time up front, but maybe it's a possibility)
  • project attorney work
Hey, I did that for a while, and I'm now doing some legal translation. Capital requirements very minimal, assuming you have a computer and internet connection. You need a bit of time to sink into it, and cash flow management can be annoying (late paying clients, etc), but once you're up and running, it's great!

FIREby35

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #368 on: December 27, 2015, 11:21:31 AM »
The main thread may be dead, but I'm a transactional lawyer in NYC.  I'm in BigLaw, V15, I believe.  Don't want to get more specific than that.

I like the people I work with, but it is a brutal, billing 2500/year sort of job.  Trying to save up and get out. 

Is there a thread somewhere on exiting biglaw?  I've been thinking about things I'd like to do as supplemental income once I'm FI or close it.  I've come up with:
  • legal translation work (would require some capital and time up front, but maybe it's a possibility)
  • project attorney work

If you are FI, you could just hang out a shingle and take interesting cases. I kind of do that now. I take only certain defense cases (No DV, Sexual Assault, Child Porn, etc), look for interesting civil cases, fire any clients who are a pain, I have a brief writer on speed dial so I don't actually have to do writing and other perks. If you are FI, this sort of approach would give you lots of flexibility. I know its way different than BigLaw, but I've seen other attorneys who "drop out" of big law do that in my area and almost all have spoken positively about it.


onlykelsey

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #369 on: December 28, 2015, 08:04:37 AM »
Hey, I did that for a while, and I'm now doing some legal translation. Capital requirements very minimal, assuming you have a computer and internet connection. You need a bit of time to sink into it, and cash flow management can be annoying (late paying clients, etc), but once you're up and running, it's great!

I would love to hear more about that!  Have you written about it somewhere?  How did you get started?

I used to do paid German-English translation work for academics, and wrote my graduate thesis using German (and Swedish, Danish and Russian) language sources, but I think to really do translation work I'd need to sink a month in to living in Germany again at some point.  I could probably live with my host parents outside of Berlin, and wonder if I could find a retired judge or professor or lawyer or stay at home parent who used to do one of those things to work with me a few hours a day.  I guess in the interim I could pick up my habit of reading the Spiegel or other German-language publications.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #370 on: December 28, 2015, 03:21:21 PM »
I have a brief writer on speed dial so I don't actually have to do writing
  I find it very interesting how much people differ.  Brief writing is my favorite part of being a lawyer.

FIREby35

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #371 on: December 28, 2015, 09:33:34 PM »
I have a brief writer on speed dial so I don't actually have to do writing
  I find it very interesting how much people differ.  Brief writing is my favorite part of being a lawyer.

Haha! I'll hire you on a project by project basis! I like working with people, counseling clients, being in court, landing clients or building referral networks. When I write, I feel like I am isolated and I'm not "doing anything."

Anyway, I know what you mean about how different we all are. It took me a while to understand that, but I'm getting better :)

FIREby35

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #372 on: December 28, 2015, 09:37:22 PM »
Hey, I did that for a while, and I'm now doing some legal translation. Capital requirements very minimal, assuming you have a computer and internet connection. You need a bit of time to sink into it, and cash flow management can be annoying (late paying clients, etc), but once you're up and running, it's great!

I would love to hear more about that!  Have you written about it somewhere?  How did you get started?

I used to do paid German-English translation work for academics, and wrote my graduate thesis using German (and Swedish, Danish and Russian) language sources, but I think to really do translation work I'd need to sink a month in to living in Germany again at some point.  I could probably live with my host parents outside of Berlin, and wonder if I could find a retired judge or professor or lawyer or stay at home parent who used to do one of those things to work with me a few hours a day.  I guess in the interim I could pick up my habit of reading the Spiegel or other German-language publications.

I have a friend who does lots of legal translation work in Japanese. Big lawsuits against Japanese companies where all their emails are written in Japanese and have to be translated and reviewed for relevancy by a Japanese speaking American trained attorney. He makes great money doing that and has a Wills/Trusts practice on the side. With VW sure to be subject to lawsuits and Germany have lots of successful business that are probably subject to lawsuits, you should be able to find an opportunity. PM me and I'll connect you to my friend. He would probably be able to tell you how to get legal translating gigs.

Rosbif

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #373 on: December 29, 2015, 01:11:15 AM »
Sent you a more detailed message, onlykelsey, rather than clogging up this thread with niche discussions about translating. Supply and demand are nowhere more evident than in legal translation. Uncommon/difficult language pairs pay the most. Most big international litigation ends up with at least some English speaking lawyers being involved. Japanese/EN, Arabic/EN, Russian/EN. As counsel, I've paid up to 1.00USD/wd for those language pairs. When you're translating 250k wds, that can sting a little. German / French / Spanish more common but volumes are much, much higher, so demand is still there.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #374 on: December 29, 2015, 07:05:26 AM »
Thanks for all the responses regarding my situation.

I actually met with a partner the day after the meeting. He's been at the firm since 1979 (I think) and loathes the politics of the firm (and is thus not on the board).  I asked if I could put my name on the pleadings for his biggest client. He immediately said "of course" and asked why, and I told him about my conversation with the board.

He said he knew they were going to have that talk after the last shareholder's meeting. He said the 4-5 attorneys that I work most closely with spoke up at the meeting and said I do great work. He said I basically just made a few small mistakes with the wrong partners' clients.  He also said he thought it was "chicken shit" for the board to have that sit-down with me when they have done nothing in terms of setting up a plan to get work flowing my way.

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.
No more zero days. Promise yourself that you will do one thing every day that takes you one step closer to your goal.

onlykelsey

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #375 on: December 29, 2015, 07:48:01 AM »

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.

Glad to hear it.  If you have a moment, read: http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2015/06/08/gaslighting/ . "Law firms gaslight young lawyers – they create a world where nothing makes sense, then studiously pretend it does. You should catch on, too. You’re probably not the one who’s crazy."  It's good to be self-aware and self-critical, and obviously being too big for your britches is a bad idea, but I think this industry really feeds on people who are self-aware and can convince them that they are the biggest f-ups to ever walk the planet. 

dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #376 on: December 30, 2015, 08:46:23 AM »

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.

Glad to hear it.  If you have a moment, read: http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2015/06/08/gaslighting/ . "Law firms gaslight young lawyers – they create a world where nothing makes sense, then studiously pretend it does. You should catch on, too. You’re probably not the one who’s crazy."  It's good to be self-aware and self-critical, and obviously being too big for your britches is a bad idea, but I think this industry really feeds on people who are self-aware and can convince them that they are the biggest f-ups to ever walk the planet.

My god that was an infuriating read.  I'm sure law firms gaslight associates, but the example associate made a constant stream of bad decisions.  Nearly every problem could have been solved with good communication.  Obviously it's better if good communication goes both ways, but it would have been enough for the associate to ask questions.    My law firm told me the first week to ask questions and I took that at face value, without over analyzing how that might "look" (of course maybe that's why asshole types often succeed in law, because they don't care how thinks look as long as they get the job done). 

Tldr: ask questions, just like everybody always advises for almost any new job.  If your firm is so crazy they fire you because you asked a question, all the better for your life, really

chesebert

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #377 on: December 30, 2015, 09:46:01 AM »

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.

Glad to hear it.  If you have a moment, read: http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2015/06/08/gaslighting/ . "Law firms gaslight young lawyers – they create a world where nothing makes sense, then studiously pretend it does. You should catch on, too. You’re probably not the one who’s crazy."  It's good to be self-aware and self-critical, and obviously being too big for your britches is a bad idea, but I think this industry really feeds on people who are self-aware and can convince them that they are the biggest f-ups to ever walk the planet.

My god that was an infuriating read.  I'm sure law firms gaslight associates, but the example associate made a constant stream of bad decisions.  Nearly every problem could have been solved with good communication.  Obviously it's better if good communication goes both ways, but it would have been enough for the associate to ask questions.    My law firm told me the first week to ask questions and I took that at face value, without over analyzing how that might "look" (of course maybe that's why asshole types often succeed in law, because they don't care how thinks look as long as they get the job done). 

Tldr: ask questions, just like everybody always advises for almost any new job.  If your firm is so crazy they fire you because you asked a question, all the better for your life, really
Author of that article was a former associate at a V5 NY office. He was either writing about his own experience or the experience of a former colleague. I would not be so quick to dismiss the story. A good friend of mine described the culture where the author used to worked at as "toxic". This is also the same firm that had the famous "say thank you to associates" memo to the partners.

Daleth

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #378 on: December 30, 2015, 11:21:07 AM »
The main thread may be dead, but I'm a transactional lawyer in NYC.  I'm in BigLaw, V15, I believe.  Don't want to get more specific than that.

I like the people I work with, but it is a brutal, billing 2500/year sort of job.  Trying to save up and get out. 

Is there a thread somewhere on exiting biglaw?  I've been thinking about things I'd like to do as supplemental income once I'm FI or close it.  I've come up with:
  • legal translation work (would require some capital and time up front, but maybe it's a possibility)
  • project attorney work

Let's either make this the exiting BigLaw thread, or create a new thread.

I'm in BigLaw and have worked as a translator. I cannot imagine why it would require ANY capital or much time up front. Go get yourself hired by a legal translation company to learn the ropes. Join NAJIT (National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators), which costs next to nothing. If your area is very competitive and you have trouble getting hired by a translation company due to lack of certification, then some capital and time will be required; otherwise not. The American Translators' Association (apostrophe added by me because I CANNOT STAND incorrect apostrophe usage, haha) offers certification tests for $300 from and into several languages:
https://www.atanet.org/certification/aboutcert_overview.php#1

Note: when seeking work with legal translation companies, pay close attention to any paperwork they send you--be on the lookout for noncompete provisions that they want you to sign, because those would make it harder for you to start your own translation company once you learn the ropes. If there is such a provision, check out your state's law to see whether noncompetes are enforeceable at all and if so, whether they are typically enforced as written or whether they're "blue lined"/"red lined" to make them narrower.


Daleth

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #379 on: December 30, 2015, 11:23:48 AM »
I used to do paid German-English translation work for academics, and wrote my graduate thesis using German (and Swedish, Danish and Russian) language sources, but I think to really do translation work I'd need to sink a month in to living in Germany again at some point. 

Oh don't be ridiculous :)
Translation doesn't require that. It's 100% reading and writing. Interpretation is a whole 'nother skill, and for interpretation I can see needing to live in-country to get back up to speed. But not for translation. Just read a whole bunch and practice translating what you read. Bookmark some German-language legal news websites and translate what you see there. Invest in a German-English legal and business dictionary. And voila.

Daleth

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #380 on: December 30, 2015, 11:26:44 AM »
I'm having a hard time finding jobs to apply to.  Florida is notoriously difficult to get a midlaw or biglaw job but dang I wish I had something to apply to.  I have saved all the mid to large sized firms to my favorites bar and check every other day but it seems most firms have slowed in hiring.  I'm hoping it picks up in January because I want to change practice areas!

What's your background (educational and professional)? Clue me in a bit and I'll try to help you figure out how to get a better job. Checking the websites of big firms is not the way to go.

OneCoolCat

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #381 on: December 30, 2015, 06:45:18 PM »
I'm having a hard time finding jobs to apply to.  Florida is notoriously difficult to get a midlaw or biglaw job but dang I wish I had something to apply to.  I have saved all the mid to large sized firms to my favorites bar and check every other day but it seems most firms have slowed in hiring.  I'm hoping it picks up in January because I want to change practice areas!

What's your background (educational and professional)? Clue me in a bit and I'll try to help you figure out how to get a better job. Checking the websites of big firms is not the way to go.

I went to a lower T1 law school and i currently represent lenders in bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings in South Florida.  I'm from the class of 2014, graduated in the top 1/3 (cum laude) of my class, and was on a secondary journal.  I have a lot of litigation experience in my 15 months of being barred.  I want to do either corporate transactions or real estate transactions.  I've had an interview with a biglaw firm and a midlaw firm recently doing transactions.  Biglaw interview was not my best but the I thought the midlaw one went really well.  Unfortunately neither turned into anything.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 07:30:01 PM by OneCoolCat »
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onlykelsey

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #382 on: December 30, 2015, 06:47:54 PM »
Oh don't be ridiculous :)
Translation doesn't require that. It's 100% reading and writing. Interpretation is a whole 'nother skill, and for interpretation I can see needing to live in-country to get back up to speed. But not for translation. Just read a whole bunch and practice translating what you read. Bookmark some German-language legal news websites and translate what you see there. Invest in a German-English legal and business dictionary. And voila.

I am very thankful for all the advice on this thread, and am probably going to start a BigLaw exit thread as suggested above.  Lots of neat ideas.

I looked at ATA's requirements and the ACTFL tests, and think I would solidly pass the professional reading test, which is great.

dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #383 on: December 30, 2015, 07:23:35 PM »

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.

Glad to hear it.  If you have a moment, read: http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2015/06/08/gaslighting/ . "Law firms gaslight young lawyers – they create a world where nothing makes sense, then studiously pretend it does. You should catch on, too. You’re probably not the one who’s crazy."  It's good to be self-aware and self-critical, and obviously being too big for your britches is a bad idea, but I think this industry really feeds on people who are self-aware and can convince them that they are the biggest f-ups to ever walk the planet.

My god that was an infuriating read.  I'm sure law firms gaslight associates, but the example associate made a constant stream of bad decisions.  Nearly every problem could have been solved with good communication.  Obviously it's better if good communication goes both ways, but it would have been enough for the associate to ask questions.    My law firm told me the first week to ask questions and I took that at face value, without over analyzing how that might "look" (of course maybe that's why asshole types often succeed in law, because they don't care how thinks look as long as they get the job done). 

Tldr: ask questions, just like everybody always advises for almost any new job.  If your firm is so crazy they fire you because you asked a question, all the better for your life, really
Author of that article was a former associate at a V5 NY office. He was either writing about his own experience or the experience of a former colleague. I would not be so quick to dismiss the story. A good friend of mine described the culture where the author used to worked at as "toxic". This is also the same firm that had the famous "say thank you to associates" memo to the partners.

In which way did I dismiss the story?

westcoaster

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #384 on: January 03, 2016, 06:39:44 PM »
Did anyone ever start a separate "after biglaw" thread? I did the biglaw thing for 5 years and then left to go in-house. My wife is still in biglaw. We're making good money but neither of our jobs are sustainable given the high stress and long and unpredictable hours. Trying to figure out what to do next.

Any trusts/estates lawyers in here who started their own practice? Seems like a practice that can lend itself to having a good quality of life, but the hurdles to entry seem tough (building an expertise, especially in tax, getting clients, etc). We had our will put together by a sole practitioner who claimed he only works a few days per week, very low stress, and is essentially semi-retired. Sounds pretty enticing.

Chiron

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #385 on: January 14, 2016, 02:07:06 PM »
I have posted in other threads but just found this one. 

I'm a 2010 grad and practice corporate/M&A in a secondary market.  Did biglaw for 3 years when some partners split off to start a transactional boutique.  I followed eventually.  I make mid-200s all in but have no health insurance benefit.  One great benefit is the profit-sharing plan which allows me to shelter $35k (on top of $18k elective deferral) into the 401k plan.  I plan to pay taxes of 10% or less on that after FIRE via a Roth conversion ladder.

I like but do not love the work.  M&A is interesting but I'm not cut out to be a service provider.  I'm building a REI business on the side and it's been going really well.  I'd like to get to the point where I just "manage" the property manager and my other investments and take work from my firm on a case by case basis.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #386 on: January 16, 2016, 01:03:51 PM »
Hi, friends, wondering if any of y'all can help diggingout with some advice for getting a raise -- she is a legal assistant at a law firm, and she has 5 years of experience.  I've already added my own two cents, but the other advice is from someone who's not in the legal industry.  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/lawyers-how-much-do-you-pay-your-legal-assistants-help-me-get-a-raise!/


dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #388 on: February 06, 2016, 01:44:32 AM »
Good thing I just did an hour of substance abuse continuing legal education by watching a dvd called "grumpy at work"

TXScout2

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #389 on: February 09, 2016, 03:05:24 PM »
Has anyone ever thought about leaving the practice of law completely?  And tried to convince yourself to stay just a little longer to save more money first?  I know that mathematically it makes sense to make as much money early in my life as I can.  But I am really burned out. 

dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #390 on: February 09, 2016, 03:45:46 PM »
Has anyone ever thought about leaving the practice of law completely?  And tried to convince yourself to stay just a little longer to save more money first?  I know that mathematically it makes sense to make as much money early in my life as I can.  But I am really burned out.

totes, since it's the highest guaranteed hourly pay (does not compare with hitting the startup lottery, but that's very much up to chance).  Plus, I doubt another job would make me happier unless it was one of those ridiculous ice cream taster jobs that are impossible to get.

TXScout2

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #391 on: February 09, 2016, 04:25:37 PM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it. 

dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #392 on: February 09, 2016, 10:24:30 PM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it.

$300k savings or something else?  I mean you have to be ERE to live on that

ormaybemidgets

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #393 on: February 10, 2016, 09:02:43 AM »

It was a good re-boot. I'm glad to know I'm doing good work. Now I just need to take all of your great advice and apply it to make sure I'm getting more than enough work.

Glad to hear it.  If you have a moment, read: http://thepeoplestherapist.com/2015/06/08/gaslighting/ . "Law firms gaslight young lawyers – they create a world where nothing makes sense, then studiously pretend it does. You should catch on, too. You’re probably not the one who’s crazy."  It's good to be self-aware and self-critical, and obviously being too big for your britches is a bad idea, but I think this industry really feeds on people who are self-aware and can convince them that they are the biggest f-ups to ever walk the planet.

THANK YOU for this article - this is exactly what my life has been for the last year, and I'm not even making that sweet law firm money. Hopefully awareness of the issue can help me conquer it.

Chiron

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #394 on: February 10, 2016, 09:29:38 AM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it.

$300k savings or something else?  I mean you have to be ERE to live on that

Check out this blog: https://anonlawyer.wordpress.com/.  This guy left a very high paying biglaw partner job with a relatively small 'stache when looking at his income.  Seems to be happier.

I've always wanted to try the startup route but naivety and (after law school) student debt has prevented me from doing it.  I think it could be something I look at once FI.  At that point the risk is much lower, so going for the home run doesn't have much downside other than loss of my time.

TXScout2

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #395 on: February 10, 2016, 12:35:39 PM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it.

$300k savings or something else?  I mean you have to be ERE to live on that

I mean $300K assets built up for the purpose of ER.  I'm not talking about ERE with only the 300K though, just switching to a field that pays less, but is more satisfying, and continuing to build assets, albiet more slowly. 

Chiron, I will check out the blog.  I've also considered starting a business.  As you said though, when you don't have much savings, the risk associated with a failed venture is much higher.

spud1987

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #396 on: February 10, 2016, 02:29:55 PM »
Did anyone ever start a separate "after biglaw" thread? I did the biglaw thing for 5 years and then left to go in-house. My wife is still in biglaw. We're making good money but neither of our jobs are sustainable given the high stress and long and unpredictable hours. Trying to figure out what to do next.

Any trusts/estates lawyers in here who started their own practice? Seems like a practice that can lend itself to having a good quality of life, but the hurdles to entry seem tough (building an expertise, especially in tax, getting clients, etc). We had our will put together by a sole practitioner who claimed he only works a few days per week, very low stress, and is essentially semi-retired. Sounds pretty enticing.

Sorry, just seeing this post now. I am a biglaw refugee currently working as an inhouse tax lawyer. My plan is to work for another 4-5 years (should be FI by 2020). My current job is pretty amazing compared to biglaw, but I'd still prefer to be FIRE-d.

I've thought about going solo once FI and doing trust/estate work along with some tax controversy work. I'm hoping I would be able to be proficient at the work due to my time as a tax lawyer. But I know that drafting wills for an individual is very different than tax planning for a large multinational.

However, I don't want to rely on needing income in retirement so it makes more sense for me to continue working now until I'm FI.

spud1987

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #397 on: February 10, 2016, 02:34:40 PM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it.

$300k savings or something else?  I mean you have to be ERE to live on that

Check out this blog: https://anonlawyer.wordpress.com/.  This guy left a very high paying biglaw partner job with a relatively small 'stache when looking at his income.  Seems to be happier.

I've always wanted to try the startup route but naivety and (after law school) student debt has prevented me from doing it.  I think it could be something I look at once FI.  At that point the risk is much lower, so going for the home run doesn't have much downside other than loss of my time.

Anonlawyer is a pretty amazing story. He went from a typical biglaw associate spending the bulk of his paycheck to living a MMM-style life. Seeing his NW grow from about 200k-1.8M over 6 years is pretty inspiring, even if he was earning an average of 300k+/year. The best part is that he had the guts to quit.

Lexaholik

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #398 on: February 10, 2016, 03:08:03 PM »
I don't doubt at all that I'd be happier in another job.  I even think I could potentially make more in another job, eventually.  But the start-up cost of time and earnings from switching careers makes me hesitate.  I have seen other people say they planned to switch at $300K.  That's not too close for me.  Just wondering if anybody has actually done it.

$300k savings or something else?  I mean you have to be ERE to live on that

I mean $300K assets built up for the purpose of ER.  I'm not talking about ERE with only the 300K though, just switching to a field that pays less, but is more satisfying, and continuing to build assets, albiet more slowly. 

Chiron, I will check out the blog.  I've also considered starting a business.  As you said though, when you don't have much savings, the risk associated with a failed venture is much higher.

In my opinion, once your net worth hits 3x annual expenses, you can find a job that makes you happier. Too many lawyers think you can't leave a high income job before you have a massive NW. Let's say you find a job that makes you super happy and have exactly the lifestyle you want, but pays like 50% less but still more than your annual expenses. Why not just take that job and work at it forever, while letting your assets compound over time? You wouldn't be maximizing your NW, but I'd take a longer, more fun path to FIRE than a shorter but miserable one.

This was my reasoning when I left Job 1 and took a big paycut to go to Job 2 and then another paycut to open my own solo practice. When I left Job 1 I had about 6x my annual expenses saved up. Those savings--while not enough to allow me to fully retire--gave me the freedom to leave my job with nothing lined up, and more importantly, helped me be selective about my subsequent job.  When I left Job 2 I got my NW up to about 10x annual expenses. Still not enough to retire. But at that point I decided to go solo, because it was something I wanted to do for a long time. I fully recognize that there's a big chance my venture will fail.  But, I figured, what the hell is the point of all that money if I can't take big risks?

So many high earning lawyers force themselves to do things they hate because they want more margin of safety before they choose the path that makes them happy.  Do the thing that makes you happy. And if it doesn't work out, go back to work. Even if you don't get paid as much as you used to, it'll probably still be better than your average American worker. FIRE may take longer but you'll be happier in the long run.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2016, 03:13:16 PM by Lexaholik »

aFrugalFather

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #399 on: February 10, 2016, 07:32:24 PM »
I think the difficulty is that the legal profession is full of extremes, you either have a small portion of big law folks making the big bucks and you have everyone else that is around 40/60K a year.  There are some in house attorneys and such, but it really is a double hump graph.  Add to the fact that it is often difficult to just start out in a new area of practice and I can see how people are hesitant to leave a well paying job in the field to go out for the unknown.  In my previous career it was a lot easier to branch out and try new things.