Author Topic: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?  (Read 126503 times)

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2015, 09:57:49 AM »
Quote
Is it a reasonable amount of support or do you just want to extract maximum value?

It was almost reasonable when I could count on that year-end payment for college savings.  The only shortfall was for summer camps, extra-curriculars, which he might contribute to on a whim . . .  or not.  The agreement says I pay for kids' activities, which again has been fine, except sometimes they don't get to do them.  There is a part of me that feels if your dad makes a half a million dollars, it's kind of too bad you can't do a $500 summer camp.  But in the big picture, everybody's fed, clothed, doctored, etc. 

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #51 on: January 24, 2015, 10:17:46 AM »
JD in 1987.  State school.  Law school financing has changed. I worked two years after college so I was financially independent for financial aid purposes. Loans at graduation were roughly $15,000.  '87 was when the bigger firms started hiking associate salaries - received 3 raises before I started my first job. Hard to believe I've been doing this for almost 30 years. Beginning to think about life after the law.

totoro

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #52 on: January 24, 2015, 10:28:56 AM »
Quote
Is it a reasonable amount of support or do you just want to extract maximum value?

It was almost reasonable when I could count on that year-end payment for college savings.  The only shortfall was for summer camps, extra-curriculars, which he might contribute to on a whim . . .  or not.  The agreement says I pay for kids' activities, which again has been fine, except sometimes they don't get to do them.  There is a part of me that feels if your dad makes a half a million dollars, it's kind of too bad you can't do a $500 summer camp.  But in the big picture, everybody's fed, clothed, doctored, etc.

If you are receiving the maximum amount of child support on the guideline tables and can't afford to send your child to a $500 summer camp despite your obligation to do so in your agreement something doesn't add up. 

You have posted that you have savings of over $90,000 and 50% home equity.  You have posted that you are remarried.  There are many single parents who receive zero child support who still manage to provide for extra-curricular activities for their children.  On the surface it strikes me as either a prioritization or parental alienation issue.

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #53 on: January 24, 2015, 11:24:48 AM »
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On the surface it strikes me as either a prioritization or parental alienation issue.

Perhaps you don't mean to be aggressive, but wow, that sounds rather judgmental!  I have 3 kids to send to college.  That 90K won't pay half of half the cost (my ex's income will ruin chances of financial aid).  Like a responsible mustachian, I am saving hard.  I make 28K.  My kids do extracurricular activities, but I budget and have to draw the line somewhere.  Mint tells me I spent $7000 on kids' activities last year; they also do numerous free activities through the school.  If you read my posts, you will know that that 90K took a big hit from home repairs last summer.  I never said I was going to take the man back to court to revise the agreement; just suspicious that he is playing salary games.   

Sheesh. 

totoro

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #54 on: January 24, 2015, 12:09:35 PM »
Yes, it was pretty direct, but it is based on my experience with family law matters.   

This is not the area I currently practice in, but I have significant past experience, including experience with clients attempting to extract maximum support from the non-custodial parent and using the children as pawns to do so.  Some who are intentionally underemployed and do not make real effort to become fully self-supporting.  Some who have an agreement in writing which obligates them to pay for certain things but tell their children, "sorry, I can't pay for that because your dad (mostly it is men in this boat) won't pay more" which is a form of parental alienation.  Hopefully you are not in this category, but it appears to be your position.

The default among partners who can act reasonably is generally 50:50 sharing of the time for their children.  Sometimes there is a good reason not to do this, but as it affects child support levels in my experience some (definitely a minority but still common) of individuals will do everything to skew things in their favour.

I don't know the law where you live, but where I live this is what would happen if you are the primary caregiver and receive child support at max table amounts because your ex-spouse makes $500,000:

1. A custodial parent with $28,000 in income and, assuming three children, would claim max tax deductions for them.  The ex-spouse could not claim for them.  This should mean that fairly little income tax would be removed from the custodial spouse's paycheques.
2. A custodial parent would receive $8,258 a month in child support tax exempt each month.  This, in combination with the income, would effectively put the custodial spouse into the equivalent of earning $180,000 per year pre-tax.
3. The ex-spouse with the $500,000 income would net $295,000 and would then pay child support from this amount.
4. A custodial parent would receive an additional child tax credit payment from the government each month based on your family income not including child support received.
5. A custodial parent who has remarried presumably have a reduced cost of living as the new spouse  contributes to the household costs.  This would not be factored in to any payments or obligations to pay.

Again, this is where I live.  Your numbers may be different if the law is different.

As far as university goes, I understand from your prior posts that you may be eligible for low income subsidies.  That would be worth checking on.  Where I live there would be an obligation on both parents to contribute.

As far as salary games go, I agree that it is possible that your spouse is not taking a bonus as you expected and doing so to reduce support obligations.  That may be worth getting legal advice on but blaming him for not being able to send a child to a $500 summer camp does not seem reasonable here.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 12:29:16 PM by totoro »

lizzie

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #55 on: January 24, 2015, 12:12:34 PM »
Quote
On the surface it strikes me as either a prioritization or parental alienation issue.

Perhaps you don't mean to be aggressive, but wow, that sounds rather judgmental!  I have 3 kids to send to college.  That 90K won't pay half of half the cost (my ex's income will ruin chances of financial aid).  Like a responsible mustachian, I am saving hard.  I make 28K.  My kids do extracurricular activities, but I budget and have to draw the line somewhere.  Mint tells me I spent $7000 on kids' activities last year; they also do numerous free activities through the school.  If you read my posts, you will know that that 90K took a big hit from home repairs last summer.  I never said I was going to take the man back to court to revise the agreement; just suspicious that he is playing salary games.   

Sheesh.

For what it's worth, your story made sense to me. If you're not careful it is possible to spend an infinite amount of money on kids' activities and you really do have to draw the line, as you say.

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #56 on: January 24, 2015, 12:42:44 PM »
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Some who are intentionally underemployed and do not make real effort to become fully self-supporting.  Some who have an agreement in writing which obligates them to pay for certain things but tell their children, "sorry, I can't pay for that because your dad (mostly it is men in this boat) won't pay more" which is a form of parental alienation.  Hopefully you are not in this category, but it appears to be your position.

What I tell my children and what I tell you or hold in my private thoughts need not be the same.  You seem to hold this "agreement in writing" sacred.  There is nothing inherently right or just about the agreement: I just ran out of money and energy to fight it.  I accepted that particular clause because I did not want to fight with him every single semester and summer about what the kids could and couldn't do.   

Quote
A custodial parent would receive $6,500 a month in child support tax exempt each month.  This, in combination with the income, would effectively put the custodial spouse into the equivalent of earning $140,000 per year pre-tax.

Our custody is 6:1 for good reasons.  In our state -- or perhaps under our agreement -- he pays less than half that.  I was only guaranteed the tax deductions the first few years.  Now I claim them anyway, but one day there may be a kerfluffle.  I don't know about the credit.  Somehow I think we haven't qualified, but I can't remember -- maybe my partner's income, though we only married last year.  Or perhaps, doing our own taxes, we missed it. 


InternationalStache

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #57 on: January 24, 2015, 02:05:00 PM »
Not to derail the family law discussion, but yes, another US biglaw lawyer here. Graduated class of 2009 with net worth of over negative $200k. Up to positive $400k as of this past week, net worth increases are getting bigger with each year, as salary/bonuses are getting bigger and money is working for me rather than against. Have spent a chunk of the time practicing US law overseas, which helps substantially on the income side and recommend that route if you can swing it. Expect net worth increases of $200k per year going forward absent job/title changes, but also not sure if/how long I will be able to take the hours and where I want life to go over these coming years.... It's been a slodge but I'm not as down on the loans/biglaw route as some here--it's provided incredible life experiences along the way and the financial track has been okay too.

Happy in CA

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #58 on: January 24, 2015, 02:27:35 PM »
Another lawyer here.  I went to law school because I hated every job I had after college.  I hated law school for a while , too.  But in my second semester I ran out of money and had to get a job.  It was then I discovered criminal defense and things started falling into place.  Originally I wanted to be a prosecutor but I found that I got along a lot better with Public Defenders.  Getting out of law school I made half of what my classmates in BigLaw made, but I loved my job and made a career of it.  Retired a few years ago with a pension, something I had no clue about for at least 10 years or so.  Since retiring I have returned to work for my old employer when they are short-staffed and need the help.  Would I do it all over again?  In a heartbeat.

On The LSAT issue I scored higher than DH who is without a doubt a far superior attorney.  I'm glad that my score got me into a public law school, though that's about it.  Too bad the LSAT cannot test for creativity, fearlessness or incredible tenacity.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #59 on: January 24, 2015, 03:14:00 PM »
I think one really easy way the ABA could reduce the student loan issue is to allow students to work more than 20 hours/week.  I'm not sure when that rule went into effect but when I was in school it was pretty strictly enforced.  Employers were told explicitly that if they hired law students, they could not have them work more than 20 hours/week. 

In retrospect, I should have tried to get an exemption.  I was working in corrections when I went to law school.  If I could have landed a third shift corrections position, I could have gone to school first shift, slept second shift and worked third shift.  On third shift, the inmates are asleep and you just walk around and check on all of them every 15 minutes.  I did all my LSAT studying during third shift overtime (I worked a mix of second and first for my primary position).  I could have easily done all of my law school homework while working third shift. 

I understand it is the rare job that would allow you to work and study, however, so I can see (somewhat) why the ABA wants to limit the hours students work so they have sufficient time to study. 

totoro

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #60 on: January 24, 2015, 03:15:27 PM »
Quote
Some who are intentionally underemployed and do not make real effort to become fully self-supporting.  Some who have an agreement in writing which obligates them to pay for certain things but tell their children, "sorry, I can't pay for that because your dad (mostly it is men in this boat) won't pay more" which is a form of parental alienation.  Hopefully you are not in this category, but it appears to be your position.

What I tell my children and what I tell you or hold in my private thoughts need not be the same.  You seem to hold this "agreement in writing" sacred.  There is nothing inherently right or just about the agreement: I just ran out of money and energy to fight it.  I accepted that particular clause because I did not want to fight with him every single semester and summer about what the kids could and couldn't do.   

Quote
A custodial parent would receive $6,500 a month in child support tax exempt each month.  This, in combination with the income, would effectively put the custodial spouse into the equivalent of earning $140,000 per year pre-tax.

Our custody is 6:1 for good reasons.  In our state -- or perhaps under our agreement -- he pays less than half that.  I was only guaranteed the tax deductions the first few years.  Now I claim them anyway, but one day there may be a kerfluffle.  I don't know about the credit.  Somehow I think we haven't qualified, but I can't remember -- maybe my partner's income, though we only married last year.  Or perhaps, doing our own taxes, we missed it.

And sorry to re-derail the topic.  I would say if you are receiving less than $3200 a month and there are no other compensating factors this seems unfair based on his income - it would be deemed so in my jurisdiction.  Where I live child support cannot be bargained away in an agreement in a final manner because the best interests of the children are paramount.  Getting a bonus and then having it disappear would be a "material change of circumstances" which could be used to re-open an agreement on these facts. 

I understand running out of time and money.  It can be really stressful.  I am much more sympathetic to your concerns knowing the amount that you have agreed to vs. his income.  I would suggest getting a legal opinion on it - it might be worth it to make an application to vary the terms.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #61 on: January 24, 2015, 08:23:33 PM »
Not to derail the family law discussion, but yes, another US biglaw lawyer here. Graduated class of 2009 with net worth of over negative $200k. Up to positive $400k as of this past week, net worth increases are getting bigger with each year, as salary/bonuses are getting bigger and money is working for me rather than against. Have spent a chunk of the time practicing US law overseas, which helps substantially on the income side and recommend that route if you can swing it. Expect net worth increases of $200k per year going forward absent job/title changes, but also not sure if/how long I will be able to take the hours and where I want life to go over these coming years.... It's been a slodge but I'm not as down on the loans/biglaw route as some here--it's provided incredible life experiences along the way and the financial track has been okay too.

This really is wind in my sails.  I'll get there too.   Int'lStache, I'd love to know more about how you landed the international opportunities -- did you start out in a U.S. office and transfer?  What area of law do you practice in?
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #62 on: January 24, 2015, 08:55:58 PM »
I'm a third-year BigLaw litigator. I graduated with about $185-190K in debt and am hoping to pay everything off at the very end of this year. I don't work in one of the really top firms so egos where I am at are really manageable. It helps to not feel much pressure to wear brand name clothes and buy new Louis Vutton bags every month. I love my actual work and most of my coworkers, but hate the hours, the office politics, networking, and about everything else that comes with private practice.

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #63 on: January 24, 2015, 10:10:41 PM »
I figured I would register and chime in here as I have taken a slightly different path from most of my colleagues who have posted in this thread: I graduated in 2012 and opened my own office straight out of school.

I went to a state school and funded the whole thing with student loans. I graduated with around 75k in student loan debt. I did back my way into a coveted internship at a big law firm (AM 200) working on patent applications for the summer of my 2nd year of law school. It was boring as hell and basically had me thinking that I had made a huge mistake going in to law. The firm probably thought they made a mistake too and I didn't get a job offer.

Fast forward to graduating and passing the bar, and the best opportunity was to open up my own shop in a building with a few other sole practitioners. I am now 2 years in to both practicing law and running my own business.

For anyone who is curious, I just so happened to get my final accounting for 2014 done: I ended up netting approximately $75k after ordinary expenses (before taxes, and before student loan interest deductions, IRA contributions, etc). First year I was right around 50k. I am doing business litigation and family law in a relatively small town in a reasonable COL area in the south east. I have managed to whittle down my student loans to 45k over the past 2 years and have built up 25k in liquid invested assets.

I enjoy working for myself and have learned a ton over the past 2 years about business and the practice of law. Some people think I was insane for doing my own thing right out of school, and it was not something I had planned prior to law school (or even while in school). All I can say is that I had no money, no skills, and no idea what the hell I was getting into: without those would have never started my own firm.

At this point I am happy with my decision to go to law school. My path twisted and turned over the years and for a long time I was uncertain about my career and the direction I would take, but I appear to have landed on my feet and so far the law degree has been good to me. As a litigator, learning how the game is played is fascinating, and as a business person being self employed is highly motivating. I look forward to continuing to develop professionally and building up my finances so that I can afford myself the freedom to do whatever I want to.
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Daleth

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #64 on: January 28, 2015, 09:47:05 AM »
To add another data point, I think it's worth studying.  For me, it made the difference between scoring higher than Cathy and scoring way higher than Cathy.  Of course, you don't need to study for an entire year.   BTW, I'd wager my dick is also bigger than Cathy's.

I never claimed my score was particularly high, although it's high enough that anything higher probably can't really be called "way higher". Looking at the historical data, on many of the tests, there are certain scores in the 170+ range that it's impossible to get on any given test (because of how they curved it). In other words, the difference between 173 and 180 (the top score) can be as little as a few questions.

If I spent time preparing, I probably would have got a higher score too. What I said in my post was that studying for a year was excessive, not that studying was pointless.

173 just isn't that high.  It's like a $100k salary in that regard :-P

Oh stop harassing her! 174 can get you into Yale, so yeah, 173 is very high. It's like 98th percentile.

CommonCents

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #65 on: January 28, 2015, 10:15:49 AM »
Quote
Some who are intentionally underemployed and do not make real effort to become fully self-supporting.  Some who have an agreement in writing which obligates them to pay for certain things but tell their children, "sorry, I can't pay for that because your dad (mostly it is men in this boat) won't pay more" which is a form of parental alienation.  Hopefully you are not in this category, but it appears to be your position.

What I tell my children and what I tell you or hold in my private thoughts need not be the same.  You seem to hold this "agreement in writing" sacred.  There is nothing inherently right or just about the agreement: I just ran out of money and energy to fight it.  I accepted that particular clause because I did not want to fight with him every single semester and summer about what the kids could and couldn't do.   

Quote
A custodial parent would receive $6,500 a month in child support tax exempt each month.  This, in combination with the income, would effectively put the custodial spouse into the equivalent of earning $140,000 per year pre-tax.

Our custody is 6:1 for good reasons.  In our state -- or perhaps under our agreement -- he pays less than half that.  I was only guaranteed the tax deductions the first few years.  Now I claim them anyway, but one day there may be a kerfluffle.  I don't know about the credit.  Somehow I think we haven't qualified, but I can't remember -- maybe my partner's income, though we only married last year.  Or perhaps, doing our own taxes, we missed it.

And sorry to re-derail the topic.  I would say if you are receiving less than $3200 a month and there are no other compensating factors this seems unfair based on his income - it would be deemed so in my jurisdiction.  Where I live child support cannot be bargained away in an agreement in a final manner because the best interests of the children are paramount.  Getting a bonus and then having it disappear would be a "material change of circumstances" which could be used to re-open an agreement on these facts. 

I understand running out of time and money.  It can be really stressful.  I am much more sympathetic to your concerns knowing the amount that you have agreed to vs. his income.  I would suggest getting a legal opinion on it - it might be worth it to make an application to vary the terms.

I would agree with this as well.

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #66 on: January 28, 2015, 10:42:09 AM »
Former UK government lawyer here.  It suited me perfectly: I even turned down a biglaw career (biggest firm in London) for it and had no regrets about doing so.  I wrote legislation, gave advice in Parliament and to Secretaries of State and Prime Ministers, had a stint at the Cabinet Office, negotiated international treaties for my country and lived and worked abroad, all while having job security, great colleagues and only a couple of rotten bosses.
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dragoncar

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #67 on: January 29, 2015, 08:29:03 PM »
To add another data point, I think it's worth studying.  For me, it made the difference between scoring higher than Cathy and scoring way higher than Cathy.  Of course, you don't need to study for an entire year.   BTW, I'd wager my dick is also bigger than Cathy's.

I never claimed my score was particularly high, although it's high enough that anything higher probably can't really be called "way higher". Looking at the historical data, on many of the tests, there are certain scores in the 170+ range that it's impossible to get on any given test (because of how they curved it). In other words, the difference between 173 and 180 (the top score) can be as little as a few questions.

If I spent time preparing, I probably would have got a higher score too. What I said in my post was that studying for a year was excessive, not that studying was pointless.

173 just isn't that high.  It's like a $100k salary in that regard :-P

Oh stop harassing her! 174 can get you into Yale, so yeah, 173 is very high. It's like 98th percentile.

Harassing?  Cathy has stated that a 97th percentile income is "not very high" so I don't see how 173 can be high in this context.  I myself got a 192, and went to Yahrlford which is #1 on the double secret usnews law shool ranking list.

innerscorecard

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #68 on: January 30, 2015, 12:09:32 AM »
I figured I would register and chime in here as I have taken a slightly different path from most of my colleagues who have posted in this thread: I graduated in 2012 and opened my own office straight out of school.

I went to a state school and funded the whole thing with student loans. I graduated with around 75k in student loan debt. I did back my way into a coveted internship at a big law firm (AM 200) working on patent applications for the summer of my 2nd year of law school. It was boring as hell and basically had me thinking that I had made a huge mistake going in to law. The firm probably thought they made a mistake too and I didn't get a job offer.

Fast forward to graduating and passing the bar, and the best opportunity was to open up my own shop in a building with a few other sole practitioners. I am now 2 years in to both practicing law and running my own business.

For anyone who is curious, I just so happened to get my final accounting for 2014 done: I ended up netting approximately $75k after ordinary expenses (before taxes, and before student loan interest deductions, IRA contributions, etc). First year I was right around 50k. I am doing business litigation and family law in a relatively small town in a reasonable COL area in the south east. I have managed to whittle down my student loans to 45k over the past 2 years and have built up 25k in liquid invested assets.

I enjoy working for myself and have learned a ton over the past 2 years about business and the practice of law. Some people think I was insane for doing my own thing right out of school, and it was not something I had planned prior to law school (or even while in school). All I can say is that I had no money, no skills, and no idea what the hell I was getting into: without those would have never started my own firm.

At this point I am happy with my decision to go to law school. My path twisted and turned over the years and for a long time I was uncertain about my career and the direction I would take, but I appear to have landed on my feet and so far the law degree has been good to me. As a litigator, learning how the game is played is fascinating, and as a business person being self employed is highly motivating. I look forward to continuing to develop professionally and building up my finances so that I can afford myself the freedom to do whatever I want to.

I am glad it worked out for you. As an intelligent and entrepreneurial person, you have found a great fit for your talents.

However, law school for the purpose of starting your own firm is a bad bet monetarily, unless it is completely free due to scholarships. High fixed costs don't make a good business, especially when those costs are incurred only to get a regulatory credential.
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totoro

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #69 on: January 30, 2015, 12:29:36 AM »
I'm not sure that is true.  It depends on your ROI.  You need to calculate that out. 

Law firms are unusually profitable partly because of the regulatory barrier.  They are usually ranked number 1 or number 2 on the "most profitable" ratings.

http://fortune.com/2014/08/06/15-most-profitable-business-sectors/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236482

dude

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #70 on: January 30, 2015, 05:49:36 AM »
Another lawyer here.  Federal government. In my 18th year.  Went to a top 15 private school, got fairly generous grants because of family income, but still wound up with @80K in debt (about $5K of that was an ill-advised bar study loan - ugh). Current salary $140K + very solid benefits, but I'm in a very unique attorney position in that I'm also a full-time law enforcement officer.  A consequence of which is I can retire with 20 years of LEO service (minimum retirement age is 20 years of service at age 50 or higher, or 25 years of service at any age) with a pension and health care.  For me, it'll be about 22 years, because I was in a non-LEO position for 2 years.  So just a shade over 4 years to go.  I don't LOVE my job though I feel very fortunate to have fallen into it.  And I certainly don't hate it either.  As lawyer jobs go, mine is a good one -- I certainly don't think I would be happier practicing in any other capacity.  I did my 2L summer at a big law firm and HATED every damn minute of it.  Would I do it all again, i.e., go to law school?  I don't know, probably.  This career has afforded me a very nice life, and an early retirement, so yeah probably.  Though I think I'd have been a lot happier if I skipped law school and became a U.S. Park Service Ranger (also a LEO position).

On the LSAT debate -- I spent the last $700 in savings I had on a LSAT course, and it was worth every penny.  It is the single biggest driver of where you will go to law school (particularly for someone like me coming from an undistinguished state undergrad university).  In the course pre-test, and the mid-test, I scored out in the 80th percentile -- not very good.  By the end of the course, I scored significantly higher and got accepted to several Top 15 schools, including one solidly in the Top 10.  No way that happens if I don't spend that $700.

Once retired from this gig, I'm done with the practice of law.  Nothing about it excites me in any way.

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #71 on: January 30, 2015, 07:00:14 AM »
Another lawyer here.  Federal government. In my 18th year.  Went to a top 15 private school, got fairly generous grants because of family income, but still wound up with @80K in debt (about $5K of that was an ill-advised bar study loan - ugh). Current salary $140K + very solid benefits, but I'm in a very unique attorney position in that I'm also a full-time law enforcement officer.  A consequence of which is I can retire with 20 years of LEO service (minimum retirement age is 20 years of service at age 50 or higher, or 25 years of service at any age) with a pension and health care.  For me, it'll be about 22 years, because I was in a non-LEO position for 2 years.  So just a shade over 4 years to go.  I don't LOVE my job though I feel very fortunate to have fallen into it.  And I certainly don't hate it either.  As lawyer jobs go, mine is a good one -- I certainly don't think I would be happier practicing in any other capacity.  I did my 2L summer at a big law firm and HATED every damn minute of it.  Would I do it all again, i.e., go to law school?  I don't know, probably.  This career has afforded me a very nice life, and an early retirement, so yeah probably.  Though I think I'd have been a lot happier if I skipped law school and became a U.S. Park Service Ranger (also a LEO position).

On the LSAT debate -- I spent the last $700 in savings I had on a LSAT course, and it was worth every penny.  It is the single biggest driver of where you will go to law school (particularly for someone like me coming from an undistinguished state undergrad university).  In the course pre-test, and the mid-test, I scored out in the 80th percentile -- not very good.  By the end of the course, I scored significantly higher and got accepted to several Top 15 schools, including one solidly in the Top 10.  No way that happens if I don't spend that $700.

Once retired from this gig, I'm done with the practice of law.  Nothing about it excites me in any way.

That sounds like an awesome job. Can I have it when you're done? Haha.

LouLou

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #72 on: January 30, 2015, 04:39:30 PM »
I'm a lawyer!

Graduated in 2013 with student loan debt from undergrad law school in the low six figures. I went to a very fancy school for my region, but with large scholarships.

I'm all litigation, all the time, and I love it. I started in a smaller, 40 attorney firm making $75k. I have already lateraled to a 160 attorney firm making $112k. I like my firm and plan to stay for good. Now I have achieved a higher income, I'm ready to attack my debt.

My MMM goal is financial independence; I don't think I want to retire. But I also graduated post-recession so I know that even great firms implode, good lawyers without books of business get laid off, etc. Plus, 20 years from now everyone I like at my firm could be gone, only to be replaced by jerks. FI seems like the safe bet.

rafiki

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #73 on: January 30, 2015, 05:07:20 PM »
I figured I would register and chime in here as I have taken a slightly different path from most of my colleagues who have posted in this thread: I graduated in 2012 and opened my own office straight out of school.

I went to a state school and funded the whole thing with student loans. I graduated with around 75k in student loan debt. I did back my way into a coveted internship at a big law firm (AM 200) working on patent applications for the summer of my 2nd year of law school. It was boring as hell and basically had me thinking that I had made a huge mistake going in to law. The firm probably thought they made a mistake too and I didn't get a job offer.

Fast forward to graduating and passing the bar, and the best opportunity was to open up my own shop in a building with a few other sole practitioners. I am now 2 years in to both practicing law and running my own business.

For anyone who is curious, I just so happened to get my final accounting for 2014 done: I ended up netting approximately $75k after ordinary expenses (before taxes, and before student loan interest deductions, IRA contributions, etc). First year I was right around 50k. I am doing business litigation and family law in a relatively small town in a reasonable COL area in the south east. I have managed to whittle down my student loans to 45k over the past 2 years and have built up 25k in liquid invested assets.

I enjoy working for myself and have learned a ton over the past 2 years about business and the practice of law. Some people think I was insane for doing my own thing right out of school, and it was not something I had planned prior to law school (or even while in school). All I can say is that I had no money, no skills, and no idea what the hell I was getting into: without those would have never started my own firm.

At this point I am happy with my decision to go to law school. My path twisted and turned over the years and for a long time I was uncertain about my career and the direction I would take, but I appear to have landed on my feet and so far the law degree has been good to me. As a litigator, learning how the game is played is fascinating, and as a business person being self employed is highly motivating. I look forward to continuing to develop professionally and building up my finances so that I can afford myself the freedom to do whatever I want to.

I am glad it worked out for you. As an intelligent and entrepreneurial person, you have found a great fit for your talents.

However, law school for the purpose of starting your own firm is a bad bet monetarily, unless it is completely free due to scholarships. High fixed costs don't make a good business, especially when those costs are incurred only to get a regulatory credential.


I readily admit there is both an opportunity cost and monetary cost to becoming a lawyer.  I'm not sure if I would "encourage" people going into law school to go in with the idea that they can start their own firm straight out of school, but if they play their cards right it's definitely possible and it can also be lucrative.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 05:13:36 PM by rafiki »
My FI blog / web journal - http://snappysix.com

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #74 on: February 03, 2015, 09:01:06 AM »
Hi there all my lawyer-friends.  If you have a minute, I'd sure appreciate your advice on a career-development dilemma I'm facing.  I'm asking on this thread because all of you understand this world we live in (especially the BigLaw world) and are thus in a unique position to give sound advice. 

~~~~~~~~~~~

I had a conversation with my boss yesterday..... I've been a part-time (75%) staff attorney at my BigLaw firm for almost 3 years.  When they hired me, the promise was that I'd go to full time when work picked up and would then be an associate. 

So, for 3 years now, I've been scratching along as a part-time staff attorney and I had truly come to believe that I'd been sold a bridge to nowhere.  I started job hunting in December and odds are strong that a new job will take me to Washington, DC which is a big difference in COL.  I am concerned about having 4 or 5 years of "staff attorney" on my resume  -- that's a stigma.

Yesterday, my boss told me that they (the partners I work for) are going to propose to our department chair that I be moved to full-time status.  That would result in a 25% increase in pay -- nice!  But also the expectation that I bill as many hours as an associate does.  Essentially, I'd be doing an associate's job for about $40k less/ annually.  Side note:  there is also an associate position opening up in another group that I work for.  I'm perfectly qualified and could simply shift groups and relocate to our DC office.  Last week, my boss told me that they're going to hire someone (no candidates yet), but that it won't be me.  He didn't give me a reason, except to say that I "didn't want to be in the DC office because it is really dysfunctional."

So, the best prospect for me at this firm is that I'd be in line to become an associate early next year after a year of full-time billing.  Maybe.  I'd have a 25% increase in pay now with the prospect of a 65% increase in pay (over current pay) next year, along with the "associate" title.  If the mirage is, in fact, real then next year I'd be making "crazy-Oprah money" in a low-COL city surrounded by my favorite people in the world.

If the mirage isn't real, then I have another year of "staff attorney" on my resume and moving to another firm will be even harder.  Moving out of my current practice area into a different area (which I'd like to do) will be even harder.  Doors will close.

All this has me seriously rethinking my job hunt.   I don't know what to do.

I have a huge decision coming up.........  Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 08:46:06 AM by TrulyStashin »
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

jackiechiles2

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #75 on: February 03, 2015, 09:13:35 AM »
Hi there all my lawyer-friends.  If you have a minute, I'd sure appreciate your advice on a career-development dilemma I'm facing.  I'm asking on this thread because all of you understand this world we live in (especially the BigLaw world) and are thus in a unique position to give sound advice.  I'm cross-posting this from my journal (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/some-tuesday/msg540988/#new)

~~~~~~~~~~~

I had a conversation with my boss yesterday..... I've been a part-time (75%) staff attorney at my BigLaw firm for almost 3 years.  When they hired me, the promise was that I'd go to full time when work picked up and would then be an associate. 

So, for 3 years now, I've been scratching along as a part-time staff attorney and I had truly come to believe that I'd been sold a bridge to nowhere.  I started job hunting in December and odds are strong that a new job will take me from Richmond, VA to Washington, DC which is a big difference in COL.  I am concerned about having 4 or 5 years of "staff attorney" on my resume  -- that's a stigma.

Yesterday, my boss told me that they (the partners I work for) are going to propose to our department chair that I be moved to full-time status.  That would result in a 25% increase in pay -- nice!  But also the expectation that I bill as many hours as an associate does.  Essentially, I'd be doing an associate's job for about $40k less/ annually.  Side note:  there is also an associate position opening up in the environmental law group.  I'm perfectly qualified and could simply shift groups and relocate to our DC office.  Last week, my boss told me that they're going to hire someone (no candidates yet), but that it won't be me.  He didn't give me a reason, except to say that I "didn't want to be in the DC office because it is really dysfunctional."

So, the best prospect for me at this firm is that I'd be in line to become an associate early next year after a year of full-time billing.  Maybe.  I'd have a 25% increase in pay now with the prospect of a 65% increase in pay (over current pay) next year, along with the "associate" title.  If the mirage is, in fact, real then next year I'd be making "crazy-Oprah money" in a low-COL city surrounded by my favorite people in the world.

If the mirage isn't real, then I have another year of "staff attorney" on my resume and moving to another firm will be even harder.  Moving out of my current practice area into a different area (which I'd like to do) will be even harder.  Doors will close.

All this has me seriously rethinking my job hunt.   I don't know what to do.

First, once the RVA cost of living and my nearly free housing (see, basement rented out) is accounted for, I'd have to make $200k in DC just to stay even with what I'll make once I'm a FULL TIME staff attorney.  If I make the leap to associate next year, a comparable pay rate in DC would be about $265k.  I don't think this is likely.

Second, I LOVE living in Richmond.  I have wonderful, rich friendships and family relationships here.  I'm wealthy beyond measure in that regard.

Third, I mostly love my job.  Some of the projects I work on are meh, or downright annoying, but overall it is challenging and interesting.  Almost never dull.   Though my direct boss is an arrogant man and prone to saying stupid-cruel things, I've come to realize that he actually means them to be helpful.  He's just tone deaf that they are... not at all helpful.  I've learned to mostly ignore him.   Otherwise, I work with great people.

Why would I keep job hunting?  Well, there are opportunities to work in an area of legal practice that is emerging and possibly very important.  There are opportunities to move to somewhere cool and new and potentially exciting.  And, if I joined a new firm as an associate, I would not have to spend a year wondering if the golden carrot my current firm is dangling in front of me is real or a mirage.

I have a huge decision coming up.........  Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?


I'm not in biglaw, so I'm not fully versed in the ins and outs of a biglaw career, but I don't see the harm in agreeing to take this semi-associate position while continuing to look for other opportunities in Richmond.  You're in a strong position in that you don't "need" a new job and can be picky as to the opportunities available to you.  If the associate position materializes, then great.  If not, at least you won't have wasted a year sitting on your hands.  BTW, you may want to visit jdunderground.com to get some more advice from lawyers. 

CommonCents

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #76 on: February 03, 2015, 10:31:59 AM »
Trulystashin:

You sound happy in your current setup.  Do you really want to change to full-time?  I'd suggest a few things:
1. Keep job hunting.  If you are offered a job (that you would accept - no bluffing), you can take it to the partner and request that they change you immediately to full-time or you'll leave.  (Are you valued enough that this would impact them?)
2. That you get the EXACT criteria for making associate written down.  No verbal promises.  People don't remember them and I've known too many people up a creek w/o a paddle.  If they won't agree to this I would highly recommend you not accept the offer to bill a lot more/be on call always for just 25% more pay.
3. Negotiate for it be after 6 months the bump to associate rather than 1 year.

I think you sound reasonably happy in your current setup and city, and the stress of switching to DC biglaw will be more than you really want (in that the benefits don't outweigh the negatives). 

Also consider - how long do you think you'll keep working as a lawyer?  (The staff attorney stigma doesn't matter if it's not that long.)

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #77 on: February 03, 2015, 10:46:39 AM »
Ah, the politics of Biglaw: we need someone to do the work, we like her work but we won't make her an associate because she's not worthy (fill in the reason: went to the wrong law school, graduated in the top 15% of her class but we only accept top 10% from this school, doesn't fit our neat profile because too old, not hungry enough, has her own mind, etc.).  I have seen so much of this when I worked at Biglaw!  If a person didn't fit the mold exactly, they didn't stand a chance. 

I would push the partners very hard to be moved to the associate position instead of just being given full time hours at the current title.  Request a meeting and a specific discussion of what you need to do to make the switch.   I think your instincts are are right and the longer you are a staff attorney, the harder it will become to make a change. 

And definitely look for other opportunities.  What area of law are you in? 
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 11:02:50 AM by ZiziPB »



TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #78 on: February 03, 2015, 11:17:19 AM »
Great input here!  I knew you guys would be helpful........  A few more facts:

1) I am old
(ha!) for a baby lawyer -- 46.  Class of 2011 (yes, second career).  But my resume and life history read "She's unstoppable.  She's got grit." 

2) I racked up all the necessary credentials in law school -- articles editor of the law review; moot court; top 15%; highly-respected T1 regional school, research assistant for our former governor, Inn of Court, Order of the Barristers, yada yada yada.

3) The bad news:  I'm in the Real Estate/ Land Use group which is, without doubt, a support group for the groups that really matter.  I also do a lot of work for the Environmental Group which is a tad better on the hierarchy but not much.  It is definitely not my preferred area of practice -- I took the job because the market sucked.  I'd like to shift to the Corporate Group -- public company reporting, securities, governance, M & A -- but there is no chance of that at this firm.  I'd have to lateral as an entry-level or second-year associate.

4)  The good news:  even though my group isn't important, it can't be eliminated either.  If Anchor Client needs to build/ acquire a new piece of infrastructure, someone has to do the environmental due diligence/ land use permitting to make it happen.   Even better, in my office (which is our HQ), I am the only non-partner in the group.  They have to have SOMEBODY in my chair with a billable rate below $650/ hour! 

5)  The better news:
one partner in environmental relies heavily on me for support on due diligence for a never-ending stream of solar panel acquisition projects.  One of our 40-year clients relies on me, exclusively, for counsel on FOIA issues. 

6) More better news: Prior to joining this firm, in 2012, I worked with a very well known solo and built a huge network of highly connected, senior people.  I'm leveraging that now and have had a raft of great meetings in DC & NYC with senior people in firms but also at think tanks, NGO's, or corporations.  Momentum is building.

I like the idea of maximizing income while living frugally until I can pull the ejector cord.  Given my mortgage-worth of student loans, on my current pay trajectory, just being debt-free is at least 5 years away.   One big incentive to take the FT SA gig, is to add about $32k to my current income which would accelerate this schedule.

In 5 years, once debt-free, I would not want to practice land use/ environmental law.  It is solely a means to an end.
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

YTProphet

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #79 on: February 03, 2015, 11:22:39 AM »
Hi there all my lawyer-friends.  If you have a minute, I'd sure appreciate your advice on a career-development dilemma I'm facing.  I'm asking on this thread because all of you understand this world we live in (especially the BigLaw world) and are thus in a unique position to give sound advice.  I'm cross-posting this from my journal (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/some-tuesday/msg540988/#new)

~~~~~~~~~~~

I had a conversation with my boss yesterday..... I've been a part-time (75%) staff attorney at my BigLaw firm for almost 3 years.  When they hired me, the promise was that I'd go to full time when work picked up and would then be an associate. 

So, for 3 years now, I've been scratching along as a part-time staff attorney and I had truly come to believe that I'd been sold a bridge to nowhere.  I started job hunting in December and odds are strong that a new job will take me from Richmond, VA to Washington, DC which is a big difference in COL.  I am concerned about having 4 or 5 years of "staff attorney" on my resume  -- that's a stigma.

Yesterday, my boss told me that they (the partners I work for) are going to propose to our department chair that I be moved to full-time status.  That would result in a 25% increase in pay -- nice!  But also the expectation that I bill as many hours as an associate does.  Essentially, I'd be doing an associate's job for about $40k less/ annually.  Side note:  there is also an associate position opening up in the environmental law group.  I'm perfectly qualified and could simply shift groups and relocate to our DC office.  Last week, my boss told me that they're going to hire someone (no candidates yet), but that it won't be me.  He didn't give me a reason, except to say that I "didn't want to be in the DC office because it is really dysfunctional."

So, the best prospect for me at this firm is that I'd be in line to become an associate early next year after a year of full-time billing.  Maybe.  I'd have a 25% increase in pay now with the prospect of a 65% increase in pay (over current pay) next year, along with the "associate" title.  If the mirage is, in fact, real then next year I'd be making "crazy-Oprah money" in a low-COL city surrounded by my favorite people in the world.

If the mirage isn't real, then I have another year of "staff attorney" on my resume and moving to another firm will be even harder.  Moving out of my current practice area into a different area (which I'd like to do) will be even harder.  Doors will close.

All this has me seriously rethinking my job hunt.   I don't know what to do.

First, once the RVA cost of living and my nearly free housing (see, basement rented out) is accounted for, I'd have to make $200k in DC just to stay even with what I'll make once I'm a FULL TIME staff attorney.  If I make the leap to associate next year, a comparable pay rate in DC would be about $265k.  I don't think this is likely.

Second, I LOVE living in Richmond.  I have wonderful, rich friendships and family relationships here.  I'm wealthy beyond measure in that regard.

Third, I mostly love my job.  Some of the projects I work on are meh, or downright annoying, but overall it is challenging and interesting.  Almost never dull.   Though my direct boss is an arrogant man and prone to saying stupid-cruel things, I've come to realize that he actually means them to be helpful.  He's just tone deaf that they are... not at all helpful.  I've learned to mostly ignore him.   Otherwise, I work with great people.

Why would I keep job hunting?  Well, there are opportunities to work in an area of legal practice that is emerging and possibly very important.  There are opportunities to move to somewhere cool and new and potentially exciting.  And, if I joined a new firm as an associate, I would not have to spend a year wondering if the golden carrot my current firm is dangling in front of me is real or a mirage.

I have a huge decision coming up.........  Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

I guess I don't see any good reason for why they're holding off on making you a full-fledged associate immediately. If they do have a good reason, I don't think it's unreasonable for you to ask for something more formal/in writing. After all, you're all attorneys.

YTProphet

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #80 on: February 03, 2015, 11:35:37 AM »
Great input here!  I knew you guys would be helpful........  A few more facts:

1) I am old
(ha!) for a baby lawyer -- 46.  Class of 2011 (yes, second career).  But my resume and life history read "She's unstoppable.  She's got grit." 

2) I racked up all the necessary credentials in law school -- articles editor of the law review; moot court; top 15%; highly-respected T1 regional school, research assistant for our former governor, Inn of Court, Order of the Barristers, yada yada yada.

3) The bad news:  I'm in the Real Estate/ Land Use group which is, without doubt, a support group for the groups that really matter.  I also do a lot of work for the Environmental Group which is a tad better on the hierarchy but not much.  It is definitely not my preferred area of practice -- I took the job because the market sucked.  I'd like to shift to the Corporate Group -- public company reporting, securities, governance, M & A -- but there is no chance of that at this firm.  I'd have to lateral as an entry-level or second-year associate.

4)  The good news:  even though my group isn't important, it can't be eliminated either.  If Anchor Client needs to build/ acquire a new piece of infrastructure, someone has to do the environmental due diligence/ land use permitting to make it happen.   Even better, in my office (which is our HQ), I am the only non-partner in the group.  They have to have SOMEBODY in my chair with a billable rate below $650/ hour! 

5)  The better news:
one partner in environmental relies heavily on me for support on due diligence for a never-ending stream of solar panel acquisition projects.  One of our 40-year clients relies on me, exclusively, for counsel on FOIA issues. 

6) More better news: Prior to joining this firm, in 2012, I worked with a very well known solo and built a huge network of highly connected, senior people.  I'm leveraging that now and have had a raft of great meetings in DC & NYC with senior people in firms but also at think tanks, NGO's, or corporations.  Momentum is building.

I like the idea of maximizing income while living frugally until I can pull the ejector cord.  Given my mortgage-worth of student loans, on my current pay trajectory, just being debt-free is at least 5 years away.   One big incentive to take the FT SA gig, is to add about $32k to my current income which would accelerate this schedule.

In 5 years, once debt-free, I would not want to practice land use/ environmental law.  It is solely a means to an end.

I'm BigLaw RE attorney. You can go in-house from a RE attorney role (I've had offers). Corporate transactions outside of securities aren't that much different from reviewing run-of-the-mill corporate contracts, and you presumably already know a fair bit about corporate governance just from doing due diligence about buyers/sellers and reviewing RE-related corporate resolutions.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #81 on: February 03, 2015, 11:44:24 AM »
I'm repeatedly told that my work is "associate-worthy" by all the partners I work for.

The only reason why they won't jump me straight to associate is that my hours, even at PT, have been soft and the difference in pay is hard on their budget.  They have to make the case that 1) they have the hours now even though they didn't before and 2) the budget should be revised to take me from my current $106k to about $170k (second-year assoc).

It's an easier argument for the partners to make in 2016 if they can say 1)  she's at FT capacity -- see her billings?  and 2) the budget should be stretched from $135k (FT/ SA) to $170k (second-year assoc).  It's also easier to stretch the budget at the start of the FY (right now) rather than in mid-year.

Note:  As far as I can see this falls under the category of "not my problem, dudes."  If they had to, they'd find the money.

Also note:  I've been here almost 3 years now.  Second-year associate seems reasonable for 2015.  By 2016, I'd expect to be a third-year NOT a second-year, but I expect them to short me there because why wouldn't they?

Edited for typos.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 11:47:33 AM by TrulyStashin »
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CommonCents

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #82 on: February 03, 2015, 11:48:12 AM »
I would push the partners very hard to be moved to the associate position instead of just being given full time hours at the current title.  Request a meeting and a specific discussion of what you need to do to make the switch.   I think your instincts are are right and the longer you are a staff attorney, the harder it will become to make a change. 

And definitely look for other opportunities.  What area of law are you in?

Yeah I take back my suggestion to get it in writing and wait.  Tell them you've proven yourself, and you will move to a full-time role when they have the position they promised when you accepted the job.  (After all, they know your skills better than many a fledging associate they hire into partner track as a summer.)  Basically, this is a change from what you agreed on earlier, it's not a beneficial change for you but it is very much so for them, and they haven't given you adequate incentive to accept it.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #83 on: February 03, 2015, 11:54:35 AM »
I would push the partners very hard to be moved to the associate position instead of just being given full time hours at the current title.  Request a meeting and a specific discussion of what you need to do to make the switch.   I think your instincts are are right and the longer you are a staff attorney, the harder it will become to make a change. 

And definitely look for other opportunities.  What area of law are you in?

Yeah I take back my suggestion to get it in writing and wait.  Tell them you've proven yourself, and you will move to a full-time role when they have the position they promised when you accepted the job.  (After all, they know your skills better than many a fledging associate they hire into partner track as a summer.)  Basically, this is a change from what you agreed on earlier, it's not a beneficial change for you but it is very much so for them, and they haven't given you adequate incentive to accept it.


Whoa.  That's a ballsy move.  I like it but it's scary.  What's the best timing of this?  Before the partners make the FT/ SA pitch to the department chair, or after the department chair has approved FT/ SA?

Yes, agreed with your point.   What other new associate hires are expected to bill hours BEFORE they get the job?
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #84 on: February 03, 2015, 12:06:15 PM »
RE is hot right now, especially if you do RE finance and investing.  Any Biglaw firm with a true RE department is currently looking for laterals, so I think you would have plenty of opportunities if you looked outside your firm.  Also, don't discount solid regional firms in the location you are in now.  The money may not be as "crazy-Oprah" as Biglaw, but the quality of life and opportunity to grow (in a way you want, without necessarily following the standard Biglaw path) may be much better.

You can probably tell by now that I have a rather jaded view of Biglaw.  I spent almost 11 years in Biglaw and very happily made a transition to in-house almost 5 years ago.  I'm in real estate finance BTW, so when I say that there are opportunities in RE now, I know what I'm talking about ;-)

Best of luck to you!
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 12:21:40 PM by ZiziPB »



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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #85 on: February 03, 2015, 12:22:34 PM »
RE is hot right now, especially if you do RE finance and investing.  Any Biglaw firm with a true RE department is currently looking for laterals, so I think you would have plenty of opportunities if you looked outside your firm.  Also, don't discount solid regional firms in the location you are in now.  The money may not be as "crazy-Oprah" as Biglaw, but the quality of life and opportunity to grow (in a way you want, without necessarily following the standard Biglaw path) may be much better.

You can probably tell by now that I have a rather jaded view of Biglaw.  I spent almost 11 years in Biglaw and very happily made a transition to in-house almost 5 years ago.  I'm in real estate finance BTW, so I when I say that there are opportunities in RE now, I know what I'm talking about ;-)

Best of luck to you!

I did the exact same thing. I've gotten about a million calls from K&E over the past few years. They're one of the firms looking.

What part of the country are you in? Did you go in-house into a general corporate role or RE specific?

ZiziPB

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #86 on: February 03, 2015, 12:29:05 PM »
YTProphet, I'm in CT and the in-house position I took was very RE specific (they were looking for a person with varied and extensive RE finance experience which I fortunately had).



CommonCents

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #87 on: February 03, 2015, 12:59:53 PM »
I would push the partners very hard to be moved to the associate position instead of just being given full time hours at the current title.  Request a meeting and a specific discussion of what you need to do to make the switch.   I think your instincts are are right and the longer you are a staff attorney, the harder it will become to make a change. 

And definitely look for other opportunities.  What area of law are you in?

Yeah I take back my suggestion to get it in writing and wait.  Tell them you've proven yourself, and you will move to a full-time role when they have the position they promised when you accepted the job.  (After all, they know your skills better than many a fledging associate they hire into partner track as a summer.)  Basically, this is a change from what you agreed on earlier, it's not a beneficial change for you but it is very much so for them, and they haven't given you adequate incentive to accept it.


Whoa.  That's a ballsy move.  I like it but it's scary.  What's the best timing of this?  Before the partners make the FT/ SA pitch to the department chair, or after the department chair has approved FT/ SA?

Yes, agreed with your point.   What other new associate hires are expected to bill hours BEFORE they get the job?

How did the partner approach the conversation with you the other day?  Was he trying to gauge your interest?  If so, you know your firm best but...  I don't think you'd want to piss of the partners that are pulling for you, so I'd approach that partner before they make the pitch to the chair.  No one likes egg on their face, which could happen if they go out on a limb to get you switch and you refuse the offer.  (It is still risky of course, that you are not offered to switch to the full-time track ever, but that's why you keep interviewing.)

I would approach it from the perspective of: you are very excited about the opportunity to move to associate as was discussed when you signed on.  (lots of enthusiasm)  Be confident - you know your value (come prepared with info on where you've delivered), and now they know your value (with 3 years - and the bargaining position of knowing the partner approached you about it).  I would point out to the partner, as I mentioned above, that most partner track hires are done w/o your proven track record, so you are a safer bet, such that a "trial testing period" for just you is unnecessary.  Thus you would be unable to accept it such as "unique trial".  I would not talk about how you don't get anything out of this move, because that may not come across well, even if true.  They don't care so much about that.

A friend of a friend I see occasionally is partner at a biglaw firm here, and she worked with someone switching over tracks and they didn't require this lead in transition time.  Understand that the transition time is likely 1) save them money and get a lot out of you, 2) could be delayed from what was promised
As you note, if you are the only associate in the practice group, you have some bargaining power (not to mention, they may wish to bill you out as an associate rather than staff attorney).

My Wharton law prof taught us information is the key to a successful negotiation.  Understand: What you want out of it and what is the bottom line you will accept (but focus on the former so you don't end up at the latter), what the other side gets/wants from the deal (their interests), what you could get elsewhere in the market, etc.  The more information you have, the more successful you will be.  Bring information on how you delivered value, how they will benefit (proven performer, can bill you out higher, etc.), comparable in the market (e.g. XYZ firms handle transitions this way) and so forth.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #88 on: February 03, 2015, 09:28:17 PM »
Another lawyer here.  Federal government. In my 18th year.  Went to a top 15 private school, got fairly generous grants because of family income, but still wound up with @80K in debt (about $5K of that was an ill-advised bar study loan - ugh). Current salary $140K + very solid benefits, but I'm in a very unique attorney position in that I'm also a full-time law enforcement officer.  A consequence of which is I can retire with 20 years of LEO service (minimum retirement age is 20 years of service at age 50 or higher, or 25 years of service at any age) with a pension and health care.  For me, it'll be about 22 years, because I was in a non-LEO position for 2 years.  So just a shade over 4 years to go.  I don't LOVE my job though I feel very fortunate to have fallen into it.  And I certainly don't hate it either.  As lawyer jobs go, mine is a good one -- I certainly don't think I would be happier practicing in any other capacity.  I did my 2L summer at a big law firm and HATED every damn minute of it.  Would I do it all again, i.e., go to law school?  I don't know, probably.  This career has afforded me a very nice life, and an early retirement, so yeah probably.  Though I think I'd have been a lot happier if I skipped law school and became a U.S. Park Service Ranger (also a LEO position).

On the LSAT debate -- I spent the last $700 in savings I had on a LSAT course, and it was worth every penny.  It is the single biggest driver of where you will go to law school (particularly for someone like me coming from an undistinguished state undergrad university).  In the course pre-test, and the mid-test, I scored out in the 80th percentile -- not very good.  By the end of the course, I scored significantly higher and got accepted to several Top 15 schools, including one solidly in the Top 10.  No way that happens if I don't spend that $700.

Once retired from this gig, I'm done with the practice of law.  Nothing about it excites me in any way.

Just curious.  Are you in federal probation?

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #89 on: February 04, 2015, 05:47:55 AM »
I talked with a good friend who is "Counsel" and has been at the firm for 15 years.  Her take:

1) You're right, it's totally unfair and they're milking the situation.  It's a shitty thing to do.

2)  Unless you have another job offer, there's nothing you can do about it.  If you don't go FT/ SA, they likely won't keep you at PT/ SA.

3) Work your ass off this year.  Bill 2,000 hours and at the end of the year ask for the Associate position (second-year -- don't do third-year because you don't have the client-base to support that and it's a set up for failure).

4) Keep your job hunt going so you have options if they screw you in Q1, 2016.

I'll add #5:  Live very frugally; pay off debt; add to assets. 

I'm going to adopt this strategy and try to focus on the fact that even as a lowly staff attorney, I'm making 3x what I made as a teacher (never mind I'm working FAR more) and I'm learning every day.  A year from now I'll have a more solid knowledge/ skills bank -- especially on solar projects which could be a very important specialty.  All of that is good so I'll focus on the silver lining.  And bill my ass off.
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #90 on: February 04, 2015, 01:50:38 PM »
I just met up with a law school chum for a CLE and got a dose of reality.

We graduated together.  She does insurance defense at a small firm.  No paralegal to support her.  A lame secretary that she can't fire.  Partners who'd rather play golf than talk to her.  She runs her ass off going to courtrooms all over the state.

She billed over 2,000 hours last year handling over 200 cases.

Her salary was $78,000 plus a bonus of $5k.

Damn. 
I refinanced my student loans with SoFi and dropped my interest rate from over 7% to 3.9%.

InternationalStache

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #91 on: February 04, 2015, 02:11:29 PM »
Not to derail the family law discussion, but yes, another US biglaw lawyer here. Graduated class of 2009 with net worth of over negative $200k. Up to positive $400k as of this past week, net worth increases are getting bigger with each year, as salary/bonuses are getting bigger and money is working for me rather than against. Have spent a chunk of the time practicing US law overseas, which helps substantially on the income side and recommend that route if you can swing it. Expect net worth increases of $200k per year going forward absent job/title changes, but also not sure if/how long I will be able to take the hours and where I want life to go over these coming years.... It's been a slodge but I'm not as down on the loans/biglaw route as some here--it's provided incredible life experiences along the way and the financial track has been okay too.

This really is wind in my sails.  I'll get there too.   Int'lStache, I'd love to know more about how you landed the international opportunities -- did you start out in a U.S. office and transfer?  What area of law do you practice in?

I practice on the corporate/transactional side (much harder to land international gigs if you're in litigation IMO) and picked a firm that has offices overseas in several jurisdictions. Once I started, I formally expressed my interest in overseas work and also networked internally to work with partners that had worked in foreign offices I was interested in. In other words, 1) pick a practice that is international, 2) tell m you want a transfer formally and 3) do quality work for folks who have influence and can help transfer you. Language skills can also help you land a gig in certain more language-critical markets (though not necessary--I only speak English).

The overseas bonus packages for biglaw can be quite significant so highly recommend it if you can swing it. Certainly made getting past the law school debt and starting the stache process a heck of a lot easier.

oldfierm

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #92 on: February 05, 2015, 10:43:27 AM »
Chiming in for a bit of a different perspective.  I'm in the military - and a lawyer.  JAG Corps, baby! 

I LOVE IT.  I'm 8 years out of law school and was just promoted to a mid-career level rank, grossing just over 100K (plus I'm getting a 15K bonus this year). 

I graduated from a state law school with 17K in loans and had them paid off within about two years - going to Iraq helped (tax free). 

One boring summer internship at a mid size law firm was all it took for me to start looking at other options.  Since joining, I've traveled and lived all over the world, have worked in defense litigation, operational law, done taxes, and provided advice to a commanding officer in a remote spot in the Pacific Ocean. 

It's not for everyone, I know, but it was definitely for me! 

theonethatgotaway

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #93 on: February 05, 2015, 10:58:32 AM »
Our friends were big law in NYC 185k. Had huge loans to pay off though and hated the city. Another was 195 big law, worked night and day for two years to pay off loans and now works under a judge at 90k (has huge savings).

My husband is in advertising, no debt, one degree, and earns 180k plus 100k yearly in stock. 8 years in. (From what I know, this is rare)


dad_of_four

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #94 on: February 05, 2015, 04:08:35 PM »
Jesus, is no one here right out of law school and not making six figures? I mean, great for you, more power to you.

But I recently graduated, working inhouse for same employer that I worked for while attending law school at night. Making $60K.  Pretty sure I can bump that up to 70-80 in a few years, but I don't know if I'll hit six figures.  Zero debt, though, paid as I went! I have frieds who work for public defenders office, making in the $40K range.

Reading this just surprised me. Everyone here is making a ton!

I have mixed feelings about the law. Litigation seems fun, but I'm not going to see much of that in house. And I'm not someone who wants to go drum up business to bill a ton, firm life never appealed to me.  If I could afford swing it, I'd love to do some work for a non-profit. Something meaningful. Just watching the company's ass isn't too fun.




« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 04:15:37 PM by dad_of_four »

couponvan

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #95 on: February 05, 2015, 06:13:38 PM »
Chiming in for a bit of a different perspective.  I'm in the military - and a lawyer.  JAG Corps, baby! 

I LOVE IT. 

What is the upper age limit for this?  I wish my DH had gone this route, but he's currently in commercial litigation. He thought about JAG Corps after law school, but got a lucrative job offer.  The rest is history. 

I think there was a maximum age limit though (35)? He's early 40's.....However, now from a college perspective for our kids, I'm thinking it would be the time for him to switch to a lower paid gig with good Pension benefits.  We've got well funded 401(k)'s and low expenses.  We could live on less income with a deferred retirement benefit to maximize college aid.
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Rosbif

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #96 on: February 05, 2015, 06:20:06 PM »
I talked with a good friend who is "Counsel" and has been at the firm for 15 years.  Her take:

1) You're right, it's totally unfair and they're milking the situation.  It's a shitty thing to do.

2)  Unless you have another job offer, there's nothing you can do about it.  If you don't go FT/ SA, they likely won't keep you at PT/ SA.

3) Work your ass off this year.  Bill 2,000 hours and at the end of the year ask for the Associate position (second-year -- don't do third-year because you don't have the client-base to support that and it's a set up for failure).

4) Keep your job hunt going so you have options if they screw you in Q1, 2016.

I'll add #5:  Live very frugally; pay off debt; add to assets. 

I'm going to adopt this strategy and try to focus on the fact that even as a lowly staff attorney, I'm making 3x what I made as a teacher (never mind I'm working FAR more) and I'm learning every day.  A year from now I'll have a more solid knowledge/ skills bank -- especially on solar projects which could be a very important specialty.  All of that is good so I'll focus on the silver lining.  And bill my ass off.
I'd say that her 2) is dead wrong, based on what you say about your department size. Recruiting and training a new hire is a monumental ball-ache, especially if the partners will have to do it all themselves! You cost less than a "regular" hire, you sound like you're pretty indispensable to at least one partner, and you rightly say that they have to have *someone* in your chair. No client is going to pay a bill where 100% of the hours are partner hours.

3) if she thinks they are giving you an up or out kind of option, then act accordingly, interview like mad! You don't want to be negotiating from that weak-ass position. Other people have commented on the market, but from what you say re: networking and meetings, it sounds to me like if you have FU money you're set.

Definitely sell yourself hard, you're a known quantity that doesn't require training, who already does the work of an associate (minus the hours, but they don't pay you for that!).

Please don't do a shed load more hours on the basis of vague promises of maybe-one-day jobs. Obviously, if they go for it and make you an associate, you may have to work hard and bill like crazy, but it's your funeral ;)

Good luck!!

PtboEliz

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #97 on: February 05, 2015, 07:40:04 PM »
Jesus, is no one here right out of law school and not making six figures? I mean, great for you, more power to you.

Recovered lawyer here (well, mostly :). I graduated in 2000 with 30K in loans (Canada). Dad-of-four: My first year working my articled clerk salary was $26K. (I bought my suits second-hand and paid off $9K in loans that year.)

I love law in a way but I'm not a high pressure person and left my practice after 3 years (at a salary of around $60K if I remember) when a family member received a serious cancer diagnosis. I took some time off, did a stint volunteering overseas, then landed in post-secondary where I worked as an administrator doing quasi-law stuff for six years. I saved the bulk of my income and left full-time employment last year (at $100K salary).

Now I do workplace investigations from time to time (a few a year) which I love - the work is challenging but rarely stressful, I can charge a good hourly rate, my business expenses are minimal (and I don't have to pay to maintain practicing status), and there is a beginning, middle and end to each file. I would recommend investigations as a great non-practicing option for lawyers.. it's been a sweet spot for me.


YTProphet

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #98 on: February 06, 2015, 06:26:56 AM »
Jesus, is no one here right out of law school and not making six figures? I mean, great for you, more power to you.

But I recently graduated, working inhouse for same employer that I worked for while attending law school at night. Making $60K.  Pretty sure I can bump that up to 70-80 in a few years, but I don't know if I'll hit six figures.  Zero debt, though, paid as I went! I have frieds who work for public defenders office, making in the $40K range.

Reading this just surprised me. Everyone here is making a ton!

I have mixed feelings about the law. Litigation seems fun, but I'm not going to see much of that in house. And I'm not someone who wants to go drum up business to bill a ton, firm life never appealed to me.  If I could afford swing it, I'd love to do some work for a non-profit. Something meaningful. Just watching the company's ass isn't too fun.

Your employer is underpaying you by a decent bit. If you get 3 or so years of experience there, you should be able to lateral somewhere and double that assuming you're not in rural Tennessee or something.

ormaybemidgets

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Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
« Reply #99 on: February 06, 2015, 09:13:52 AM »
Jesus, is no one here right out of law school and not making six figures?

Class of 2014. Out of school I had no job, after that I had a fellowship through my school full-time $25k for a year, which I then left for a clerkship that I heard on the same day will not even last one full year. So.