The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: YTProphet on January 21, 2015, 02:08:25 PM

Title: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 21, 2015, 02:08:25 PM
I saw the pharmacy thread and couldn't help but wonder how many lawyer mustachians there are on here. If so, what kind of law do you practice? BigLaw, MidLaw, SmallLaw, or InHouse? Approximate salaries? Any debt left from law school?

I'll start: I'm a mid-law associate. I'm on the transactional side (no litigation for me) and mainly do general commercial contracts and corporate governance related work. Salary is pretty good, mid-to-low 100's, depending on bonus. Law school debt was just paid off last week!

You?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Check2400 on January 21, 2015, 04:04:32 PM
Lawyer here.  I fall into the 'disgruntled, probably shouldn't have been a lawyer' lawyer.  I do litigation, Small law coming from 2 years in midlaw.  Not at 100K (I'm never sure if people here mean gross, net, or net after 401k withholdings when they give salary numbers) but close enough net.  I won't complainypants the career choice-a whole other topic, but have basically come to the realization that if I had not had my LSAT study year, 3 years of law school, and 5 years of all monies going to paying off 125K in debt, and had followed the principals in this blog, I probably would be looking pretty good 9 years in.  Obviously the intansubjective  factors come into play here-I didn't have a tangible career like engineering to start me at a salary where I am now, and likely would have had a grass is greener view if I hadn't gone, but still...

That being said, 100 of 125 debt is paid off, with a condo purchase in the interim.  Most of that comes from a remarkably sustainable side business I have going on (adding to the law regret).  That 25K is still at 6.25%, but I'm far enough into the debt that the declining interest is worth just paying off the loan over time now, and putting that 25K in an investment-real estate, ETF., what have you.  I hate debt, but at this point the money is best invested for 5 years down the road instead of 1 year of no more law debt. 

That being said, Jan. 1 was the date that my mint.com liquid assets v. student debts finally went green, into the positive.  Its nice knowing that I could, if need be, pay off all debts and only have the mortgage to take care of.  I'd love to get a rental to try that out, but I live in a high property tax city, and have major expenses coming up-SO is getting more "S" and my truck, while lovingly maintained, has at best a 3 year life cycle on it.

Would love to get out-I have two great business ideas, but currently I am doing well enough to where 4-5 more years of lawyering and successful side business should set me up nicely by age 40 moving forward.  Plus, it isn't that bad, if I can get away from the crazy clients!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Shade00 on January 21, 2015, 04:30:33 PM
Biglaw firm in a small market; salary + bonuses + 401k contributions puts my comp somewhere around $140k total. About 5 years in now. I'm a litigator. I generally enjoy what I do and do not have unreasonable hours. Most days I'm here from about 9-5:30. Wife and I are just trying to figure out where we want to be. Looking at moving in the near future.

Don't regret my decision to go to law school, but I do regret my poor financial decisions during law school. Younger me screwed present/future me, but I'm hoping to have my loans paid off in the next 3ish years.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TN_Steve on January 21, 2015, 05:02:55 PM
I float about this forum and try to give some good pointers/answers, but by comparison to others here, I am far from mustachian even though we save more than we spend post-taxes.  (DW is doc)

Old guy who chose free law school over ivy league; still doing commercial lit.  9 years mega law, many years adjunct/SAHD, now in tiny firm.  Make a bit more than NYC big-law starting base, and in a much cheaper location.  Typical big firm hours still though--0630-1900 most week days, unless busy.  Usually have a weekend day off, and some holidays.  DW and I are counting down to retirement, just adding on for comfort at this point, now that all kids finished with undergrad.

A son in law school now (transactional focus), luckily with free tuition, so he'll avoid the loan mess that puts so many behind the eight ball to start off.

All and all, not a bad job for me, lots of periodic good stress, and still learning new things.  But for me, unlike for some people I know in the profession, it is just a job and I'll likely not look back when we pull the trigger.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: cynthia1848 on January 21, 2015, 05:07:04 PM
Here too, was in biglaw for 6 yrs, now in small law for 8.  I work PT and barely scrape 6 figures gross, but my schedule is AWESOME, 9-430 or so and 4 days, so I don't complain.  :)

I didn't have any debt from college or law school.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Amesenator on January 21, 2015, 08:09:20 PM
Big law partner, went to a public school and graduated without debt (thanks to DH's salary covering tuition), live overseas and have high comp, have now paid off all mortgages and contemplating the next phase of life!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 22, 2015, 01:00:17 AM
Soon we'll have "real" lawyers in here deprecating others for not going to a "T6," not getting a Biglaw (has to be "V10" or higher) summer associateship, and not having at least a 3.8 GPA (or whatever the GPA of those lawyers was).

I've found that sooner or later all gatherings of US lawyers turn into ego contests. I've seen literally the first question out of people's mouths after "What's your name" to be "What law school did you go to?" It's one of the least Mustachian professions I've ever had the misfortune of meeting people in.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif on January 22, 2015, 01:48:30 AM
I'm a barrister. Started with about 40kGBP of debt, and income of 18k (many in criminal law actually run a loss the first couple of years, so that was ok). I got two years in, and ditched prosecuting for international arbitration. Still not US money, but much better. Hours obscene, did 397 hours in one month, averaged 275 a month for a year. Which is total madness. I saw the light, and walked away. I do occasional freelance stuff, but I'm mainly running my own business from home. Work-life balance immeasurably improved, income only slightly lower. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 22, 2015, 02:43:10 AM
I won't complainypants the career choice-a whole other topic, but have basically come to the realization that if I had not had my LSAT study year, 3 years of law school, and 5 years of all monies going to paying off 125K in debt, and had followed the principals in this blog, ...

An entire year dedicated to studying for the LAST sounds excessive. I spent about 3 hours in total preparing for the LSAT, consisting of reading about the format of the test and completing a single practice one. Then I showed up to the exam and got 173. It's a very easy test. The hardest part is avoiding using the washroom. If you have to use the washroom, you're pretty much screwed.

As an aside -- law school was my biggest financial mistake to date. I really love law, but it's not a good career for early retirement (so I did not pursue it). After I'm retired, I might become a lawyer and practice law on a purely charitable basis, only taking on files that I care about.

You do realize not everyone is academically as smart as you are, and that you can acknowledge that in a more respectful manner, right?

Law is one of the few professions where it's perfectly acceptable to denigrate others for being less talented at this one super-specific thing.

It wouldn't be hard to one-up your story of taking the LSAT basically cold and getting a top 1% result. There are always people smarter than you in this world, no matter how brilliant you are. Some people literally do not have the academic talent or brainpower, however you'd call it, to get a 173 no matter how hard they study. Doesn't mean you should look down on them by calling it an "easy test."

I won't say what I scored because I don't want to be part of the careerist measuring contest, but I will say that I also didn't study for anything near a year, and even used the bathroom for a few minutes too, and also got a comparable result. Doesn't mean I have a right to make fun of people who don't have that narrow skill of being good at standardized tests.

Cathy, I'm not attacking you as a poster or a person. I appreciate your unique contributions to this board. It was just a clear example of what I've seen very often in life - lawyers that, while decent and good people usually, turn into the most insanely condescending, credential-focused, and comparatively competitive people of any profession I have seen (except perhaps investment banking or private equity), when anything to do with prestige, law school, standardized tests, intelligence, or the like comes up. It's quite remarkable.

I thought this was a particularly egregious case because for the poster you quoted, taking the LSAT may have required the year for any number of life circumstances which you have no idea about, and yet you just scornfully said that it's a "very easy test." Since it's curved, it's by definition not a very easy test for almost everyone. It's amazing that you, as well as many other lawyers, are smart enough to do well on this one function of intelligence but have thought about what it means so little that you therefore assume it must be amazingly simple and easy for everyone else, when that's literally impossible due to it being a curved test. You do realize that the average score for Harvard undergraduates is something in the 160's, right?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: josstache on January 22, 2015, 03:38:45 AM
Fully agreeing with innerscorecard, I also feel compelled to mention that there are additional financial gains to be had from scoring higher than 173.  Studying for the LSAT is one of the most financially rewarding ways to spend your time, assuming you are actually set on going to law school.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 22, 2015, 04:20:13 AM
Anyone going to law school should attempt to get the highest LSAT score possible. That doesn't mean that it's a "very easy test."
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: island_guy on January 22, 2015, 04:31:36 AM
Hi, yes another lawyer here.  Not US based but Biglaw (equivalent) 2 year qualified junior associate earning $180k (equivalent).

No student debt due to fortunately going to University in a country where university fees are free.

Unfortunately despite a very high salary for someone in their 20s I still managed to rack up $60k of debt at one point.  I would agree with the poster above who said this is one of the least mustachian professions in existence!

That said, since discovering this blog I've halved that down to $30k and it will hopefully be gone entirely in the next 6 months.  I'm just glad I discovered the blog when I did - if I keep this up I should be able to put away some serious capital in the next 10 years.  Unfortunately I see too many senior lawyers at the moment who have been at the game for a decade or more and whilst live a very flashy life have very little to show for it in terms of assets!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 22, 2015, 06:33:55 AM
Soon we'll have "real" lawyers in here deprecating others for not going to a "T6," not getting a Biglaw (has to be "V10" or higher) summer associateship, and not having at least a 3.8 GPA (or whatever the GPA of those lawyers was).

I've found that sooner or later all gatherings of US lawyers turn into ego contests. I've seen literally the first question out of people's mouths after "What's your name" to be "What law school did you go to?" It's one of the least Mustachian professions I've ever had the misfortune of meeting people in.

I don't think I agree that being a lawyer is one of the least Mustachian professions. If you can avoid taking out loans for law school (that's a huge IF), I think it can be one of the most mustachian professions. Take a job in BigLaw in a major city and make $160k+bonus  (or MidLaw and make $110k+bonus) right out of law school in your mid 20's, do that grind for 5 years or so to get good experience, then find a cushy in-house job paying a little less. You'll be in your early 30's making a ton of money and you should have been able to bank a ton as well. You'll also have the equivalent of a mid-level executive job, and probably be one of the youngest people in management at Company X. If you played your cards right, you could retire at 40 pretty handily.

I had a friend from law school whose parents paid for his undergrad and law school. He started undergrad young, finished in 4 years, then went to law school right away. He graduated at 24, landed a job with a major firm in a secondary city, and was making phenomenal money right away. Plus, he was still able to have fun and enjoy himself. He's a frugal guy to begin with, so I'm sure he's already well on his way to early retirement (although he's not the type to retire early).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 22, 2015, 06:39:02 AM
Also, do any lawyers love their job? I don't hate mine, but I don't love it. I'm more apathetic toward it although I want to do a good job. I've got to think that law is one of the most disappointing professions in regard to what people expect it to be and what it actually is.

To echo other points in this thread, law is DEFINITELY one of the most ego/credential driven professions out there. The line of questioning is always (1) where do you work then (2) where did you go to school, even if you're 25 years removed from it. Kind of obnoxious since the correlation between law school and quality of attorney isn't quite as strong as it's made out to be. In my opinion, the best measure is what partner/firm you were trained by/at.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lyssa on January 22, 2015, 06:57:51 AM
Four years into BigLaw. US firm, German office, 165 k (EUR, gross). Started with about 6 k in student debt (repayment of 'Bafoeg', a federal aid for students from low income families) which I repayed immediately after starting to work.

I do transactional work which I like but do not love. I loved studying law though. I love studying a lot of things. Which is one of my biggest reasons to aim for FI.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on January 22, 2015, 07:23:26 AM
Another lawyer here.  In-house now for about 5 years at a Fortune 100 company after a long stint at Biglaw in a small market.  I do transactional work and really enjoy all aspects of it.  Mostly working 9-5 with no travel so it feels great after the insane hours (and travel) I worked in private practice.  I went to a state school and graduated with a small loan that I paid off within a couple of years.  Hoping to retire within the next 3 or so years :-)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PinkFrugalRunner on January 22, 2015, 07:23:41 AM
3rd-year US law student here. Was fearful that I was signing away my life to this path of debt for a degree for an awful job to pay off the debt - but am hoping to use my big law job to pay off the debt quickly and start building a stash so I can be FI/RE. I have $130k in debt but at zero interest as my loan was from a benevolent relative. Will be working/living in NYC which is expensive but I'm hoping I've learned enough around here to avoid falling into the 'golden handcuffs' trap of NYC big law!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 22, 2015, 07:29:04 AM
3rd-year US law student here. Was fearful that I was signing away my life to this path of debt for a degree for an awful job to pay off the debt - but am hoping to use my big law job to pay off the debt quickly and start building a stash so I can be FI/RE. I have $130k in debt but at zero interest as my loan was from a benevolent relative. Will be working/living in NYC which is expensive but I'm hoping I've learned enough around here to avoid falling into the 'golden handcuffs' trap of NYC big law!

After seeing those NYC BigLaw bonuses on AboveTheLaw recently, you should be able to have that paid off in a few years. Good luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 22, 2015, 07:31:21 AM
Another lawyer here.  In-house now for about 5 years at a Fortune 100 company after a long stint at Biglaw in a small market.  I do transactional work and really enjoy all aspects of it.  Mostly working 9-5 with no travel so it feels great after the insane hours (and travel) I worked in private practice.  I went to a state school and graduated with a small loan that I paid off within a couple of years.  Hoping to retire within the next 3 or so years :-)

ZiziPB - question for you. I'm looking at going in-house in the near future. What type of salary should an attorney with 5 years experience expect at a F500 company (assuming midwest market that's not Chicago)? What type of bonus?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 22, 2015, 07:41:23 AM
The cost of three years' law school tuition, if invested in the stock market instead, would get you a lot of the way there to FIRE. Instead you have to grind for several years to get back to square one (zero net worth). To me, that's the exact opposite of Mustachian. You mentioned someone who's parents paid all their undergraduate and law school tuition. Then you mentioned getting to be an executive and the status that comes with it. That again is the exact opposite of the Mustachian value system.

I didn't say no one can strive for it, but it's undoubtedly un-Mustachian.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: hoodedfalcon on January 22, 2015, 07:45:48 AM
8 years out, work at a very small non-profit in a low COL area, still paying off ridiculous sums of debt (50K private, 90K federal). 6 more years until PSLF on the federal loans. I like my job okay, but law school was a mistake for me personally. Biglaw was never on my radar. I would bolt from this career in a heartbeat....
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PinkFrugalRunner on January 22, 2015, 07:49:46 AM
3rd-year US law student here. Was fearful that I was signing away my life to this path of debt for a degree for an awful job to pay off the debt - but am hoping to use my big law job to pay off the debt quickly and start building a stash so I can be FI/RE. I have $130k in debt but at zero interest as my loan was from a benevolent relative. Will be working/living in NYC which is expensive but I'm hoping I've learned enough around here to avoid falling into the 'golden handcuffs' trap of NYC big law!

After seeing those NYC BigLaw bonuses on AboveTheLaw recently, you should be able to have that paid off in a few years. Good luck!

I had not checked until just now - thanks for the tip. Here's hoping! I'm being an optimist and viewing the past few years as an investment in a Mustachian future, where FI allows me to give legal help to non-profits down the line...
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on January 22, 2015, 07:56:23 AM
Class of 2011 at age 43 (after 12 years as a public school teacher).  Now three years into a part-time staff attorney position in BigLaw in a smaller city. 

I do transactional work that I find mostly very interesting.  I make low six-figures.  An associate position is opening up in a group that I often do work for and I'm being considered.  I'd shift over as a 2d year associate which should put me around $175k.  I'm also job hunting and will move firms if necessary -- my current position is a dead end but I'll use it as a launching pad to something better.

I have a mortgage-worth of student loans.  Seriously, I owe almost as much on my mind as I do on my house and have a negative net worth of about $95k which is a damn sight better than where I was in 2013 (neg net worth of $130k).  I am pretty hard-core mustachian -- about 60% of my take home pay goes to debt.   On my current course, I'll be SL-debt free in about 5 years (before my 51st birthday, as God is my witness).  If I get the associate position, I'll be debt free, including my house-mortgage by then and will have about $300k in retirement assets.

I agree that law, especially BigLaw, is highly ego-driven.  It's probably a leading driver of why most people think lawyers are assholes.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on January 22, 2015, 08:10:14 AM
Another lawyer here.  In-house now for about 5 years at a Fortune 100 company after a long stint at Biglaw in a small market.  I do transactional work and really enjoy all aspects of it.  Mostly working 9-5 with no travel so it feels great after the insane hours (and travel) I worked in private practice.  I went to a state school and graduated with a small loan that I paid off within a couple of years.  Hoping to retire within the next 3 or so years :-)

ZiziPB - question for you. I'm looking at going in-house in the near future. What type of salary should an attorney with 5 years experience expect at a F500 company (assuming midwest market that's not Chicago)? What type of bonus?

Really hard to say because compensation structures vary so much from company to company.  I'd say low to mid $100K with some bonus (15-20%) would be reasonable to expect.  But again, things vary significantly from one place to another and it will mostly depend what the overall compensation structure is at the company.  Where I work, the base salaries tend to be lower than the market with the bonus and stock awards having stated targets and being a significant portion of the overall compensation.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 22, 2015, 08:12:34 AM
I agree that law, especially BigLaw, is highly ego-driven.  It's probably a leading driver of why most people think lawyers are assholes.

Seriously, I've been in a room with dozens of BigLaw partners from "V10" and "V100" firms, and the first thing they do is quickly establish a pecking order amongst themselves. Socially, too. The ones from "top" firms will trip over themselves to denigrate the slightly lesser firms to each other. Of course the more marginal the top firm the lawyer is from the more they will denigrate the even lesser firms, when those people are out of earshot.

It was extremely sickening.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents on January 22, 2015, 08:41:27 AM
I'm state government lawyer, practicing health law.  Work 9-5.  Earn mid-80s gross.  Retirement benefits kick in starting at 10 years: http://www.mass.gov/treasury/docs/retirement/retirementchart.pdf, but the trade off is no social security.  I sometimes contemplate moving in house for the pay increase, bc DH is always going on about how he thinks we're poor and can't afford things, but then I remember that while I dislike the actual office perks (I bring my own supplies, I don't have a real office, I have no kitchen...) and could get a lot more, I do like my coworkers and boss a lot, people actually appreciate what I do here, my hours are good, and DH will complain about money no matter how much we have.

Out of law school I worked biglaw for a little over 2 years, before the economy caught up.  I did adjunct for 1.5 years then before landing this job.  I went positive net worth during this time, although I haven't actually paid off my loans as they're at 2.5% and 2.75%.

Another lawyer here.  In-house now for about 5 years at a Fortune 100 company after a long stint at Biglaw in a small market.  I do transactional work and really enjoy all aspects of it.  Mostly working 9-5 with no travel so it feels great after the insane hours (and travel) I worked in private practice.  I went to a state school and graduated with a small loan that I paid off within a couple of years.  Hoping to retire within the next 3 or so years :-)

ZiziPB - question for you. I'm looking at going in-house in the near future. What type of salary should an attorney with 5 years experience expect at a F500 company (assuming midwest market that's not Chicago)? What type of bonus?

Really hard to say because compensation structures vary so much from company to company.  I'd say low to mid $100K with some bonus (15-20%) would be reasonable to expect.  But again, things vary significantly from one place to another and it will mostly depend what the overall compensation structure is at the company.  Where I work, the base salaries tend to be lower than the market with the bonus and stock awards having stated targets and being a significant portion of the overall compensation.

I interviewed a lot before taking this job (3rd rounds and even told I was second pick, but always the bridesmaid, sigh).  For 2-3 years of exp, it was $125k-$135k in Boston a few years ago.

Agree with innerscorecard on pecking amongst lawyers.  There's definitely a lot of prejudice and social
I can tell people at a bar event that I work for the state govt and get one reaction - or a vastly different one if I tell them the firm for which I initially worked here (or the name of my law school).  It's basically: biglaw > in house > govt/non-profit > not practicing.  Unless you're prosecutor in which case it might be different.  Not sure where small law firms fit on the "hierarchy".

Do people really remember LSAT scores though?  I know mine within a few points, but I honestly can't remember it.  I even tried finding paperwork on it a few years back so I'd know, but gave up when I realized I'd need to pay or ask my law school if they would tell me.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BarkingSquirrel on January 22, 2015, 09:14:33 AM
Question for those of you who are law firm partners:

In our divorce agreement, my ex is supposed to pay a percentage of his year-end partnership lump sum (K1?) as child support.  Suddenly, this year, that amount is zero.  Would a law firm allow him to restructure his compensation so that it all comes in his regular check instead of at year's end?  In other words, did they really have a bad year or is he finagling?   

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on January 22, 2015, 10:08:41 AM
Well, I've worked in the profession for over ten years now.  I graduated with not too much debt because I had savings and got some scholarships and prices are a bit lower in Canada.  I believe my debt was repaid within the first year.  I know that some US lawyers have a much bigger burden when they graduate and I'm not sure I would have gone to law school had I been in the states.

I started at $65,000 per year working in a firm.  Left after two years and started my own practice working pt from home to be with my kids.  Last summer I  went ft.  I made over $300,000 last year.

I would highly recommend law if you are entrepreneurial.  Many lawyers are not so those that are can position themselves well using technology to lower overhead.  As for biglaw, it can be a good place to learn a niche skill set but I was never interested in it.  It always seemed like too much of a sacrifice of life energy to me.  I think having children brought that home early.

As for the LSAT, I do remember that I did some practice tests and my scores improved.  I'd say it was worth it to practice.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TN_Steve on January 22, 2015, 10:52:08 AM
Question for those of you who are law firm partners:

In our divorce agreement, my ex is supposed to pay a percentage of his year-end partnership lump sum (K1?) as child support.  Suddenly, this year, that amount is zero.  Would a law firm allow him to restructure his compensation so that it all comes in his regular check instead of at year's end?  In other words, did they really have a bad year or is he finagling?

Like any other business, it all depends.  On balance, I'd say:  A firm is unlikely to do that; and, generally speaking, the bigger the firm (or, more accurately, the more business-like in its operations), the less likely something like that would happen.  The firm "Jim &  Bob, LLC, as seen on TV," might be questionable, particularly if Jim and Bob are twin brothers.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents on January 22, 2015, 11:18:20 AM
Question for those of you who are law firm partners:

In our divorce agreement, my ex is supposed to pay a percentage of his year-end partnership lump sum (K1?) as child support.  Suddenly, this year, that amount is zero.  Would a law firm allow him to restructure his compensation so that it all comes in his regular check instead of at year's end?  In other words, did they really have a bad year or is he finagling?

Like any other business, it all depends.  On balance, I'd say:  A firm is unlikely to do that; and, generally speaking, the bigger the firm (or, more accurately, the more business-like in its operations), the less likely something like that would happen.  The firm "Jim &  Bob, LLC, as seen on TV," might be questionable, particularly if Jim and Bob are twin brothers.

May I ask why you structured it this way rather than a % of all compensation - regular check and partnership lump sum?  Have you thought about having your child support agreement modified?  Most states wouldn't want your ex paying no support (because you might need to go onto state support).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on January 22, 2015, 11:23:40 AM
Question for those of you who are law firm partners:

In our divorce agreement, my ex is supposed to pay a percentage of his year-end partnership lump sum (K1?) as child support.  Suddenly, this year, that amount is zero.  Would a law firm allow him to restructure his compensation so that it all comes in his regular check instead of at year's end?  In other words, did they really have a bad year or is he finagling?

Like any other business, it all depends.  On balance, I'd say:  A firm is unlikely to do that; and, generally speaking, the bigger the firm (or, more accurately, the more business-like in its operations), the less likely something like that would happen.  The firm "Jim &  Bob, LLC, as seen on TV," might be questionable, particularly if Jim and Bob are twin brothers.

+ 1

This is very unlikely to happen if the partner is at a BigLaw firm -- or even a well-respected mid-sized firm.

This idea is a stretch and it depends on state professional ethics rules, but I wonder if restructuring compensation to avoid complying with a court order would violate attorney rules of professional conduct/ ethics?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Check2400 on January 22, 2015, 12:26:42 PM
Following up on my prior comment about an LSAT study year, the LSAT is only administered at certain points through the year, with the requisite gap on returning those test scores.  So for those individuals, myself included, who do not take the test in college, you cannot begin your academic career (minor exceptions) until the following August.  Hence the LSAT year. 

I unfortunately did well enough when I took the test to not actively look at other avenues of employment (darn my success!).  I did not do well enough, or reach a score easily enough, to view the test as easy when scoring in the 99th percentile, so super kudos to you Cathy! 

I do think the law is lucrative, just not in your first five or ten years.  Unfortunately, that doesn't have much bearing on this website or for its visitors...

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: spud1987 on January 22, 2015, 01:51:14 PM
Another lawyer here.

I'm an in-house tax lawyer at a F100 company. Job is pretty good, but I would rather spend my time doing other things (hence the MMM lifestyle!).

I don't regret law school because it was my clearest path to a 200k+ job. Thanks to a high-paying job, I should be able to FIRE in five years after a short ten-year career.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on January 22, 2015, 02:09:40 PM
Another lawyer here.

I'm an in-house tax lawyer at a F100 company. Job is pretty good, but I would rather spend my time doing other things (hence the MMM lifestyle!).

I don't regret law school because it was my clearest path to a 200k+ job. Thanks to a high-paying job, I should be able to FIRE in five years after a short ten-year career.

That's amazing man. Were you a CPA prior to law school? I thought about going the tax route but ended up in a different practice area since I started during the economic downturn.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on January 22, 2015, 02:30:23 PM
I saw the pharmacy thread and couldn't help but wonder how many lawyer mustachians there are on here. If so, what kind of law do you practice? BigLaw, MidLaw, SmallLaw, or InHouse? Approximate salaries? Any debt left from law school?

I'll start: I'm a mid-law associate. I'm on the transactional side (no litigation for me) and mainly do general commercial contracts and corporate governance related work. Salary is pretty good, mid-to-low 100's, depending on bonus. Law school debt was just paid off last week!

You?

Lawyer, BigLaw. Salary awesome. Only went into debt for school to the tune of a little over $40k because I went to the place that offered me the best deal (tuition remission amounting to 60% of the tuition, which was public in-state so already on the lower side) and yet also the best prospects (near big firms, lots of state and federal courts, etc., so plenty of jobs nearby that routinely hired local public law school grads).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on January 22, 2015, 02:44:22 PM
Not only is the degree expensive in the US (although it's much cheaper in Canada), but the pay is not even very high. At a typical "big law" firm over an 8 year working career, your compensation might progress from 150 to 250k. Over the same eight years in software engineering, your total compensation might progress from 150 to 500k, or more, and you reach the high levels much faster. I'm assuming a top performer for both

But Cathy,  you have to remember that different people have different skill sets. I'm doing great in law (and by the way, I would not remotely describe the LSAT as an "easy test," although my brother and I both did better than you on it), but I would be incapable, absolutely incapable, of being a software engineer. I know this just from looking at my CS-student friend's computer science homework. I can't even understand the questions; in fact, for some of the statistics homework, I can't even read the questions because they are (allow me to use a layperson's language here, since I don't know what this is really called) "written in math." And I'm not a math idiot by any means, but that level of mathematics is completely beyond me.

So there isn't any one-size-fits-all "best career for early retirement," because no one (probably not even Leonardo Da Vinci) is capable of succeeding at every possible career. We all have to look at this question not only in terms of number crunching, but also in terms of what we're good at and what we can spend several hours a day doing without our eyes glazing over or our souls slowly disintegrating.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: spud1987 on January 22, 2015, 04:39:12 PM
Another lawyer here.

I'm an in-house tax lawyer at a F100 company. Job is pretty good, but I would rather spend my time doing other things (hence the MMM lifestyle!).

I don't regret law school because it was my clearest path to a 200k+ job. Thanks to a high-paying job, I should be able to FIRE in five years after a short ten-year career.

That's amazing man. Were you a CPA prior to law school? I thought about going the tax route but ended up in a different practice area since I started during the economic downturn.

No tax background prior to law school. I did get my LLM part time while I was at a firm. Tax has been a very tolerable practice area that fits my personality. I don't think I could've made it as a litigator.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: mm1970 on January 22, 2015, 05:32:10 PM
Not only is the degree expensive in the US (although it's much cheaper in Canada), but the pay is not even very high. At a typical "big law" firm over an 8 year working career, your compensation might progress from 150 to 250k. Over the same eight years in software engineering, your total compensation might progress from 150 to 500k, or more, and you reach the high levels much faster. I'm assuming a top performer for both

But Cathy,  you have to remember that different people have different skill sets. I'm doing great in law (and by the way, I would not remotely describe the LSAT as an "easy test," although my brother and I both did better than you on it), but I would be incapable, absolutely incapable, of being a software engineer. I know this just from looking at my CS-student friend's computer science homework. I can't even understand the questions; in fact, for some of the statistics homework, I can't even read the questions because they are (allow me to use a layperson's language here, since I don't know what this is really called) "written in math." And I'm not a math idiot by any means, but that level of mathematics is completely beyond me.

So there isn't any one-size-fits-all "best career for early retirement," because no one (probably not even Leonardo Da Vinci) is capable of succeeding at every possible career. We all have to look at this question not only in terms of number crunching, but also in terms of what we're good at and what we can spend several hours a day doing without our eyes glazing over or our souls slowly disintegrating.
yeah, I could probably do law.  I'm a great engineer.  But programming.  I try.  Really I do.  But I seriously suck at it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Suit on January 22, 2015, 07:03:51 PM
I'm a government attorney, typical hours are 8-5 but I'm on call with a work cell phone all the time and have off hours meetings in my current position. I'm 2 years out of school and I have $128k in debt and make $84k gross. I love my job!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: overlord34 on January 23, 2015, 06:37:50 AM
Another government lawyer here.  I had always wanted to be a prosecutor but was very tempted by the BigLaw salaries in law school (I dreamed about retiring at 35 well before I discovered ERE or MMM).  I decided to go the prosecutor route and worked there for 9 years; now I'm working for a different government agency in a prosecution-type job.  85k salary and 40 hours that are flexible spread out over the week.  It's not as lucrative as BigLaw but when you factor in the public service loan forgiveness and the pension/health benefits I'll receive at age 57, FIRE is possible if you're time line is a bit longer.  I started working at 26, took a year off between jobs, and hope to be FI in about 3 years at age 39. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Dee18 on January 23, 2015, 12:22:12 PM
Worked as a litigator 8 years before becoming a law prof.  Have loved both jobs.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: jackiechiles2 on January 23, 2015, 12:28:10 PM
2011 graduate here.  Work in "midlaw" doing defense work ranging from med mal to construction to whatever.   It'd probably be considered small law for most states. 

Salary wise, I make mid 60s, will probably go up to 70s this year.  Generous bonus structure makes it somewhat easier to add another  20-30% on top of salary.

Have a mortgage sized debt from law school. Goal is to have it paid off in 15 years.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: lizzie on January 23, 2015, 01:36:27 PM
I graduated from law school in 1999 with no debt as I was lucky enough to get a scholarship. I did a judicial clerkship for two years, then was a stay-at-home mom for 5 years. I went back to clerking for a judge in 2006 and have been his "career clerk" since 2007.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: resipsaloquitur on January 23, 2015, 03:16:49 PM
Government lawyer here, making $70,000 gross, litigating major felony and capital appeals, post-conviction, and habeas corpus cases. I work for peanuts, but provide high quality service to the state.  I suppose I have sensed some superior attitudes coming from my biglaw opponents, and I don't deny that I envy their high salaries. But I love what I do, I do it at a very high level of excellence, I win most of the time, I don't have to fit the mold (shaggy hair, steampunk clothes), and I get to do whatever I think is right, not what a client or partner tells me to do.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: SF Semi-Mustache on January 23, 2015, 05:09:46 PM
BigLaw, big city/high taxes, third year associate, market rate salary and bonus.

I still have a fair amount of student debt, but I'm either saving/giving away/paying down debt with 65%+ of my take-home pay.  Not including a maxed-out 401k.  I could certainly be more mustachian, but I'm doing better than most of my BigLaw friends.  One, for example, just mentioned to me that he's renting a $3800 one bedroom apartment in San Francisco (!!). 

Oh, and I like my job.  I don't think I'll be here forever, but I like it for now and I like my exit prospects a lot. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on January 23, 2015, 07:35:05 PM
Part-time big-law here -- sticking it out at the same firm mostly though sheer momentum (as opposed to seeking better hours, say, in-house).  I'm not entrepenurial like Totoro, and my best in-house opportunities are too far away to make sense.  Not sure how well it will work out in the end, but the beauty of being semi-FI is that it doesn't matter too much.

Over the same eight years in software engineering, your total compensation might progress from 150 to 500k, or more, and you reach the high levels much faster. I'm assuming a top performer for both

That's news to me, and I know a lot of software engineers.  I'm also a damn good programmer, so maybe I should go back into tech!

I showed up to the exam and got 173. It's a very easy test.

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.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on January 23, 2015, 08:19:32 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
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BarkingSquirrel on January 23, 2015, 08:43:55 PM
Quote
May I ask why you structured it this way rather than a % of all compensation - regular check and partnership lump sum?  Have you thought about having your child support agreement modified?  Most states wouldn't want your ex paying no support (because you might need to go onto state support).

I guess I got taken to the cleaner's because he is a lawyer . . .  and maybe my lawyer was just so-so.  And because the whole legal environment is sympathetic to lawyer culture.  He otherwise pays the maximum amount on the tables, even though the maximum salary listed corresponds to about a third of his income. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on January 23, 2015, 08:56:37 PM
Quote
May I ask why you structured it this way rather than a % of all compensation - regular check and partnership lump sum?  Have you thought about having your child support agreement modified?  Most states wouldn't want your ex paying no support (because you might need to go onto state support).

I guess I got taken to the cleaner's because he is a lawyer . . .  and maybe my lawyer was just so-so.  And because the whole legal environment is sympathetic to lawyer culture.  He otherwise pays the maximum amount on the tables, even though the maximum salary listed corresponds to about a third of his income.

Is it a reasonable amount of support or do you just want to extract maximum value?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Blonde Lawyer on January 23, 2015, 11:33:50 PM
As you can probably tell from my handle, I'm a lawyer.  Class of '09.  I went to state school so I benefited from in-state tuition but I financed everything (tuition and living expenses) on student loans.  I worked part time at a firm through law school too.  I worked at a mid-size firm first (mid for my state, small in the grand scheme) for two years.  Started at $75k.  I'm now at a small firm that I like so much better.  I do a mix of biz litigation and PI with a dash of family law.  I make $91k now plus I got a $2k xmas bonus.  I can also make more based on my receivables but I haven't been very successful at exceeding 3x my salary yet.  As much as I absolutely love my job, I realized that I need to start thinking about my long term plans because eventually my boss is going to retire.  I'm not sure if I want to run my own firm.  It just seems like a bit too much to me.  I'm considering potential in-house positions but I'd like to remain involved with litigation to the extent possible.

I graduated with $93,572 in loans.  $59,500 Federal and $34,072 private.  4 1/2 years into repayment, I still owed $31,283.90 on the private loans and $40,938 on the federal loans.  I hated my private lender and I had a high variable rate.  I ended up refinancing (see sig) the $72,222.  I've been under the new loan terms since April and my balance is now 61,727.14.  It is so nice to see it going down faster finally!  I still also have a very small loan from undergrad that my parents were essentially tricked into (led to believe it was tied into my scholarships).  I still owe $4500 on that but hope to have it wiped out by the end of the year.

Going to a school with in-state tuition was the best decision I made.  My brother did one semester at a private high priced big name school and dropped out.  His loans are almost as big as mine from the whole 3 years.

I'm also one of the rare breeds that loves practicing law.  A big part of that though is finding a place to work that treats me well and I have tons of autonomy.  A big part of that is just luck.  I'm certainly not 100% or even 75% mustachian but I'm trying to be.  Just following this blog makes me rethink every decision I make in a good way.  Helps me keep my eye on the prize!

ETA - I'm really excited to see other lawyers on here.  It's nice to see that not all lawyers are all about status. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BarkingSquirrel 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ClaycordJCA 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BarkingSquirrel on January 24, 2015, 11:24:48 AM
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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: lizzie 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BarkingSquirrel on January 24, 2015, 12:42:44 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. 

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: InternationalStache 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Happy in CA 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Blonde Lawyer 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: JuSp02 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: rafiki 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: former player 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: innerscorecard 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro 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
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dude 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LouLou 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: rafiki 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: jackiechiles2 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 (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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents 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.)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet 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 (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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Blonde Lawyer 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: InternationalStache 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: oldfierm 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! 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: theonethatgotaway 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)

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dad_of_four 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.




Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: couponvan 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif 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!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PtboEliz 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.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ormaybemidgets 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on February 07, 2015, 11:23:08 AM
Update.... the department chair denied the partner's request to shift me to full time.  He said that after I've actually billed full time hours, then he'll reconsider.

In January, I billed 120 hours.  In February, I'll likely bill 180.  My boss says they will push again on March 1. 

Yesterday, one of the partners asked me to take the lead on a really huge project.  That's the bright side.... I'm getting great experience that will make me valuable, to SOMEONE.

These fucker pants are going to get as much work as they can at the biggest discount possible.  And, yes, I'm keeping the job hunt alive both with my network and also with a headhunter.  No, I do not have FU money.  Quite the opposite, I have $153k worth of student loans. 

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on February 07, 2015, 12:16:37 PM
Prepaying really depends on the facts.   

At 10% it would not be a mistake to pay down the loan if you could qualify for a 10% personal loan if need be and you are not earning much of a return on the cash as you don't want to invest it long-term. 

Cash in the bank does provide a sense of security.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: mrshudson on February 07, 2015, 12:22:05 PM
I am in patent law, but not a lawyer, so I avoided law school debt.  I am in-house and make $127K plus target of 11% bonus. I have no idea what the corporate or patent attorneys make.  Though I hear since patent law has the added requirement of technical background and patent bar admission to this specialty, that patent attorneys tend to get paid more.
I thought about going to law school, so glad that I didn't - since the attorney jobs appear to suck even more than mine.

I'm one also - in patent law, not a patent lawyer, no law school (or any college debt). Working for midlaw and hating the concept of the billable hours and tracking time in 6 minute intervals. Agree that attorney jobs suck more than mine, though. Contemplating fast track FIRE in 9 years with 60-70% savings rate of take home pay (which, admittedly is under $100k).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on February 07, 2015, 12:26:30 PM
Update.... the department chair denied the partner's request to shift me to full time.  He said that after I've actually billed full time hours, then he'll reconsider.

In January, I billed 120 hours.  In February, I'll likely bill 180.  My boss says they will push again on March 1. 

Yesterday, one of the partners asked me to prepare the land use permitting application for a $1.1 B gas co-gen facility being planned by our biggest anchor client.  It's a huge project straddling two counties so applications have to be prepared for both and have to permit not just the gas co-gen plant but also a solar array that's in the long-term plan.  That's the bright side.... I'm getting great experience that will make me valuable, to SOMEONE.

These fucker pants are going to get as much work as they can at the biggest discount possible.  And, yes, I'm keeping the job hunt alive both with my network and also with a headhunter.  No, I do not have FU money.  Quite the opposite, I have $153k worth of student loans.

So if you do bill full time hours on "part time," do you get compensated for that?  If not, what incentive do they think you have to do so?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Embok on February 07, 2015, 01:36:02 PM
Another lawyer here. I have practiced commercial real estate law since graduating law school in the late 1980s.  Went to a top 15 State law school; did well; first job was with top 10 big law firm.  Worked in various big law and one well respected medium sized firm for 20 years, was partner at two large national law firms.  Had a lot of debt when I first got out of law school, but paid it off over about a 10 year period. 

Was wildly successful at bringing in clients at some parts of the business cycle and not successful at other parts of the cycle - fairly typical for a commercial real estate law practice. Was fairly consistently underpaid while in big law firms, probably in part because I am female and never seemed to be able to get into the "old boys club".  Worked like a dog for years, which had serious health implications from which I'm recovering. The stress was insane, and when busy with clients I generated, firm support was minimal as jealousy within the firm partnership prevailed.  Unfortunately this is typical due to internal incentives.  I am rather jaded about big law on quality, business management, and other grounds. I think the big long model fundamentally is unsustainable for many reasons and tends to favor a management "club" at the expense of non-members of the club, particularly less senior lawyers.

Left to form my own boutique firm with a (male) partner about four years ago.  Have generally enjoyed running my own firm.

Positives:  Was able to keep most clients and charge them less –  a win for them and me; financially doing well; no upper-level management meddling with my business development or how I staff projects; and can make my own decision about how much to work and whether to commute into the office on a given day or work from home. 

Negatives:  The administrative side of the practice takes huge amounts of time; I have to run a lot of my own errands (buy paper, send mail, etc.) as I only have part time administrative help;  filing;  all the risks are mine financially; payments come in irregularly; we miss some deals for some clients because our firm is small (some clients think a big firm is better because it's big, even though there are typically only two lawyers working on a given deal in my area); and if we get busy it can be difficult to keep our marketing going well we're also very busy closing deals for clients.

It was emotionally challenging in some ways to make the shift from BigLaw to a small firm.  I am not immune to the ego drivers of the Big Law practice, although I drove a small hybrid as a big firm partner ( which my peers thought was weird) and did not spend anything like the amount of money most lawyers do on clothes, shoes, etc.  (Basically, I worked a lot, did a lot of writing , speaking etc.). But I'm senior enough to know the value I can bring to clients, despite the somewhat disdainful looks I sometimes receive at conferences from current big law lawyers.  Over time I've realized that less of that value came from the firm and more of it came from me. 

The best part of my job is helping clients solve problems and closing deals for them. I love doing that.  Bottom line, smaller from practice has given me more opportunities to provide good client service at a reasonable price for the client and to do well myself.  About at FIRE, but like my work now so no short term plans to quit.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on February 07, 2015, 04:29:25 PM
Negatives:  The administrative side of the practice takes huge amounts of time; I have to run a lot of my own errands (buy paper, send mail, etc.) as I only have part time administrative help;  filing;  all the risks are mine financially; payments come in irregularly;

Not sure if you have already implemented this but a paperless practice and excellent software keeps our book-keeping to five hours per month and our admin support to max 40 hours a month for three lawyers.  We use clio which has cloud backup/storage, qbonline, personal scanners and smart phones with the clio app. 

It may not make sense for you to run a lot of your own errands and with paperless practice and e-billing maybe you shouldn't have to?  I combine work with personal shopping and keep a running list.  I have to spend a significant amount of time setting up a new lawyer, but past that it is not all that much.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Embok on February 07, 2015, 08:03:22 PM
Totoro: 

Thanks for the suggestion.  We are getting closer and closer to paperless, but will probably never get completely there:  doing real estate law requires very precise proofing and a lot of cross-checking, and I'm old fashioned enough to want to proof my docs on paper.  (I think it yield better accuracy more quickly.).

But when I think about it, I probably spend less than 10 hours per month doing the admin tasks I do -- and the minor irritation of doing them still beats the pants off the major irritations of BigLaw firms, such as micromanagement from other cities, stupid business models, inefficient staffing (example:  having to use the available - for a reason - labor litigator for a real estate litigation rather than bring in a better qualified lawyer from outside the firm, or get in trouble with firm management) and "partners" who'd rather try to steal your clients than develop their own. 

Nothing will ever make me like record keeping or accounting, but finally got transitioned to QB this year and hired help to do the inputs -- so that part is getting much better.

The more time I can spend solving clients' problems and closing clients' deals, the happier I am.  I've been blessed to have some great clients who are joys to work with/for.

Wish I'd discovered MMM earlier:  this forum has lots of great ideas for building wealth, being frugal and still having fun.  I'd probably be farther ahead financially, as I was not the most financially sophisticated person around, and made plenty of financial mistakes in earlier years. 

The MMM site has helped me realize I'm not the only person who wants to achieve things but does not want to buy in to the "golden handcuffs" lifestyle typical of BigLaw or to use (or abuse) other folks at work to get ahead.  It's great to know there are others out there with similar values.  They seem, at least in my limited experience, to be unusual in AmLaw100 firms.  I make a bit less money than I did in my higher-earning years at BigLaw, but not much -- and having control over my professional decisions is well worth it.  I work fewer hours, can work out during the week, can spend what makes sense to market our practice without going through endless committee approvals, can bring in qualified lawyers when we need help and pay them market, have exactly the tech tools I want, and most important can turn my back (metaphorically) on my colleagues and not find a knife in it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on February 07, 2015, 08:30:14 PM
Totoro: 

Thanks for the suggestion.  We are getting closer and closer to paperless, but will probably never get completely there:  doing real estate law requires very precise proofing and a lot of cross-checking, and I'm old fashioned enough to want to proof my docs on paper.  (I think it yield better accuracy more quickly.).

Using Adobe converter and dual screens has worked better for us.  We have mandatory e-filing for all lands docs and have to have a registered e-signature - you might want to look into some different tech - not sure
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on February 07, 2015, 08:39:23 PM
Update.... the department chair denied the partner's request to shift me to full time.  He said that after I've actually billed full time hours, then he'll reconsider.

In January, I billed 120 hours.  In February, I'll likely bill 180.  My boss says they will push again on March 1. 

Yesterday, one of the partners asked me to prepare the land use permitting application for a $1.1 B gas co-gen facility being planned by our biggest anchor client.  It's a huge project straddling two counties so applications have to be prepared for both and have to permit not just the gas co-gen plant but also a solar array that's in the long-term plan.  That's the bright side.... I'm getting great experience that will make me valuable, to SOMEONE.

These fucker pants are going to get as much work as they can at the biggest discount possible.  And, yes, I'm keeping the job hunt alive both with my network and also with a headhunter.  No, I do not have FU money.  Quite the opposite, I have $153k worth of student loans.

So if you do bill full time hours on "part time," do you get compensated for that?  If not, what incentive do they think you have to do so?

Their argument is "when you didn't make your PT hours in 2013 and 2014, we didn't cut your pay, so now we expect you to show that you can do the work before we make you full time."   I have never turned down a project and make a habit out of checking with partners and asking for work.  Not sure why lack of hours is my fault, but that's how they're framing it.  I guess they think the incentive for me is actually getting what they've been promising.

Cathy, thanks for your post.  That's given me a lot to think about.  I've been aggressively paying my loans - in fact I just scheduled an optional payment of $1450 for next Friday.  Maybe I should put that in my savings account instead.

Though, I don't think I'd quit this job until/ unless I had a new one lined up.  It's harder to find a job when you don't have one.  Especially as a young lawyer.  If I left my firm and had a gap on my resume, it would appear that I was let go.   I'm going to gut this out. Somehow, I'm doing a great job of having a positive attitude at work -- I actually am loving what I"m working on right now.  So I'll bill the hours, learn as much as I can, and job hunt.  If they don't fulfill their promises, I'll find a firm that values me and leave.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Embok on February 07, 2015, 09:08:24 PM
Truly Stachin: 

If I were you I would do three things:

1.  Do all the work requested of you in the short term and try to bring your hours up to full time;

2. At the same time, look for another job – it's much easier to get hired if you're already employed; and

3.  Put your extra cash into savings in case something goes wrong, rather than into optional debt payments in the short-term.

In my rather jaundiced opinion, law firms do what they have to do, but most law firm management sees its obligation as being to return as much profit as possible to the small control group of partners. That means that the average law firm will pay as little as possible to the people actually doing much of  the work. As a practical matter, that means you're much more likely to get the job you want at a different law firm, or when you get an offer from a different law firm that you can use to get your current law firm to renegotiate.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bwall on February 07, 2015, 10:52:26 PM
What are the occupational hazards of being a lawyer? By this, I mean, what are the hazards that are specific to the work done as a lawyer, not necessarily the job itself.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Embok on February 07, 2015, 11:20:55 PM
Hazards of being a lawyer: 

liability to clients if anything goes wrong;

angry or whiny clients (can be violent sometimes, particularly to family law lawyers, criminal lawyers; even if not that bad, they often are in a mess they made and ready to blame you if you can't fix it fast enough or cheaply enough),

irritating opponents, some of whom make threats or seek sanctions (against litigators) without reason, and

if you are in a firm, massive irritation by managing lawyers who don't know how to run a business. 

You spend lots of hours sitting at a desk working on stressful problems (no one pays a lawyer to do something they can do themselves), which is tough on your health after several years.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on February 08, 2015, 09:28:13 AM
Lawyers have much higher rates of depression, alcoholism and anxiety than average.  Likely correlated to stress, level of responsibility and liability, and overwork.   

The average lawyer works 8.9 hours per day many work more.  There is no overtime. 

The nature of the work creates a largely sedentary lifestyle during working hours.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif on February 08, 2015, 02:14:56 PM
Divorce. And that in turn makes you more likely to die early/kill yourself. It's usually a complete financial disaster as well. Lifestyle is atrocious too, sedentary and full of booze and eating. No time to exercise. Go to any conference and look at the 50-somethings. They look like 60-somethings.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on February 08, 2015, 02:36:41 PM
That all said, I'm happy with my career choice.  I make a lot of money and get a great deal of job satisfaction.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bwall on February 08, 2015, 09:13:14 PM
Thanks for the feedback.

Alcoholism, depression, anxiety, divorce and sedentary lifestyle health concerns seem to be a pretty good list.

One friend of mine (CPA) commented once that all lawyers that he knew hated law. I asked why and he couldn't answer, but he stated clearly that they all hated it..... I just wondered why. Perhaps those are reasons?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Tick-Tock on February 08, 2015, 09:34:29 PM
What are the occupational hazards of being a lawyer? By this, I mean, what are the hazards that are specific to the work done as a lawyer, not necessarily the job itself.

Law school is supposed to make you think like a lawyer.  But then, you think like a lawyer:  you consider the worst of what could happen, rather than the best, and you spot every risk and worry it to death (and then worry about what risks you didn't spot).  I think I was a much more optimistic person before I went to law school.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: former player on February 09, 2015, 01:53:29 AM
Thanks for the feedback.

Alcoholism, depression, anxiety, divorce and sedentary lifestyle health concerns seem to be a pretty good list.

One friend of mine (CPA) commented once that all lawyers that he knew hated law. I asked why and he couldn't answer, but he stated clearly that they all hated it..... I just wondered why. Perhaps those are reasons?
As far as I can see there are three main reasons -

1.  They never did like law, but went into it because money/prestige/didn't know what else to do.
2.  Private practice is more about doing business/entrepreneurship than doing law and they don't like doing business/entrepreneurship.
3.  They are litigators but don't like confrontation or win/lose situations.

I really, really liked law but knew 2 and 3 would be a problem for me so stayed as far away as I could from private practice and litigation and went into government advisory work instead.  Result: a lot of good times and satisfying work to look back on from FIRE.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chasesfish on February 09, 2015, 06:01:42 AM
Soon we'll have "real" lawyers in here deprecating others for not going to a "T6," not getting a Biglaw (has to be "V10" or higher) summer associateship, and not having at least a 3.8 GPA (or whatever the GPA of those lawyers was).

I've found that sooner or later all gatherings of US lawyers turn into ego contests. I've seen literally the first question out of people's mouths after "What's your name" to be "What law school did you go to?" It's one of the least Mustachian professions I've ever had the misfortune of meeting people in.

I don't think I agree that being a lawyer is one of the least Mustachian professions. If you can avoid taking out loans for law school (that's a huge IF), I think it can be one of the most mustachian professions. Take a job in BigLaw in a major city and make $160k+bonus  (or MidLaw and make $110k+bonus) right out of law school in your mid 20's, do that grind for 5 years or so to get good experience, then find a cushy in-house job paying a little less. You'll be in your early 30's making a ton of money and you should have been able to bank a ton as well. You'll also have the equivalent of a mid-level executive job, and probably be one of the youngest people in management at Company X. If you played your cards right, you could retire at 40 pretty handily.

I had a friend from law school whose parents paid for his undergrad and law school. He started undergrad young, finished in 4 years, then went to law school right away. He graduated at 24, landed a job with a major firm in a secondary city, and was making phenomenal money right away. Plus, he was still able to have fun and enjoy himself. He's a frugal guy to begin with, so I'm sure he's already well on his way to early retirement (although he's not the type to retire early).

I have to agree with this post as well.

Lawyers sell their time and depending on the type of law, have the ability to ramp up or ramp down their earnings and can do a significant amount of work remotely later in their career.

The other point made in here is key, get your 5-7 years of experience in BigLaw between ages 25 and 32, then get a nice in-house counsel job somewhere until FI.  I'm in finance and have worked with may layers that have gone from BigLaw, to In-House counsel, to semi-retired with their own firm.  He would take months off at a time and occasionally do a conference call or respond to an email or two while off work.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: oldfierm on February 09, 2015, 09:56:09 AM
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.

You are right about the age limit.  I actually don't know off the top of my head, but for most Officer Corps it is around 35.  These are waivable - I saw a dentist come in during his late 40s.  It's all about supply and demand, though, and right as far as I know none of the services are hurting for JAGs. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dad_of_four on February 09, 2015, 10:52:31 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.


Thanks, I suspect that too. Working in a medium size city.  My work is a mix betwen legal and nonlegal stuff. I work with outside counsel pretty often.

I'm a little concerned that, not having any legal experience outside of what I  do now,  (no firm work, never clerked bc I was working while attending school at night) it will be tough to find a better gig. But, I think I'll just need to have broad search. Step outside of what I do, and outside of the typical law firm jobs.  I plan to jump ship for a much better offer but it'll take some work.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on February 14, 2015, 01:21:02 PM
I've slowly come to realize that I have more leverage than I thought.  They need me just as much as I need them.

I'm developing a new strategy...............   Sometime in early April, I'm going to get my performance appraisal and I'm quite sure it will be strong.  Also, just in the past few weeks, I've developed work flows with two new partners.  One of those has come to rely pretty heavily on me.  I'm going to add to that with a few more partners over the next month.  I'm also going to try and get included on a team that's developing a pitch -- that's what associates do and staff attorneys never do....

I'm going to build a case that I am, in fact, an associate despite the arbitrary label of "staff attorney."  I"m going to do all this with cheerfulness and joy -- even if I have to fake it.

I've been billing like a mad woman -- 93 hours for February.  I hope to end Feb with more than 200 hours.  I'll do the same in March.  At that pace, by 3/31, I should have 475 hours ytd and will have a number of partners who've come to rely on me.

At my performance review (typically in early April), I'm going to ask for a promotion to 2d year associate.  Right now.  I'll be very calm and simply state the facts in support.   I'll also say, "If that can't happen at this point, then I'm happy to drop back to the position I'm actually holding right now -- part time staff attorney."

That will mean that I won't be able to take all of the work they need me to do -- "Oh, I'd love to help, but I'm at capacity for this month."  And it flips the script on this situation..... it puts the pressure on them.   They would have to either push for me to be an associate; hire a second person to pick up the work (but they don't have THAT much work so the bean counters won't approve this); do more work themselves (yikes -- expensive and burdensome); or fire me and hire a new person... An associate?

Possible outcomes:

1) they make me an associate (not holding my breath)
2a) they tell me that the best they can do is FT/ Staff Attorney and I turn it down -- go back to PT SA
2b) they tell me that the best they can do is FT/ SA and I require a written commitment to promote me to assoc on Jan. 2016 subject to billing 1950 hours in 2015
3) they fire me from the PT position

As any smart lawyer would do, I'm consulting an employment law attorney.   I'm beginning to wonder if I have a cause of action against the firm for expecting -- demanding -- the same work from me that associates do but arbitrarily classifying me as a staff attorney in order to pay me substantially less.  I'm also wondering if the firm faces any possible liability if they fire me from my current PT job simply because I turn down their offer for another position, when there are no problems with my performance.  We'll see.

I'm also selling as much unwanted stuff as I can and sending all spare cash into an emergency fund.  If I play this card, I need to be ready for unemployment. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents on February 27, 2015, 09:27:20 AM
Also, just in the past few weeks, I've developed work flows with two new partners.  One of those has come to rely pretty heavily on me.  I'm going to add to that with a few more partners over the next month.  I'm also going to try and get included on a team that's developing a pitch -- that's what associates do and staff attorneys never do....

This is critical.  When you have partners backing you, that gives you leverage/credibility.  A friend at my old law firm was going to be let go for his low hours and other issues with work.  (Low hours due to recession+taking all of his vacation for the year in one month for his wedding in India, so it was artificially low in some respects.)  But, he had ONE partner that pulled hard for him, so he got a writing coach and managed to stick around when a lot of others were pushed out the door.  And he was still there years after most of the class had dwindled down.

So for your plan to work, be the person the partners rely on and can't imagine not having there.  Become critical, and you raise your leverage.  Forge strong relationships and they'll want to help you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on February 27, 2015, 09:49:23 AM
New to the forum and just saw this thread, so I guess I'll join.

I graduated in 2014 from Ohio State with about $150,000 in loans. Despite having pretty good grades (top 30%), I didn't have a job after passing the bar. However, I successfully obtained a grant from my school to work at a firm in my hometown (Youngstown). The grant only paid $2,000 to work there for three months, but since I was able to live with my mom, I made it work.

Lucky for me, this gig at a local firm turned into a full time associate position. I now make $47,500 per year and have great benefits (they pay 90% of healthcare costs, pay all my bar/CLE fees, and contribute 3% to my 401k, even if I don't match). I'm happy with the work/life balance here and can see myself being here for a long time.

Again though, I'm in Youngstown. It gets a bad rap, I know, but my family is here, my GF has a steady and well-paying job here, and a lot of my high school friends are here.

I'm enjoying being back home for the first time in almost a decade, but at the same time, part of living in such a low cost of living area is that wages are suppressed ($47,500 gets you a long, long way in Youngstown).

Other lawyers in another thread I started pretty much are unanimously telling me to work hard and then get to a bigger market/firm, and that this will double my salary. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are each about an hour and fifteen minutes away. Anybody have experience with these or similarly sized markets? What's the work-life balance?

Any other thoughts on my situation?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on February 27, 2015, 11:43:10 AM
Congratulations on your degree and that you are employed. The latter puts you ahead some of your peers, as I understand the current state of the legal market.

I'm a lawyer. Twenty-plus years in Big Law, now an equity partner in a boutique.

I don't profess to have any insights on small-/mid-firm markets. My Big Law experience, however, suggests that trying to trade up to larger and larger firms could be challenging for a variety of reasons, including hiring practices of larger firms (summer associates, the notion of a "class," etc.). But again, I could be wrong and don't let an anonymous comment influence you one way or another.

If I were you, I'd be happy to be employed and knuckle down to be the best lawyer I could be. Make yourself invaluable to your partners. Write articles. Get active in local/State Bar associations. Do interesting pro bono work (if your firm allows that). Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. And on and on and on.

And when the time is right, try to generate your own business. Many young lawyers erroneously think that only seasoned lawyers can bring in business. Have your elevator speech down and always have business cards with you.

All of the above is by way of suggesting that you focus like a laser beam on building a successful legal practice in your current location in the years ahead. I would not worry about anything else, including your loans or trying to trade up to a larger firm.

If you build a successful legal practice, the other issues will take care of themselves. If you fail to build a successful legal practice by being distracted by ancillary matters, you will not be helping yourself.

Thanks for this post, as it's perfectly timed.

I've had a really slow February (lots of non-billable hours and some off-the-wall research projects). Moreover, I've been distracted at work by a lot of things, most notably my finances and my loans. My average day is coming into the office, browsing various sites, reading as much as I can, then finally starting to work by 9:30. Then I take another hour break, and then all my free time has been spent reading about how to maximize my earnings.

In a weird way, by focusing so much on my finances, I've forgotten how lucky I am to have a job and how much more effort I should be putting in here.

So now that I at least have my financial plan figured out (I think), I'm going to go into March with a fresh start.

Thanks for your advice and wisdom.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: InternationalStache on March 01, 2015, 03:55:18 AM

As any smart lawyer would do, I'm consulting an employment law attorney.   I'm beginning to wonder if I have a cause of action against the firm for expecting -- demanding -- the same work from me that associates do but arbitrarily classifying me as a staff attorney in order to pay me substantially less.  I'm also wondering if the firm faces any possible liability if they fire me from my current PT job simply because I turn down their offer for another position, when there are no problems with my performance.  We'll see.


My unsolicited two cents on this is that I'd steer very clear of even hinting about liability, suits, etc with your employer. In my experience, the legal world is smaller than it might first appear and this kind of talk could give you quite the black mark. Not to mention the challenge of winning claims against a firm for at will employment....

Best of luck on your other plans, sounds like you're on the right track.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on March 01, 2015, 11:06:17 AM

As any smart lawyer would do, I'm consulting an employment law attorney.   I'm beginning to wonder if I have a cause of action against the firm for expecting -- demanding -- the same work from me that associates do but arbitrarily classifying me as a staff attorney in order to pay me substantially less.  I'm also wondering if the firm faces any possible liability if they fire me from my current PT job simply because I turn down their offer for another position, when there are no problems with my performance.  We'll see.


My unsolicited two cents on this is that I'd steer very clear of even hinting about liability, suits, etc with your employer. In my experience, the legal world is smaller than it might first appear and this kind of talk could give you quite the black mark. Not to mention the challenge of winning claims against a firm for at will employment....

Best of luck on your other plans, sounds like you're on the right track.
100% second this.

I worked as a summer associate last year at a mid-size firm in Ohio (75-100 attorneys). They paid us "hourly" at $25 per hour, but basically paid us $1,000 weekly salary (e.g., if we worked 50 hours, we still had to sign a sheet that said our hours were only 40 hours per week).

We knew it was dumb and illegal at the time, but we went along with it, thinking they would be our permanent employers.

Turns out they no offered the entire SA class (6 people). One of my fellow SAs asked me if I wanted to file suit for unpaid wages. I talked about it with a lot of people, including my dad (also an attorney), and he said it would be one of the worst career moves I would make.

Yes, I would win, but I'd also be blackballed. Everyone in the local legal community would know my name, my story, and that was baggage I didn't want to take when looking for a job.

So I didn't file suit. I ended up taking a grant opportunity at a smaller firm and that turned out to be my permanent employer.

Long story short: keep grinding. It will eventually pay off way more than any litigation might.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: MLKnits on March 01, 2015, 11:23:49 AM
Family lawyer, own a growing practice with partners. Wouldn't say I love it but I work very reasonable hours (less than 40/week, generally) and earn about 100K gross (CDN), and I get to do a good chunk of poverty law, which is important to me. I also adore my partners, our associate, and our law clerk, and I love the actual office we work in (sort of a "find"--it's got a warehouse off the back and is in almost an industrial area, but close to our home court and gorgeously built out).

I could definitely be making more in other sectors or in a more aggressive family practice, but I'd have a boss to report to--no thanks--and much longer days, and I'd probably have to have my work email on my phone. That last is the real deal-breaker. Plus, I've been running trials almost since being called, and I think my law-school classmates are largely just now getting past the stage of "you can turn pages in the exhibit book at this trial."

The official/ideal dream is a few associates per partner, and the partners do more mentoring than lawyering (I love love love mentoring and teaching), but even if we stay pretty small, I've got a FIRE goal to fall back on, because I'm definitely not doing this for thirty years.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 01, 2015, 06:00:15 PM

As any smart lawyer would do, I'm consulting an employment law attorney.   I'm beginning to wonder if I have a cause of action against the firm for expecting -- demanding -- the same work from me that associates do but arbitrarily classifying me as a staff attorney in order to pay me substantially less.  I'm also wondering if the firm faces any possible liability if they fire me from my current PT job simply because I turn down their offer for another position, when there are no problems with my performance.  We'll see.


My unsolicited two cents on this is that I'd steer very clear of even hinting about liability, suits, etc with your employer. In my experience, the legal world is smaller than it might first appear and this kind of talk could give you quite the black mark. Not to mention the challenge of winning claims against a firm for at will employment....

Best of luck on your other plans, sounds like you're on the right track.
100% second this.

I worked as a summer associate last year at a mid-size firm in Ohio (75-100 attorneys). They paid us "hourly" at $25 per hour, but basically paid us $1,000 weekly salary (e.g., if we worked 50 hours, we still had to sign a sheet that said our hours were only 40 hours per week).

We knew it was dumb and illegal at the time, but we went along with it, thinking they would be our permanent employers.

Turns out they no offered the entire SA class (6 people). One of my fellow SAs asked me if I wanted to file suit for unpaid wages. I talked about it with a lot of people, including my dad (also an attorney), and he said it would be one of the worst career moves I would make.

Yes, I would win, but I'd also be blackballed. Everyone in the local legal community would know my name, my story, and that was baggage I didn't want to take when looking for a job.

So I didn't file suit. I ended up taking a grant opportunity at a smaller firm and that turned out to be my permanent employer.

Long story short: keep grinding. It will eventually pay off way more than any litigation might.

Yes, I agree.   This has been a tremendous challenge in many ways -- not the least of which is to my ego.   I am gutting it out and have four applications in for other opportunities, one of which is with a rival Big Law firm just down the street.  I'm very qualified for that position and I'm hopeful of getting an interview. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on March 01, 2015, 06:50:31 PM
Quote
Yes, I agree.   This has been a tremendous challenge in many ways -- not the least of which is to my ego.   I am gutting it out and have four applications in for other opportunities, one of which is with a rival Big Law firm just down the street.  I'm very qualified for that position and I'm hopeful of getting an interview.

TrulyStashin, keeping my fingers crossed for you.  Unfortunately, Biglaw is a tough environment.  If you don't conform to their "ideal", it's really hard to make progress.  But I think things are changing in Biglaw too - I think these firms are slowly recognizing that they have to make changes in order to respond to client demands and get closer to reality.  I really hope that you can break through and achieve your goals!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: stuckinmn on March 01, 2015, 09:51:44 PM
Graduated in 1997 and went biglaw.  I still remember my offer letter and thinking that the 66k starting salary was more money than I ever dreamed of making.  Within 2 years salaries were 6 figures due to the internet boom.  Great time to be getting in as most of the class of 2001 got no offers after the tech crash.

Went in-house in 03 because biglaw sucks.  As someone stated it is an unmustachian profession as most things turn into a dick measuring contest.  I remember telling colleagues of my plan to retire at 40 and they just laughed at me asking how I'm going to make enough to do that.  We were all in our 20s making 100k and they could not conceive of saving enough to retire early.

I'm pulling the FIRE cord this May, 5 years behind schedule.  I was a little optimistic in my market projections and had a couple of kids and a SAHM along the way, but close enough.  I bet those former colleagues are pulling in 500k per year and still are no closer to retirement.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Mr. Boots on March 02, 2015, 08:12:54 PM
Great to hear from so many mustachian attorneys. I'll add my situation. Would really appreciate any thoughts/advice on this...

Career: State government attorney in Pennsylvania. Salary is 70k. Awesome benefits and work-life balance (8:30-5, vested pension, low stress). Graduated in 2012 from Penn State Law (Tier 1 but ranked in the 50’s) and finished exactly one spot away from the top 1/3 of my class (really annoying for resume purposes as “Top 35%” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).

Life: I’m 31, Worked through law school so loans were kept to “only” 60k, all federal. I’m banking on PSLF in eight years, keeping monthly payments down through tax-deferred retirement savings. Hate nursing that debt, but I see no other route given that my wife stays home with our 1.5-year-old. Second kid is on the way. Not ideal, but it's important to us and we make it work. Actually we both feel that we live quite luxuriously—I’ve been a devout mustachian since discovering MMM a few years ago (felt like I was reading my own conscience). Doing everything I can to keep costs down as a single-income family (commute by bike year-round, plow savings into IRAs and my 457b, DIY everything, buy nothing but essentials, etc.)

Issue: My wife and I are desperate to relocate to a warmer, happier place, and to retire early. To do this, I realize I am going to need a higher salary. And maybe...shudder...take another bar exam. The problem is my government experience has not generated any interest from the countless employers to which I’ve applied.

Bottom line is I am constantly torn between two conflicting sentiments: avoiding complacency vs. appreciating what we have. On the one hand I feel extremely lucky to have a decent job, a happy/healthy family, a nice little house, healthy food, etc., but on the other hand I feel the need to optimize everything—to find a more challenging, higher-paying job, to increase my savings rate by way of a higher income, to relocate to a better climate where my family can enjoy the outdoors year-round, and to find a community where we can plant our roots and get involved.

Is it possible for me to land a better-paying job, in a warmer, more mustachian area, with the above credentials? Has anyone here done so with a similar background? If so, please tell me there's hope. Or should I just be happy to be where I am and make the most of it by continuing to work hard, network a bit, and focus on my family?

My thanks to anyone who has read this far. I would be incredibly grateful for any words of wisdom you may have. (Or, if any of you are in a position of influence and your company is looking for a badass mustachian attorney, feel free to PM me!)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Mr. Boots on March 02, 2015, 09:20:06 PM
Hey G-dog - I'm interested in moving to federal. I put in for a few positions per month on usajobs but nothing ever comes of it. I'm guessing since the applicant pool is nationwide they must get inundated, so it's hard to stand out.

I do general in-house type work for the agency. Because of my assigned division, most of my time is spent writing opinions in support of the agency's regulatory action and in appellate cases coming from our administrative law judges. I also do briefs (which our litigators then argue). I get some other experience sporadically as the other units get swamped, e.g. handling a few employment matters (successfully), reviewing contracts, drafting regulations.

Good point about targeting the private sector folks I deal with. Some are outside PA, so perhaps I can develop those relationships a bit more. Thanks for the input.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: former player on March 03, 2015, 04:18:51 AM
Hey G-dog - I'm interested in moving to federal. I put in for a few positions per month on usajobs but nothing ever comes of it. I'm guessing since the applicant pool is nationwide they must get inundated, so it's hard to stand out.

I do general in-house type work for the agency. Because of my assigned division, most of my time is spent writing opinions in support of the agency's regulatory action and in appellate cases coming from our administrative law judges. I also do briefs (which our litigators then argue). I get some other experience sporadically as the other units get swamped, e.g. handling a few employment matters (successfully), reviewing contracts, drafting regulations.

Good point about targeting the private sector folks I deal with. Some are outside PA, so perhaps I can develop those relationships a bit more. Thanks for the input.
I agree with G-dog, there are always people wanting to do business with government organisations who can make good use of someone with inside experience.  It sounds as though you might also be able to parlay your experience into a consulting-type job (helping other people do business with government organisations), so if you are interested in making a move from purely legal work you could look at applying to consulting firms.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Dee18 on March 03, 2015, 06:21:50 AM
Dept. of Justice has recently been advertising for experienced lawyers.  Have you checked the federal govt jobs listings?  Some of those jobs are throughout the country. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 04, 2015, 11:21:35 AM
Mr. Boots... have you checked to see which state's bar rules allow reciprocity.  Typically, reciprocity kicks in after 5 years of practice.  Note that some states, (e.g. Ore.) allow you to count time spent practicing with a third-year practice certificate even before you were admitted to the PA bar.  A little Google research will allow you to come up with a list of states that you could begin targeting once you've hit that magic 5-year mark.

Also, state capitals may be a good option because of all the gov't work there.  I'm in Richmond, VA and we have not only all of the state agencies, and the OAG, the general assembly, the executive branch .... but we also have city and state courts.   On the federal level, we have several agencies with branches here, and the Fed. Reserve (not gov't, but a nonprofit) and there the federal Dist. Court, the 4th Circuit, and bankruptcy court.  Add in the military bases nearby and the Defense Supply Center (a friend's husband is a lawyer there, sniffing out fraud in gov't contracting).   Basically, we're lousy with gov't agencies.   Lots of non-profits too, which often have lobbying arms busy at the General Assembly (e.g. Nature Conservancy).

Other state capitals may be similar.  RVA has a very high quality of life and low cost of living.  I highly recommend it. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Kashmani on March 10, 2015, 03:53:57 PM
Graduated in 1997 and went biglaw.  I still remember my offer letter and thinking that the 66k starting salary was more money than I ever dreamed of making.  Within 2 years salaries were 6 figures due to the internet boom.  Great time to be getting in as most of the class of 2001 got no offers after the tech crash.

Went in-house in 03 because biglaw sucks.  As someone stated it is an unmustachian profession as most things turn into a dick measuring contest.  I remember telling colleagues of my plan to retire at 40 and they just laughed at me asking how I'm going to make enough to do that.  We were all in our 20s making 100k and they could not conceive of saving enough to retire early.

I'm pulling the FIRE cord this May, 5 years behind schedule.  I was a little optimistic in my market projections and had a couple of kids and a SAHM along the way, but close enough.  I bet those former colleagues are pulling in 500k per year and still are no closer to retirement.

Nice to meet you, ten-years-older-me.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on March 10, 2015, 05:17:24 PM
Mr. Boots... have you checked to see which state's bar rules allow reciprocity.  Typically, reciprocity kicks in after 5 years of practice.  Note that some states, (e.g. Ore.) allow you to count time spent practicing with a third-year practice certificate even before you were admitted to the PA bar.  A little Google research will allow you to come up with a list of states that you could begin targeting once you've hit that magic 5-year mark.


Been considering a backdoor reciprocity from CA.  Basically CA doesn't have reciprocity.  DC, however, will let you waive in after 5 years from any state regardless of reciprocity.  Then you go from DC to one of the states that does have reciprocity.  Probably this is more work than just retaking the bar exam :-(  On the plus side, I can write and prosecute patents anywhere regardless of state licensing.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 11, 2015, 10:18:14 AM
Update:

Wow, karma is kinda crazy..... Last week a rival law firm with a name that reminds me of fish posted an opening for an environmental law associate with 2 to 4 years of experience.  It is the same position that my firm is hiring for and for which my boss blocked me from consideration.

I filed my application the same day it posted.

Then I called a friend who is an associate there.   She is on the same floor as the hiring partner.  We're having lunch on Friday, after which she'll go find the hiring partner and tell him I'm great.

On Monday, I had lunch with a friend who is a partner at another BigLaw firm.  She's good buddies with the Top Dog at the Fish-firm.  I sent her my resume.  She sent it to Top Dog with a "I've known her for years.  She's great!" comment.  He wrote back and said "She looks like an outstanding candidate."   Top Dog is going to pass my resume down to the hiring partner.  Hiring partner used to be at my firm.  He will take one glance at my resume and know exactly which partners I work for and on which projects.

The Fish-firm and my firm are direct competitors with one particular anchor client for whom I do a lot of work.

In short, this is a great opportunity for Fish-firm to poach an "associate" from a rival firm.   Fish-firm requires 150-fewer billable hours than does my firm.  Pay for associates is the same. 

I am crossing every digit that I can possibly cross...............

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on March 11, 2015, 10:38:19 AM
TrulyStashin, this sounds like an outstanding opportunity.  Keeping my fingers crossed for you!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 17, 2015, 11:56:32 AM
I just got the call ..... I have an interview at Fish-firm next Wednesday!!!   Excited!!

And, last week, one of the partners at my current firm said that if I keep up all the billable hours then in mid- to late-April he'd go to the environmental dept. chair and push for me to be an associate.  Though he then said "we need to look at your rate and see if that would need to be adjusted."  So, I went into our productivity reports and found five associates in my class.  My billable rate is higher than theirs (by 20 to 30%) and after adjusting it for write-off's etc.,  my effective rate is also higher.  My billable hours are comparable.

This firm is billing me out for much more but paying me much less -- Sheesh, what a profit they're making off me.

I'm focusing on the future... one way or another I'm going to get that associate title (and pay).  After a few years at that status, I'll be debt-free and can re-evaluate options.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on March 17, 2015, 12:07:34 PM
Good luck TrulyStashin!!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Chuck on March 17, 2015, 01:11:36 PM
It amazes me how variable lawyer salaries are, depending on the class and type of law.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on March 17, 2015, 02:19:16 PM
Hi guys, I've been an attorney for 7 months now at the firm I clerked with throughout law school.  I like the firm and all of my coworkers a lot but I dislike the nature of my caseload because I don't feel like it will lead to many opportunities when I decide to move on.  I get paid alright, nearly 70k but I work about 60 hours a week.  My firm exclusively represents lenders in foreclosures, bankruptcies, and the occasional defense file (FDCPA, TILA, tax lien litigation).  I get a lot of courtroom experience which is a positive but its foreclosure and the vast majority of my appearances are uncontested trials which can be mind-numbing, especially when you have to drive 6 hours roundtrip to the courthouse across the state for a 5 minute appearance.  Don't get me wrong, I've had some interesting contested hearings in state and bankruptcy courts but a lot of my time is just spent driving and making uncontested appearances.  I really appreciate my job and coworkers and do everything I can to keep the quality of my work to a high standard despite the large caseload, but I worry if I stick around doing foreclosures too long I will limit myself.  I also worry the quality of my work will diminish if I continue working my unnecessarily long hours.  I went to a lower T1 school and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class.  Anyone have advise for a young lawyer? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on March 22, 2015, 07:53:07 AM
Hi guys, I've been an attorney for 7 months now at the firm I clerked with throughout law school.  I like the firm and all of my coworkers a lot but I dislike the nature of my caseload because I don't feel like it will lead to many opportunities when I decide to move on.  I get paid alright, nearly 70k but I work about 60 hours a week.  My firm exclusively represents lenders in foreclosures, bankruptcies, and the occasional defense file (FDCPA, TILA, tax lien litigation).  I get a lot of courtroom experience which is a positive but its foreclosure and the vast majority of my appearances are uncontested trials which can be mind-numbing, especially when you have to drive 6 hours roundtrip to the courthouse across the state for a 5 minute appearance.  Don't get me wrong, I've had some interesting contested hearings in state and bankruptcy courts but a lot of my time is just spent driving and making uncontested appearances.  I really appreciate my job and coworkers and do everything I can to keep the quality of my work to a high standard despite the large caseload, but I worry if I stick around doing foreclosures too long I will limit myself.  I also worry the quality of my work will diminish if I continue working my unnecessarily long hours.  I went to a lower T1 school and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class.  Anyone have advise for a young lawyer?

What happens when you tell higher-ups what you're interested in (not "I'm sick of XYZ" but "I'd really like to get more experience in ABC")?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: 17oclockshadow on March 22, 2015, 10:09:36 AM
I won't complainypants the career choice-a whole other topic, but have basically come to the realization that if I had not had my LSAT study year, 3 years of law school, and 5 years of all monies going to paying off 125K in debt, and had followed the principals in this blog, ...

An entire year dedicated to studying for the LAST sounds excessive. I spent about 3 hours in total preparing for the LSAT, consisting of reading about the format of the test and completing a single practice one. Then I showed up to the exam and got 173. It's a very easy test. The hardest part is avoiding using the washroom. If you have to use the washroom, you're pretty much screwed.

As an aside -- law school was my biggest financial mistake to date. I really love law, but it's not a good career for early retirement (so I did not pursue it). After I'm retired, I might become a lawyer and practice law on a purely charitable basis, only taking on files that I care about.

You do realize not everyone is academically as smart as you are, and that you can acknowledge that in a more respectful manner, right?

Law is one of the few professions where it's perfectly acceptable to denigrate others for being less talented at this one super-specific thing.

It wouldn't be hard to one-up your story of taking the LSAT basically cold and getting a top 1% result. There are always people smarter than you in this world, no matter how brilliant you are. Some people literally do not have the academic talent or brainpower, however you'd call it, to get a 173 no matter how hard they study. Doesn't mean you should look down on them by calling it an "easy test."

I won't say what I scored because I don't want to be part of the careerist measuring contest, but I will say that I also didn't study for anything near a year, and even used the bathroom for a few minutes too, and also got a comparable result. Doesn't mean I have a right to make fun of people who don't have that narrow skill of being good at standardized tests.

Cathy, I'm not attacking you as a poster or a person. I appreciate your unique contributions to this board. It was just a clear example of what I've seen very often in life - lawyers that, while decent and good people usually, turn into the most insanely condescending, credential-focused, and comparatively competitive people of any profession I have seen (except perhaps investment banking or private equity), when anything to do with prestige, law school, standardized tests, intelligence, or the like comes up. It's quite remarkable.

I thought this was a particularly egregious case because for the poster you quoted, taking the LSAT may have required the year for any number of life circumstances which you have no idea about, and yet you just scornfully said that it's a "very easy test." Since it's curved, it's by definition not a very easy test for almost everyone. It's amazing that you, as well as many other lawyers, are smart enough to do well on this one function of intelligence but have thought about what it means so little that you therefore assume it must be amazingly simple and easy for everyone else, when that's literally impossible due to it being a curved test. You do realize that the average score for Harvard undergraduates is something in the 160's, right?

I will +1 to this; all the lawyers I know are complete assholes.  They are extremely good are arguing, but their arguments are ridiculous and most of their talent comes from what is essentially fooling people with a convincing way of saying things. 

Obviously this is not ALL lawyers, and probably the people on this forum are the better of the bunch... but man, the lawyers I know in real life at times absolutely disgust me in their morals.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LouLou on March 22, 2015, 11:13:19 AM
Is it possible for me to land a better-paying job, in a warmer, more mustachian area, with the above credentials? Has anyone here done so with a similar background? If so, please tell me there's hope. Or should I just be happy to be where I am and make the most of it by continuing to work hard, network a bit, and focus on my family?

My thanks to anyone who has read this far. I would be incredibly grateful for any words of wisdom you may have. (Or, if any of you are in a position of influence and your company is looking for a badass mustachian attorney, feel free to PM me!)

I think so! Have you considered contacting a legal recruiter in the locations you would be interested in moving? You would be a good candidate for firms with any openings in the practice areas your work touches on now. Your resume could mention other practice areas, but emphasize what you've done in the applicable area. (Litigation opening? Describe all the briefs you've written. At big firms, you wouldn't have been in court much anyway). You are still relatively junior; larger firms would not expect you to have lots of knowledge coming in. When you hit year five and up, you will need to have more specialization though.

If I were you, I would work for a larger firm in your desired location for a year or two, bank $$$, then look for work life balance with more local experience and money under your belt.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: use2betrix on March 22, 2015, 11:23:57 AM
I won't complainypants the career choice-a whole other topic, but have basically come to the realization that if I had not had my LSAT study year, 3 years of law school, and 5 years of all monies going to paying off 125K in debt, and had followed the principals in this blog, ...

An entire year dedicated to studying for the LAST sounds excessive. I spent about 3 hours in total preparing for the LSAT, consisting of reading about the format of the test and completing a single practice one. Then I showed up to the exam and got 173. It's a very easy test. The hardest part is avoiding using the washroom. If you have to use the washroom, you're pretty much screwed.

As an aside -- law school was my biggest financial mistake to date. I really love law, but it's not a good career for early retirement (so I did not pursue it). After I'm retired, I might become a lawyer and practice law on a purely charitable basis, only taking on files that I care about.

Ah yes, the stereotypical lawyer chimed in lol.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on March 22, 2015, 03:49:19 PM
That post was intended to be more light-hearted than it was actually received. I honestly felt a lot of stress about having to use the washroom during the test; that was a sincere comment. I was decent enough at the test to complete it within the time allocated to each section, but not with more than a minute or so to spare (sometimes less), and having to use the washroom would have used more than that, and thus would have had a significant effect on my score. I actually took some specific steps to reduce the chance of that happening but it's probably not worth describing that.

The time controls of the LSAT are essentially what provide the difficulty of the test. With unlimited time, I feel almost anybody could get 100% on the test, but the time controls are quite tight. Keep in mind that the LSAT is not a knowledge test. The test is primarily about closely reading the questions and answers in a short period of time (which is obviously a very important skill for law, but the test itself does not require legal knowledge). Thus, bladder control becomes an important, if not essential, skill. No other test I've written in my life has been so dominated by time controls.

I'm not convinced it's really a well-designed test because the overriding importance of bladder control introduces an arbitrary variable that has no correlation with analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, reading comprehension, or anything else tested by the papers. People are penalised based on bladder volume, anatomical quirks and various medical conditions, and other arbitrary and irrational grounds.

Anyway, I apologise to anybody who was offended by my post.

The test is really hard on non-native speakers for the same reason.  Most real practices have no significant time constraints.  You can spend as many hours researching and writing that will as you need (particularly if you are flat fee -- hourly, you may have to reduce your rate).  I'm not sure the time constraint really makes sense, except that it's already a 3 day test so it would be terrible to make it longer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 25, 2015, 09:36:41 AM
I am so excited!   Absolutely great meeting  this morning.   What I do and want to build is aligned with their needs and strategic vision.  The personality mix was outstanding.   It was actually fun...

The recruiter says it will be a few weeks.  I think I was the first candidate interviewed.  I set the bar really high.   Fingers crossed....
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on March 25, 2015, 09:50:24 AM
I am so excited!   Absolutely great meeting with the Fish-firm folks this morning.   What I do and want to build is aligned with their needs and strategic vision.  The personality mix was outstanding.   It was actually fun...

The recruiter says it will be a few weeks.  I think I was the first candidate interviewed.  I set the bar really high.   Fingers crossed....

That's awesome! Congratulations! Kinda fun to be able to get your dream job while serving up your current employer a nice, healthy heap of their just desserts.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on March 25, 2015, 09:56:07 AM
I am so excited!   Absolutely great meeting with the Fish-firm folks this morning.   What I do and want to build is aligned with their needs and strategic vision.  The personality mix was outstanding.   It was actually fun...

The recruiter says it will be a few weeks.  I think I was the first candidate interviewed.  I set the bar really high.   Fingers crossed....

TrulyStashin, I am so glad!  I really hope you get the job!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on March 28, 2015, 07:36:09 AM
Yes! Best of luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Wile E. Coyote on March 28, 2015, 08:31:50 AM
I am so excited!   Absolutely great meeting with the Fish-firm folks this morning.   What I do and want to build is aligned with their needs and strategic vision.  The personality mix was outstanding.   It was actually fun...

The recruiter says it will be a few weeks.  I think I was the first candidate interviewed.  I set the bar really high.   Fingers crossed....

Congratulations!  If it's the "fish" firm that I think it is, it looks like they've really been growing that practice, so it is a good time to be joining. Best of luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on March 28, 2015, 09:17:59 AM
How much experience should I get before I contact a recruiter to find something better?  I only have 7 months, but my gut tells me 2 years, but I want to hear 1 year, lol. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: IllusionNW on March 28, 2015, 01:14:08 PM
Another lawyer here.  I'm a senior associate at a big regional firm (some would consider us big law), doing transactional work.  My awesome parents helped pay for my T14 private school tuition (I worked part time the entire three years and saved extensively prior to law school to cover all my living expenses and other costs), and was lucky to come out debt free.

I'm planning to stick around at least a few more years to see if I can make partner, but if not, I have plenty of in-house opportunities given my practice area and the local market.

Nice to "meet" everyone!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: mozar on March 28, 2015, 06:01:13 PM
You can contact a recruiter anytime. If they say they are not interested in your resume right now, wait. If they say they have opportunities for you, then go interview. It all depends on demand, not arbitrary rules. But yes less than a year at a job you might have to explain why.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on March 30, 2015, 08:16:39 PM
New attorney practicing in an area of law that i've worked in for 4 years before and during law school.  I'm going into my eighth month practicing.  I was told today that I'm not eligible for annual review as I haven't been with the firm for a year.  I'm pretty bummed out about that as I've been there for 7.5 months as an attorney and worked as a clerk for another two while I awaited my bar results.  Should I roll with the punches, request a review on my 1 year anniversary, or request a review now?  I'm leaning towards requesting a review upon my 1 year anniversary, but I know they do firm wide reviews on April 15 every year.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 31, 2015, 07:39:51 AM
New attorney practicing in an area of law that i've worked in for 4 years before and during law school.  I'm going into my eighth month practicing.  I was told today that I'm not eligible for annual review as I haven't been with the firm for a year.  I'm pretty bummed out about that as I've been there for 7.5 months as an attorney and worked as a clerk for another two while I awaited my bar results.  Should I roll with the punches, request a review on my 1 year anniversary, or request a review now?  I'm leaning towards requesting a review upon my 1 year anniversary, but I know they do firm wide reviews on April 15 every year.

How big is the firm?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on March 31, 2015, 10:27:32 AM
New attorney practicing in an area of law that i've worked in for 4 years before and during law school.  I'm going into my eighth month practicing.  I was told today that I'm not eligible for annual review as I haven't been with the firm for a year.  I'm pretty bummed out about that as I've been there for 7.5 months as an attorney and worked as a clerk for another two while I awaited my bar results.  Should I roll with the punches, request a review on my 1 year anniversary, or request a review now?  I'm leaning towards requesting a review upon my 1 year anniversary, but I know they do firm wide reviews on April 15 every year.

How big is the firm?

Small.  10 attorneys counting me.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 31, 2015, 02:21:00 PM
New attorney practicing in an area of law that i've worked in for 4 years before and during law school.  I'm going into my eighth month practicing.  I was told today that I'm not eligible for annual review as I haven't been with the firm for a year.  I'm pretty bummed out about that as I've been there for 7.5 months as an attorney and worked as a clerk for another two while I awaited my bar results.  Should I roll with the punches, request a review on my 1 year anniversary, or request a review now?  I'm leaning towards requesting a review upon my 1 year anniversary, but I know they do firm wide reviews on April 15 every year.

How big is the firm?

Small.  10 attorneys counting me.

Interesting.  I would expect a small firm to be much more flexible.   

YMMV, but if it were me, I'd argue that 1) I'm eager for feedback on my growth as a attorney and while I recognize that it hasn't quite been a year, getting feedback now allows me to tailor my efforts accordingly and improve my skill set more quickly which is good for the firm and 2) at some point, you need to sync up with the standard, Apr. 15, review cycle.  If not now, when?  How?   It's not more or less convenient to do it now, so long as they have enough data about your performance to form conclusions.

You'll notice that I left out any discussion of $$.   I'm thinking to treat this as a two-step process.  Step 1, successfully argue for being reviewed now.  Step 2, negotiate any salary issues later if they raise it.   Not unlike the job interview-salary negotiation two-step process.

If they say "Well, we can't do your review now because then you'd get a raise earlier than you should."   You can say, "the salary issue is negotiable.  My concern is that I get feedback as soon as possible so I can plan my professional development and become aligned with the standard review cycle."
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BlackIronStubble on April 01, 2015, 04:51:44 PM
+1 on everything TrulyStashin just wrote.  In terms of getting feedback to help you learn, hopefully you're getting daily feedback from the folks you are working with. You should feel comfortable soliciting it regularly.  An annual review shouldn't include any surprises, or someone is missing the boat (hint: it's you, either for not noticing or for not pestering folks you work for for feedback or for staying on somewhere that won't help you develop your skills).  I know you've got experience and you've got to get paid, but salary negotiations should be secondary to getting feedback on learning how to be a lawyer at this point. 

Oh, and I'm a lawyer, too.  BigLaw associate in a mid-sized southern city.  Loved the work, but hated the job until I went to 70% of billables with a corresponding drop in salary.  Now it's fantastic.  The work is still interesting, I like my coworkers and clients, and the pay is still good, especially for my town and non-lawyerly lifestyle.  Only now I've got time to breathe.  There's just somethingabout sleeping and seeing your kids and spouse on the regular that gives you energy to work.   
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Thalassa on April 03, 2015, 08:07:53 AM
Greetings Attorney Mustachians:

I am a long-time lurker, and enjoyed this thread.  (Hi and good luck in particular to Truly Stashin', whose fight for associate status I am cheering on).  This is my introductory post to the forum, as it seems like it will draw a smaller community of readers, familiar with my predicaments.  I seek advice - thanks in advance for reading and answering if you take the time.

About me: 30-something, 2013 T15 grad, no debt, lower half of class, live in big city with partner of four years (also an attorney).  I have been onto frugality / mustachianism since last April.  I changed a lot about my life, and also got my live-in partner more or less on-board.  When I found MMM, I was in my first attorney position at a small creditor/debtor firm.  The work was slow, and they laid off the three most junior attorneys. I was only 10 months into my practice.  I have  been unemployed since October, with a few interviews, but no solid leads.  I now volunteer 2x a week at my dream non-profit.  I also obtained my real estate license recently, hoping to start learning the market for personal use in the future, and to also possibly help a few people I know who are in the market for housing.   
 
My unemployment is running out really soon.  I have no debt, but when I first read MMM, I got a little eager and put a larger chunk of my emergency fund in investments, which means my funds (~$20k) isn't particularly liquid.  My two main issues are (1) Cashflow; (2) Career trajectory. 

With regards to cashflow; I have no full-time job on the immediate horizon.  I think in the short term, contract work might be my best bet.  However, I fear getting stuck in the contract attorney pigeonhole.  Also, I want to maximize the earning potential in my profession, and I am not confident contract work is the way to do it.  (I know I missed the boat by not performing as well as I would have liked in law school).  Should I seek out a staff attorney position with big law? (How does one even find such a job?).  Keep gunning for boutique and small general practice firms, even though they can be precarious employers and have so far not been responsive?

Complicating the matter, I love the nonprofit I volunteer for.  It focuses on an issue that is #1 important to me.  They operate on a shoestring.  I would probably have to consistently volunteer there for 3-4 years before I could expect to get hired on, and then it would be for peanuts by attorney standards.  However, this is death-bed-no-regrets-type work which in a few short months has given me better experience, and better colleagues, than anything else I have done in the legal world thus far. 

So in summary:

What do you think is the maximum earning possibility in the law for someone in my position? 

Have any mustachian attorneys made a decent living doing contract work?

Has anyone struck a good compromises to incorporate significant pro bono work? 

Thanks for reading!  I am grateful to tap into the collective wisdom of this online community.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Embok on April 05, 2015, 09:07:46 PM
Thalassa:

I would not rule out contract work as a way to get in the door in law firms.  If your law school academic credentials are not great, you need to get creative about getting relevant legal experience – then, when you get an opportunity, work like crazy to do a great job on the work you are able to do. This will make you develop marketable skills, which you can parlay into other legal opportunities over time.  Unfortunately, as has been discussed earlier in this thread, lawyers and law firms place a high priority on candidates' having objectively good academic credentials; so since that area was not strong for you, you will simply have to work much harder to prove that you can do the legal work well for anyone who gives you an opportunity to do legal work.  You are more likely to find lawyers willing to hire you in smaller firms rather than larger firms.

As for the attractive nonprofit, why not volunteer there as well?  That will both add to your experience and skills, and feed your soul.   Typically contract lawyer work, unlike associate work, is measured and done hourly, typically topping off at 8–10 hours per day (as opposed to the 12–16 hours working a day needed to translate into the 8–10 billed hours routinely expected of associates).  That should leave you time to do some volunteer work on the weekends, and perhaps in the evenings.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on April 06, 2015, 11:59:52 AM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate from a T-6 in BigLaw (not in NYC). I was fortunate to only have about 80K in loans (high COL area), but the interest rates were killing me (think 7.9%). Therefore, I refinanced them (at 3.05%) in October to get serious about repayment. I already max out my 401(k).

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus. I actually don't mind biglaw so much so my goal here is financial independence. I am shooting to have my student loans paid off in the next year and a half (dependent on how big my bonus is) and then to focus completely on savings.

 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on April 07, 2015, 07:08:05 AM
Should I seek out a staff attorney position with big law? (How does one even find such a job?).  Keep gunning for boutique and small general practice firms, even though they can be precarious employers and have so far not been responsive?

The way you get in as a big law associate at your level of experience is by being a summer associate during law school. (There are other ways to get in if you have several years of very solid experience and either a sought-after specialty and/or a book of business.) So as far as I can tell, and I am a big law associate, that avenue is closed to you now and will be until/unless you get the years of very solid experience etc. that I just mentioned.

So in your shoes, yes, keep looking at boutique and small/smallish firms. Also look at government jobs--not just litigation type work (prosecutor's office etc.), but also clerkships for judges and in-house counsel at various government agencies. They don't have the earning potential of private practice but they're the polar opposite of precarious, they have excellent benefits and most of them are great additions to your resume.

Complicating the matter, I love the nonprofit I volunteer for.  It focuses on an issue that is #1 important to me.  They operate on a shoestring.  I would probably have to consistently volunteer there for 3-4 years before I could expect to get hired on, and then it would be for peanuts by attorney standards.  However, this is death-bed-no-regrets-type work which in a few short months has given me better experience, and better colleagues, than anything else I have done in the legal world thus far. 

That sounds awesome. You might want to consider a couple of ways of integrating that into your life:
- Going solo as a real estate agent/real estate lawyer so that you have a little more ability to set your own schedule, to fit the nonprofit in where you can;
- Learning grantwriting (book recommendation: Writing for a Good Cause) and seeing if you can find a grant the nonprofit can apply for, with you writing the application and creating a position (salary to be covered by the grant) for yourself. The salary will be peanuts by biglaw standards but at least it will be consistent and let you do something you love. Also, perhaps you could still fit in some real estate agent or lawyer work to supplement your income.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: RFAAOATB on April 07, 2015, 05:35:57 PM
You all are tempting me to start studying for the LSAT.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on April 07, 2015, 05:52:36 PM
You all are tempting me to start studying for the LSAT.

That's ... surprising.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: rafiki on April 07, 2015, 06:29:44 PM
Greetings Attorney Mustachians:

I am a long-time lurker, and enjoyed this thread.  (Hi and good luck in particular to Truly Stashin', whose fight for associate status I am cheering on).  This is my introductory post to the forum, as it seems like it will draw a smaller community of readers, familiar with my predicaments.  I seek advice - thanks in advance for reading and answering if you take the time.

About me: 30-something, 2013 T15 grad, no debt, lower half of class, live in big city with partner of four years (also an attorney).  I have been onto frugality / mustachianism since last April.  I changed a lot about my life, and also got my live-in partner more or less on-board.  When I found MMM, I was in my first attorney position at a small creditor/debtor firm.  The work was slow, and they laid off the three most junior attorneys. I was only 10 months into my practice.  I have  been unemployed since October, with a few interviews, but no solid leads.  I now volunteer 2x a week at my dream non-profit.  I also obtained my real estate license recently, hoping to start learning the market for personal use in the future, and to also possibly help a few people I know who are in the market for housing.   
 
My unemployment is running out really soon.  I have no debt, but when I first read MMM, I got a little eager and put a larger chunk of my emergency fund in investments, which means my funds (~$20k) isn't particularly liquid.  My two main issues are (1) Cashflow; (2) Career trajectory. 

With regards to cashflow; I have no full-time job on the immediate horizon.  I think in the short term, contract work might be my best bet.  However, I fear getting stuck in the contract attorney pigeonhole.  Also, I want to maximize the earning potential in my profession, and I am not confident contract work is the way to do it.  (I know I missed the boat by not performing as well as I would have liked in law school).  Should I seek out a staff attorney position with big law? (How does one even find such a job?).  Keep gunning for boutique and small general practice firms, even though they can be precarious employers and have so far not been responsive?

Complicating the matter, I love the nonprofit I volunteer for.  It focuses on an issue that is #1 important to me.  They operate on a shoestring.  I would probably have to consistently volunteer there for 3-4 years before I could expect to get hired on, and then it would be for peanuts by attorney standards.  However, this is death-bed-no-regrets-type work which in a few short months has given me better experience, and better colleagues, than anything else I have done in the legal world thus far. 

So in summary:

What do you think is the maximum earning possibility in the law for someone in my position? 

Have any mustachian attorneys made a decent living doing contract work?

Has anyone struck a good compromises to incorporate significant pro bono work? 

Thanks for reading!  I am grateful to tap into the collective wisdom of this online community.

Are you getting involved with the local bar association(s)? That's the best networking you can do at this point. That and volunteering, which you already appear to be doing.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on April 08, 2015, 07:41:48 AM
Checking back in. To summarize: I'm a 2014 graduate working at a small (25 attorney) firm in a low COL area in Ohio.

I'm freaking out because I had a disastrous experience last week. In short, ...

I went on vacation Easter weekend and had been in a huge rush to finish two motions before I left on Good Friday. So I came to the office last Wednesday and slammed away at one of the motions all day without regard to anything else. I was so insanely focused on getting this motion filed that I didn't open anything on my desktop so as to avoid distractions (including Outlook).

And then I got an email from my partner. He got a call from the county clerk asking why he didn't appear at a hearing. In short, I totally missed a hearing I was supposed to cover for this partner because I was so focused on the above-described motion. Luckily, he has a good relationship with the judge, and the judge issued a continuance.

But I think I shit my pants when I read that email, and I have been sweating bullets thinking about it all week. I made the partner look bad, pissed off a judge right down the street, presumably pissed off the client, etc.

I called the partner last Wednesday and straight up said, "I don't have a good reason, I wish I did, but I fucked up. I was so focused on this other motion that I completely forgot about the hearing this morning." I also told him that I'd put a system in place to never let it happen again. He said he really appreciated the candor and that we'd move on from here, and not to worry about it.

It's now a week later and I'm back from my vacation from North Carolina. But I just feel incompetent. I posted this previously on here, but when I'm not 100% focused at work (like right now), I'm distracted, less efficient, and just not going as good of a job as I should be.

So this morning, I ordered four books about being a valuable junior associate (I read a lot anyway, and figured I might as well invest in my profession): The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law; The Partner Track: How to Go from Associate to Partner in Any Law Firm; Jagged Rocks of Wisdom: Professional Advice for the New Attorney; and The New Lawyer's Handbook: 101 Things They Don't Teach You in Law School.

In the meantime, I was hoping some of the experienced attorneys in here could share similar screw ups and just give me some pointers. I feel lost at sea here sometimes and am too scared to ask basic questions because I don't want to look dumb.

Thus, any and all advice is really appreciated.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: pbkmaine on April 08, 2015, 08:25:13 AM
Not an attorney, but worked in management consulting for many years. Stop beating yourself up. It's counter-productive. We all screw up. Every one of us. Those who succeed in spite of the screw ups are the ones who are able to learn and move on. Right now, you are being your own worst enemy. Cut it out. Now, in terms of techniques, you already know the answers without reading all the books. Make sure everything is on your schedule. Check your schedule every Sunday night for the week ahead and a couple of weeks out. Then check it again every morning, first thing. Also check email at least every morning first thing, before and after lunch, and before going home.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TN_Steve on April 08, 2015, 08:34:59 AM
Checking back in. To summarize: I'm a 2014 graduate working at a small (25 attorney) firm in a low COL area in Ohio.

I'm freaking out because I had a [near] disastrous experience last week. In short, ...

...He got a call from the county clerk asking why he didn't appear at a hearing. In short, I totally missed a hearing I was supposed to cover for this partner because I was so focused on the above-described motion. Luckily, he has a good relationship with the judge, and the judge issued a continuance.

But I think I shit my pants when I read that email, and I have been sweating bullets thinking about it all week. ....

Note the emphasis.  :-)  You've had the [mis]fortune of living through (and surviving) every lawyer's nightmare.  As pbkmaine suggests, learn from it, don't dwell on it.  I never ever fail to open outlook immediately upon arrival at office, and I calendar everything religiously.  Do you have your phone set up to deliver calendar reminders?

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on April 08, 2015, 08:52:09 AM
Checking back in. To summarize: I'm a 2014 graduate working at a small (25 attorney) firm in a low COL area in Ohio.

I'm freaking out because I had a [near] disastrous experience last week. In short, ...

...He got a call from the county clerk asking why he didn't appear at a hearing. In short, I totally missed a hearing I was supposed to cover for this partner because I was so focused on the above-described motion. Luckily, he has a good relationship with the judge, and the judge issued a continuance.

But I think I shit my pants when I read that email, and I have been sweating bullets thinking about it all week. ....

Note the emphasis.  :-)  You've had the [mis]fortune of living through (and surviving) every lawyer's nightmare.  As pbkmaine suggests, learn from it, don't dwell on it.  I never ever fail to open outlook immediately upon arrival at office, and I calendar everything religiously.  Do you have your phone set up to deliver calendar reminders?
Yes, everything was synced but I didn't have notifications or anything set up. Thus, if something was on my calendar, I relied on actually viewing it on my calendar. Obviously that was the first thing I changed and now have notifications for everything.

As for the Sunday recommendation, that's the first thing my dad (also an attorney) said to do. He said when he first started he came in before church and just organized his desk and files for about 2-3 hours. It's something I'm going to pick up starting this weekend.

Lastly, sorry if I sounded dramatic--definitely not my intent. I'm more looking for advice from people who are now senior associates/partners to get their input on how I could be a valuable junior associate, how to make sure I'm doing good work, how to get feedback, etc.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Blonde Lawyer on April 08, 2015, 10:26:02 AM
Do you have an assistant? If so, make sure your calendar is shared.  That person should also be reminding you if they see something you are not off headed to.  For reminders, make sure 9 am hearings have a reminder they day before and right when you wake up so you remember to go there and not to the office.

I also have a paper calendar I keep with just the places I need to be or in office meetings.  I keep the other clutter (discovery deadlines etc) off the paper calendar so I only see the VIP can't undo things.  (I guess I also put SOL's and answer deadlines on there if I am the only one on the file.)

If the partner was also appeared he/she owns a tad of fault too though you should never say that.  In my firm, if you have an appearance, you check in with the other person appeared so you know that the event is covered. 

I also sit down with my assistant every Monday and we discuss what is on my calendar for the next two weeks.  She basically makes me do it.  She just walks in and says "okay, so this week . . ."
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on April 08, 2015, 12:03:57 PM

In the meantime, I was hoping some of the experienced attorneys in here could share similar screw ups and just give me some pointers. I feel lost at sea here sometimes and am too scared to ask basic questions because I don't want to look dumb.

Thus, any and all advice is really appreciated.

Everyone makes mistakes so stop beating yourself up about it.  I like the way you handled it and clearly the partner was similarly impressed. 

I made a mistake once that ended up costing the firm real money.  The partners were very good about it and told me that sh*t happens to everyone once in a while.  That's what malpractice insurance is for :-)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: pbkmaine on April 08, 2015, 03:11:21 PM
Ask your partner or another mentor if you can buy him or her lunch and ask dumb questions. They will probably be charmed and happy to help.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dad_of_four on April 08, 2015, 03:43:08 PM
I posted here previously, but this is a pretty long thread. Hope someone has some advice.

I have an atypical career route.  Night law school, after I passed the bar I stayed on at the same employer, but in the legal dept (which is just general counsel, another young attorney, and me).  It's a medium size company, kinda blue collar.

I work with outside counsel around the country often. Respond to discovery. Also do some grunt work that's not really attorney work. I'm concerned that I might be stuck here. I'm not getting the experience that I think I need to go elsewhere, or to work for a firm. I.e. I'm not drafting documents, I'm just reviewing other people's documents.   I have never clerked or worked in the legal field outside of this job.

I don't mean to whine. It has its benefits. I don't work crazy hours, get a steady paycheck, and it's safe and familiar.  But,  I don't see me really advancing here, and without advancement, I don't think I will make the kind of money I'd envisioned.   (Currently at about $60K).

When I look at inhouse counsel for other companies, they invariably have spent several years at some firm before that.  So I'm concerned I'm not a very appealing applicant against those guys.

I do have all this experience in this field, but most of it actually isn't that helpful.  (i.e. I spent 8 years building widgets at the widget factory, you don't have to know that much about widgets to defend another factory that also builds widgets in a widget product liability suit.)

Am I stuck ?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Thalassa on April 08, 2015, 04:15:30 PM

Hi and thanks to everyone who responded.  Your answers were really helpful.  I think I am going to do Bar Association Networking and focus on Realty / Real Estate Law so I can keep doing my pro bono work.  Good luck to everyone else, and thanks for sharing your legal war stories!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: mozar on April 08, 2015, 05:02:30 PM
Dad of four: have you started applying to jobs, updating the linked-in, networking, etc? it's up to you whether you are stuck or not.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on April 08, 2015, 05:57:16 PM
I would also reach out to some headhunters and see what their thoughts are. If they say they can't place you, that is a pretty good indicator.

I posted here previously, but this is a pretty long thread. Hope someone has some advice.

I have an atypical career route.  Night law school, after I passed the bar I stayed on at the same employer, but in the legal dept (which is just general counsel, another young attorney, and me).  It's a medium size company, kinda blue collar.

I work with outside counsel around the country often. Respond to discovery. Also do some grunt work that's not really attorney work. I'm concerned that I might be stuck here. I'm not getting the experience that I think I need to go elsewhere, or to work for a firm. I.e. I'm not drafting documents, I'm just reviewing other people's documents.   I have never clerked or worked in the legal field outside of this job.

I don't mean to whine. It has its benefits. I don't work crazy hours, get a steady paycheck, and it's safe and familiar.  But,  I don't see me really advancing here, and without advancement, I don't think I will make the kind of money I'd envisioned.   (Currently at about $60K).

When I look at inhouse counsel for other companies, they invariably have spent several years at some firm before that.  So I'm concerned I'm not a very appealing applicant against those guys.

I do have all this experience in this field, but most of it actually isn't that helpful.  (i.e. I spent 8 years building widgets at the widget factory, you don't have to know that much about widgets to defend another factory that also builds widgets in a widget product liability suit.)

Am I stuck ?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Mr Dorothy Dollar on April 09, 2015, 01:09:07 PM
Non-practicing working for the government as a patent examiner. Pay is $100K salary nonexempt with set objectives for pay raises and overtime is on straight time. Patent examiner is the best job I have had out of Big IP law firm and engineering. I was able to pay off all my law school debt within 2 years of employment. I did this by living in uncomfortable situations.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents on April 09, 2015, 01:53:55 PM
Non-practicing working for the government as a patent examiner. Pay is $100K salary nonexempt with set objectives for pay raises and overtime is on straight time. Patent examiner is the best job I have had out of Big IP law firm and engineering. I was able to pay off all my law school debt within 2 years of employment. I did this by living in uncomfortable situations.

The brother of a friend of mine did this, and then fell into being a ALJ judge at a pretty young age (he's 40 this year, been a judge for a bit).  I hear it's great.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on April 10, 2015, 01:29:52 PM
Non-practicing working for the government as a patent examiner. Pay is $100K salary nonexempt with set objectives for pay raises and overtime is on straight time. Patent examiner is the best job I have had out of Big IP law firm and engineering. I was able to pay off all my law school debt within 2 years of employment. I did this by living in uncomfortable situations.

The brother of a friend of mine did this, and then fell into being a ALJ judge at a pretty young age (he's 40 this year, been a judge for a bit).  I hear it's great.

Considered this but don't want to put in the time required before allowed to hotel.   Patent examining in underwear from a low col area would rock
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on April 10, 2015, 02:06:35 PM


In the meantime, I was hoping some of the experienced attorneys in here could share similar screw ups and just give me some pointers. I feel lost at sea here sometimes and am too scared to ask basic questions because I don't want to look dumb.

Thus, any and all advice is really appreciated.

We ALL have these stories.  I'm still close with four friends from law school and we meet up every few months for wine and whine.  Though the "I fucked up" stories have slowed now that we're 3 years out of school, they are still a regular feature.   

My first year of practice I wrote a memo for a partner and proudly sent it to him.  A few days later, my supervising partner walked into my office and said "You're out of room to make another mistake."   Yeah.  I almost shit my pants.   I wanted to say, "um... like forever???  Or just for a while?"  Because, let's face it, we all make mistakes and if you stop making mistakes then you're not learning anymore.  They call it "law practice" for a reason. 

So, what had I done wrong?  I had missed a code section (buried in another chapter) that made my answer absolutely, completely, expressly WRONG.  I had confidently stated that Client could do X with that parcel of land.  Nope.  Client most definitely could NOT do X, thanks to that stray section of code. 

I can laugh about it now.  Well, not really.  That happened on January 21, 2013 (at 5:48 PM).  It took me 6 months to recover my confidence.

Hang in there.  And find someone you can ask those dumb questions.  It helps if you ask questions.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on April 10, 2015, 02:10:46 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on April 10, 2015, 02:23:28 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on April 10, 2015, 03:29:15 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!

Thanks!!  This week is the 2-week mark.  Next week, maybe???   Of course, since the interview, I've been Monday-morning quarterbacking myself like crazy.  One way or the other, we'll know soon.

Edited to correct the elapsed time.   Apr. 15th is exactly 3 weeks since my interview.  Amazing how slowly time can crawl when you're waiting for something!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on April 10, 2015, 03:57:00 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!

Thanks!!  This week is the 3-week mark.  Next week, maybe???   Of course, since the interview, I've been Monday-morning quarterbacking myself like crazy.  One way or the other, we'll know soon.

I'm sure you are aware of abovethelaw.com, which is one of the better places to learn about market salaries.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on April 10, 2015, 10:06:26 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I am at a lockstep firm in a secondary market.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Mr Dorothy Dollar on April 11, 2015, 03:45:09 PM
Non-practicing working for the government as a patent examiner. Pay is $100K salary nonexempt with set objectives for pay raises and overtime is on straight time. Patent examiner is the best job I have had out of Big IP law firm and engineering. I was able to pay off all my law school debt within 2 years of employment. I did this by living in uncomfortable situations.

The brother of a friend of mine did this, and then fell into being a ALJ judge at a pretty young age (he's 40 this year, been a judge for a bit).  I hear it's great.

Considered this but don't want to put in the time required before allowed to hotel.   Patent examining in underwear from a low col area would rock

Yes, patent examining in my basement with flexible hrs in a T-shirt and lounge pants is quite nice. I started at GS 12 because of my firm work. I was able to work part-time from home after 1 year (32 hrs / 2 weeks period). After meeting the criteria of 2 years of service, passage of the patent bar, and being at least GS 12, I was able to work full time from home. After a week of training, approval into the hotelling pilot program, and shipments to my house, I was able to leave the Detroit satellite office and move to Grand Rapids, MI which saves me even more money mainly in housing and insurance. Further, I geographically freed up my spouse to pursue his career goals.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on April 12, 2015, 07:32:04 AM
Non-practicing working for the government as a patent examiner. Pay is $100K salary nonexempt with set objectives for pay raises and overtime is on straight time. Patent examiner is the best job I have had out of Big IP law firm and engineering. I was able to pay off all my law school debt within 2 years of employment. I did this by living in uncomfortable situations.

The brother of a friend of mine did this, and then fell into being a ALJ judge at a pretty young age (he's 40 this year, been a judge for a bit).  I hear it's great.

Considered this but don't want to put in the time required before allowed to hotel.   Patent examining in underwear from a low col area would rock

Yes, patent examining in my basement with flexible hrs in a T-shirt and lounge pants is quite nice. I started at GS 12 because of my firm work. I was able to work part-time from home after 1 year (32 hrs / 2 weeks period). After meeting the criteria of 2 years of service, passage of the patent bar, and being at least GS 12, I was able to work full time from home. After a week of training, approval into the hotelling pilot program, and shipments to my house, I was able to leave the Detroit satellite office and move to Grand Rapids, MI which saves me even more money mainly in housing and insurance. Further, I geographically freed up my spouse to pursue his career goals.

One year! Dude, that's amazing. I know someone who did that in my area--had to move to DC for a year (flew home on weekends because had small kids), and after a year he was earning $100k in his underwear. If I had an engineering or science degree I would be all over that!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on April 12, 2015, 07:35:07 AM


In the meantime, I was hoping some of the experienced attorneys in here could share similar screw ups and just give me some pointers. I feel lost at sea here sometimes and am too scared to ask basic questions because I don't want to look dumb.

Thus, any and all advice is really appreciated.

We ALL have these stories.  I'm still close with four friends from law school and we meet up every few months for wine and whine.  Though the "I fucked up" stories have slowed now that we're 3 years out of school, they are still a regular feature.   


I know a lawyer, male, who was shocked to discover in open court that his genitalia had somehow escaped from his boxers and was protruding through his open fly. And he was not the only person who noticed... by far. I don't think anyone here can quite top that, so keep it in mind when you're feeling down.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: RobinAZ on April 13, 2015, 10:05:40 AM
I am a lawyer in Phoenix.  Three years with small firm as a clerk/associate ($60k), three years in house at a national title company ($75k), three years at regional big law ($130k with salary freeze from the get go), then laid off when the market tanked. Got picked up by two firms after a year of being a solo/ Of Counsel at a boutique firm, both firms folded ($100k each but they imploded, really).  Went back to being Of Counsel at the boutique firm ($250-300/hr billable rate).  Last year, I billed about one hour/day and made $45k.  There was more work available but my son has an emotional disability and he needed support in kinder and first grade.  We have meds and school really well situated right now and my firm has offered me more work.  They will be taking a bigger cut of the hours I bill and collect above last years's collectables, but it should mean $2-4k/mo more for me before taxes.  I am 1099, so I pay everything.

I loved real estate law but that dried up here with the crash.  I am doing litigation now.  Was terrified at first but am feeling much better.  Firm wants me to learn family law as that is their primary focus, I am considering it.  There is $$ in litigation and family law.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on April 13, 2015, 10:40:55 AM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!

Thanks!!  This week is the 3-week mark.  Next week, maybe???   Of course, since the interview, I've been Monday-morning quarterbacking myself like crazy.  One way or the other, we'll know soon.

I'm sure you are aware of abovethelaw.com, which is one of the better places to learn about market salaries.

Yes, I'm a frequent reader but the focus is primarily on the big markets/ high COL (NY, DC).  It's less helpful for understanding what's happening in BigLaw/ Smaller City.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on April 13, 2015, 11:34:43 AM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!

Thanks!!  This week is the 3-week mark.  Next week, maybe???   Of course, since the interview, I've been Monday-morning quarterbacking myself like crazy.  One way or the other, we'll know soon.

I'm sure you are aware of abovethelaw.com, which is one of the better places to learn about market salaries.

Yes, I'm a frequent reader but the focus is primarily on the big markets/ high COL (NY, DC).  It's less helpful for understanding what's happening in BigLaw/ Smaller City.

I also had good luck with infirmation.com back in the day but it got hit hard in the recession
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LouLou on April 14, 2015, 05:58:36 PM
Checking in. I am a 2013 graduate

I recently switched practice groups (and to a new firm) my salary has reset to $160,000 + bonus.

Hi there --

Do you mind giving me an idea of the market in which you practice?  It would be helpful to have a benchmark for salaries.  I'm a 2011 grad and I'll hopefully be negotiating salary soon.  Are you in a big market (NY, DC, Chicago, LA, San Fran, Boston)?  Or a mid-sized market (Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, Austin, Pittsburgh)?  Thanks!

I check every day to see if you've gotten the job offer! Pulling for you!

Thanks!!  This week is the 3-week mark.  Next week, maybe???   Of course, since the interview, I've been Monday-morning quarterbacking myself like crazy.  One way or the other, we'll know soon.

I'm sure you are aware of abovethelaw.com, which is one of the better places to learn about market salaries.

Yes, I'm a frequent reader but the focus is primarily on the big markets/ high COL (NY, DC).  It's less helpful for understanding what's happening in BigLaw/ Smaller City.

I also had good luck with infirmation.com back in the day but it got hit hard in the recession

Robert Half Legal's salary guide is very detailed as as adjustment for small and large US cities:  http://s3.amazonaws.com/DBM/M3/2011/Downloads/Salary_Guide_Robert_Half_Legal_2015.pdf
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on April 14, 2015, 07:48:26 PM
Hi, everyone!  I'm a senior associate in the litigation group of my BigLaw firm.  Thankfully, I studied for the LSAT, beat Cathy's score, and was given nearly 50% tuition scholarship to the T10 law school I attended.  I graduated in 2007, with about $120k in student loans all totaled, and paid those off over five years.  In that time, I also bought a condo near my office, which has been such a blessing for short walking commute time, especially given the very long hours we are expected to work.  Salary plus bonus put me around $200k gross last year, working in a large-ish market.  I feel good about where my net worth is currently, and really get a kick out of seeing it grow over time on mint -- even better than when I was tracking my student debt going down!  I cannot claim to be totally mustachain, but I'm quite frugal at least :-)

On balance, I enjoy the challenges of my job, using investigation and persuasion skills, and advising my clients.  Most of the folks I work with are smart, friendly people who make it an enjoyable work environment.  However, I have come across a couple pretty terrible people as partners over the years, who have really made me question WTH I was doing with my life at certain times.  One in particular was so unhappy in her own life and dealt with her stress by severely taking it out on a series of subordinate-targets.  That really was hell, but now I'm in a honeymoon phase because she finally resigned about a month ago!  So, yeah, I'll echo the other attorney who said office politics is one of the less pleasant parts of BigLaw.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on April 14, 2015, 08:00:41 PM
LouLou that salary guide is exactly what I needed!  Thanks so much.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on April 15, 2015, 08:15:41 AM
LouLou that salary guide is exactly what I needed!  Thanks so much.

If it's any help, I work at a big midlaw firm in the Midwest. Associates with six years experience generally make in the $130k range, plus $20-30k bonus if they hit their hours. Once they make non-equity partner (usually after six or seven years), they're grossed up to the $150-160k range and bonuses stay about the same.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 01, 2015, 01:16:56 PM
Bump. Waiting to hear about TrulyStashin's outcome.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 04, 2015, 10:11:10 AM
Bump. Waiting to hear about TrulyStashin's outcome.

+1  Me too!

I heard from the recruiter last Thursday.  She said they're hoping to have a decision this week (week of May 4).   

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, since the interview on March 25th there have been many interesting developments.  I have three partners actively pushing for me to be promoted to 3d year associate.  Two of those three are strong advocates for me and they both know that I am being courted and may leave (unfortunately, they're both in a different department).  I requested and got my Q1 profitability report and I'm generating more than enough profit to support 3d year associate status (and $170k pay!).  I shared that data with the partners here and said "it's time that I have a more equitable distribution of the profits I'm generating."  There are still some internal political barriers that may or may not be overcome.   

Maybe I'll have two offers this week???  We'll see.  If neither firm pans out then I am going to drop back to part-time billable hours and throw all my extra energy into client development.   A book of business is portable.   No matter what, I won't be a staff attorney for much longer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on May 04, 2015, 11:20:28 AM
Thanks for the update TrulyStashin.  Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: JessEsq on May 04, 2015, 01:42:49 PM
Oh... here are my people! Glad to find this thread.

Graduated law school 2010 and spent some time in finance
Took the bar a year later - July 2011
Started "real lawyering" May 2012 - so 3 years in practice

SMALL Law (3 attorneys, 2 staff - there's one "owner" and 2 associates. I am on salary, the other associate is paid a % of his billings and has been for 15 years - that's the arrangement he wants)
Mid-West area
General Practice: estate planning, trust/probate administration, real estate, general civil litigation, probate litigation, small biz stuff, some personal injury

Gross pay is approx. $60k/year + bonuses (last year's were $13k) + 401(k) contributions (min. is match up to 6%), I contribute 20% of my health insurance premium and the boss puts $750/year into my health savings account. All told I think I am well compensated, but it is hard to compare. It's a small firm. I know I contribute to the bottom line here.

All that said, I am stressed the fuck out all the time. I get good experience here (more so than I might at a big firm) but there is less time for mentoring. Everything is fast. I know I provide good counsel and good service to my clients, but I always think I could be doing better, doing more, etc... Part of it is the nature of law in general and part of it is the nature of being a GP firm... jack of all trades, master of none. I'm also fairly Type A personality so I worry a lot - wake up in the middle of the night - etc...

Oh, and $60k in loans (that doesn't include hubby's undergrad). Just paid of an $8.5k at $8.25% though of hubby's and now we start on my loans b/c they have the next highest interest.

We want FIRE because I know I can't keep this up. Sometimes I consider a move to bigger law - I think it might be the same stress, but more money and thus sooner FIRE.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Thalassa on May 08, 2015, 11:14:01 AM
Anyone who uses CLIO have a reference code they'd like me to use?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on May 08, 2015, 08:11:27 PM
I use Clio but there is no rewards/reference program I am aware of.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on May 09, 2015, 07:36:10 PM
Hey TrulyStashin, you said it: "it's time that I have a more equitable distribution of the profits I'm generating." This is the ONLY thing that matters. This is the way to negotiate for your fair value.

I wrote once before, but deleted it because what I wrote was unduly negative to non-entrepreneurial lawyers. So, I am going to re-submit my brief with significant revisions!

I'm a 2010 grad. Today, I'm 30 years old. I got my license in two Midwestern states in 2011. I started at firm of five attorneys. By the time I left four years later it had grown to 13 attorneys. By choice, I was always in an "eat what you kill" position. If they referred me a case it was a 50/50 split. If I generated and worked the case it was 75/25. My practice grew quickly from 50k (net) in 2011 to 300k (net) in 2014.

I left the firm and went solo in late 2014 because I had been paying an average of 11k to the firm monthly in "overhead" over the previous 24 months and 99% of the money came from clients I had generated (99% is literal). I'll say office politics in small law ain't so great either. I wish I could have stayed, but business is business.

My practice is as far from a "salary" type stability as one can get. I do criminal defense, accident and injury and immigration. The practice took off when I realized accident and injury cases can pay huge money if done right. In a few years, I will be exclusively accident and injury. Being mustachian means I can work a case for a couple of years, invest a few thousand dollars into doctors opinions, depositions or whatever and then get paid. Almost all my clients are Spanish speaking immigrants.

I know most people are not entrepreneurs but I always wonder why my friends in big law work so much for someone else and don't work for themselves. When you work for yourself, you always get the "most equitable distribution of profits" and your boss is unusually understanding when you leave early or screw something up. I'm just saying.

As for law school, I went to a big ten law school. Decent, not fancy. I got a full scholarship with an LSAT score lower than Cathy. I finished top 10% of my class. I'm pretty proud of rejecting an invitation to law review. I also left law school after the first year to bum around in Mexico and become bi-lingual.  I finished with 20k in debt for all school (wife's undergrad included) and we paid that off once the income went up. 

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Thalassa on May 09, 2015, 08:32:42 PM
Hey Rpesek6904.  Thanks for sharing your story.  If you were top 10% of your class at a top 10 law school, why did you settle for netting 50k instead of going biglaw?  Just to get the experience of being responsible for your own income, with a view to being solo in a few years?

Totoro: when I signed up they asked if anyone referred me.  I am also looking into smokeball and they have a cash referral program, so I assumed it was similar.  It turns out with Clio, if you refer 3 firms that sign up for 60 days, you get an ipad mini. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on May 09, 2015, 10:08:07 PM
"Big Ten" not "Top Ten" :)

I worked at the regional version of big law as summer associate. Big law, just wasn't for me for lots of reasons.

I took the other job because my income was based on my ability to generate clients/money. There was no limit on what I could make (which, the firm owners later came to regret). If I brought in a case, I kept 75% of the fee. Plus, I got total autonomy. I got to choose my own clients and causes on day 1. I set my own fees and hours. I did business as I saw fit.  Sure, I had mentors in the firm and they were very valuable but, ultimately, replaceable when I went solo. At the end of the day, my earnings, my cases, my schedule, everything was determined by me and no one else.  My standard line over the years has been: "I had the option of Job A with a 90k salary, benefits, pension and lock-step partnership track or Job B where they paid me no salary or benefits and I had to pay them for the privilege of being in the office." When I took Job B, I had no idea how much money I would make. I took the Job B because it was an opportunity to be an autonomous decision maker and create my own practice. Fortunately, time has proven Job B was the more profitable opportunity.

I didn't really plan on going solo. I enjoyed being in the small office for the most part. But, working with other people meant they all felt entitled to some part of my practice/money. It definitely had to do with my age. Eventually I will create a small firm 2-10 attorneys. But that will take time. First,  I will become financially independent then I will start spreading the wealth.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on May 11, 2015, 03:01:39 PM
I just got a spam w/ subject: "New Tinder-Style App for Jobs in Law."  Literally laughed out loud.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 12, 2015, 02:38:42 PM
It's week 7 and radio silence from down the street.  Ahhhhh!!!!!

Today, my boss told me that the best I could hope for right now is full time staff attorney because they want to see a longer track record of profitability.  If I (maybe) get FT/ SA now, then maybe next year.... Basically, I have to make gangbuster profits for the firm this year because I wasn't sufficiently profitable in 2014, but I should be grateful because they didn't fire me.

He followed that comment with several stories of former colleagues who left the firm and ended up living in a van down by the river (metaphor).

It was very inspiring.





Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on May 12, 2015, 04:38:39 PM
It's week 7 and radio silence from down the street.  Ahhhhh!!!!!

Today, my boss told me that the best I could hope for right now is full time staff attorney because they want to see a longer track record of profitability.  If I (maybe) get FT/ SA now, then maybe next year.... Basically, I have to make gangbuster profits for the firm this year because I wasn't sufficiently profitable in 2014, but I should be grateful because they didn't fire me.

He followed that comment with several stories of former colleagues who left the firm and ended up living in a van down by the river (metaphor).

It was very inspiring.

Lawyers simply cannot resist the allure of scare tactics. Bless their hearts.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 13, 2015, 06:27:17 AM
It's week 7 and radio silence from down the street.  Ahhhhh!!!!!

Today, my boss told me that the best I could hope for right now is full time staff attorney because they want to see a longer track record of profitability.  If I (maybe) get FT/ SA now, then maybe next year.... Basically, I have to make gangbuster profits for the firm this year because I wasn't sufficiently profitable in 2014, but I should be grateful because they didn't fire me.

He followed that comment with several stories of former colleagues who left the firm and ended up living in a van down by the river (metaphor).

It was very inspiring.
No word back from the firm(s) with whom you interviewed?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 13, 2015, 06:52:07 AM
It's week 7 and radio silence from down the street.  Ahhhhh!!!!!

Today, my boss told me that the best I could hope for right now is full time staff attorney because they want to see a longer track record of profitability.  If I (maybe) get FT/ SA now, then maybe next year.... Basically, I have to make gangbuster profits for the firm this year because I wasn't sufficiently profitable in 2014, but I should be grateful because they didn't fire me.

He followed that comment with several stories of former colleagues who left the firm and ended up living in a van down by the river (metaphor).

It was very inspiring.
No word back from the firm(s) with whom you interviewed?

Nope.  This whole process moves so slowly.  My firm started talking about hiring in early January.  They interviewed people in February.  The new associate got her offer sometime in April and starts this week.  So, using that chronology as a rough template, I may have another month to wait for news. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CommonCents on May 13, 2015, 07:36:33 AM
A coworker just sent this around to our (low paid, govt) legal department with the tagline "No argument here"

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/lawyers-with-lowest-pay-report-more-happiness/?emc=edit_dlbkam_20150513&nl=business&nlid=46397879&_r=1
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Trifele on May 13, 2015, 02:44:56 PM
Oh yeah -- 2 friends emailed me that NYT article today.  :) No argument here -- I'm part time, of counsel and love it. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on May 13, 2015, 03:05:34 PM
No argument from the low-paid side.  Any argument from the high-paid side?  Anyone highly paid and happy?

Me=part time and definitely happier.  Of course part time here is really just more like regular person hours.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 13, 2015, 03:14:24 PM
No argument from the low-paid side.  Any argument from the high-paid side?  Anyone highly paid and happy?

Me=part time and definitely happier.  Of course part time here is really just more like regular person hours.
I know many people in-house who are highly paid and happy. Less stress, but still a good payout.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bermudasq on May 13, 2015, 03:53:55 PM
No argument from the low-paid side.  Any argument from the high-paid side?  Anyone highly paid and happy?


Relatively highly paid and happy, but partly because I don't drink to excess (a problem mentioned in the article) and I have my sights set on FIRE.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on May 13, 2015, 04:07:57 PM
No argument from the low-paid side.  Any argument from the high-paid side?  Anyone highly paid and happy?

Me=part time and definitely happier.  Of course part time here is really just more like regular person hours.

I have fairly crazy hours but also consider myself highly happy, even in my old job when I disliked my practice group. I think going home to see family (even if I have to bill from the bleachers of sporting events) have been a crucial part of this. I am also highly compensated.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on May 13, 2015, 08:26:31 PM
So it sounds like everyone's happy, high paid or no.  Anyone miserable?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on May 13, 2015, 08:48:15 PM
Highly paid and happy :) But, I'm not at a big firm.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on May 14, 2015, 03:59:13 AM
Highly paid and happy, but I do drink too much ;-)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Trifele on May 14, 2015, 05:58:29 AM
Just thinking -- I bet that the highly paid lawyer folks on this forum are going to be happier than highly paid lawyers in general.  ("highly paid lawyer" and "happy" are definitely not concepts I usually associate with one another.)   I think the mustachian mindset contributes greatly to happiness.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on May 14, 2015, 07:27:40 AM
Highly paid and happy too.  Was pt for a lot of years though when the kids needed me at home more.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FiguringItOut on May 14, 2015, 09:06:44 AM

Hi.  I have general question for legal folks here.

I have called few family practice lawyers in my area looking for someone to review my mediation separation/divorce agreement before we go final and have it filed.  I ran into a situation where they are asking for $5K+ retainer and trying to talk me into basically doing what I’ve tried to avoid – pay high fees for unnecessary work, one even went as far as to say they fully expect that her $5,500 retainer will not cover all costs.  On the case where we agree on 99% of items.  I find this simply insane.   STBX and I have agreed on mostly everything in terms of custody and dividing our very scarce assets.  But there has been a twist in that he got layed off two months ago, so there are new questions regarding child support and the house that I’d like to run past someone. 

Am I being unreasonable expecting to speak with a lawyer for an hour or so and pay their hourly rate (not trying to get a free ride here) just to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted? How should I go about finding this if everyone I called is trying to take me to the cleaners?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 14, 2015, 11:20:02 AM

Hi.  I have general question for legal folks here.

I have called few family practice lawyers in my area looking for someone to review my mediation separation/divorce agreement before we go final and have it filed.  I ran into a situation where they are asking for $5K+ retainer and trying to talk me into basically doing what I’ve tried to avoid – pay high fees for unnecessary work, one even went as far as to say they fully expect that her $5,500 retainer will not cover all costs.  On the case where we agree on 99% of items.  I find this simply insane.   STBX and I have agreed on mostly everything in terms of custody and dividing our very scarce assets.  But there has been a twist in that he got layed off two months ago, so there are new questions regarding child support and the house that I’d like to run past someone. 

Am I being unreasonable expecting to speak with a lawyer for an hour or so and pay their hourly rate (not trying to get a free ride here) just to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted? How should I go about finding this if everyone I called is trying to take me to the cleaners?

Billing rates for smaller firms (divorce lawyers are generally at smaller firms) should be in the $200-$300 range per hour. Reviewing and revising a separation agreement shouldn't take them more than a few hours. Then, they can let you know of any issues. After that, of course, you may have to negotiate with your ex's attorney. That could be painless and easy or long and drawn out. That's where the variable is and there's no way to pin point it. However, if it's a contentious divorce, expect it to take longer. If it's an amicable divorce, it shouldn't take more than a few hours for your attorney's to have a call, negotiate the relevant issues, and make the changes.

If I were you, I'd find a friend who works for a big law firm with a good reputation and ask them to get you a few recommendations. You need to be careful dealing with small firms and general practice attorneys. While there are loads of good small firm or solo attorneys, there are many who will tell you that "they do divorce work". What they're not telling you is that, by "they do divorce work", they mean they've done it once and just want your business. It's helpful to have a good attorney help you find another attorney since (a) they won't have a stake in the game and (b) they know how to look for someone good in that specialty area.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FiguringItOut on May 14, 2015, 12:27:47 PM

Hi.  I have general question for legal folks here.

I have called few family practice lawyers in my area looking for someone to review my mediation separation/divorce agreement before we go final and have it filed.  I ran into a situation where they are asking for $5K+ retainer and trying to talk me into basically doing what I’ve tried to avoid – pay high fees for unnecessary work, one even went as far as to say they fully expect that her $5,500 retainer will not cover all costs.  On the case where we agree on 99% of items.  I find this simply insane.   STBX and I have agreed on mostly everything in terms of custody and dividing our very scarce assets.  But there has been a twist in that he got layed off two months ago, so there are new questions regarding child support and the house that I’d like to run past someone. 

Am I being unreasonable expecting to speak with a lawyer for an hour or so and pay their hourly rate (not trying to get a free ride here) just to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted? How should I go about finding this if everyone I called is trying to take me to the cleaners?

Billing rates for smaller firms (divorce lawyers are generally at smaller firms) should be in the $200-$300 range per hour. Reviewing and revising a separation agreement shouldn't take them more than a few hours. Then, they can let you know of any issues. After that, of course, you may have to negotiate with your ex's attorney. That could be painless and easy or long and drawn out. That's where the variable is and there's no way to pin point it. However, if it's a contentious divorce, expect it to take longer. If it's an amicable divorce, it shouldn't take more than a few hours for your attorney's to have a call, negotiate the relevant issues, and make the changes.

If I were you, I'd find a friend who works for a big law firm with a good reputation and ask them to get you a few recommendations. You need to be careful dealing with small firms and general practice attorneys. While there are loads of good small firm or solo attorneys, there are many who will tell you that "they do divorce work". What they're not telling you is that, by "they do divorce work", they mean they've done it once and just want your business. It's helpful to have a good attorney help you find another attorney since (a) they won't have a stake in the game and (b) they know how to look for someone good in that specialty area.

YTProphet, thank you for response.
What you said in terms of time needed to review document is what I expected.  The billing rates in my area are between $350 and $500 per hour though.  I wish I could pay $200 or $250 per hour for this, but no such luck.   Right now I do not anticipate my ex hiring his own attorney as we have been very amicable on all issues.  The reasons I want to consult an attorney is because he has no job right now, so I want to make sure I am protected as much as possible. 

Also, I don't know anybody at Big Law.  I've been calling around to various family law firms.  I have one other attorney I want to call.  I've done free consult with her about a year ago and really liked her.  She is in the 4 person practice and has 20 years of family law and divorce cases experience (or so she says lol).  If I can get her to take hourly rate and not require a retainer that would be great.  Otherwise, I'm back at zero in my search.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on May 14, 2015, 12:35:20 PM
No specific advice, but I imagine (not sure) you both should be represented by independent counsel so he can't claim he got railroaded by your fancy lawyer
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FiguringItOut on May 14, 2015, 01:08:40 PM
No specific advice, but I imagine (not sure) you both should be represented by independent counsel so he can't claim he got railroaded by your fancy lawyer

We are jointly represented by a legal mediator, which means that we are jointly advised on the legal statue and what each of us is entitled to in the eye of a legal court trial.  We are able to mutually and amicably agree to different terms as long as we were advised of the law.  In fact, the agreement explicitly states what the law is and what we agreed to if different. 

We each are able to retain individual attorney to review our mediated separation agreement if one of us or both of us chooses to do so.

I am not stopping him from getting his own lawyer, it's his choice and his decision. .  And I resent the implication here about my 'fancy lawyer'.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on May 14, 2015, 01:45:56 PM
No specific advice, but I imagine (not sure) you both should be represented by independent counsel so he can't claim he got railroaded by your fancy lawyer

We are jointly represented by a legal mediator, which means that we are jointly advised on the legal statue and what each of us is entitled to in the eye of a legal court trial.  We are able to mutually and amicably agree to different terms as long as we were advised of the law.  In fact, the agreement explicitly states what the law is and what we agreed to if different. 

We each are able to retain individual attorney to review our mediated separation agreement if one of us or both of us chooses to do so.

I am not stopping him from getting his own lawyer, it's his choice and his decision. .  And I resent the implication here about my 'fancy lawyer'.

I can guarantee that the tone you "heard" is not how the previous poster intended the comment. As attorney's we know that when one party hires a "large firm" or "heavy hitter" you have to be cognizant of the optics of such a retention. If the party without a lawyer later claims he didn't understand some specified provision, some courts may take into consideration how savvy both parties are and can construe a contract in favor of the less knowledgeable party. He or she was just trying to make you aware of this.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 14, 2015, 02:16:00 PM
No specific advice, but I imagine (not sure) you both should be represented by independent counsel so he can't claim he got railroaded by your fancy lawyer

We are jointly represented by a legal mediator, which means that we are jointly advised on the legal statue and what each of us is entitled to in the eye of a legal court trial.  We are able to mutually and amicably agree to different terms as long as we were advised of the law.  In fact, the agreement explicitly states what the law is and what we agreed to if different. 

We each are able to retain individual attorney to review our mediated separation agreement if one of us or both of us chooses to do so.

I am not stopping him from getting his own lawyer, it's his choice and his decision. .  And I resent the implication here about my 'fancy lawyer'.

I can guarantee that the tone you "heard" is not how the previous poster intended the comment. As attorney's we know that when one party hires a "large firm" or "heavy hitter" you have to be cognizant of the optics of such a retention. If the party without a lawyer later claims he didn't understand some specified provision, some courts may take into consideration how savvy both parties are and can construe a contract in favor of the less knowledgeable party. He or she was just trying to make you aware of this.

+1   "Fancy lawyer" is what your STBX might claim you had six months or a year from now when everything settles down and he emerges unhappy (for whatever reason).   That's how the comment was intended.  It wasn't a slam at you but to allow you to protect yourself from future slams by STBX.   Family law is volatile.  It's great that your divorce is amicable and hopefully it will stay that way.  But it wouldn't be the first divorce that started that way and went down a rabbit hole at some point.  If he has a lawyer review and advise him on what your lawyer produces, you're protected from such a claim.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 14, 2015, 02:23:06 PM
FiguringItOut -- You might try researching whether there is a family law bar association in your area (Google, for instance "bar association and mycity and family law".  Local bar associations are voluntary professional bodies and they usually make referrals.  Members of local bar associations are usually pretty committed to professionalism in their area of practice (enough so that they dedicate time to bar association activities). 

You might also check law schools -- if they have a family law clinic that might be a resource, either for help from the clinic or for referrals to practicing lawyers. 

Finally, if you keep calling and getting lawyers who demand retainers, then ask them for a referral to a lawyer who is unlikely to charge a retainer.  We want to refer people to our professional contacts -- even if we're in the same practice area -- and you might find someone this way.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FiguringItOut on May 14, 2015, 08:07:51 PM
OK, thank you for pointing out what "fancy lawyer" may be referred to.  I didn't think about the other side of this.  Thank you.

Also, thank you for pointing me to the bar association.  That may be a good place to try. No local law schools around here. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 15, 2015, 02:52:20 PM
Hi friends --

I didn't get the job.  I'm really grateful that it's Friday.

~ TS
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on May 15, 2015, 03:14:12 PM
Hi friends --

I didn't get the job.  I'm really grateful that it's Friday.

~ TS

Ugh. I'm sorry to hear that!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lyssa on May 16, 2015, 12:54:51 AM
Hi friends --

I didn't get the job.  I'm really grateful that it's Friday.

~ TS

Ugh. I'm sorry to hear that!

+1 I really had my fingers crossed for you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on May 16, 2015, 03:54:33 AM
Hi friends --

I didn't get the job.  I'm really grateful that it's Friday.

~ TS
I'm sorry TS!  I was really hoping you would.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on May 16, 2015, 07:50:38 AM
Hey TS - Keep your head up. I've read your writing, I think you are obviously intelligent and capable. Keep thinking of ways to get your true value. I have no doubt you will do great in the long run.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PJ on May 16, 2015, 10:02:18 AM
TS, adding my voice to the chorus of disappointment.  I randomly read this thread a couple of weeks ago, and have been checking back on it regularly only to see what happened with your job situation.  So sorry that your efforts so far haven't worked out.  But I'm confident that if you keep trying, you'll achieve your goals in no time at all!  As others have said, your value is obvious to all of us, and will surely be recognized by those around you too, eventually.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 16, 2015, 12:33:22 PM
Thanks everyone.  I'm old enough to know that sometimes NOT getting what you want turns out to be the best thing, in the long run.

The recruiter told me that it was a very hard decision and that they want to stay in touch with me for future opportunities.  So, I guess I finished 2d.  Sigh.

The silver lining is that thanks to my hard work these past 5 months, one of the partners has brought me into his book of business and begun treating me as if I'm his associate.  He introduces me to his contacts, takes me on client meetings, gives me important projects, gives me not just the billable work but also credit for the $ generated by the client (i.e. he makes me "Matter Supervising" attorney), and advocates for me within the firm.  In return, I prioritize his work (even unbillable) above all other projects, introduce him to my contacts, and make him "Matter Billing" attorney for every file that I have the authority to do that with.  We're planning to co-author some articles.  He is a really fine human being -- generous, patient, kind, and affirming.  He knew I expected an offer (even told me to take it, if it comes) and jokingly told me not to go work for Partner at Other firm because "he's about to be indicted." 

When I got the news yesterday, I told him right away.  He said he was very sorry for my disappointment but also very grateful for entirely selfish reasons.  He said he needs me and that what we've got to do now is position me within the firm so that I move to his group (out of Real Estate) as an associate.  We discussed a strategy for that.  As the conversation wrapped up and I rose to leave, he looked me in the eyes and said "You're smart, talented, and very likeable.  I believe in you."

Well, I'll be damned.  Let's just see what the next six months brings....
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on May 16, 2015, 05:45:47 PM
Thanks everyone.  I'm old enough to know that sometimes NOT getting what you want turns out to be the best thing, in the long run.

The recruiter told me that it was a very hard decision and that they want to stay in touch with me for future opportunities.  So, I guess I finished 2d.  Sigh.

The silver lining is that thanks to my hard work these past 5 months, one of the partners has brought me into his book of business and begun treating me as if I'm his associate.  He introduces me to his contacts, takes me on client meetings, gives me important projects, gives me not just for the billable work but also credit for the $ generated by the client (e.g he makes me "Matter Supervising" attorney), and advocates for me within the firm.  In return, I prioritize his work (even unbillable) above all other projects, introduce him to my contacts, and make him "Matter Billing" attorney for every file that I have the authority to do that with.  We're planning to co-author some articles.  He is a really fine human being -- generous, patient, kind, and affirming.  He knew I expected an offer (even told me to take it, if it comes) and jokingly told me not to go work for Partner at Other firm because "he's about to be indicted." 

When I got the news yesterday, I told him right away.  He said he was very sorry for my disappointment but also very grateful for entirely selfish reasons.  He said he needs me and that what we've got to do now is position me within the firm so that I move to his group (out of Real Estate) as an associate.  We discussed a strategy for that.  As the conversation wrapped up and I rose to leave, he looked me in the eyes and said "You're smart, talented, and very likeable.  I believe in you."

Well, I'll be damned.  Let's just see what the next six months brings....

Good for you TS. It sounds like things are falling into place where you are currently so hopefully you will be a full fledged associate!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Suit on May 17, 2015, 09:03:18 PM
TS-so sorry to hear that you didn't get the job. Definitely keep in touch with them though, I've had friends who get jobs that come up after the one they are turned down for because it's easier than doing a lot of re-interviewing! And best of luck switching groups!


I have a question that I wanted to put out to all you other lawyer mustachians: if you're planning on working after RE, are you panning on starting your own firm so you can set your own hours, going part time where you already work, expanding a non-law related side gig or something else?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FiguringItOut on May 19, 2015, 10:22:13 AM
Thank you all.

I found a lawyer who can review my divorce mediation agreement without demanding thousands of dollars in retainer upfront.

The attorney I found charges $400/hr.  This is average rate for my area.  Does not require a retainer.  And said she usually takes about an hour to an hour and half to review the agreement and discuss it with me. 

This is so much better than what I heard from others who claimed that it can take upwards of four hours, more if there are any unsettled points. 

I also like this attorney.  She has 17 years of family law and divorce experience, it's a two person firm, so very personable, doesn't feel corporate or as if I am just another snowflake in the middle of the snow storm.

I feel so much better now.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: MsGuided on May 19, 2015, 02:10:46 PM
Another attorney here. My work history is not nearly as impressive as many posted here, but I may elaborate at another time, for the benefit of other lurking lawyers who may have had similar experiences. 

TrulyStashin--sorry to hear about the job, but incredibly impressed by your attitude. The partner you are working with sounds great and I hope the position in his group materializes. Your determination will produce good things no matter what.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 20, 2015, 07:03:10 AM
Thank you all.

I found a lawyer who can review my divorce mediation agreement without demanding thousands of dollars in retainer upfront.

The attorney I found charges $400/hr.  This is average rate for my area.  Does not require a retainer.  And said she usually takes about an hour to an hour and half to review the agreement and discuss it with me. 

This is so much better than what I heard from others who claimed that it can take upwards of four hours, more if there are any unsettled points. 

I also like this attorney.  She has 17 years of family law and divorce experience, it's a two person firm, so very personable, doesn't feel corporate or as if I am just another snowflake in the middle of the snow storm.

I feel so much better now.

Good news!   How did you find her?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on May 20, 2015, 09:19:44 AM
Hey TrulyStashin, you said it: "it's time that I have a more equitable distribution of the profits I'm generating." This is the ONLY thing that matters. This is the way to negotiate for your fair value.

I wrote once before, but deleted it because what I wrote was unduly negative to non-entrepreneurial lawyers. So, I am going to re-submit my brief with significant revisions!

I'm a 2010 grad. Today, I'm 30 years old. I got my license in two Midwestern states in 2011. I started at firm of five attorneys. By the time I left four years later it had grown to 13 attorneys. By choice, I was always in an "eat what you kill" position. If they referred me a case it was a 50/50 split. If I generated and worked the case it was 75/25. My practice grew quickly from 50k (net) in 2011 to 300k (net) in 2014.

I left the firm and went solo in late 2014 because I had been paying an average of 11k to the firm monthly in "overhead" over the previous 24 months and 99% of the money came from clients I had generated (99% is literal). I'll say office politics in small law ain't so great either. I wish I could have stayed, but business is business.

My practice is as far from a "salary" type stability as one can get. I do criminal defense, accident and injury and immigration. The practice took off when I realized accident and injury cases can pay huge money if done right. In a few years, I will be exclusively accident and injury. Being mustachian means I can work a case for a couple of years, invest a few thousand dollars into doctors opinions, depositions or whatever and then get paid. Almost all my clients are Spanish speaking immigrants.

I know most people are not entrepreneurs but I always wonder why my friends in big law work so much for someone else and don't work for themselves. When you work for yourself, you always get the "most equitable distribution of profits" and your boss is unusually understanding when you leave early or screw something up. I'm just saying.

As for law school, I went to a big ten law school. Decent, not fancy. I got a full scholarship with an LSAT score lower than Cathy. I finished top 10% of my class. I'm pretty proud of rejecting an invitation to law review. I also left law school after the first year to bum around in Mexico and become bi-lingual.  I finished with 20k in debt for all school (wife's undergrad included) and we paid that off once the income went up.
First, sorry TS. Still hoping things work out for you.

Second, I read the above-quoted post and couldn't help but think of my firm. I'm on pace to bill about 1600 hours this year. My billing rate is $200, so assuming 50% receivables (a lot of contingency work, clients not paying, etc.), I'm generating about $160,000 in revenue this year.

Problem is that I'm making only $47,500 this year. I'm hoping for a bonus but I'm not expecting one, mostly because I've been hearing rumblings that the firm isn't doing well. My firm (previously a 16 attorney firm) merged with a smaller firm (6 attorney firm) about 1.5 years ago. From what I hear, costs and overhead are through the roof and things have not been going well in terms of profits.

I actually know of one partner who is retiring at the end of the year. He probably only bills about 50-75 hours per month and he told me at a wedding that, by the end of March, he's only been paid about $1800 total through the year.

I know there's a lot of unknowns here, but that scared the shit out of me. I'm now starting to worry about my job security and wondering if there's room for me to grow here.

Anybody have similar experiences from the beginning of their careers? I'm guessing I should just keep my head down and just bill more and make myself invaluable, but I can't help but think that the grass might just be greener elsewhere (eventually). And just the thought of having that feeling less than a year into my career is bothering me.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: sweetkerryline on May 20, 2015, 10:08:06 AM
Hey TrulyStashin, you said it: "it's time that I have a more equitable distribution of the profits I'm generating." This is the ONLY thing that matters. This is the way to negotiate for your fair value.

I wrote once before, but deleted it because what I wrote was unduly negative to non-entrepreneurial lawyers. So, I am going to re-submit my brief with significant revisions!

I'm a 2010 grad. Today, I'm 30 years old. I got my license in two Midwestern states in 2011. I started at firm of five attorneys. By the time I left four years later it had grown to 13 attorneys. By choice, I was always in an "eat what you kill" position. If they referred me a case it was a 50/50 split. If I generated and worked the case it was 75/25. My practice grew quickly from 50k (net) in 2011 to 300k (net) in 2014.

I left the firm and went solo in late 2014 because I had been paying an average of 11k to the firm monthly in "overhead" over the previous 24 months and 99% of the money came from clients I had generated (99% is literal). I'll say office politics in small law ain't so great either. I wish I could have stayed, but business is business.

My practice is as far from a "salary" type stability as one can get. I do criminal defense, accident and injury and immigration. The practice took off when I realized accident and injury cases can pay huge money if done right. In a few years, I will be exclusively accident and injury. Being mustachian means I can work a case for a couple of years, invest a few thousand dollars into doctors opinions, depositions or whatever and then get paid. Almost all my clients are Spanish speaking immigrants.

I know most people are not entrepreneurs but I always wonder why my friends in big law work so much for someone else and don't work for themselves. When you work for yourself, you always get the "most equitable distribution of profits" and your boss is unusually understanding when you leave early or screw something up. I'm just saying.

As for law school, I went to a big ten law school. Decent, not fancy. I got a full scholarship with an LSAT score lower than Cathy. I finished top 10% of my class. I'm pretty proud of rejecting an invitation to law review. I also left law school after the first year to bum around in Mexico and become bi-lingual.  I finished with 20k in debt for all school (wife's undergrad included) and we paid that off once the income went up.
First, sorry TS. Still hoping things work out for you.

Second, I read the above-quoted post and couldn't help but think of my firm. I'm on pace to bill about 1600 hours this year. My billing rate is $200, so assuming 50% receivables (a lot of contingency work, clients not paying, etc.), I'm generating about $160,000 in revenue this year.

Problem is that I'm making only $47,500 this year. I'm hoping for a bonus but I'm not expecting one, mostly because I've been hearing rumblings that the firm isn't doing well. My firm (previously a 16 attorney firm) merged with a smaller firm (6 attorney firm) about 1.5 years ago. From what I hear, costs and overhead are through the roof and things have not been going well in terms of profits.

I actually know of one partner who is retiring at the end of the year. He probably only bills about 50-75 hours per month and he told me at a wedding that, by the end of March, he's only been paid about $1800 total through the year.

I know there's a lot of unknowns here, but that scared the shit out of me. I'm now starting to worry about my job security and wondering if there's room for me to grow here.

Anybody have similar experiences from the beginning of their careers? I'm guessing I should just keep my head down and just bill more and make myself invaluable, but I can't help but think that the grass might just be greener elsewhere (eventually). And just the thought of having that feeling less than a year into my career is bothering me.

I couldn't disagree more with your conclusion; don't keep your head down and 'keep billing' for a firm if they are going to let you go sometime down the line. If the writing is on the wall (and it appears that it is) that the firm is not doing well and/or is non sustainable, then you should be proactively looking elsewhere. I would reach out to some recruiters, find out what is available and be ready to make a quick move.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 20, 2015, 10:23:12 AM
Hey TrulyStashin, you said it: "it's time that I have a more equitable distribution of the profits I'm generating." This is the ONLY thing that matters. This is the way to negotiate for your fair value.

I wrote once before, but deleted it because what I wrote was unduly negative to non-entrepreneurial lawyers. So, I am going to re-submit my brief with significant revisions!

I'm a 2010 grad. Today, I'm 30 years old. I got my license in two Midwestern states in 2011. I started at firm of five attorneys. By the time I left four years later it had grown to 13 attorneys. By choice, I was always in an "eat what you kill" position. If they referred me a case it was a 50/50 split. If I generated and worked the case it was 75/25. My practice grew quickly from 50k (net) in 2011 to 300k (net) in 2014.

I left the firm and went solo in late 2014 because I had been paying an average of 11k to the firm monthly in "overhead" over the previous 24 months and 99% of the money came from clients I had generated (99% is literal). I'll say office politics in small law ain't so great either. I wish I could have stayed, but business is business.

My practice is as far from a "salary" type stability as one can get. I do criminal defense, accident and injury and immigration. The practice took off when I realized accident and injury cases can pay huge money if done right. In a few years, I will be exclusively accident and injury. Being mustachian means I can work a case for a couple of years, invest a few thousand dollars into doctors opinions, depositions or whatever and then get paid. Almost all my clients are Spanish speaking immigrants.

I know most people are not entrepreneurs but I always wonder why my friends in big law work so much for someone else and don't work for themselves. When you work for yourself, you always get the "most equitable distribution of profits" and your boss is unusually understanding when you leave early or screw something up. I'm just saying.

As for law school, I went to a big ten law school. Decent, not fancy. I got a full scholarship with an LSAT score lower than Cathy. I finished top 10% of my class. I'm pretty proud of rejecting an invitation to law review. I also left law school after the first year to bum around in Mexico and become bi-lingual.  I finished with 20k in debt for all school (wife's undergrad included) and we paid that off once the income went up.
First, sorry TS. Still hoping things work out for you.

Second, I read the above-quoted post and couldn't help but think of my firm. I'm on pace to bill about 1600 hours this year. My billing rate is $200, so assuming 50% receivables (a lot of contingency work, clients not paying, etc.), I'm generating about $160,000 in revenue this year.

Problem is that I'm making only $47,500 this year. I'm hoping for a bonus but I'm not expecting one, mostly because I've been hearing rumblings that the firm isn't doing well. My firm (previously a 16 attorney firm) merged with a smaller firm (6 attorney firm) about 1.5 years ago. From what I hear, costs and overhead are through the roof and things have not been going well in terms of profits.

I actually know of one partner who is retiring at the end of the year. He probably only bills about 50-75 hours per month and he told me at a wedding that, by the end of March, he's only been paid about $1800 total through the year.

I know there's a lot of unknowns here, but that scared the shit out of me. I'm now starting to worry about my job security and wondering if there's room for me to grow here.

Anybody have similar experiences from the beginning of their careers? I'm guessing I should just keep my head down and just bill more and make myself invaluable, but I can't help but think that the grass might just be greener elsewhere (eventually). And just the thought of having that feeling less than a year into my career is bothering me.

I would leave ASAP. For one, they're paying you a pittance. You should be making double your current salary. Two, with that salary, you'd better have rock solid job security (which you clearly don't).

You don't owe them anything and they don't owe you anything. Cut bait and get into a big firm where you'll make more. It'll be a sacrifice for a few years, since you'll have to bill closer to 1900 hours, but it'll be worth it in the long run.  Having a big firm on your resume opens many, many more doors and sets you up well for the rest of your career. Short term "sacrifice" (even though you'll be getting paid wayyy more) for long term gain.

I worked more hours than I would've liked at a bigger firm for 2 years, then left, and now I work 9-5 making around $130,000/year. It's awesome.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on May 20, 2015, 10:38:39 AM
I couldn't disagree more with your conclusion; don't keep your head down and 'keep billing' for a firm if they are going to let you go sometime down the line. If the writing is on the wall (and it appears that it is) that the firm is not doing well and/or is non sustainable, then you should be proactively looking elsewhere. I would reach out to some recruiters, find out what is available and be ready to make a quick move.

I would leave ASAP. For one, they're paying you a pittance. You should be making double your current salary. Two, with that salary, you'd better have rock solid job security (which you clearly don't).

You don't owe them anything and they don't owe you anything. Cut bait and get into a big firm where you'll make more. It'll be a sacrifice for a few years, since you'll have to bill closer to 1900 hours, but it'll be worth it in the long run.  Having a big firm on your resume opens many, many more doors and sets you up well for the rest of your career. Short term "sacrifice" (even though you'll be getting paid wayyy more) for long term gain.

I worked more hours than I would've liked at a bigger firm for 2 years, then left, and now I work 9-5 making around $130,000/year. It's awesome.

I understand your points, but again, I just graduated last May. I don't think I've quite built up enough experience to have leverage to lateral somewhere.

Also, the two most experienced labor and employment guys are retiring in three years. I was brought on to basically learn from them and inherit their books (eventually), and the prospect of that has always been very promising to me.

Furthermore, I'm in Youngstown (close to me and my GF's family). Extremely low COL so my salary allows me to live comfortably.

Last point I'll make: my firm has been around since 1872. It's the biggest law firm in Youngstown and represents all the "institutions" in town. I can't imagine that it will fold entirely, but I guess I can foresee the two recently merged firms splitting.

I guess I just don't know. Should I be making a push for Cleveland or Pittsburgh sooner or later? If so, when?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on May 20, 2015, 10:44:59 AM
Well, if you're specializing in L&E from the corporate side, you may not need to go to a big firm. L&E is one of the best areas to be in for a jump to an in-house counsel role.  Do any of the clients have in-house attorneys?

Also, as to inheriting a book, I would be extremely skeptical of that happening. You may end up servicing that book, but you're a bit delusional if you think that the existing partners are just going to let you take the equity that comes along with those clients when the two old guys retire. They may tell you that you'll inherit it, but from experience I can tell you that's highly unlikely. What they mean is that you'll handle all the work associated with it, not necessarily reap the benefits in the fullest financial sense.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Check2400 on May 20, 2015, 03:03:09 PM
ReadySetMillionaire-
If you're one year out of Law School (and only being licensed since Oct/Nov) then my humble opinion is this. 

You're in an established law firm, with many senior partners, and many mentorship opportunities.   As you may have found out upon actually practicing law,  your knowledge base from law school was likely nil (it was for me!).  While I am burdened by the same debt many other lawyers come out of school with, I have always known, or hoped at least, that the true earning potential comes 5+ years into your practice, not 5+ months.  That earning potential comes only with experience. 

More importantly, if you are living where you want to live, then make sure that you aren't looking elsewhere chasing an uncertain earlier return on the almighty dollar.  That may not assuage your concerns about viability and employment, so I'll throw an additional two cents in.  Get involved in and go to every young lawyer and Bar event in your area.  Sure, it cuts into work time, is filled with glad handing and small talk, and unfortunately is usually populated with lawyers, but it will make you known.  Not only does this expand your referral network to make your own book of business instead of inheriting it (how mustachian!) but it also creates familiarity for when you want a new job or another lawyer unexpectedly wants to hire you for one. 

Much like saving and investing, your career is a snowball, and you are in the slow buildup and return on it.  Invest in yourself and your network, and you'll be much better off for it.

-Check2400
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on May 21, 2015, 08:08:09 AM
ReadySetMillionaire-
If you're one year out of Law School (and only being licensed since Oct/Nov) then my humble opinion is this. 

You're in an established law firm, with many senior partners, and many mentorship opportunities.   As you may have found out upon actually practicing law,  your knowledge base from law school was likely nil (it was for me!).  While I am burdened by the same debt many other lawyers come out of school with, I have always known, or hoped at least, that the true earning potential comes 5+ years into your practice, not 5+ months.  That earning potential comes only with experience. 

More importantly, if you are living where you want to live, then make sure that you aren't looking elsewhere chasing an uncertain earlier return on the almighty dollar.  That may not assuage your concerns about viability and employment, so I'll throw an additional two cents in.  Get involved in and go to every young lawyer and Bar event in your area.  Sure, it cuts into work time, is filled with glad handing and small talk, and unfortunately is usually populated with lawyers, but it will make you known.  Not only does this expand your referral network to make your own book of business instead of inheriting it (how mustachian!) but it also creates familiarity for when you want a new job or another lawyer unexpectedly wants to hire you for one. 

Much like saving and investing, your career is a snowball, and you are in the slow buildup and return on it.  Invest in yourself and your network, and you'll be much better off for it.

-Check2400
Thanks for this.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on May 21, 2015, 01:13:13 PM
ReadySetMillionaire-
If you're one year out of Law School (and only being licensed since Oct/Nov) then my humble opinion is this. 

You're in an established law firm, with many senior partners, and many mentorship opportunities.   As you may have found out upon actually practicing law,  your knowledge base from law school was likely nil (it was for me!).  While I am burdened by the same debt many other lawyers come out of school with, I have always known, or hoped at least, that the true earning potential comes 5+ years into your practice, not 5+ months.  That earning potential comes only with experience. 

More importantly, if you are living where you want to live, then make sure that you aren't looking elsewhere chasing an uncertain earlier return on the almighty dollar.  That may not assuage your concerns about viability and employment, so I'll throw an additional two cents in.  Get involved in and go to every young lawyer and Bar event in your area.  Sure, it cuts into work time, is filled with glad handing and small talk, and unfortunately is usually populated with lawyers, but it will make you known.  Not only does this expand your referral network to make your own book of business instead of inheriting it (how mustachian!) but it also creates familiarity for when you want a new job or another lawyer unexpectedly wants to hire you for one. 

Much like saving and investing, your career is a snowball, and you are in the slow buildup and return on it.  Invest in yourself and your network, and you'll be much better off for it.

-Check2400

Seconding that.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on May 21, 2015, 04:05:19 PM
Job security comes with creating your own client relationships. If you own the relationships, you have the ultimate job security. In any firm (or your own firm) you can negotiate for a  higher percentage of your receipts from a position of strength.

Just as said above, you make those relationships at Bar events, Chambers of Commerce, Board of Directors for non-profits or whatever. Don't try and impress people. Just make relationships with people you like and who you can benefit and truly add value. In the long run, that's how you get stability.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on May 22, 2015, 09:46:41 AM
ReadySetMillionaire-
If you're one year out of Law School (and only being licensed since Oct/Nov) then my humble opinion is this. 

You're in an established law firm, with many senior partners, and many mentorship opportunities.   As you may have found out upon actually practicing law,  your knowledge base from law school was likely nil (it was for me!).  While I am burdened by the same debt many other lawyers come out of school with, I have always known, or hoped at least, that the true earning potential comes 5+ years into your practice, not 5+ months.  That earning potential comes only with experience. 

More importantly, if you are living where you want to live, then make sure that you aren't looking elsewhere chasing an uncertain earlier return on the almighty dollar.  That may not assuage your concerns about viability and employment, so I'll throw an additional two cents in.  Get involved in and go to every young lawyer and Bar event in your area.  Sure, it cuts into work time, is filled with glad handing and small talk, and unfortunately is usually populated with lawyers, but it will make you known.  Not only does this expand your referral network to make your own book of business instead of inheriting it (how mustachian!) but it also creates familiarity for when you want a new job or another lawyer unexpectedly wants to hire you for one. 

Much like saving and investing, your career is a snowball, and you are in the slow buildup and return on it.  Invest in yourself and your network, and you'll be much better off for it.

-Check2400

I read this again after responding to a PM and just want to add that I'm not sure if I'm happy in Youngstown. The economy is still really, really bad here (think Flint, MI; Gary, IN; etc.) and every lawyer I talk to (at my firm or otherwise) has unequivocally told me that business has been decreasing steadily for almost 35 years. For example, my firm has tried to reposition itself from representing national steel mills and insurance companies to doing local-type of work (probate, PI, etc.), but there just aren't enough people in town to support the legal market here. I also was told that I'd be doing a lot of labor and employment work here, and that honestly isn't even 5% of my workload. Today I'm researching a medical malpractice issue, drafting a land installment contract, and attaching exhibits to a motion for summary judgment for a property dispute. And that's a typical day.

I also should add that I'm extremely fond of both Cleveland and Pittsburgh. My GF went to undergrad and grad school in Pittsburgh and would absolutely love to move there, whereas I'm a Cleveland guy through and through. I would love to raise a family in the beautiful east Cleveland suburbs (several of which were recently ranked as 100 best places to live) and work downtown. That would honestly be a dream.

Lastly, I spoke to my career services officer from law school and she was adamant that my most marketable time would be 2-4 years outside of practice. She also advised that even if I didn't eventually lateral, I still should start getting things in order in case the opportunity to lateral presents itself.

So yes, my post sounded a lot like it was all about lateraling to improve my income and job stability (because that was most pertintently on my mind at the time). I can assure all you guys that it's more than that. I want more employment-focused work in a more urban market and have already mentally decided that I'm going to reach for achieving that path. Increased income is just a side benefit, although a very good one.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 03, 2015, 07:48:25 AM
Hi there, lawyer friends.

I'd like your advice on my situation.  I just talked to my department chair.  It's clear that I will not be moved even from part-time SA to full-time SA any time soon.  He said I do great work and everyone who works with me says wonderful things about me.  He's impressed with my business development (lots of speaking and writing coming up).  "When we have people that are worthy of moving from SA to associate, then we're open to that, but I can't give you a time frame."

One factor that I'm wrestling with is that when my work ramped up, my ability to be frugal fell off and my spending is higher now than last year.

Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?


What would you do?

 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on June 03, 2015, 08:22:54 AM
Hi there, lawyer friends.

I'd like your advice on my situation.  I just talked to my department chair.  It's clear that I will not be moved even from part-time SA to full-time SA any time soon.  He said I do great work and everyone who works with me says wonderful things about me.  He's impressed with my business development (lots of speaking and writing coming up).  "When we have people that are worthy of moving from SA to associate, then we're open to that, but I can't give you a time frame."

One factor that I'm wrestling with is that when my work ramped up, my ability to be frugal fell off and my spending is higher now than last year.

Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?


What would you do?

 


Look for a different job.  This place is taking advantage of you and they will continue to do so.  Drop back to part time and spend any extra time and energy you have applying for any possible jobs you can find.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lyssa on June 03, 2015, 10:24:39 AM
Hi there, lawyer friends.

I'd like your advice on my situation.  I just talked to my department chair.  It's clear that I will not be moved even from part-time SA to full-time SA any time soon.  He said I do great work and everyone who works with me says wonderful things about me.  He's impressed with my business development (lots of speaking and writing coming up).  "When we have people that are worthy of moving from SA to associate, then we're open to that, but I can't give you a time frame."

One factor that I'm wrestling with is that when my work ramped up, my ability to be frugal fell off and my spending is higher now than last year.

Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?


What would you do?

 


Look for a different job.  This place is taking advantage of you and they will continue to do so.  Drop back to part time and spend any extra time and energy you have applying for any possible jobs you can find.

+1

I've seen this up close not in the practise of law but when a friend of mine was asked to do a mid level managers job for an assistants salary along with a comparably unspecified perspective the company figured 'why promote him when he gets shit done for half the salary as welll?'. It was very frustrating and he lost a lot of time overperforming on the job that would have better been invested aquiring new qualifications and looking for new opportunities.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Axecleaver on June 03, 2015, 10:41:42 AM
Quote
Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?
Quote
Look for a different job.  This place is taking advantage of you and they will continue to do so.  Drop back to part time and spend any extra time and energy you have applying for any possible jobs you can find.

I suggest you consider a third path - Do both! Continue to put 110% effort into your role and do a great job. At the same time, look for something else. This puts you in a position of strength when you do get a better offer.

You should always be looking for a better job.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 03, 2015, 12:39:09 PM
Just to clarify, I am still job hunting and networking toward new opportunities.  I could likely land an associate position if I were willing to leave my city.  But I have a really good life here with a deep bench of true friends, a wonderful man, my kids, and my parents.  It's not worth leaving.  So, that limits my prospects -- especially for jobs that pay what I make now (low 6-figures), even as PT/ SA.

Until something new arises, do I downshift or overperform?

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on June 03, 2015, 02:08:28 PM
Just to clarify, I am still job hunting and networking toward new opportunities.  I could likely land an associate position if I were willing to leave my city.  But I have a really good life here with a deep bench of true friends, a wonderful man, my kids, and my parents.  It's not worth leaving.  So, that limits my prospects -- especially for jobs that pay what I make now (low 6-figures), even as PT/ SA.

Until something new arises, do I downshift or overperform?

I would probably downshift.  No reason to be putting in crazy hours if you are getting paid a part time salary unless you have a realistic expectation of being made an associate.  I think the firm made it very clear to you that they have no intention of promoting you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on June 03, 2015, 10:32:11 PM
Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?


What would you do?

Look for a different job.  This place is taking advantage of you and they will continue to do so.  Drop back to part time and spend any extra time and energy you have applying for any possible jobs you can find.

+1

+2  Always dangling the carrot a little out of reach, while getting the milk for "free."  They are taking advantage of you.  You need to move on.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Suit on June 04, 2015, 06:33:19 AM
Do I keep doing an associate's job for PT/ SA pay so I can make the case for a promotion next year?

Or

Do I drop back to part time, knowing that I will then not be able to argue that I've done an associate's work and should therefore be an associate?


What would you do?

Look for a different job.  This place is taking advantage of you and they will continue to do so.  Drop back to part time and spend any extra time and energy you have applying for any possible jobs you can find.

+1

+2  Always dangling the carrot a little out of reach, while getting the milk for "free."  They are taking advantage of you.  You need to move on.

Can you scale back to part time and start your own firm and take your clients with you?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on June 04, 2015, 06:58:03 AM
Build client relationships and your own book of business. With the clients you serve now, identify who would potentially work with  you if you left, the amount of hours you billed them, and the hourly rate. Get a decent idea of how much of a practice you actually have and what your economic output is (Btw, if the answer is $0 then you have just identified why your partners don't take you seriously). Start spending all your time on the clients who might leave with you. Make yourself indispensable TO THE CLIENT. Also, start building new relationships with clients that might hire you independent of the firm. Those new relationships should be solid for you no matter where you work.

If you can understand the economic value and create new relationships you can move to a different firm. Maybe it isn't "biglaw." You could enter a smaller firm as a partner (because you are bringing your own business). You could sell it as a "boutique" firm with lower hourly rates and more personal service. Certain clients appreciate this angle -for example, shrewd, wealthy small/medium size business owners who know biglaw is a racket. If you enter a firm with family, criminal law and personal injury (or whatever) they will love having a "business attorney." You will get all of their referrals for business issues. Sometimes, those aren't that small. I once referred a "business case" that ended up paying over $150,000 in attorney fees to another attorney in my firm because he is the only "business" attorney in the firm. It's not every day, but stuff like that does happen.

The key is to think about what you make now (low six figures) and what percentage of your business you would need to create/retain to earn that same amount. The good news is that your current firm is probably paying a small percentage of the money you earn for the firm (20%??). If you take less business but keep a higher percentage (I keep 75%+) then you work less and earn the same or more.

I know my advice is different and a little outside the box. I'm not offended if you ignore it :) Just keep the seed in the back of your mind. This is the business of law. Your partners know this and that is why they are happy to have you keep working for peanuts. The less they pay you, the more they make. The more "low-level" you are perceived by clients, the less of a threat you are to take their clients.

More traditional advice: Your firm is taking advantage of you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 04, 2015, 07:27:33 AM
I love this advice  ^^^^, thank you.

I'm going to downshift and put my energies elsewhere -- rebuilding my frugality muscle, writing some fiction, and building business relationships across my city.  Last night, I crunched some numbers and realized that if I can take a 2-week vacation and bill 25 hours a week and still hit the performance standard for a PT/ SA.  Any business development I do will be optional and will either build my book of business or will support the one partner here who has supported me.  If I hit my billable target by Wednesday, COB, I will not be in the office on Thursday or Friday.   And, one of my ongoing projects is a steady flow of easy work -- bread and butter type work  that I can dial up or down as needed to crank out hours.

It's possible that PT/ SA might be a pretty sweet gig.  In 2016, I'll make around $112k billing 30 hours a week.  That's pretty damn good.  By 2017, who knows where I'll be.....
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rpesek6904 on June 05, 2015, 06:58:54 AM
Great! I think downshifting is a good plan. Also, flexing the frugality muscles and building your stash is the way to position yourself to make a bold move if leaving/taking your clients somewhere else becomes necessary. As JLCollins says, you have "FU" money. The partners will eventually come and say, "You know, you really have fallen of the cliff TS, whats going on?" Inside you know, "I got wise to your BS, I have FU money and I've solidified my relationships -bring it." So, put all that in action and your partners have no leverage. Good luck.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 05, 2015, 07:10:31 AM
Great! I think downshifting is a good plan. Also, flexing the frugality muscles and building your stash is the way to position yourself to make a bold move if leaving/taking your clients somewhere else becomes necessary. As JLCollins says, you have "FU" money. The partners will eventually come and say, "You know, you really have fallen of the cliff TS, whats going on?" Inside you know, "I got wise to your BS, I have FU money and I've solidified my relationships -bring it." So, put all that in action and your partners have no leverage. Good luck.

Exactly!  Meanwhile, here are two other meaningful numbers:

PT/ SA pay per billable hour:  $72.68  with none of the obligations/ pressure to write/ speak/ build business; 30 - 40 hour work week
3rd year assoc pay per billable hour:  $79.39 with all of the pressure to meet goals for writing/ speaking/ business dev; 70 - 80 hour work week or more

This might be a classic case of "be careful what you wish for."
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on June 10, 2015, 05:04:40 PM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on June 11, 2015, 06:35:13 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I would try a mid-level law firm that represents a lot of banks in the area. They'd obviously have a very strong banking group as well as debtor-creditor/workout group. Your experience would definitely be helpful and I would really play up all the experience you have working on corporate bankruptcy/workouts.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 11, 2015, 06:47:02 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I would try a mid-level law firm that represents a lot of banks in the area. They'd obviously have a very strong banking group as well as debtor-creditor/workout group. Your experience would definitely be helpful and I would really play up all the experience you have working on corporate bankruptcy/workouts.

+1   Also, create a robust LinkedIn profile.  Find professional groups on LinkedIn in areas that interest you.  Read the "conversations" and post relevant comments. 

Do lots of in-person networking too.  If you're not a member of your local bar association and/ or chamber of commerce, then join them.  Go to every relevant event.  When you meet people with whom you want to build a relationship, follow up by phone or email and ask to meet for coffee or lunch.   Read the book, "The Like Switch" for great, practical ideas on how to build relationships. Your relationships will lead to your next job, almost guaranteed.

RE:  foreclosure/ bankruptcy... can you translate your experience with this into a similar but different area?  Maybe banking regulation compliance?  That's a very hot area right now with high demand and low supply of qualified people.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on June 11, 2015, 06:57:01 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I would try a mid-level law firm that represents a lot of banks in the area. They'd obviously have a very strong banking group as well as debtor-creditor/workout group. Your experience would definitely be helpful and I would really play up all the experience you have working on corporate bankruptcy/workouts.

Also, and I don't mean to be a debbie downer here, keep in mind that you have a limited window of time to make the move to a larger firm. Once you get past 3-4 years out, most associates at mid-level or BigLaw firms are doing higher level work and have progressed significantly from a knowledge/skill perspective. Also, hiring by those firms tends to decrease severely after the 5th or 6th year mark. So, you need to make switching jobs a priority asap. Apply for every semi-relevant job with a good firm and be aggressive about it. Each passing year will make it more difficult to make the transition.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on June 11, 2015, 06:32:40 PM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I would try a mid-level law firm that represents a lot of banks in the area. They'd obviously have a very strong banking group as well as debtor-creditor/workout group. Your experience would definitely be helpful and I would really play up all the experience you have working on corporate bankruptcy/workouts.

Also, and I don't mean to be a debbie downer here, keep in mind that you have a limited window of time to make the move to a larger firm. Once you get past 3-4 years out, most associates at mid-level or BigLaw firms are doing higher level work and have progressed significantly from a knowledge/skill perspective. Also, hiring by those firms tends to decrease severely after the 5th or 6th year mark. So, you need to make switching jobs a priority asap. Apply for every semi-relevant job with a good firm and be aggressive about it. Each passing year will make it more difficult to make the transition.

Thanks YT and TS, some good advice.  I should definitely get out to more bar events, that's something I've never been very proactive about.  I do want to make the move to a larger firm, I'll keep looking.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on June 12, 2015, 10:38:07 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on June 12, 2015, 10:40:59 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.

Great to hear, RSM. I think that's a wise move for your future on multiple fronts. I'm excited to hear how things go. And it's always much easier applying to jobs from a position of strength (already having a job) than from a position of weakness (having no job).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: gReed Smith on June 12, 2015, 03:29:51 PM
Just joined - Midlaw firm in a mid-sized city.  Corporate/transactional work, largely real estate.  Salary is $120k, but get bonuses up to $30k depending on the year.  I like the work, but not necessarily the people I work with.  However, I'm finding it hard to find a firm that can integrate my practice so that I can transport my clients.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on June 12, 2015, 05:25:43 PM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.

Nice, hopefully we both get into bigger firms!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LouLou on June 13, 2015, 10:26:18 PM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.

Nice, hopefully we both get into bigger firms!

Good luck to both of you! I lateraled after one year to a bigger firm and I'm much happier.  Meanwhile, the rumors out of my old firm are not good. I left at the right time.

For OneCoolCat:

Personally, I've never even thought about Careerbuilder for legal work.  I don't think larger law firms post their lawyer positions at websites like that.  My recommendations:
1. Knowing people (i.e. get involved in your legal community and build relationships with people you like, as discussed above).
2.  Bar association websites (state, city, practice areas, diversity/affinity, etc) have the best job listings
3. Law firm websites

These often work together.  I met someone at an event who worked at a firm I was interested in.  When the firm had a job posting on the state bar website, I contacted that person to ask questions before applying.  That person then sent my resume onto the recruiting committee.  Then I got the interview and took it from there.

Also, I don't think lateraling after one year is as hard as it used to be.  Law firms lowered their hiring post-recession.  Now that work is picking back up, they have gaps to fill.  My new firm, for example, has been on an associate hiring binge.

Finally, I think you should apply for litigation associate positions at bigger firms.  You've probably drafted court documents and/or gone to court, right? That is really all that matters when you're applying for junior associate jobs.

For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on June 14, 2015, 10:51:33 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.

Nice, hopefully we both get into bigger firms!

Good luck to both of you! I lateraled after one year to a bigger firm and I'm much happier.  Meanwhile, the rumors out of my old firm are not good. I left at the right time.

For OneCoolCat:

Personally, I've never even thought about Careerbuilder for legal work.  I don't think larger law firms post their lawyer positions at websites like that.  My recommendations:
1. Knowing people (i.e. get involved in your legal community and build relationships with people you like, as discussed above).
2.  Bar association websites (state, city, practice areas, diversity/affinity, etc) have the best job listings
3. Law firm websites

These often work together.  I met someone at an event who worked at a firm I was interested in.  When the firm had a job posting on the state bar website, I contacted that person to ask questions before applying.  That person then sent my resume onto the recruiting committee.  Then I got the interview and took it from there.

Also, I don't think lateraling after one year is as hard as it used to be.  Law firms lowered their hiring post-recession.  Now that work is picking back up, they have gaps to fill.  My new firm, for example, has been on an associate hiring binge.

Finally, I think you should apply for litigation associate positions at bigger firms.  You've probably drafted court documents and/or gone to court, right? That is really all that matters when you're applying for junior associate jobs.

For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.

Great advice here, thanks!  I have been going to the websites of the bigger firms and have seen they have quite a few openings listed and I have been applying to many.

I definitely need to attend some bar association events, its just a struggle to get me to get out there and do it.  I'm going to try it out soon and hopefully meet some people.

I get a lot of courtroom experience, I'm in bankruptcy or state circuit court everyday.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Cycling Stache on June 14, 2015, 12:42:19 PM
This is one I can answer and, since it actually reflects my Mustachian story, my first post.

Harvard grad, big firm for a number of years, and now government for about 7 years.  I am a happy Mustachios lawyer, mainly because I stopped living like a lawyer, and know that as a result, I only have a few more years to work.

The back story.  At the firm, I was unhappy most of the time working long hours (and, really, unhappy working much at all).  The pay was great, but what I saw was that most people were miserable, and I often found myself spending money as a reward for suffering through the day.  In a sense, it felt like all I had to show for a crappy 12-14 hours was money, so I might as well spend it. 

Then I went to the government and took a 2/3 pay cut.  But the hours were much better, and despite still never really being a worker bee, I mostly enjoyed the job and found myself working a regular schedule and getting to spend a lot of time with my family and working out.  We cut way back on our expenses, but didn't pay too much attention to finances because we made more than we spent and didn't have much debt, so I felt like a financial success.

About a year ago, MMM turned my world upside down, and completely for the better!  First, I realized that it was okay not to work all my life.  It sounds weird that that should be surprising, but law feels very much like a career profession.  Of course, I spoke to lawyers who fantasized about walking away from it all as a break from the stress and hours, but not as an actual plan.  After reading MMM, I could finally admit that although I have a very good law job, I don't really enjoy working to work.  The idea of building a resume, making sure there were no gaps, etc., was someone else's ideal.  I need enough money to be financially independent, and that's it.

Second, MMM forced me to focus on my finances.  I did my first budget and was proud that I expected to be net positive $798 for the year!  I laugh now because after a little less than a year of cuts, my net-positive number is over $100,000.  The secret?  I realized that I bought a lot of things because I could, and really, to reward myself for getting through work.  Once I realized that I didn't have to work forever, each dollar I saved got me closer to freedom.  And what was interesting was that once the stress of having to work all my life went away, I started enjoying work more and enjoying the things I already had.  I don't need to regularly eat out for lunch or dinner, I don't need fancy clothes, I don't need a fancy car, and I don't need to have cool electronics and other stuff.  I spend my time riding my bike or running, ride to work most days with my wife and kids, and generally work regular hours unless I'm in trial.  People joke that I no longer look or act like a lawyer, and that is totally okay for me.     

Third, I realized that my happiness is up to me.  Most lawyers I've met are stressed on a fairly regular basis.  The hours and workload are often intense, but there's a sense that it's not something that can ever be given up.  For me, I've decided that yes it can.  Nobody will care whether I was a lawyer for 20 years (my current retirement goal) or 40 years, and I'd much rather be the 20-year lawyer.

So I'm thankful for MMM and the Mustachian ideals.  Lawyers get paid more than most for the skill and often stress our jobs require.  Taking advantage of that pay to get to FI more quickly is one of the great possible benefits.  So yes, I'm a Mustachian lawyer for now, and happily so.  But that's because I'm only going to do it as long as I have to, then off to Jimmy Johns to get paid to ride my bike!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PtboEliz on June 14, 2015, 02:15:33 PM
^^Loved reading your story Cycling Stache!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on June 15, 2015, 02:50:02 PM
For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.
Thanks for the advice. I just went on Martindale today and jotted down all the firms with 50+ lawyers in Cleveland. I'm going to begin checking job postings weekly and making sure I send in strong and targeted applications rather than mass-mailing to every firm and hoping to land somewhere.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 15, 2015, 03:36:37 PM
For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.
Thanks for the advice. I just went on Martindale today and jotted down all the firms with 50+ lawyers in Cleveland. I'm going to begin checking job postings weekly and making sure I send in strong and targeted applications rather than mass-mailing to every firm and hoping to land somewhere.

Suggestion.... identify specific lawyers at those firms whose practice is similar to yours.  Create a "hit list" of people you want to meet and target your networking toward them.   If you meet one person on your list, in the course of conversation you can say "Do you know so-and-so (also on the list) at Such-and-such firm?"   Depending on how the conversation goes, you can let them know you're looking for opportunities. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on June 15, 2015, 03:41:24 PM
For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.
Thanks for the advice. I just went on Martindale today and jotted down all the firms with 50+ lawyers in Cleveland. I'm going to begin checking job postings weekly and making sure I send in strong and targeted applications rather than mass-mailing to every firm and hoping to land somewhere.

Suggestion.... identify specific lawyers at those firms whose practice is similar to yours.  Create a "hit list" of people you want to meet and target your networking toward them.   If you meet one person on your list, in the course of conversation you can say "Do you know so-and-so (also on the list) at Such-and-such firm?"   Depending on how the conversation goes, you can let them know you're looking for opportunities.

I kind of did this today when I started looking at Ohio State alums (I went to undergrad and law school there). My plan was to:

(A) Research attorneys speaking at Cleveland CLE's and hope to meet up with them at said events;
(B) Attend Cleveland bar events;
(C) Look broadly at Ohio State alums at these firms and perhaps email them;
(D) Keep in touch with friends from law school and hope they can put a good word in if and when I want to apply to their firm.

Am I missing anything?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on June 15, 2015, 07:30:10 PM
I think that's a winning formula.   Wash, rinse, repeat.  And be patient.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on June 15, 2015, 07:35:29 PM
ReadySetMillionaire - what areas do you focus on? I moved in-house and have a good relationship with some attorneys at a certain large "fast food" Cleveland firm (if you catch my drift). I may be able to make a connection for you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on June 15, 2015, 08:26:51 PM
ReadySetMillionaire - what areas do you focus on? I moved in-house and have a good relationship with some attorneys at a certain large "fast food" Cleveland firm (if you catch my drift). I may be able to make a connection for you.

Wow. Thanks!

I've been doing general civil litigation but am trying to carve out a labor/employment niche. Assignments have been limited in that practice area so I've been taking what I can get.

Honestly though, my experience is limited enough that I'd be open to most litigation practice areas.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bertrandhustle on June 16, 2015, 04:52:19 PM
Mustachians who have paid for law school before, can you please help me answer this question?

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-should-i-finance-law-school/ (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-should-i-finance-law-school/)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on June 17, 2015, 09:51:08 PM
Good news!

I'm the first year associate who works in a small foreclosure/bankruptcy firm that represents lenders (lower T1 law school/graduated with honors/secondary journal).  I took the advice here and applied to some mid and larger firms for openings and I got an email requesting a preliminary interview with a "biglaw" firm.  I suspect this is where they call me and briefly ask questions in order to see if they actually want to interview me in person.

Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect?  It was for a position doing "public companies & securities" work and they were asking for laterals with 2-3 years of relevant experience.  I mentioned it was a reach didn't I?

Anyways... wish me luck!

---------

EDIT:  I think they actually want the preliminary interview to be in person, they asked to "meet" with me.  I need to figure out a way to make it to the interview as I have court appearances on both days they want to meet.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on June 17, 2015, 11:31:04 PM
Good news!

I'm the first year associate who works in a small foreclosure/bankruptcy firm that represents lenders (lower T1 law school/graduated with honors/secondary journal).  I took the advice here and applied to some mid and larger firms for openings and I got an email requesting a preliminary interview with a "biglaw" firm.  I suspect this is where they call me and briefly ask questions in order to see if they actually want to interview me in person.

Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect?  It was for a position doing "public companies & securities" work and they were asking for laterals with 2-3 years of relevant experience.  I mentioned it was a reach didn't I?

Anyways... wish me luck!

---------

EDIT:  I think they actually want the preliminary interview to be in person, they asked to "meet" with me.  I need to figure out a way to make it to the interview as I have court appearances on both days they want to meet.

I don't know what a "preliminary interview" means, but would just pretend I didn't hear the "preliminary" part
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: houstonnative on June 18, 2015, 05:30:33 AM
Lawyer with Mustachian tendencies. Went to State U Law on scholarship rather than take out mega-loans to attend more prestigious private law school. There are pluses and minuses to that decision. Never wanted to be BigLaw. I've spent 11 years in SmallLaw (litigation) and hate it most days. As in, I'd like to find a nice tall bridge to swan-dive off of.

Money is pretty good ($140k) and I'm a pretty good saver, but not a real Mustachian by any means. Lifestyle creep is a real thing, and if you don't like your job you will look for ways to spend money to increase happiness (which is a fool's game). Because I work for a small general-business firm, I have a pretty good grasp on the basics of transactional and regulatory work. Unfortunately, I think I would be just as unhappy doing "deals" as I am doing lawsuits. So, looking at moving to government/non-profit/in-house. Income will likely take a big hit by doing so, so I'm trying to bulk up my frugality muscles now. Would be very curious to hear from others who have made a similar transition and how they made it work.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: MrsCoolCat on June 18, 2015, 11:26:43 AM
Good luck lawyers! 😉
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: MrsCoolCat on June 18, 2015, 11:30:01 AM
Young lawyer here, almost one year of experience doing creditor's rights litigation (foreclosure/bankruptcy) in a smaller firm.  I would like to get out of the foreclosure industry before it completely runs dry.  Some firms have started consolidating or even closing shop and I'm concerned about the writing on the wall at my own firm, which I truly like.  How would you go about using my one year of litigation experience in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings to land a job in a larger firm?  Should I use a recruiter?  I went to a T1 and graduated in the top 1/3 of my class, I didn't have better offers upon graduation so I took this one.  When I go to Careerbuilder I only see jobs for foreclosure, bankruptcy, and insurance defense and i would prefer to avoid those areas.  The only portal with other options seems to be my schools Symplicity page but that's very limited in the geographical area i'm in.  Anyone have any other ideas?

I'm less than a year out and have kind of a similar dilemma (scroll back in the thread). In short, I like my firm as well, but it seems to be struggling so I've gotten my ducks in a row to apply to bigger firms in Cleveland.

I just turned in my first application to a big firm yesterday. I tailored my resume and cover letter to the exact position.

I will be stoked just to get an interview. I will keep you (and everyone else) posted as to how it goes.

Nice, hopefully we both get into bigger firms!

Good luck to both of you! I lateraled after one year to a bigger firm and I'm much happier.  Meanwhile, the rumors out of my old firm are not good. I left at the right time.

For OneCoolCat:

Personally, I've never even thought about Careerbuilder for legal work.  I don't think larger law firms post their lawyer positions at websites like that.  My recommendations:
1. Knowing people (i.e. get involved in your legal community and build relationships with people you like, as discussed above).
2.  Bar association websites (state, city, practice areas, diversity/affinity, etc) have the best job listings
3. Law firm websites

These often work together.  I met someone at an event who worked at a firm I was interested in.  When the firm had a job posting on the state bar website, I contacted that person to ask questions before applying.  That person then sent my resume onto the recruiting committee.  Then I got the interview and took it from there.

Also, I don't think lateraling after one year is as hard as it used to be.  Law firms lowered their hiring post-recession.  Now that work is picking back up, they have gaps to fill.  My new firm, for example, has been on an associate hiring binge.

Finally, I think you should apply for litigation associate positions at bigger firms.  You've probably drafted court documents and/or gone to court, right? That is really all that matters when you're applying for junior associate jobs.

For ReadySetMillionaire:

Glad to see you are applying for bigger firms!  You need to apply to a lot of jobs based on your description of your firm.  Your firm may have started in 18whatever, but Dewey & Leboeuf started a long time ago too.  Just saying.

Great advice here, thanks!  I have been going to the websites of the bigger firms and have seen they have quite a few openings listed and I have been applying to many.

I definitely need to attend some bar association events, its just a struggle to get me to get out there and do it.  I'm going to try it out soon and hopefully meet some people.

I get a lot of courtroom experience, I'm in bankruptcy or state circuit court everyday.

Yea, u should get outta the house more... Hehe.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 17, 2015, 09:19:46 AM
Good news!

I'm the first year associate who works in a small foreclosure/bankruptcy firm that represents lenders (lower T1 law school/graduated with honors/secondary journal).  I took the advice here and applied to some mid and larger firms for openings and I got an email requesting a preliminary interview with a "biglaw" firm.  I suspect this is where they call me and briefly ask questions in order to see if they actually want to interview me in person.

Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect?  It was for a position doing "public companies & securities" work and they were asking for laterals with 2-3 years of relevant experience.  I mentioned it was a reach didn't I?

Anyways... wish me luck!

---------

EDIT:  I think they actually want the preliminary interview to be in person, they asked to "meet" with me.  I need to figure out a way to make it to the interview as I have court appearances on both days they want to meet.

OneCoolCat... update? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on August 17, 2015, 11:33:19 AM
Just spent an hour reading through this entire thread and now I'm deeply invested in the career prospects of OneCoolCat, ReadySetMillionaire, and TrulyStashin - good luck to you all!

I'm a 2009 grad from a top 20 school, did a joint masters in public policy thinking I wanted to do federal policy work, but it turns out I love the higher ed world. For the past 5 years I've been back at my alma mater doing public interest legal career services work, which is basically a dream job (even if it doesn't pay anywhere close to private sector $$ - I'm in the upper 60s and feel grateful to be doing comparatively well in the public interest world). About 120K in federal student loans, 5 years to go to PSLF, lucky that DH didn't bring any loans to the table, and to have a generous school LRAP program.

DH and I are about 8-10 years from FI, he's hardcore on the RE side of things, I'd like to keep working (though part-time could definitely be appealing, and isn't a stretch in higher ed). I don't regret law school, but I do warn most people away from it now.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 17, 2015, 03:17:34 PM
DC Katie09, welcome to the thread.

Not to be too big of a tease... but I'll have an update about two weeks from now.  I'm pretty excited about it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on August 17, 2015, 07:18:51 PM
DC Katie09, welcome to the thread.

Not to be too big of a tease... but I'll have an update about two weeks from now.  I'm pretty excited about it.

Can't wait! Excited to have this in my monitored column now :)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on August 18, 2015, 01:15:09 AM
DC Katie09, welcome to the thread.

Not to be too big of a tease... but I'll have an update about two weeks from now.  I'm pretty excited about it.

Can't wait! Excited to have this in my monitored column now :)

I'm totally relying on this update to happen
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on August 18, 2015, 09:11:07 AM
Good news!

I'm the first year associate who works in a small foreclosure/bankruptcy firm that represents lenders (lower T1 law school/graduated with honors/secondary journal).  I took the advice here and applied to some mid and larger firms for openings and I got an email requesting a preliminary interview with a "biglaw" firm.  I suspect this is where they call me and briefly ask questions in order to see if they actually want to interview me in person.

Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect?  It was for a position doing "public companies & securities" work and they were asking for laterals with 2-3 years of relevant experience.  I mentioned it was a reach didn't I?

Anyways... wish me luck!

---------

EDIT:  I think they actually want the preliminary interview to be in person, they asked to "meet" with me.  I need to figure out a way to make it to the interview as I have court appearances on both days they want to meet.

OneCoolCat... update?

I had the interview.  It went well but I could have done better to show interest in the position.  I had taken a lot of tax classes in law school, this was not a tax position, and the hiring partner asked me about my understanding of ERISA.  I told him i didn't study into ERISA too much in my classes and mentioned it was probably taught more in a employment law class.   HP seemed surprised and I felt really dumb.  The interviews with the other partners went great, but I could have done better with the first partner.  It seemed like a great firm with interesting partners so I may apply to other listings they put up, it can't hurt.  I was expecting more questions about my current employment but they were more interested in finding out more about me and talking about themselves.  I got dinged 5 weeks later.

It was a great learning experience as it was my first real attorney interview, I got a job out of law school at a firm I clerked with and never went through a formal interview process.  I'm going to get back into applying to other firms this weekend.  I ended up breaking my shoulder and undergoing surgery right after the interview so I haven't been looking/applying since the interview.

Thanks for asking!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 18, 2015, 12:42:48 PM
Good news!

I'm the first year associate who works in a small foreclosure/bankruptcy firm that represents lenders (lower T1 law school/graduated with honors/secondary journal).  I took the advice here and applied to some mid and larger firms for openings and I got an email requesting a preliminary interview with a "biglaw" firm.  I suspect this is where they call me and briefly ask questions in order to see if they actually want to interview me in person.

Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect?  It was for a position doing "public companies & securities" work and they were asking for laterals with 2-3 years of relevant experience.  I mentioned it was a reach didn't I?

Anyways... wish me luck!

---------

EDIT:  I think they actually want the preliminary interview to be in person, they asked to "meet" with me.  I need to figure out a way to make it to the interview as I have court appearances on both days they want to meet.

OneCoolCat... update?

I had the interview.  It went well but I could have done better to show interest in the position.  I had taken a lot of tax classes in law school, this was not a tax position, and the hiring partner asked me about my understanding of ERISA.  I told him i didn't study into ERISA too much in my classes and mentioned it was probably taught more in a employment law class.   HP seemed surprised and I felt really dumb.  The interviews with the other partners went great, but I could have done better with the first partner.  It seemed like a great firm with interesting partners so I may apply to other listings they put up, it can't hurt.  I was expecting more questions about my current employment but they were more interested in finding out more about me and talking about themselves.  I got dinged 5 weeks later.

It was a great learning experience as it was my first real attorney interview, I got a job out of law school at a firm I clerked with and never went through a formal interview process.  I'm going to get back into applying to other firms this weekend.  I ended up breaking my shoulder and undergoing surgery right after the interview so I haven't been looking/applying since the interview.

Thanks for asking!

Learning experiences are always valuable.  I agree that ERISA is more of an employment-law thing but who knows... maybe when he was in law school, it was in tax law classes.  His surprise might be less an indicator of you being wrong and more an indicator of him being out of touch with law school curriculum.  So, don't beat yourself up about that one.  Frankly, baby lawyers don't really know anything - your biggest value is in your ability to learn the law and learn how to do it -- so, it's a bit of a silly question to ask a brand new lawyer.

I hope your shoulder is better.  Go get that new job!!  You might write directly to the other partners with whom you interviewed, just to touch base and let them know you were impressed with their firm and interested in opportunities with them.  It can't hurt.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Bo-rrific G on August 27, 2015, 08:42:53 PM
I'm a lawyer and have been practicing for 8 years.  I started out in litigation but I am now in-house.  I saw an earlier post from a person that was thinking about going in-house.  I want to make sure to express that no in-house lawyer I know actually has the "work/life balance" that they sought.  My sample group is through the local chapter of an organization (membership of about 1,200 in-house lawyers, I typically mingle with about 20-30 new people during each event as director). I work from 8:30 until about 7-7:30 most days, on Thursdays I have to arrive by 7 and it is nearly impossible to leave any earlier than the other days. 

I also travel 60% of the time. That is not something I signed up for, in fact, I negotiated to only take 4 trips per year when I transitioned to my most recent position, but something "came up" and travel has been required. As an example of the craziness involved, I had to go on an international trip with 5 hours' notice the week before Christmas.  I was also gone for 38 days straight in the first quarter of 2015.

I'm sharing these little bits because there is a misconception that in-house jobs are a mecca of 9-5 jobs.  I am working harder, longer, and more eratic hours now than I did as a litigator. You will not know what your job is going to be like until you have been in the thick of it for a few months.


To respond to the main topic of this forum:

I went to a state school as a part-time student, worker three jobs during school, and took out loans to pay for tuition and help my parents (they were in terrible financial status while I was in school).  I am incredibly lucky to be where I am given where I started, but I do have about $60k in loans (started out with $100k).  Writing down my loan status is sobering...I end up wasting a lot of money when I feel exhausted, stressed, or sleep deprived and I have been all three for a few years. Last comment I will make is that I love being outdoors and I live in a city where that is simply not possible.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 28, 2015, 01:08:19 PM
Well, I've just arrived home after cleaning out my office so it seems like a good time to post my update.

I'm in my home office, typing to you while looking out over the backyard.  Two bluebirds are perched on the fence outside my window, which is open thanks to the beautiful, unusually cool weather we've been having.  The sweet autumn clematis is blooming.  Life is good.

I'm now a solo practitioner.

On Monday, I'll join 90 other businesses at my new office -- a "co-working" space/ business incubator.  They have a gym.  And a keg with happy hours on Fridays for everyone whose business is housed there.  It costs $350 /month for me to have a desk (with secured space for client documents).  I can use the conference rooms to meet clients and phone booths for private calls.  They have a printer, scanner, fax, shredder -- all the infrastructure I need.  It's just a few blocks from my old office but miles away in spirit.

In late May, as issues with my firm were coming to a head, I started putting out feelers with solos that I know and others in my network.  I did tons of research -- read Foonberg's book, etc.  I ran the numbers, for both my personal budget and my prospective firm.  I touched base with my former boss (she recently launched a new business) and when she said she had tons of work for me, a little switch flipped in my head.  There's my anchor.  Another friend is helping me learn bankruptcy law -- a lucrative practice area.  I'm getting referrals.  In fact, just yesterday I got a call from a lawyer in Indiana who co-signed a lease for a friend in Virginia and it's a hot mess.  I'll likely be in court for him on Monday.

Never been in court before!

In addition to my former boss who is now my anchor client, opportunities to consult on an issue for which I have strong credentials recently arose.  I'd either have to forego those opportunities, or make the leap.  So, I jumped.   As a result, I'll be speaking to a group of about 50 general counsels in October.  I've got a blog post that will soon be published in a very prominent outlet.  And a friend who works in an aligned area wants to bring me in on a huge project her firm just landed -- my expertise is a perfect fit and no one else knows what I know.

As of September 1st, I'll be "Founder & CEO" of my PLC and of my LLC (consulting).   My law firm is branded toward corporate law clients but I have a second brand (a trade name) that is targeted toward consumers for family and bankruptcy law.   I will build all three lines of business at once. 

I am so very grateful that I found MMM 2.5 years ago.  Though I still have a long way to go on my debts, I am much better positioned now than I was two years ago.  My frugality muscle is also much stronger.   As soon as I decided to go solo, I altered my W4 and state withholding, and stopped my 401k and HSA contributions.  As a result, my last 3 paychecks have been fat -- enough to live on for 6 months, so long as I stay VERY disciplined.  The good news is that because the referral pipeline started immediately (for some projects my firm would not want anyway -- e.g. a divorce, the little civil case for the attorney in IN, two wills) I am already generating bills.  MY AR for August will be just over $3k.  And I have a $3,500 retainer in my trust account.  Not too shabby.

I am bound to fail at some things.  I am going to succeed at others.  It's going to be thrilling.  And scary.

But, it is mine and it will be whatever I build it.  That makes me happy.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on August 28, 2015, 01:14:26 PM
Wow, TrulyStashin, I didn't expect that but you go girl!  Good for you!  Sounds like it's the right move for you and you sound very happy about it.  Best of luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on August 28, 2015, 01:15:06 PM
Congratulations, TS!!! That is huge! It sounds like you've done all your due diligence and your hard work is already paying off - can't wait to hear more about how it goes. And being in an incubator space is amazing - the collaboration, energy, etc. It'll be great. Solo Practice University has a million good resources as well, if you haven't found them yet. Good luck!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: northernlights on August 28, 2015, 01:42:27 PM
Yay TS!

I'm a government lawyer married to a solo. My salary is about $94,000, he brings in around $65,000 most years. We're pretty frugal for lawyers, but definitely more stubbly than mustachioed. We both attended law school on full academic scholarships, so we had about $100,000 in debt between the two of us. I graduated in 2008, he graduated in 2004. I'm taking advantage of PSLF and am planning on staying with the government until I achieve FI or get so annoyed I join my husband in private practice.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Wile E. Coyote on August 29, 2015, 09:35:01 AM
That's great TrulyStashin!  Best of luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Bearded Man on August 29, 2015, 11:49:29 AM
I've considered going to law school, but would likely go to Montana for it. It's close enough to WA that checking on the rentals is a small road trip, and law school is about 40K in Montana for a ABA accredited program, with a 91% pass rate. I can always move back to WA to take the BAR exam.

Compare that to the 130K+ for an ABA accredited law school in WA...granted, you don't even have to go to law school, just study under an attorney or judge then take the BAR exam in WA.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on August 29, 2015, 12:08:31 PM
Keep us updated on your adventure TS!  Best of luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lentils5eva on September 01, 2015, 10:33:23 PM
Well, I've just arrived home after cleaning out my office so it seems like a good time to post my update.

I'm in my home office, typing to you while looking out over the backyard.  Two bluebirds are perched on the fence outside my window, which is open thanks to the beautiful, unusually cool weather we've been having.  The sweet autumn clematis is blooming.  Life is good.

I'm now a solo practitioner.

On Monday, I'll join 90 other businesses at my new office -- a "co-working" space/ business incubator.  They have a gym.  And a keg with happy hours on Fridays for everyone whose business is housed there.  It costs $350 /month for me to have a desk (with secured space for client documents).  I can use the conference rooms to meet clients and phone booths for private calls.  They have a printer, scanner, fax, shredder -- all the infrastructure I need.  It's just a few blocks from my old office but miles away in spirit.

In late May, as issues with my firm were coming to a head, I started putting out feelers with solos that I know and others in my network.  I did tons of research -- read Foonberg's book, etc.  I ran the numbers, for both my personal budget and my prospective firm.  I touched base with my former boss (she recently launched a new business) and when she said she had tons of work for me, a little switch flipped in my head.  There's my anchor.  Another friend is helping me learn bankruptcy law -- a lucrative practice area.  I'm getting referrals.  In fact, just yesterday I got a call from a lawyer in Indiana who co-signed a lease for a friend in Virginia and it's a hot mess.  I'll likely be in court for him on Monday.

Never been in court before!

In addition to my former boss who is now my anchor client, opportunities to consult on an issue for which I have strong credentials recently arose.  I'd either have to forego those opportunities, or make the leap.  So, I jumped.   As a result, I'll be speaking to a group of about 50 general counsels in October.  I've got a blog post that will soon be published in a very prominent outlet.  And a friend who works in an aligned area wants to bring me in on a huge project her firm just landed -- my expertise is a perfect fit and no one else knows what I know.

As of September 1st, I'll be "Founder & CEO" of my PLC and of my LLC (consulting).   My law firm is branded toward corporate law clients but I have a second brand (a trade name) that is targeted toward consumers for family and bankruptcy law.   I will build all three lines of business at once. 

I am so very grateful that I found MMM 2.5 years ago.  Though I still have a long way to go on my debts, I am much better positioned now than I was two years ago.  My frugality muscle is also much stronger.   As soon as I decided to go solo, I altered my W4 and state withholding, and stopped my 401k and HSA contributions.  As a result, my last 3 paychecks have been fat -- enough to live on for 6 months, so long as I stay VERY disciplined.  The good news is that because the referral pipeline started immediately (for some projects my firm would not want anyway -- e.g. a divorce, the little civil case for the attorney in IN, two wills) I am already generating bills.  MY AR for August will be just over $3k.  And I have a $3,500 retainer in my trust account.  Not too shabby.

I am bound to fail at some things.  I am going to succeed at others.  It's going to be thrilling.  And scary.

But, it is mine and it will be whatever I build it.  That makes me happy.

WHOA.  TS!  I wonder if your ears were buzzing today because I was thinking about you and wondering how things are going for you!  My goodness this is a big change from May!  I think this is amazing, and again, I admire your courage and tenacity.  I have every confidence that you are going to be a big success.  PM me your professional contact info - occasionally attorneys at my firm circulate a "does anyone know a lawyer with experience in X" emails, and if I spot any opportunities in VA, I will put you forward.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 01, 2015, 11:39:02 PM
Part-time big-law here -- sticking it out at the same firm mostly though sheer momentum (as opposed to seeking better hours, say, in-house).  I'm not entrepenurial like Totoro, and my best in-house opportunities are too far away to make sense.  Not sure how well it will work out in the end, but the beauty of being semi-FI is that it doesn't matter too much.

Over the same eight years in software engineering, your total compensation might progress from 150 to 500k, or more, and you reach the high levels much faster. I'm assuming a top performer for both

That's news to me, and I know a lot of software engineers.  I'm also a damn good programmer, so maybe I should go back into tech!

I showed up to the exam and got 173. It's a very easy test.

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.
What's your hours like as a "part-time" biglaw person? I'd imagine it would go from 60-70hr/week to 40-50hr/week. Aren't you still subject to all nighters when things are due/closing is happening and clients chasing you for stuff when you are on vacation? Do other lawyers at your firm respect your "part-time" status? Do you work more or less than your secretary (my benchmark for cushy job in a law firm)?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif on September 02, 2015, 03:25:26 AM

I am bound to fail at some things.  I am going to succeed at others.  It's going to be thrilling.  And scary.

But, it is mine and it will be whatever I build it.  That makes me happy.

Fantastic news, congratulations! I'm a couple of years out of a firm, and I don't know if I could ever go back to timekeeping for someone else.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 02, 2015, 09:51:17 AM
Well, I've just arrived home after cleaning out my office so it seems like a good time to post my update.

I'm in my home office, typing to you while looking out over the backyard.  Two bluebirds are perched on the fence outside my window, which is open thanks to the beautiful, unusually cool weather we've been having.  The sweet autumn clematis is blooming.  Life is good.

I'm now a solo practitioner.

On Monday, I'll join 90 other businesses at my new office -- a "co-working" space/ business incubator.  They have a gym.  And a keg with happy hours on Fridays for everyone whose business is housed there.  It costs $350 /month for me to have a desk (with secured space for client documents).  I can use the conference rooms to meet clients and phone booths for private calls.  They have a printer, scanner, fax, shredder -- all the infrastructure I need.  It's just a few blocks from my old office but miles away in spirit.

In late May, as issues with my firm were coming to a head, I started putting out feelers with solos that I know and others in my network.  I did tons of research -- read Foonberg's book, etc.  I ran the numbers, for both my personal budget and my prospective firm.  I touched base with my former boss (she recently launched a new business) and when she said she had tons of work for me, a little switch flipped in my head.  There's my anchor.  Another friend is helping me learn bankruptcy law -- a lucrative practice area.  I'm getting referrals.  In fact, just yesterday I got a call from a lawyer in Indiana who co-signed a lease for a friend in Virginia and it's a hot mess.  I'll likely be in court for him on Monday.

Never been in court before!

In addition to my former boss who is now my anchor client, opportunities to consult on an issue for which I have strong credentials recently arose.  I'd either have to forego those opportunities, or make the leap.  So, I jumped.   As a result, I'll be speaking to a group of about 50 general counsels in October.  I've got a blog post that will soon be published in a very prominent outlet.  And a friend who works in an aligned area wants to bring me in on a huge project her firm just landed -- my expertise is a perfect fit and no one else knows what I know.

As of September 1st, I'll be "Founder & CEO" of my PLC and of my LLC (consulting).   My law firm is branded toward corporate law clients but I have a second brand (a trade name) that is targeted toward consumers for family and bankruptcy law.   I will build all three lines of business at once. 

I am so very grateful that I found MMM 2.5 years ago.  Though I still have a long way to go on my debts, I am much better positioned now than I was two years ago.  My frugality muscle is also much stronger.   As soon as I decided to go solo, I altered my W4 and state withholding, and stopped my 401k and HSA contributions.  As a result, my last 3 paychecks have been fat -- enough to live on for 6 months, so long as I stay VERY disciplined.  The good news is that because the referral pipeline started immediately (for some projects my firm would not want anyway -- e.g. a divorce, the little civil case for the attorney in IN, two wills) I am already generating bills.  MY AR for August will be just over $3k.  And I have a $3,500 retainer in my trust account.  Not too shabby.

I am bound to fail at some things.  I am going to succeed at others.  It's going to be thrilling.  And scary.

But, it is mine and it will be whatever I build it.  That makes me happy.

WHOA.  TS!  I wonder if your ears were buzzing today because I was thinking about you and wondering how things are going for you!  My goodness this is a big change from May!  I think this is amazing, and again, I admire your courage and tenacity.  I have every confidence that you are going to be a big success.  PM me your professional contact info - occasionally attorneys at my firm circulate a "does anyone know a lawyer with experience in X" emails, and if I spot any opportunities in VA, I will put you forward.

Thanks Lentils!  I'll PM you for sure.

So, for my first official day solo (Sept. 1) I sent out two bills.  One for $1140 and one for $2342!   On Monday, at the last minute, I wrangled a settlement that made my client VERY happy and so I could tell the judge to continue the return date for 30 days to give the parties time to perform.  That client called me today and asked if I'd give a discount if he overnighted a cash payment (his bill was for $2342).  So I should have $2k in cash on my doorstep tomorrow morning.  All from a referral that came in last Thursday morning!

I posted a "life event" on my FB page (which got over 120 "likes") and resulted in three PM's of people needing help (wills, restoring a felon's rights, a zoning case).  I'm sure lawyers at my former firm would look at this mish mash of matters and sniff, but I am having a ball.

My total start up costs are just over $5k at this point (mostly on technology and advertising).  My overhead is $590/ month.  I'm going to take the $ that comes in from yesterday's bills and reinvest it in advertising for some bankruptcy cases.

Giddy up!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on September 28, 2015, 02:11:04 PM
So...hope all of you other lawyer mustachians are doing well. But here I am, incredibly bored at work and lacking motivation (again). I posted a while ago about this and had a decent summer, but I've plummeted back to just not caring.

I just can't be enthusiastic about boring cases and representing clients that I don't know. I just can't do it anymore.

For example, I drafted an answer and counterclaim in a mineral rights case this morning. I have no idea who the client is and what they're like. I simply can't get emotionally invested in whether they will win or lose this case because after drafting this document, I likely won't see the case again.

To the contrary, if I knew this client and this was my case, hell yes I would care about this case. I would be motivated to fight tooth and nail for them.

I know I should have this same fire and spark right now, but I just can't artificially produce that. I've tried for almost a year now and I simply can't.

All this moping has led me to one conclusion--despite the enormous risk, I think I want to start my own law firm. I have a handful of clients that I could bring with me. Nothing huge, but definitely enough that I could keep the lights on for a little while.

So a few questions:

(1) Am I having too much of a "grass is greener" attitude here?

(2) How long should I stick it out at my current firm? I know there's value in the experience/network here, so I know I need to get at least something out of this before moving on.

(3) How much should I have saved up before starting a small firm?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the rant.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on September 28, 2015, 02:35:04 PM
SNIP...


OneCoolCat... update?

I had the interview.  It went well but I could have done better to show interest in the position.  I had taken a lot of tax classes in law school, this was not a tax position, and the hiring partner asked me about my understanding of ERISA.  I told him i didn't study into ERISA too much in my classes and mentioned it was probably taught more in a employment law class.   

Thanks for asking!

I agree that ERISA is more of an employment-law thing but who knows... maybe when he was in law school, it was in tax law classes.  His surprise might be less an indicator of you being wrong and more an indicator of him being out of touch with law school curriculum. 

I haven't read through all of this thread, so forgive me is this was covered already:

ERISA practice is actually based in tax. Some, of course, is in the DOL realm, but the majority is based in the Internal Revenue Code. ERISA amended the IRC which is why qualified plans get tax preferential treatment. In my JD and LLM classes, ERISA was covered in tax classes, and still is (at least at my T1 law school).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2015, 08:02:16 AM
......
All this moping has led me to one conclusion--despite the enormous risk, I think I want to start my own law firm. I have a handful of clients that I could bring with me. Nothing huge, but definitely enough that I could keep the lights on for a little while.

So a few questions:

(1) Am I having too much of a "grass is greener" attitude here?

(2) How long should I stick it out at my current firm? I know there's value in the experience/network here, so I know I need to get at least something out of this before moving on.

(3) How much should I have saved up before starting a small firm?

Thanks in advance, and sorry for the rant.

No, I don't think you're having a "grass is greener" attitude.  Having just done this, I remember the feeling of being detached from my work and apathetic.   Being a solo definitely removes that feeling and replaces it with....

Fear
Excitement
Happiness
Worry

That may not be better.  It's a personal decision.  I'm comfortable with uncertainty and calculated risks, so I'm okay with the cocktail of emotions listed above.  My *interesting* life history has taught me how to manage fear and worry while not letting the high moments get too high.  You have to step back and do an honest assessment of how you react to uncertainty and how you'll handle these emotions.

If uncertainty and risk are your worst nightmares, then being solo would be devastating.

Also ask yourself how good you are at networking.  You need to be REALLY good at networking in order to thrive.

Regarding money, I have about six months of cash stashed.  I'm told that is way too small a stash.  Maybe, we'll see.  October is the first month that I've had to tap that stash and it's mostly a choice I've made because I don't want to draw off my business account yet. Thank God for MMM and my frugality skills -- I can live on very little.

I'm hustling my ass off and so far I've generated about $8k in billables in my first month.  I haven't touched that money yet -- it's sitting in my business bank account while I think about how to allocate it and how big of a reserve I want to hold.   I ran up a credit card to start up my firms so maybe I'll pay that down.  But I might be better off spending some money on marketing.  Not sure yet.

Find some solo practicioners in your area and call them.  Go have coffee and talk to them.  Some other resources while you think about this:

http://www.americanbar.org/portals/solo_home/solo_home.html (http://www.americanbar.org/portals/solo_home/solo_home.html)

http://myshingle.com/ (http://myshingle.com/)

And there are so many options for software and technology that make the firm management side easy:  Clio (for practice management), QuickBooks, RightSignature, Expensify, MetroFax. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on September 30, 2015, 09:28:46 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 05, 2015, 08:19:53 AM
Knock 'em dead, OCC! 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on October 05, 2015, 01:46:01 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LawMustache on October 05, 2015, 03:46:55 PM
Hello fellow lawyers,

I've been practicing law for 3 years now (Canada), starting in a Midlaw firm and moving in-house in a TSX60 company (just under six figures salary, good RRSP match and bonuses). After looking both sides of the fence, I can definitely say that I don't enjoy my work (at all) and am currently looking into changing career. Law school was fun and interesting, but the day to day practice is a pain for me. Currently looking into getting a CFP title as I really like personal finances and it is fairly easy to transition from Lawyer to CFP in Canada. Would definitely go solo or in a small CFP firm and get my ideas out there!

I know this decision will have a direct impact on my compensation (could be next to zero in 2016 as I start my business), and it could mean pushing back the year my SO and I attain FIRE, but after thinking about it, I decided it would be better for me to earn (less) money from something I enjoy doing as opposed to something I hate.

Thanks, needed to vent!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on October 05, 2015, 04:37:25 PM
Hello fellow lawyers,

I've been practicing law for 3 years now (Canada), starting in a Midlaw firm and moving in-house in a TSX60 company (just under six figures salary, good RRSP match and bonuses). After looking both sides of the fence, I can definitely say that I don't enjoy my work (at all) and am currently looking into changing career. Law school was fun and interesting, but the day to day practice is a pain for me. Currently looking into getting a CFP title as I really like personal finances and it is fairly easy to transition from Lawyer to CFP in Canada. Would definitely go solo or in a small CFP firm and get my ideas out there!

I know this decision will have a direct impact on my compensation (could be next to zero in 2016 as I start my business), and it could mean pushing back the year my SO and I attain FIRE, but after thinking about it, I decided it would be better for me to earn (less) money from something I enjoy doing as opposed to something I hate.

Thanks, needed to vent!

Stash Padawan - I totally get it. I very vividly remember one year, after the head of my practice group communicated to me that I had earned a six figure bonus that year, feeling nauseous. I had essentially traded what I valued the most (relationships with my family and friends, my health, my sanity) for money. I thought I would be ecstatic and proud of my professional accomplishments. Instead I was just sad. It wasn't worth it. So, if you will have a better quality of life and enjoy your work, even if you earn significantly less money, that's totally ok.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on October 06, 2015, 04:17:31 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on October 06, 2015, 10:29:21 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on October 06, 2015, 10:58:22 PM
Oh, Lord, I just heard today that my firm was considering a couple lateral partners for our practice group (we have been quietly searching for a few months), one of whom has one of the most abhorrent reputations as a boss and human being in our city.  Managing Partner (who is far outside of my practice group) reached out to some of us to explore.  One of my colleagues, who previously worked for the candidate at another firm about 10 years ago, told Managing Partner that if they hire this candidate, then he will immediately pick up his things, quit, and walk out.  Managing Partner thought that was funny, as colleague is a humorous guy, but colleague was like, "I am dead serious.  He is the worst human being I have ever met.  If you hire him, I will quit immediately."  We just got rid of one bully and have no desire to bring in another.  Fortunately, Managing Partner is a sensible guy, so the possibility of hiring the candidate is totally dead.  Phew!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 07, 2015, 11:23:06 AM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

+1   "prayer of wisdom and discernment".... LOVE that. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on October 07, 2015, 03:04:52 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

+1   "prayer of wisdom and discernment".... LOVE that.

Thanks! I quit praying for patience a very long time ago. I've found that if you pray for patience (particular if you're a parent to toddlers 23 months apart), you will be given far too many opportunities to practice it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on October 16, 2015, 08:58:55 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

No dice.  Pretty bummed out because I thought everything went well but I'll just have to keep trying. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: kkbmustang on October 25, 2015, 01:45:14 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

No dice.  Pretty bummed out because I thought everything went well but I'll just have to keep trying.

Bummer, sorry. Well it wasn't meant to be, then. Keep your chin up. You'll find something.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Field123 on October 26, 2015, 04:19:54 PM
Fellow mustachian attorneys:

Apologies if this has been covered before, but my question to you all is WHAT would YOU do for a living if you left the practice of law?

I remember when I was making the decision to go to law school even though I had a strong suspicion that I wouldn't enjoy being an attorney I got a lot of feedback pushing me into law school with the idea that "It'll teach you to think like a lawyer which make you better and more employable for anything." Well, three years out of law school I can confirm that, other than the nice paychecks, there isn't much (anything) I enjoy about the profession.

Before MMM I had a totally unrealistic expectation of how much money I would need. Every decision -- from what I studied, to where I went to school to where I interned -- was based on what I thought would result in making the most money possible. The biggest value MMM and this community has had for me is the realization that I can be much happier on much less. So with that I'm reevaluating things...

So back to my original question: considering your JD and experience in law, what else would you do? And your answer doesn't have to necessarily be tangentially related to your prior experience, but it would help if its realistic. Just trying to get a brain storm going here.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Gizsuat2 on October 26, 2015, 08:57:55 PM
To answer re: careers "outside of law," (hope this counts) I would love to work in law school career services and help students learn how to network, think big, think about what happens after their first or second law job, etc.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on October 27, 2015, 05:12:34 PM
To answer re: careers "outside of law," (hope this counts) I would love to work in law school career services and help students learn how to network, think big, think about what happens after their first or second law job, etc.
PM me if you want to know more - this is what I do. My original intent in going to law school was to work on education policy, and I still think policy work would be fun - I like the idea of getting to be right, and not having to worry about winning (true in my current job too, and one thing that kept me far away from litigation).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: IllusionNW on October 27, 2015, 09:00:05 PM
@Gizsuat2, that's exactly what I was thinking!  I really do enjoy my legal job, but every once in a while I like to look and see what's out there.  Today I found out that the local law school is hiring a career counselor and I asked around to see what the salary was.  It's nearly a 2/3 pay cut, so it will probably have to wait until post-FI, but it's definitely the type of thing I would like to do.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 27, 2015, 09:41:07 PM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

+1   "prayer of wisdom and discernment".... LOVE that.

Hey, TS - It sounds like you are doing great! Keep hustling. I've got 4+ years of running my own practice and it has gotten better every year.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 28, 2015, 08:43:00 AM
So I have an interview for a well respected midlaw firm.  Wish me luck!

How'd it go?

Thanks guys!

I think *fingers crossed* it went really well.  I don't want to get my hopes up in case I don't get a CB, but I took it as a good sign when the department head unsolicitedly mentioned he had a two week time-frame in mind for initial interviews and asked if that was OK with me.  I think I really got it across that I was interested in the firm, the department, and the office.

Yay! Not sure if you're the praying sort, but I am, so unless you find it offensive or unwelcome, I'll say a prayer for wisdom and discernment for you.

+1   "prayer of wisdom and discernment".... LOVE that.

Hey, TS - It sounds like you are doing great! Keep hustling. I've got 4+ years of running my own practice and it has gotten better every year.

Thanks!  I am LOVING this.  Every day is a little different.  If I start to get down, I pick up the phone and book a coffee or lunch meeting to build my network.  My "Daily Learning Index" is off the charts which is both terrifying and thrilling.  Holy smokes, the challenges keep coming and keep me excited and alive.  I never felt this way at BigLaw.

A month ago, I landed a client by referral.  I thought it would be a small, simple issue with maybe a $5k fee.  On Monday, new facts came to light -- the kind of facts that make you say "Holy shit!!! No, they didn't really do that, did they???"  Turns out this issue is screaming to be litigated.  My client has a VERY strong case -- both facts and law very much on my side (D breached fiduciary duty by self-dealing; presumption of fraud on D's part with burden of proof on D and "clear and convincing" standard for D to overcome).  We've agreed on a blended rate -- part retainer plus contingency fee of 30%.  Punitive damages and attorney's fees are available.  I'm working on the complaint now.  Hope to file on Monday.  Not sure of total value of claim yet, but somewhere north of $1.5M.

Plus, on my sustainability consulting side I've had ridiculous/ amazing opportunities come my way.  I had a call this week with one of the biggest entertainment firms in the world and they want a deck/ proposal.  In early Dec. I have meetings with 3 Fortune 100 companies -- two of which I have a very strong value-add for.

I'm having fun.  Yee haw!!!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: pbkmaine on October 28, 2015, 08:59:14 AM

Hello fellow lawyers,

I've been practicing law for 3 years now (Canada), starting in a Midlaw firm and moving in-house in a TSX60 company (just under six figures salary, good RRSP match and bonuses). After looking both sides of the fence, I can definitely say that I don't enjoy my work (at all) and am currently looking into changing career. Law school was fun and interesting, but the day to day practice is a pain for me. Currently looking into getting a CFP title as I really like personal finances and it is fairly easy to transition from Lawyer to CFP in Canada. Would definitely go solo or in a small CFP firm and get my ideas out there!

I know this decision will have a direct impact on my compensation (could be next to zero in 2016 as I start my business), and it could mean pushing back the year my SO and I attain FIRE, but after thinking about it, I decided it would be better for me to earn (less) money from something I enjoy doing as opposed to something I hate.

Thanks, needed to vent!

CFP, but not Canadian, so take this for what it is worth. If you are interested in financial planning and are already an attorney, what about trusts and estates law? When I was a practicing financial planner, I worked very closely with T&E attorneys. There is a lot of overlap. You could join a local financial planning association, get to know the practitioners and the issues their clients face, and work up a referral base.
Title: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: pbkmaine on October 28, 2015, 09:00:39 AM


Thanks!  I am LOVING this.  Every day is a little different.  If I start to get down, I pick up the phone and book a coffee or lunch meeting to build my network.  My "Daily Learning Index" is off the charts which is both terrifying and thrilling.  Holy smokes, the challenges keep coming and keep me excited and alive.  I never felt this way at BigLaw.

A month ago, I landed a client by referral.  I thought it would be a small, simple issue with maybe a $5k fee.  On Monday, new facts came to light -- the kind of facts that make you say "Holy shit!!! No, they didn't really do that, did they???"  Turns out this issue is screaming to be litigated.  My client has a VERY strong case -- both facts and law very much on my side (D breached fiduciary duty by self-dealing; presumption of fraud on D's part with burden of proof on D and "clear and convincing" standard for D to overcome).  We've agreed on a blended rate -- part retainer plus contingency fee of 30%.  Punitive damages and attorney's fees are available.  I'm working on the complaint now.  Hope to file on Monday.  Not sure of total value of claim yet, but somewhere north of $1.5M.

Plus, on my sustainability consulting side I've had ridiculous/ amazing opportunities come my way.  I had a call this week with one of the biggest entertainment firms in the world and they want a deck/ proposal.  In early Dec. I have meetings with 3 Fortune 100 companies -- two of which I have a very strong value-add for.

I'm having fun.  Yee haw!!!!
[/quote]

This is completely awesome. You go!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 28, 2015, 11:21:59 AM
Hey, TS - It sounds like you are doing great! Keep hustling. I've got 4+ years of running my own practice and it has gotten better every year.
I too am thinking about going solo within about a year. You say our practice has gotten better every year. Any tips for people like TS and I, who are just now (or nearly in the future) starting our practices?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 28, 2015, 07:23:03 PM
Yeah, I've got a million ideas! Too many to type actually. But, seriously, I think the big themes are simple. First, use mustachianism to take/choose cases from a position of strength. Be able to hire a paralegal when your practice blows up. Be able to invest 10k on experts for the huge case that walks in the door. Being good with money is the biggest thing about running a solo practice.

Second, I think it is all about serving others. TS just said she has meetings with fortune 100 companies. But she isn't going looking for a job or some handout. She is going to add value. You can "add value" or, in my terms, serve others, for any community you choose. If you can identify your target client base, find out what they need and learn to provide it in a high quality manner - success will come.

Last, in BigLaw there is intense competition amongst attorneys and it seems like a zero-sum game for scarce billable hours. If you go into solo practice you can reach out to other solos. Cultivate referral relationships. Get a big case that you don't feel comfortable handling? Make a co-counsel relationship with another attorney and split the fee. Or refer the case to the attorney and get a split on the fee. You are solo but you are not alone.

You know, I love all the people on BigLaw on this thread. Seriously. But, I know that as a successful solo practitioner I have been able to earn way more money and work way less hours than 95% of BigLaw attorneys. It may not be for everyone, but anyone who is not satisfied with BigLaw should drop out. The people who think they "missed out" should forget about it. I've been in both places and I love being solo. I'm in control of my earning and my work schedule. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 29, 2015, 11:00:37 AM

Second, I think it is all about serving others. TS just said she has meetings with fortune 100 companies. But she isn't going looking for a job or some handout. She is going to add value. You can "add value" or, in my terms, serve others, for any community you choose. If you can identify your target client base, find out what they need and learn to provide it in a high quality manner - success will come.


This, exactly!!!   I start every day with a prayer for wisdom and discernment, and opportunities to serve others.  (hat tip to KKBMustang)  At the very least, it keeps me grounded and reminds me why I'm here.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on November 07, 2015, 08:11:28 PM
I saw the pharmacy thread and couldn't help but wonder how many lawyer mustachians there are on here. If so, what kind of law do you practice? BigLaw, MidLaw, SmallLaw, or InHouse? Approximate salaries? Any debt left from law school?

I'll start: I'm a mid-law associate. I'm on the transactional side (no litigation for me) and mainly do general commercial contracts and corporate governance related work. Salary is pretty good, mid-to-low 100's, depending on bonus. Law school debt was just paid off last week!

You?

I graduated from a top 20 school in the 90s, practiced at small/mid firms starting in the 50K range and worked my way up to $120K.  I spent every damn dime and then some. 

Now I am a solo, and I am trying to save money like crazy.  My income, however, was less than six figures last year, and will probably be less or barely break the six figure mark by the end of this year.

Amazingly, I still have some debt left from law school, but since it is at 3.38%, I am not in a big, giant rush to pay it off.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Bearded Man on November 12, 2015, 09:34:52 PM
I've considered law school. Not sure if worth it at 34. In Montana ABA accredited law program is 40k total, 91% BAR pass rate. Again, with 500+k in the bank and s six figure engineering job, not sure if worth it. Uncle and bother are law lawyers and everyone fears them, lol
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on November 13, 2015, 08:48:18 AM
I've considered law school. Not sure if worth it at 34. In Montana ABA accredited law program is 40k total, 91% BAR pass rate. Again, with 500+k in the bank and s six figure engineering job, not sure if worth it. Uncle and bother are law lawyers and everyone fears them, lol
  I saw your other thread where you were wondering about this, so, as an attorney, I will chime in.  Are you freaking crazy?  You have a six figure income and more than half a million in the bank.  There is no way in hell I would interrupt that income stream and delay FIRE for many years to go to law school.  Financially, it would make absolutely no sense for you.  Odds are your income would be a lot lower out of law school as an attorney than what you are making now, if you can find work at all.  Setting up your own shop would mean finding paying clients or starving.

Once you are financially independent, if you want to do this in retirement just for the hell of it, and can pay for law school and expenses without affecting your FIRE status, then go for it. 

Otherwise, hell, no, it is not worth it, Bearded Man.

And nobody fears inexperienced attorneys, so, if you think just having a law degree will instill fear in others, here is a splash of cold water in the face, it won't. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on November 13, 2015, 08:50:56 AM
I've considered law school. Not sure if worth it at 34. In Montana ABA accredited law program is 40k total, 91% BAR pass rate. Again, with 500+k in the bank and s six figure engineering job, not sure if worth it. Uncle and bother are law lawyers and everyone fears them, lol

Aside from the career-switching question -- are you eager/ hungry for a HUGE new challenge -- you should also consider the opportunity cost. 

You should assume three years of law school with no income during that time.  Yes, you might get an summer internship that might pay a little, but it's not enough to matter, really.   If you started LS in the fall of 2016, your income stream would not likely resume until fall of 2019.  What's the difference in your 'stash when you account for that?  If you stay the course as an engineer, what will your salary likely be by fall of 2019?   You don't necessarily need to respond with answers to these questions.  I'm just suggesting these should be part of your decision matrix.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on November 13, 2015, 02:19:08 PM
I've considered law school. Not sure if worth it at 34. In Montana ABA accredited law program is 40k total, 91% BAR pass rate. Again, with 500+k in the bank and s six figure engineering job, not sure if worth it. Uncle and bother are law lawyers and everyone fears them, lol

With all respect, you are crazy if you go to law school. From the University of Montana, a low six figure salary is literally the best you can hope for after graduating (and you'd be pretty damn lucky at that). So you'd forego any income for three years, and end up right where you started. For what?

And I'd put my money on your uncle and brother just talking big. I know lots of legitimately powerful lawyers and judges, and it is certainly not true that everybody "fears" them. All of the people they deal with that matter are equally qualified as they are, if not more.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on November 13, 2015, 03:13:10 PM
Also chiming in to Bearded's question:

I absolutely hate the negative crowd of lawyers that are so miserable with their job that they disparage anyone for attending law school. I generally think those people have a general attitude problem than a legal career problem.

But I too think you are absolutely crazy to go to law school. Others have pointed out the financial costs--you're delaying FIRE for a significant period of time and likely not making the equivalent salary on the back end.


But more importantly, in another thread, you expressed what I would deem terrible reasons to become an attorney. You wrote:

I've seen a few threads on other forums where people considered going to law school so people wouldn't mess with them so much. I've considered it myself. My uncle is an attorney and it really is amazing how afraid people are of attorneys. As someone who has been sued for a frivolous claim before, and won, I will say lawyers do seem to have a lot of power in society.

I've started and deleted about fifteen sentences to describe how truly awful your reason for wanting to attend law school is. I'm honestly struggling to find the words for it. But just to list a few bullet points so I can get out of the office:

-Don't want people to mess with you? When you become an attorney you are basically signing up for people (clients, magistrates, judges, and especially opposing counsel) to mess with you.

Example: I represent a contractor who has an outstanding reputation. This homeowner is going off the walls with everything and is threatening to defame my client if my client doesn't tear down his entire structure and start over. Now this guy is sending me a half dozen emails a day with "for settlement purposes only" and ending with "I reserve all rights and remedies," as if that means anything. I'm going to be dealing with this clown for at least a couple weeks, probably longer, and maybe even a year.

-Also on the don't want people to mess with you train--you're likely going to need to join a firm after graduate so you can get some experience. And when you're doing that, partners and other associates are going to control your life way more than you'd think.

-One thing you'll eventually learn that goes against what you posted--being right doesn't always matter. A partner here defended a case that I thought was a shoe-in for a defense verdict for us. Three day trial. Plaintiff's evidence sucked. And then the jury deliberated for 44 minutes and returned a $500,000 verdict for the Plaintiff. And now we are still on appeal.

-Take it from a young lawyer (in my second year practicing): opposing counsel will give you no respect until you earn it. They drop little lines in their emails (one from today: "Despite your posturing..."). They don't give you the time of the day on the phone. They talk over you at hearings. On and on.


Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being a lawyer. I'm looking forward to starting my own practice soon. But I can't think of a worse reason to go to law school than what you mentioned in your previous post.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on November 13, 2015, 06:11:13 PM
I've considered law school. Not sure if worth it at 34. In Montana ABA accredited law program is 40k total, 91% BAR pass rate. Again, with 500+k in the bank and s six figure engineering job, not sure if worth it. Uncle and bother are law lawyers and everyone fears them, lol

I agree with everyone else that it's not financially "worth it"

But I disagree that you'd be crazy to do it.  If you love school, and really want to learn law, it could be worth it.  I'd sit in on a few classes first to see if it's really something you'd like.  Most first year classes are so large you could walk into any of them and nobody would wonder who you are. 

Note that, as a former engineer, the whole idea that law school "teaches you to think like a lawyer" is pretty useless for those already trained in logic.  The only thing it adds is a level of litigation paranoia.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 09, 2015, 10:45:24 AM
Quick update (and I want to keep this thread alive and follow my fellow attorneys)......

Following up on a new connection I made at an ABA conference led to a trip to Cincinnati.  While there, I met with 3 highly desirable prospects and those meetings went well -- advanced toward closing them as new clients (for my consulting firm side).  Meanwhile, the contact I'd met at the ABA meeting suggested that I consider being General Counsel and Chief Sustainability Officer for his company.  He knows I don't want to relocate, so he's suggesting a 6 - 9 month contract to try it out.  It's an awesome opportunity that would catapult my career, positioning me to serve on corporate boards and filling a industry-experience resume gap.  It could also lead to a full time gig with an equity share (if I agreed to relocate after the trial -- it's 9 hours from home).

Then, yesterday, a consulting firm that I collaborate with asked if I'd be interested in joining them full time.  No, probably not, because I won't gain anything by that except a steady paycheck and I'm used to not having that by now.  I can keep them as a collaborator/ client and subcontract through them without having to join them.

Exciting stuff!  Plus, on a personal front, my house is rented out and my BF and I just bought a 800 sq ft condo in a wonderful part of our city -- walkable to everything.  The mortgage is so low (<$1k) that he told me not to worry about chipping in toward it, and to just go hard after my student loan debt.   No more grass cutting, weeding, gutter cleaning for me!!  I love being an empty nester!!

Cheers!  How's it going for everyone else?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on December 09, 2015, 12:15:44 PM
Fellow mustachian attorneys:

Apologies if this has been covered before, but my question to you all is WHAT would YOU do for a living if you left the practice of law?

   Lumberjack.  In Alaska or the Pacific Northwest.  Maybe use my 'Stache to start a timber cutting company.

Sorry of that is off the wall, but you did ask.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on December 09, 2015, 03:12:01 PM
TS - awesome update! So great to hear that things are going so well.

Things are good in law school land. I love December (though students hate it) because it's the time when the 3L public interest post-grad offers really start to flow. In the last week I've had a fellowship, a clerkship, a JAG offer, two public defenders, and a couple gov't agencies come through. It's celebrating time with students!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on December 09, 2015, 08:40:48 PM
Hey TS - Cool update. It makes me wonder if you think about the job you left and ask, "Why did I wait so long!" :) That's the thing about being solo, opportunities start to come from every angle. The issue is then about choosing the right ones.

Anyway, sounds like things are going well and congratulations.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 14, 2015, 07:14:11 AM
Shew!  I just had to stroke a check for $5k to retain a forensic accountant for the wills litigation case I have.  That takes my business account down to about $800.00 which is SCARY.  I called two clients to collect little bills that they haven't paid yet.  I have about $1,000 coming in December.  I have $2k coming in January.  Deep breath.

I'm filing the wills lawsuit tomorrow -- $2M for breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, conversion, and unjust enrichment.  Asking for punitive damages and attorney's fees (permitted by statute in wills/ POA/ estates cases).  I have a 30% contingency stake if we settle before trial; 35% if we settle during trial but before the jury returns.  Facts and law are both very favorable to us.

December is a real roller coaster of thrills and fear.

DCKatie09, when the semester ends do you get time off or do you use that time to regroup and plan?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on December 14, 2015, 12:00:43 PM
I understand the case is a contingency case, but you are financing the cost of experts?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 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!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget 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.).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey 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:
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat 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!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif 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!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 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.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 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 :)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Rosbif 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth 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.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: westcoaster 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Chiron 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop 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!/
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on February 05, 2016, 09:26:05 PM
Yikes!  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/05/americas-lawyers-have-a-serious-drinking-problem/?postshare=1971454706610639&tid=ss_fb
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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"
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TXScout2 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TXScout2 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar 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
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ormaybemidgets 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Chiron 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TXScout2 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: spud1987 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: spud1987 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lexaholik 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.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: aFrugalFather 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. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PtboEliz on February 11, 2016, 11:30:39 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.

Hi TX - I left law practice about 12 years ago, switching to government and broader public sector for several years before pulling the plug on full-time work a few years ago at age 37. Now, I do workplace investigations and some mediation work as an independent consultant. I did have the benefit of mediation training from my old employer. My start-up costs and business expenses are next to nothing (I work from home on my laptop, with worksite visits), I bill a good hourly rate, and I don't have to pay practicing fees or insurance (just modest professional liability insurance; I'm clear that I don't give legal advice). I've found so far that I can work as much as I like which isn't too much as I don't like to have more than 2 files at a time. If I flat-out hustled for work I think it would be a breeze to make $150K+/yr. My clients are happy to have someone with legal training who can get started on their matter right away. I get to use my skills and I enjoy that there's a beginning, middle and end to each file. I think ADR and workplace investigations are an overlooked area for recovering lawyers (or those who want to recover :). Good luck with your career decisions!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TXScout2 on February 11, 2016, 02:30:09 PM
Lexaholic- What is the logic behind the 3x annual expenses figure?  It sounds good, but I am just wondering how you came to that conclusion.  If that's the figure I could probably quit in a year. 

The Anonlawyer story is sort of frustrating- good for him though.  He took the plunge to quit but he has a large amount of assets.  Not quite a "leap of faith;" more like a meticulously calculated move that has extremely low risk of failure even if he never gets another job again.

PtboEliz - Thanks for your story.  I hadn't heard of workplace investigations as a post-law option.  What kind of law were you practicing before you got into that? 



Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lexaholik on February 11, 2016, 05:51:19 PM
Lexaholic- What is the logic behind the 3x annual expenses figure?  It sounds good, but I am just wondering how you came to that conclusion.  If that's the figure I could probably quit in a year. 

The Anonlawyer story is sort of frustrating- good for him though.  He took the plunge to quit but he has a large amount of assets.  Not quite a "leap of faith;" more like a meticulously calculated move that has extremely low risk of failure even if he never gets another job again.

PtboEliz - Thanks for your story.  I hadn't heard of workplace investigations as a post-law option.  What kind of law were you practicing before you got into that?

It's more art than science really. Once I was debt free, I thought about what kind of job I'd be able to find once my sabbatical was over. I figured I'd be able to find a job that earned more than enough to cover living expenses + savings. So the next question was--how long would be long enough for me to feel OK about not being able to find a job. For me that number came out to 2-3 years of runway. So once I had that much money I was able to free myself of the obligation of a job I didn't like.

3 years is not a lot of slack, and a lot can go wrong. But I saw risk on the other side. What if you waited until you saved 20 years worth of savings? What if that takes you 10 years? And what happens if you die before then, or if you die shortly after? Risk comes in many forms--not having enough money is just one of them.

Of course even I didn't follow my own plan. I didn't leave until I got to 6 years runway. So it really comes down to your personal comfort level. I suspect lawyers want more margin of safety--for others it could be as little as 12 months of runway.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: PtboEliz on February 11, 2016, 07:05:02 PM
I only practiced for 3 years - civil litigation (including a bit of employment). I started to get investigation experience when I worked in broader public sector as a human rights advisor (another great alternative to practice). Honestly, I think any lawyer could do two days' reading about how to conduct a workplace investigation and be better than most - it's easy and low pressure compared with legal practice, yet interesting. And you get to be a mini-judge assessing credibility and making findings of fact in light of legal principles which is fun. I also enjoy writing reports in my PJ's and riding my bike to meetings :)

I'm grateful for my law school education, it was the right area for me - but I wasn't cut out for the pressures of practice. I think a legal education and some practice experience sets a person up for all kinds of career possibilities.

I do agree with what some others expressed that it's hard to step away. For a while I worked to keep doors open (e.g., maintaining practicing status, etc.) but then someone gave me the best advice.. that you don't need to worry about a door closing if its a door you never want to walk through again...
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: CloserToFree on February 12, 2016, 06:26:01 PM
Just found this thread yesterday and read it straight through-- mostly to follow TrulyStashin's story.  You go, TrulyStashin!!  After reading through all the ups and downs, I have to agree with everyone else-- your old firm was pulling a bunch of BS and obviously not recognizing your contributions -- or worse, knowingly taking advantage and milking every penny they could make off you.  Thrilled that you took the plunge to hang your own shingle -- sounds like it's been an amazing ride so far!! Best of luck!

I'm a senior associate (litigation) at a top Biglaw firm in a major East Coast city. Standard market pay. I actually do love my job about 80% of the time (which is why I've stayed there so long- my initial plan was to stay only one year!). The other 20% I'm super frustrated with certain partners I work with and/or the high pressure demands coming from clients.  All in all, though, I have it pretty awesome.

Glad to be part of this thread now!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on February 18, 2016, 08:06:58 AM
I guess it's time for an update while I wait for this effing printer to churn out the complaint I need to file today.

By far the most frustrating part of being solo is not having the support I used to have.  Printer doesn't work?  I have to figure it out -- there's no IT guy to call.  Argghhh.

But that's pretty much the only thing that sucks.  Otherwise, I am LOVING this and I am super busy right now.

The wills-estates case is cranking along.  I had an evidentiary hearing for a preliminary injunction to freeze the D's assets scheduled and the judge continued it, which was fine and actually good for my client.  That's rescheduled for early March.  If I get the injunction, then I'm pretty sure the case will settle -- the D has already made several comments to that effect.  After I get some discovery and subpoena responses I'll have a better idea but right now the potential settlement range is $500,000 - $750,000.  My take is 30% of that which will almost totally pay off my student loans.  Mind you, this case has been a bit of a nightmare -- estates cases among family members are akin to nasty divorce cases.  High drama.  Plus the D's attorney is a total asshole, prone to nasty comments and unnecessarily petty and aggressive posturing.  I'm earning that money, to be sure.

I also have another litigation case which will be a slam dunk along the lines of res ipsa loquiter.  15 acres of my client's land was burned/ destroyed when an adjacent landowner set huge piles of logging debris on fire.  The fires burned for 2 months and then ran out of control onto my client's land.   The D was fined by the Dept. of Forestry as the "responsible party".   This will also almost certainly settle.  We're filing suit only because the SOL is about to run out.

I've also got a bunch of other small to medium projects -- the sale of a LLC, for instance.  So the cashflow is enough to let me sleep.  I've got about 3 months of $$ sitting in savings so whatever I'm earning now will cover the Q3.

And... great news on the consulting side.  I've landed a paid speaking gig at a major university.   The issue is one that the board of trustees is very involved in and I'm working now to get a contract to advise the board.  I'll take this experience and market it to other universities.  I also have a MOU with an accounting firm that works in an aligned specialty and thanks to that recently briefed one of the biggest privately-owned companies in the world.  I've been writing and publishing too.

I hope everyone is happy!  I sure am.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on February 18, 2016, 09:12:46 AM
Great update, TS!  Glad that things are going so well for you.  It sounds like you are in your element and loving it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on February 18, 2016, 07:41:54 PM
Wow, TrulyStashin, you are thriving!  Great update and congrats!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TXScout2 on February 19, 2016, 10:37:11 AM
Congrats TS, that sounds exciting!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on February 19, 2016, 12:51:58 PM
Congrats! How many hours are you working?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on February 22, 2016, 07:51:32 AM
Congrats! How many hours are you working?

Lately, because I'm super busy, I'd say about 50-60 hours a week.  WAY less than I worked at the Big Firm.  I could crank it up more -- do more marketing -- but I'm pretty happy with my work-life balance right now.

Update on the update... the Chief Investment Officer of the Major University asked for a proposal on briefing the board of trustees.  Fingers crossed.  Trying to figure out how to price that.... somewhere in the range of $7500 to $10k, I think.  Anyone have any experience with that sort of thing?

TS
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: emilypsf on February 22, 2016, 09:10:26 AM
I'm a lawyer.  I worked for 9 years representing plaintiffs in catastrophic injury cases.  As far as legal jobs go, it was a good one, but it was all-consuming and really difficult to balance with a family.  When our second child turned 1, I quit and am now a SAHM.  I have been thinking about starting my own practice but won't be doing anything until our youngest is in school.  I don't miss the work, but I do miss effortlessly saving a lot of money.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: MMM on March 07, 2016, 06:44:21 PM
Greetings, Mustachian Attorneys!

I am not sure how many people will see this since we're on page 9 of the discussion, but I didn't want to miss this great collection of people for my request.

So my issue is as follows: This forum is under attack (third time) by a company over things that the forum members have been saying about it. I'm keeping it documented here:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/rl360-insurance/

Are there any Arizona-licensed attorneys willing to work with me to help quash the subpoena in the Arizona court, and possibly go even further if possible?

There is no personal benefit to me, but I think we could save some forum readers a lot of worry and hassle, and possibly create some good social justice in a public setting as well. And I'm willing to pay you for your work!

please get in touch via the blog's contact form or directly via gmail with username mrmoneymustache.

thanks,
Pete



Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on March 07, 2016, 06:51:39 PM
Wow, again?  That's wild.  I have a few Arizona lawyer friends I can reach out to, although they're not forum readers (to my knowledge). 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on March 08, 2016, 11:46:49 AM
Greetings, Mustachian Attorneys!

I am not sure how many people will see this since we're on page 9 of the discussion, but I didn't want to miss this great collection of people for my request.

So my issue is as follows: This forum is under attack (third time) by a company over things that the forum members have been saying about it. I'm keeping it documented here:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/rl360-insurance/

Are there any Arizona-licensed attorneys willing to work with me to help quash the subpoena in the Arizona court, and possibly go even further if possible?

There is no personal benefit to me, but I think we could save some forum readers a lot of worry and hassle, and possibly create some good social justice in a public setting as well. And I'm willing to pay you for your work!

please get in touch via the blog's contact form or directly via gmail with username mrmoneymustache.

thanks,
Pete

I'd guess RobinAZ, who commented earlier in the thread, is an Arizona attorney.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on March 08, 2016, 11:53:07 AM
I guess it's time for an update while I wait for this effing printer to churn out the complaint I need to file today.

By far the most frustrating part of being solo is not having the support I used to have.  Printer doesn't work?  I have to figure it out -- there's no IT guy to call.  Argghhh.

But that's pretty much the only thing that sucks.  Otherwise, I am LOVING this and I am super busy right now.

The wills-estates case is cranking along.  I had an evidentiary hearing for a preliminary injunction to freeze the D's assets scheduled and the judge continued it, which was fine and actually good for my client.  That's rescheduled for early March.  If I get the injunction, then I'm pretty sure the case will settle -- the D has already made several comments to that effect.  After I get some discovery and subpoena responses I'll have a better idea but right now the potential settlement range is $500,000 - $750,000.  My take is 30% of that which will almost totally pay off my student loans.  Mind you, this case has been a bit of a nightmare -- estates cases among family members are akin to nasty divorce cases.  High drama.  Plus the D's attorney is a total asshole, prone to nasty comments and unnecessarily petty and aggressive posturing.  I'm earning that money, to be sure.

I also have another litigation case which will be a slam dunk along the lines of res ipsa loquiter.  15 acres of my client's land was burned/ destroyed when an adjacent landowner set huge piles of logging debris on fire.  The fires burned for 2 months and then ran out of control onto my client's land.   The D was fined by the Dept. of Forestry as the "responsible party".   This will also almost certainly settle.  We're filing suit only because the SOL is about to run out.

I've also got a bunch of other small to medium projects -- the sale of a LLC, for instance.  So the cashflow is enough to let me sleep.  I've got about 3 months of $$ sitting in savings so whatever I'm earning now will cover the Q3.

And... great news on the consulting side.  I've landed a paid speaking gig at a major university.   The issue is one that the board of trustees is very involved in and I'm working now to get a contract to advise the board.  I'll take this experience and market it to other universities.  I also have a MOU with an accounting firm that works in an aligned specialty and thanks to that recently briefed one of the biggest privately-owned companies in the world.  I've been writing and publishing too.

I hope everyone is happy!  I sure am.
Wow!  I guess there was no need to worry about you.  You hit the ground running.  I made only $5000 my first year on my own . . . and it looks like your settlement of one case will be more than my annual income.

Good job!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lexaholik on March 08, 2016, 05:59:12 PM
Greetings, Mustachian Attorneys!

I am not sure how many people will see this since we're on page 9 of the discussion, but I didn't want to miss this great collection of people for my request.

So my issue is as follows: This forum is under attack (third time) by a company over things that the forum members have been saying about it. I'm keeping it documented here:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/rl360-insurance/

Are there any Arizona-licensed attorneys willing to work with me to help quash the subpoena in the Arizona court, and possibly go even further if possible?

There is no personal benefit to me, but I think we could save some forum readers a lot of worry and hassle, and possibly create some good social justice in a public setting as well. And I'm willing to pay you for your work!

please get in touch via the blog's contact form or directly via gmail with username mrmoneymustache.

thanks,
Pete

PMed you.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on March 09, 2016, 07:40:43 AM
I won an injunction last Friday!!!  Woo hoo!!!!   

It was awesome!  The hearing went for almost three hours and I handled myself really well.  I don't think anyone could tell that I'd never done it before.  I even impeached the defendant on the stand:   "Your mother executed all of the documents to jointly re-title the assets?"  "Yes, all of them."  "Well, what about this one for the AT&T stock?  Is that your signature with the power of attorney?"   "Um, yes."

As the defendant's attorney started sputtering and talking -- trying to distract.  The judge actually said to him, "She gotcha."

The judge also denied five of his (bullshit) motions.  We have a trial set for the end of July but I bet it settles.  Fingers crossed.

Happy springtime, everyone!

Pete, I hope you kick ass!  I wish I was an AZ attorney so I could help.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on March 09, 2016, 07:42:06 AM
Quote
The judge actually said to him, "She gotcha."

Awesome.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on March 09, 2016, 08:33:01 AM
Quote
The judge actually said to him, "She gotcha."

Awesome.

Omg that sounds SO satisfying. :)
Congrats
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Lexaholik on March 09, 2016, 09:40:40 AM
I won an injunction last Friday!!!  Woo hoo!!!!   

It was awesome!  The hearing went for almost three hours and I handled myself really well.  I don't think anyone could tell that I'd never done it before.  I even impeached the defendant on the stand:   "Your mother executed all of the documents to jointly re-title the assets?"  "Yes, all of them."  "Well, what about this one for the AT&T stock?  Is that your signature with the power of attorney?"   "Um, yes."

As the defendant's attorney started sputtering and talking -- trying to distract.  The judge actually said to him, "She gotcha."

The judge also denied five of his (bullshit) motions.  We have a trial set for the end of July but I bet it settles.  Fingers crossed.

Happy springtime, everyone!

Pete, I hope you kick ass!  I wish I was an AZ attorney so I could help.

This is really awesome. Congratulations--it must have felt amazing!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on June 24, 2016, 08:34:40 AM
What a great thread. I'm a biglaw associate on the M&A side (private equity). Salary is on the standard Biglaw structure (thanks Cravath for the recent raises!). Law school debt is still outstanding, but I've grown tired of it and am paying off the last $80K this year. Last payment will be December 25, 2016.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: BFGirl on June 24, 2016, 08:48:51 AM
Guess I haven't seen this thread before. J.D. 1993.  Small law part time for 9 years.  Government lawyer for last 13.  Maybe I'll hit six figures before I retire from the government.  Get my job done, but come and go pretty much as I please and telecommute at least 1 day a week.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on July 11, 2016, 11:39:18 AM
I won an injunction last Friday!!!  Woo hoo!!!!   

It was awesome!  The hearing went for almost three hours and I handled myself really well.  I don't think anyone could tell that I'd never done it before.  I even impeached the defendant on the stand:   "Your mother executed all of the documents to jointly re-title the assets?"  "Yes, all of them."  "Well, what about this one for the AT&T stock?  Is that your signature with the power of attorney?"   "Um, yes."

As the defendant's attorney started sputtering and talking -- trying to distract.  The judge actually said to him, "She gotcha."

The judge also denied five of his (bullshit) motions.  We have a trial set for the end of July but I bet it settles.  Fingers crossed.

Happy springtime, everyone!

Pete, I hope you kick ass!  I wish I was an AZ attorney so I could help.

This is really awesome. Congratulations--it must have felt amazing!

Jury trial starts July 19th -- three days.  This roller coaster has been one seriously wild ride.  I've racked up a nearly unbroken string of motions victories -- not so much because I'm brilliant ;) but because my case is that strong on facts and law.  We argue this Friday on motions in limine and I have a partial SJ motion.  I'm feeling good about it.  Will post an update after next week.

Never done a jury trial before.  If anyone has any tips, I'm all ears.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Check2400 on July 11, 2016, 02:34:36 PM
If you don't have your Jury Questions/Charge done yet, do it now.  Everything you do, from winning them over at Voir Dire, to presenting evidence, to phrasing your questions, should be tailored to the language of the Pattern Jury Charge first, and then the proposed Jury Charge you're seeking to have the judge present (they aren't always the same, judge's will defer to Pattern Charges because of certainty unless you can wow em). 

Until you know exactly what the question is, you can't start preparing how to present the answer. 

Lastly, win or lose, late night or early decision, stay afterwards to thank and discuss with the jurors who want to talk with you.  The seriousness in which most jurors end up taking their duty is a wonderfully refreshing conversation to have.  Plus you get feedback you can get no where else--ask for harsh criticisms and take notes. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on July 11, 2016, 03:18:00 PM
Tons of tips about trial! I just finished one 10 days ago defending conspiracy charges. My biggest one ever, 6 days, federal court, jury trial, 40 witnesses. Verdict: Guilty.  Since I'm a loser (literally), do you want my advice?? :)

In all seriousness, I like the Trial Notebook for good trial advice. I read it before every trial:

 http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/mcelhaneys-trial-notebook-james-w-mcelhaney/1100068087/2674454327884?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Marketplace+Shopping+Textbooks_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP20436&k_clickid=3x20436

Good luck.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on July 12, 2016, 07:21:11 AM
Great to hear some success stories in here.

To share my biggest one to date, I handled a one-day arbitration in April. My client was a home construction contractor and this guy sued him, claiming that the only way to remedy minor problems was to demolish the house and start over. The liability exposure was about $65,000.

Not only did we win, but the arbitrator awarded us our attorneys' fees (which is currently being litigated in court). After the arbitration, opposing counsel (who has a very good local reputation) called and said that this case was the worst ass-kicking he'd ever had, ever.

Damn that felt good.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on July 15, 2016, 09:41:10 AM
So I have a huge transactional assignment and I could really use some input.

A nonprofit corporation was set up in a nearby city about 20 miles away. It is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation but I'm not sure of any 501(c)(3) paperwork. 

They now want to open a second location in my town and somebody else will be running it. But our client, who started the original corporation, wants to know how best to accomplish opening this second location.  The client is convinced he needs to create some sort of entity to do this, and he is leaning towards establishing a franchise. I don't do any transactional work so I don't understand why that makes any sense. I just don't understand why they don't set up another 501(c)(3), or hell, why they even need a new entity at all.

The client's main concerns are as follows:
(1) Wants control of the branding/website;
(2) Wants a ton of control over things (no alcohol, no religion, reporting requirements, grant approval, etc.).

And that's basically it. Again, I think franchising this is insane given that it's a 501(c)(3), and I hope I'm not off my rocker there. Any advice from more experienced folks would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on July 15, 2016, 09:53:44 AM
So I have a huge transactional assignment and I could really use some input.

A nonprofit corporation was set up in a nearby city about 20 miles away. It is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation but I'm not sure of any 501(c)(3) paperwork. 

They now want to open a second location in my town and somebody else will be running it. But our client, who started the original corporation, wants to know how best to accomplish opening this second location.  The client is convinced he needs to create some sort of entity to do this, and he is leaning towards establishing a franchise. I don't do any transactional work so I don't understand why that makes any sense. I just don't understand why they don't set up another 501(c)(3), or hell, why they even need a new entity at all.

The client's main concerns are as follows:
(1) Wants control of the branding/website;
(2) Wants a ton of control over things (no alcohol, no religion, reporting requirements, grant approval, etc.).

And that's basically it. Again, I think franchising this is insane given that it's a 501(c)(3), and I hope I'm not off my rocker there. Any advice from more experienced folks would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

A few links that might be of interest:

First, the basics of whether or not a nonprofit needs 501(c)(3) status (btw you say "it's a 501(c)(3)"--it's not unless you've seen the paperwork from the IRS granting that status):
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/long-can-nonprofit-operate-501c3-status-60923.html

Now, franchising:
http://jux.law/social-franchising-franchise-a-501c3-nonprofit-organization
"Using a social franchise model, an organization will encounter three main challenges: developing a repeatable operations model, identifying local leaders, and ensuring legal compliance....
The third challenge is legal compliance. Each state has its own requirements. At a minimum, states typically require registering the foreign nonprofit corporation [assuming the original nonprofit is from out of state, which it sounds like your client isn't] in the state’s corporate filing office (secretary of state, etc.). States also generally require registration (e.g. attorney general’s office) of any organization soliciting funds.

Instead of having a parent organization with a presence in the state, the organization can use a model where the local chapter is its own nonprofit corporation, with its own board of directors, connected to the parent by a contract. Whatever the structure, nonprofit organizations will need contracts to govern the relationships between the parent organization and local chapters."

http://www.franchise.org/sites/default/files/ek-pdfs/html_page/nonprofit_owned_1.pdf
(40-page article on this)

By the way, why does he want a second, independently operated location only 20 miles from the original? That's what seems nuts to me more than anything else (apart from the crazy control freakishness).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on July 15, 2016, 09:56:54 AM
So I have a huge transactional assignment and I could really use some input.

A nonprofit corporation was set up in a nearby city about 20 miles away. It is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation but I'm not sure of any 501(c)(3) paperwork. 

They now want to open a second location in my town and somebody else will be running it. But our client, who started the original corporation, wants to know how best to accomplish opening this second location.  The client is convinced he needs to create some sort of entity to do this, and he is leaning towards establishing a franchise. I don't do any transactional work so I don't understand why that makes any sense. I just don't understand why they don't set up another 501(c)(3), or hell, why they even need a new entity at all.

The client's main concerns are as follows:
(1) Wants control of the branding/website;
(2) Wants a ton of control over things (no alcohol, no religion, reporting requirements, grant approval, etc.).

And that's basically it. Again, I think franchising this is insane given that it's a 501(c)(3), and I hope I'm not off my rocker there. Any advice from more experienced folks would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Not an expert, but I don't think you can franchise your 501(c)(3) status.  Depending on what sort of exemption they have, there are pretty complex asset, income and fundraising tests, and I don't think it works to aggregate across entities.  This is an exceedingly complex area of law, unfortunately.  You'll also need someone familiar with your state not for profit laws, if any.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Nick_Miller on July 15, 2016, 10:29:43 AM
New Mustachian/old attorney checking in. Well, I'm not that old.

Making about $120K with bonuses this year, but I work in a very small PI office with no benefits. But I have unfettered freedom. It's almost like having my own practice with none of the administrative problems. I am guaranteed a straight salary each week no matter what, and then I get bonuses each month based on settlement $.

I do question my decision, because of the expenses of law school (over 10 years after law school, I STILL have huge loans, but I am working to knock those out in the next 36 months).

So in 36 months, I plan to have: no student loan debt, no car debt, a VERY small mortgage left (maybe $50K), no childcare expenses (finally!), and hopefully $200K in the bank.

Not enough to retire on certainly, but enough to give me more freedom, especially since my wife also works (not an attorney).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on July 15, 2016, 12:27:45 PM
So I have a huge transactional assignment and I could really use some input.

A nonprofit corporation was set up in a nearby city about 20 miles away. It is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation but I'm not sure of any 501(c)(3) paperwork. . . .

. . .  First, the basics of whether or not a nonprofit needs 501(c)(3) status (btw you say "it's a 501(c)(3)"--it's not unless you've seen the paperwork from the IRS granting that status):
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/long-can-nonprofit-operate-501c3-status-60923.html . . . .

I'm not a transactional lawyer, and I'd highly recommend you consult with an attorney who's more familiar with your state's non-profit laws.  This is the only piece I can comfortably weigh in on -- not all non-profit corporations qualify for or are granted 501(c)(3) status, so you need to be sure whether you are really dealing with a 501(c)(3) or some other form of non-profit.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Aelias on July 15, 2016, 03:02:51 PM

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.

First post!

Anyone else FI decide to do a small solo practice?  I do management-side L&E litigation at a boutique firm (practicing for eight years) and really enjoy it, especially given that I'm only at 80% time right now (meaning I work mostly 9-5).  But my husband and I are likely to be FI with $2M in ten years or less, and having a job is sort of a bummer.   I could totally see myself taking on a case here or there to keep up my skills and earn a couple bucks.  It seems like a rough way to earn a living (kudos to the folks who do it--including the incredible Truly Stashin!), but if you're already FI?  Why not?

I think there are also more project and freelance attorney gigs than there used to be.  If I retire in 10 years at the ripe old age of 43 (as is the plan!), I'm fairly certain there will be more paid work in my future.  But it will have to be flexible enough for all the extended travelling we plan to do.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on July 16, 2016, 08:03:19 AM

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.

First post!

Anyone else FI decide to do a small solo practice?  I do management-side L&E litigation at a boutique firm (practicing for eight years) and really enjoy it, especially given that I'm only at 80% time right now (meaning I work mostly 9-5).  But my husband and I are likely to be FI with $2M in ten years or less, and having a job is sort of a bummer.   I could totally see myself taking on a case here or there to keep up my skills and earn a couple bucks.  It seems like a rough way to earn a living (kudos to the folks who do it--including the incredible Truly Stashin!), but if you're already FI?  Why not?

I think there are also more project and freelance attorney gigs than there used to be.  If I retire in 10 years at the ripe old age of 43 (as is the plan!), I'm fairly certain there will be more paid work in my future.  But it will have to be flexible enough for all the extended travelling we plan to do.

I was talking to a Big Law attorney the other day and he basically said he was FI and now he just worked as "Of Counsel" to a local Big Law firm. He gets an office and the association with the firm. The firm gets to trot him out as an expert in whatever field, his expertise if needed and all his referrals. He didn't say if he was getting paid anything or highly reduced or what but it was clear, whatever he was getting paid was inconsequential, he called the shots related to his time but he was glad to not be totally out of the game.

Just another possibility for staying somewhat connected after FI.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on July 16, 2016, 08:17:58 AM

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.

First post!

Anyone else FI decide to do a small solo practice?  I do management-side L&E litigation at a boutique firm (practicing for eight years) and really enjoy it, especially given that I'm only at 80% time right now (meaning I work mostly 9-5).  But my husband and I are likely to be FI with $2M in ten years or less, and having a job is sort of a bummer.   I could totally see myself taking on a case here or there to keep up my skills and earn a couple bucks.  It seems like a rough way to earn a living (kudos to the folks who do it--including the incredible Truly Stashin!), but if you're already FI?  Why not?

I think there are also more project and freelance attorney gigs than there used to be.  If I retire in 10 years at the ripe old age of 43 (as is the plan!), I'm fairly certain there will be more paid work in my future.  But it will have to be flexible enough for all the extended travelling we plan to do.

BTW, my small solo practice is a bit of a misnomer now. I have hired two additional attorneys. It is actually awesome (so far) because I do drastically less work. I have them handle all the behind the scenes stuff (pleadings, briefs, etc). I go to court and, when necessary, do the client hand holding. I also ensure quality control of legal work and strategies. I am also the "rainmaker" for the firm and bring in all the business. When it was just me, I was doing approx $350,000 of business but referring away a lot of cases. With additional attorneys, I can keep more business in house. So, I think we can easily get the gross receipts to $500,000 and maybe more.

My ultimate goal is to have a small firm where I sit at the top and choose the cases I want to work on or that are particularly profitable. The associate attorneys do the work for all the cases I don't want but have value. They cover the office overhead and I earn a percentage of their practice. Just to give you an idea, I pay them a percentage of their receipts NOT a salary. If I can hit my FI number (I'm over halfway there) and create passive income through the law firm that covers my annual costs (since I'm mustachian, that is about 40k for my family of 5) then I'll be able to let my stache compound for decades, stay active in the law/community but have lots of personal flexibility.

That is the hope anyway.... Has anyone else done something like that?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: totoro on July 16, 2016, 02:22:16 PM
Me.  I've transferred most of my work to an associate and assistant. 

I do very little legal work and have gone to PT practice - about ten hours a week.  Not exactly passive as the liability is still there, as is the requirement to manage. 

I may sell my practice if I can but have not had if valued yet. 

I'm focusing on RE investments now as I have quite a bit of retained earnings to put to work.  I don't miss practicing except for the massive accumulation of air miles as my work involved a lot of travel.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Axecleaver on July 17, 2016, 07:55:32 AM
Quote
I pay them a percentage of their receipts NOT a salary... Has anyone else done something like that?
IANAL, but it sounds to me like the business model of most successful independent contractors who have grown their business to include other 1099 contractors. You're providing the sales and taking a cut of the action.  It's exactly how I've grown my healthcare reform policy consulting business, with some of the same benefits: I choose which work I do personally and pass off the less complex, less interesting work to trusted employees who I've hired and trained. In my case, they're salaried employees, but I do provide incentives to them to encourage revenue growth and make them less inclined to leave for another job.

I would not consider sales a "passive" activity. But once you get recurring relationships set up, it's definitely a lot less work than providing all the delivery personally.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: rafiki on July 17, 2016, 10:00:24 AM

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.

First post!

Anyone else FI decide to do a small solo practice?  I do management-side L&E litigation at a boutique firm (practicing for eight years) and really enjoy it, especially given that I'm only at 80% time right now (meaning I work mostly 9-5).  But my husband and I are likely to be FI with $2M in ten years or less, and having a job is sort of a bummer.   I could totally see myself taking on a case here or there to keep up my skills and earn a couple bucks.  It seems like a rough way to earn a living (kudos to the folks who do it--including the incredible Truly Stashin!), but if you're already FI?  Why not?

I think there are also more project and freelance attorney gigs than there used to be.  If I retire in 10 years at the ripe old age of 43 (as is the plan!), I'm fairly certain there will be more paid work in my future.  But it will have to be flexible enough for all the extended travelling we plan to do.

BTW, my small solo practice is a bit of a misnomer now. I have hired two additional attorneys. It is actually awesome (so far) because I do drastically less work. I have them handle all the behind the scenes stuff (pleadings, briefs, etc). I go to court and, when necessary, do the client hand holding. I also ensure quality control of legal work and strategies. I am also the "rainmaker" for the firm and bring in all the business. When it was just me, I was doing approx $350,000 of business but referring away a lot of cases. With additional attorneys, I can keep more business in house. So, I think we can easily get the gross receipts to $500,000 and maybe more.

My ultimate goal is to have a small firm where I sit at the top and choose the cases I want to work on or that are particularly profitable. The associate attorneys do the work for all the cases I don't want but have value. They cover the office overhead and I earn a percentage of their practice. Just to give you an idea, I pay them a percentage of their receipts NOT a salary. If I can hit my FI number (I'm over halfway there) and create passive income through the law firm that covers my annual costs (since I'm mustachian, that is about 40k for my family of 5) then I'll be able to let my stache compound for decades, stay active in the law/community but have lots of personal flexibility.

That is the hope anyway.... Has anyone else done something like that?

I just want to say that this is really cool. Congrats on building an actual business, rather than a job for yourself. Paying out a percentage of their production is the way to do it I think. It certainly incentivizes them. This is a tremendous inspiration for someone like myself.

I'm narrowing in on 4 years of private practice. I started my firm right out of school approximately 4 years ago. I could not have done this without finding a mentor and a building with other lawyers. I hired a part time assistant a couple years ago, but haven't been able to break out of that point.

I have had some personnel issues, and these are probably my greatest challenges to date. My first assistant was good, but had some personality issues with the other people in my building and left after 1.5 years. My second assistant was a train wreck and I had to cut her loose quickly. My new assistant has a great personality, and is learning the ropes, but had no litigation experience prior to signing on.

Each year I have been able to grow the practice (last year I grew it substantially). This year I feel like I am stalling out a little. The personnel issues haven't helped, and I think once I get my new assistant up to speed things will get better again. If I can maintain my income this year I would be OK with it (not ecstatic, but I did low 6 figures last year - that goes a long way in Florida, and it's certainly enough money to cover expenses and save a good %).

My plan is to be able to walk away within 10 years if I want to. My strategy is to use real estate, stocks / bonds, and money producing websites to build up my net worth and also provide an income after I reach my "number". That said, I may choose to work part time, or get even more selective or something (do mediations?). Who really knows. The idea of hiring an associate to do most of the work sounds great in theory.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on July 17, 2016, 02:09:25 PM
Alex Cleaver/Totoro : you are right that "passive" is not the right word. Compared to a truly passive index fund, there is a lot of work. But the ten hours a week Totoro mentioned sounds like a dream. For me, getting business is easy and fun. I like going to community stuff and being involved in community activities. I don't dread "networking." In fact, I enjoy hanging out with other business owners who are the best referral sources. I'm always kicking around, that I would want to do that stuff even when I am FI, so how can I "retire," still be active in the community but 100% on my terms (with long vacations), and keep monetizing the business opportunities. That is what I am trying to build.

Also, both of the attorneys I hired are long term relationships with people who became lawyers after I met them. I have specifically discussed MMM and Financial Independance with them and I'd like them to be able to earn based on my business opportunities. They are friends, maybe they will join me as FI and we will have truly badass law firm that can take on all kinds of cool cases regular firms pass on for money reasons.

Anyway, that is the idea. So, we will just see. I'm still not FI, but I'm halfway there and I have a major PI case that could supercharge my stash by approximately 500k in the next year. That's the "great white whale" I am angling for which will allow me to put even more of these plans into action.

Finally, a good assistant and team is key. I've fired and hired a few. I finally have a great three person non-attorney staff. Only one is full-time the other two are part time and have very specific functions on the team. I used to do the same $350,000 business with NO STAFF. Thinking back makes me feel huge sick.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on July 31, 2016, 02:24:04 PM
Update on my fraud/ estate case:   I won a $246,000 judgment for my client.

The bad news?  Though the jury was diligent and intelligent, they were confused by the verdict form the judge drafted and put forward on the morning they began deliberations.  The form gave them the option of finding for the plaintiff and awarding compensatory damages OR finding for the plaintiff and awarding punitive damages OR finding for the defendant.

The entire judgment was for punitive damages.  No compensatory damages at all.  And in my state (as in many) you must have compensatory damages before awarding punitive damages.  The defense made a motion to set aside the verdict and they will likely succeed, given the case law.   We may have to try the case again, if I can't wrangle a settlement.  At first, I was pretty depressed about this until it hit me that I WON!  And, if I have to retry it, I will WIN AGAIN and this time may even win bigger:  compensatory damages, prejudgment interest, and fees/ costs.  The judge upheld an objection to my attorney's fees/ costs exhibit which kept it out of evidence -- he admitted later that he had forgotten that we had put attorney's fees in the complaint and he should have let it come in.  If we retry it, I'll get this in. 

The trial ran 3.5 days.  Overall, I am very, very pleased with my performance.  With two exceptions, everything that I needed to get into evidence, got in.  For one of those two, I thought fast and used another exhibit that was already in evidence to get the same facts before the jury.  For the other, attorney's fees, it was a small loss but not critical to the case.   I wish I had given the jury a very clear ask in my closing:  "The evidence shows there was fraud here.  Award my client ___ in compensatory damages, ___ in punitive damages, pre-judgment interest at 6%, and attorney's fees."

If the defense attorney is truly stupid enough to give me another bite at the apple, I'll win an even bigger judgment on the retrial. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on July 31, 2016, 03:58:23 PM
Congratulations! I hope the set aside/new trial/appeal goes your way. Also, I hope your old firm catches wind of your exploits :)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on August 01, 2016, 02:59:51 PM
Update on my fraud/ estate case:   I won a $246,000 judgment for my client.

The bad news?  Though the jury was diligent and intelligent, they were confused by the verdict form the judge drafted and put forward on the morning they began deliberations.  The form gave them the option of finding for the plaintiff and awarding compensatory damages OR finding for the plaintiff and awarding punitive damages OR finding for the defendant.

The entire judgment was for punitive damages.  No compensatory damages at all.  And in my state (as in many) you must have compensatory damages before awarding punitive damages.   

Ugh, that jury form sucks. Of course they were confused. Who drafted it? Did you get a chance to object? If it's a court-standard one, somebody in the clerk's office is pretty bad at their job.

I think that rule is in all states - doesn't State Farm v. Campbell hold that punitives can't be more than a single-digit multiplier of compensatory damages, or else it's a federal due process violation? Stands to reason that if you have $0 compensatory damages you can't get any punitive damages.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: aFrugalFather on August 01, 2016, 10:14:55 PM
Update on my fraud/ estate case:   I won a $246,000 judgment for my client.

The bad news?  Though the jury was diligent and intelligent, they were confused by the verdict form the judge drafted and put forward on the morning they began deliberations.  The form gave them the option of finding for the plaintiff and awarding compensatory damages OR finding for the plaintiff and awarding punitive damages OR finding for the defendant.

The entire judgment was for punitive damages.  No compensatory damages at all.  And in my state (as in many) you must have compensatory damages before awarding punitive damages.  The defense made a motion to set aside the verdict and they will likely succeed, given the case law.   We may have to try the case again, if I can't wrangle a settlement.  At first, I was pretty depressed about this until it hit me that I WON!  And, if I have to retry it, I will WIN AGAIN and this time may even win bigger:  compensatory damages, prejudgment interest, and fees/ costs.  The judge upheld an objection to my attorney's fees/ costs exhibit which kept it out of evidence -- he admitted later that he had forgotten that we had put attorney's fees in the complaint and he should have let it come in.  If we retry it, I'll get this in. 

The trial ran 3.5 days.  Overall, I am very, very pleased with my performance.  With two exceptions, everything that I needed to get into evidence, got in.  For one of those two, I thought fast and used another exhibit that was already in evidence to get the same facts before the jury.  For the other, attorney's fees, it was a small loss but not critical to the case.   I wish I had given the jury a very clear ask in my closing:  "The evidence shows there was fraud here.  Award my client ___ in compensatory damages, ___ in punitive damages, pre-judgment interest at 6%, and attorney's fees."

If the defense attorney is truly stupid enough to give me another bite at the apple, I'll win an even bigger judgment on the retrial.


This all sounds much more exciting and fast paced than the transactional work I do!  Ha.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on August 02, 2016, 05:17:40 AM
I am also the "rainmaker" for the firm and bring in all the business. When it was just me, I was doing approx $350,000 of business but referring away a lot of cases. With additional attorneys, I can keep more business in house. So, I think we can easily get the gross receipts to $500,000 and maybe more.

This is a great story. Echoing an early commentator who congratulated you for setting up a business and not a job, which seems to be very hard for some lawyers. It'd be great if you considered writing a longer post explaining how you built this practice. Did you start straight out of law school as a solo attorney? Or did you inherit some clients from another practice? Were there several lean years at first and how did you save money during those years? A lot of lawyers who are looking for more control over their lives would love to hear the specifics of your story so they can model their own behavior.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 02, 2016, 08:43:43 AM
I am also the "rainmaker" for the firm and bring in all the business. When it was just me, I was doing approx $350,000 of business but referring away a lot of cases. With additional attorneys, I can keep more business in house. So, I think we can easily get the gross receipts to $500,000 and maybe more.

This is a great story. Echoing an early commentator who congratulated you for setting up a business and not a job, which seems to be very hard for some lawyers. It'd be great if you considered writing a longer post explaining how you built this practice. Did you start straight out of law school as a solo attorney? Or did you inherit some clients from another practice? Were there several lean years at first and how did you save money during those years? A lot of lawyers who are looking for more control over their lives would love to hear the specifics of your story so they can model their own behavior.

+1  My first anniversary as a solo is Sept. 1 and I definitely want to build a firm.  I'd love to hear more from you on how you did it, FIREby35. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on August 02, 2016, 09:05:57 AM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ormaybemidgets on August 03, 2016, 11:54:07 AM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?

It wasn't her mistake, it was the judge's. As a former clerk I can attest that that kind of illogical nonsense happens.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on August 03, 2016, 05:03:04 PM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?

It wasn't her mistake, it was the judge's. As a former clerk I can attest that that kind of illogical nonsense happens.

Well, if an attorney had the opportunity to object to an incorrect jury form and failed to do so, it could theoretically be malpractice. Such failures to object are the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel (in criminal contexts) and malpractice claims all the time. But whether it would be a viable claim depends on a whole host of circumstances we don't know about (and it's probably not helpful to TrulyStashin to speculate about it here). It sounds like she'll be able to get it fixed on appeal, which is what matters.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 05, 2016, 07:37:12 AM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?

It wasn't her mistake, it was the judge's. As a former clerk I can attest that that kind of illogical nonsense happens.

Well, if an attorney had the opportunity to object to an incorrect jury form and failed to do so, it could theoretically be malpractice. Such failures to object are the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel (in criminal contexts) and malpractice claims all the time. But whether it would be a viable claim depends on a whole host of circumstances we don't know about (and it's probably not helpful to TrulyStashin to speculate about it here). It sounds like she'll be able to get it fixed on appeal, which is what matters.

Thanks Bridget and ormaybemidgets.  I did object, fortunately, and that's on the record.   Overall, the judge did a really good job but he sure hosed up the verdict form.  In January, he moved up from a lower court and I think this might have been his first jury trial too.   Based on the look on his face when the defense made the motion to set aside the verdict, he knows that he screwed up.  In talking about this with my peers, it is not uncommon for verdicts to be challenged for one reason or another. 

What I expect will happen is that the verdict will be set aside and we'll set it for a retrial and (hopefully) settle before we have to go through a retrial.  With any litigation, there are a million things that can go wrong at any point in the process.  That's one of the reason that really good trial attorneys make $$$$.  They can exploit opponents' minor mistakes to the maximum and prevent any errors on their team.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on August 05, 2016, 10:55:11 AM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?

It wasn't her mistake, it was the judge's. As a former clerk I can attest that that kind of illogical nonsense happens.

Well, if an attorney had the opportunity to object to an incorrect jury form and failed to do so, it could theoretically be malpractice. Such failures to object are the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel (in criminal contexts) and malpractice claims all the time. But whether it would be a viable claim depends on a whole host of circumstances we don't know about (and it's probably not helpful to TrulyStashin to speculate about it here). It sounds like she'll be able to get it fixed on appeal, which is what matters.

Thanks Bridget and ormaybemidgets.  I did object, fortunately, and that's on the record.   Overall, the judge did a really good job but he sure hosed up the verdict form.  In January, he moved up from a lower court and I think this might have been his first jury trial too.   Based on the look on his face when the defense made the motion to set aside the verdict, he knows that he screwed up.  In talking about this with my peers, it is not uncommon for verdicts to be challenged for one reason or another. 

What I expect will happen is that the verdict will be set aside and we'll set it for a retrial and (hopefully) settle before we have to go through a retrial.  With any litigation, there are a million things that can go wrong at any point in the process.  That's one of the reason that really good trial attorneys make $$$$.  They can exploit opponents' minor mistakes to the maximum and prevent any errors on their team.

Perfect, you set yourself up well for appeal then and will very likely have a more lenient standard of review. :) That's my takeaway from being an appellate clerk twice - sometimes I want to take trial lawyers by the shoulders and shout WHY DIDN'T YOU PRESERVE THAT ARGUMENT BELOW?!?!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on August 05, 2016, 11:07:40 AM
Would mistake like this be considered malpractice?

It wasn't her mistake, it was the judge's. As a former clerk I can attest that that kind of illogical nonsense happens.

Well, if an attorney had the opportunity to object to an incorrect jury form and failed to do so, it could theoretically be malpractice. Such failures to object are the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel (in criminal contexts) and malpractice claims all the time. But whether it would be a viable claim depends on a whole host of circumstances we don't know about (and it's probably not helpful to TrulyStashin to speculate about it here). It sounds like she'll be able to get it fixed on appeal, which is what matters.

Thanks Bridget and ormaybemidgets.  I did object, fortunately, and that's on the record.   Overall, the judge did a really good job but he sure hosed up the verdict form.  In January, he moved up from a lower court and I think this might have been his first jury trial too.   Based on the look on his face when the defense made the motion to set aside the verdict, he knows that he screwed up.  In talking about this with my peers, it is not uncommon for verdicts to be challenged for one reason or another. 

What I expect will happen is that the verdict will be set aside and we'll set it for a retrial and (hopefully) settle before we have to go through a retrial.  With any litigation, there are a million things that can go wrong at any point in the process.  That's one of the reason that really good trial attorneys make $$$$.  They can exploit opponents' minor mistakes to the maximum and prevent any errors on their team.

That's great! How did you gain this much litigation skill in this short of a time? Weren't you a transnational lawyer prior to this?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 06, 2016, 09:22:01 AM
Hi Chesebert.

Yes, I had an entirely transactional practice until I went solo Sept. 1, 2015. 

It was my first litigation case and this was my first trial.  I leaned pretty heavily on three litigator friends -- calling them frequently as issues arose.  But I also committed to learning rules of evidence and procedure.  I overprepared for everything.

In early March, we had our first hearing on my motion for a preliminary injunction and it was the first time I had ever appeared in Circuit Court.  I was so nervous I almost puked on my shoes.  I had prepped my client well and I got all our evidence in that day.  I did a good job cross-examining the defendant -- even impeached her!  I won the injunction and felt a little better after that.

I learned how to issue subpoenas duces tecum; how to depose witnesses; how to disclose expert opinions; how to undermine experts; how to talk with my witnesses and get them prepped; how to conduct voir dire; how to get facts into evidence; how to pretend I'm not terrified (LOL); and how to ignore defense counsel's interruptions and keep pressing a witness; and a thousand other things.  It has been a huge investment of money, time, and energy but the growth I've experienced has far outstripped the costs.

12 years of public school teaching was definitely a good foundation for connecting with a jury, feeling comfortable in front of an audience, and thinking on my feet.

One more nugget of good news.... Yesterday, while prepping to write my brief in opposition to the defense motion to set aside the verdict, I actually looked at the verdict forms for the first time since 7/22.  I haven't had the heart to make myself look... Lo and behold, of the five assets the jury gave us damages on, TWO OF THE FIVE ARE FOR COMPENSATORY DAMAGES!!   The aggregate compensatory damage award was for $160k and the aggregate punitive damage award was for $85k.  On the day of the trial, the jury read down their verdict for all twelve assets -- finding fraud on 5 of the 12 -- and in the blur and stress of that moment, it sounded to all of us like ALL damages were punitive. 

But, they're not!  Having read the case law on this, there is no authority for dis-aggregating the damage awards, asset by asset.  I am now very hopeful that the judge will deny the defense motion and the judgment will stand.  With $300k frozen by injunction, I can execute the judgment quickly and recover a nice bundle of $$$.  Fingers crossed.  Briefs due 8/12.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on August 07, 2016, 07:08:37 AM
There is nothing quite like cashing your first big settlement check when you work for yourself and you know you are actually going to keep all the money. I hope it works out for you!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on August 16, 2016, 06:21:12 PM
Its been awhile since I last posted.  I haven't found the right firm/position to lateral into yet but at least i have successfully narrowed down the practice areas I'm interested in!  I have an interview next week for a position within a large labor & employment law firm that I'm excited for.  I come from a litigation background and don't have a background in L&E by any means and I have never interviewed for a L&E law firm so this is new territory for me.  I take it they are most interested in my litigation and academic background as I'm only a second year associate and am not so far as to make a transition into a new practice area too difficult.  Does anyone have a background in L&E?  Any tips for the interview?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on August 16, 2016, 06:36:56 PM
Don't know.... talk about how much you love the intricacies of ERISA? .... sorry I just puked a little in my mouth after typing that...
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on August 16, 2016, 07:24:50 PM
OneCoolCat, I worked at biglaw firm well known for L&E work, and while I was in the general litigation department, not the L&E department, I did help out on a number of those cases over the years.  I imagine it's less likely to be ERISA work and more likely to focus on discrimination, harassment, wage & hour, and/or non-compete/trade secrets disputes.  Class actions are more common with big firms than single plaintiff cases, but you could see either.  Also, there's a huge amount of employer counseling on topics like hiring, testing, compliance, terminations, accommodations, and leave.  I'm friends with a lot of people in the L&E group who really love it, but there are so many factors that go into that that it's hard to tell you what you should expect.  At your level, I don't think they'd be requiring subject matter expertise so much as general litigation experience and a strong interest in growing into L&E/workplace matters.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on August 17, 2016, 06:42:10 AM
TrulyStashin - Did they pay you yet? Did your old firm hear about it? On the old firm topic, I'd love to know how many of your peers (or even your ex-bosses) have a 250k judgement under their belt!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 17, 2016, 08:39:34 AM
TrulyStashin - Did they pay you yet? Did your old firm hear about it? On the old firm topic, I'd love to know how many of your peers (or even your ex-bosses) have a 250k judgement under their belt!

We submitted briefs last Friday and I had hoped that the judge would rule based on the briefs -- no delay.  But, naturally, defense counsel asked for a 45 minute spot on the docket to argue.  It's RIDICULOUS to ask for 45 minutes to argue one motion -- he did it solely to delay.  Sure enough, the soonest date is 9/23 with most dates falling in October.  I pushed back and said 30 minutes is sufficient.  The court has 8/26 and 9/2 available for 30 minute arguments.  If he won't go for that, and we end up with an October argument date then I'm filing an additional motion for prejudgment interest (which could cost his client about $53k).  I've let him know that and we'll see what he decides to do.

I am SO ready to get paid!  My cashflow is treacherous right now.  I have enough cash to cover September and October.  After that...??

One of the partners at my old firm knows about the judgment and I'm meeting with a second one next week.  I'll definitely be promoting this win once I have the final order in hand! 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 17, 2016, 08:41:04 AM
Its been awhile since I last posted.  I haven't found the right firm/position to lateral into yet but at least i have successfully narrowed down the practice areas I'm interested in!  I have an interview next week for a position within a large labor & employment law firm that I'm excited for.  I come from a litigation background and don't have a background in L&E by any means and I have never interviewed for a L&E law firm so this is new territory for me.  I take it they are most interested in my litigation and academic background as I'm only a second year associate and am not so far as to make a transition into a new practice area too difficult.  Does anyone have a background in L&E?  Any tips for the interview?

Good luck!!!  Keep us posted.

chesebert, you crack me up.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ryanht13 on August 18, 2016, 10:56:26 AM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on August 18, 2016, 11:10:09 AM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.
Don't do it. Not worth it. The job market still basically sucks, particularly for schools outside of the top 20. You make more money now than 75% of new law school grads, with no student debt.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on August 18, 2016, 12:05:00 PM
Don't do it. Not worth it. The job market still basically sucks, particularly for schools outside of the top 20. You make more money now than 75% of new law school grads, with no student debt.

Short answer is that I agree with DCKatie.  Especially if you'd plan to get the law degree and then not even be a lawyer, that's completely not worth it these days.  Hiring attorneys fresh out of law school is still down, and you see more of lateral hires only.  You're already in a good place in your career, and if you want to FIRE, I probably wouldn't go off your current track (at least, not based on the information you provided).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Cycling Stache on August 18, 2016, 12:06:28 PM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.
Don't do it. Not worth it. The job market still basically sucks, particularly for schools outside of the top 20. You make more money now than 75% of new law school grads, with no student debt.

+1

Don't do it unless you have a burning desire to do law, and you probably don't, because almost nobody does.  Being a lawyer is--for most people--not very pleasant.  And this is coming from someone who went to one of those top 2 or 3 schools and probably has one of the best law jobs in the country. 

I've also never heard that having a law degree but not practicing adds any meaningful value to a resume or to your value in the work world.  Certainly not enough to offset the 3 years lost to law school.  When I was coming out and it was the dot com boom, banks and consulting firms would hire a few people directly from law school on the theory that a smart, young kid could be taught whatever they needed to know about finance, business, etc.  But I doubt that has continued.

If you are seriously considering it, reach out to lawyers in the specific field that you think you would consider who have been there 5-10 years.  Chat with them about their daily experience, what they enjoy, and what parts they would change if they could or what other areas of law they would consider.  But really listen between the lines for how happy they sound about it.  I suggest that experience level because young attorneys are still occasionally excited about the paycheck or the sense that "they're working on something important," and significantly more senior attorneys often have had work become so much a part of their identity that they can't imagine not doing it.

Criminal law is completely different.  But there's nothing in your post that seems to suggest that's where you're looking.  It's much more exciting, but low pay on the prosecution side (outside a few jobs), and a lot of hustling for business on the defense side (or low pay, if you go the public defender route).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on August 18, 2016, 12:58:01 PM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.
Don't do it. Not worth it. The job market still basically sucks, particularly for schools outside of the top 20. You make more money now than 75% of new law school grads, with no student debt.

+1

Don't do it unless you have a burning desire to do law, and you probably don't, because almost nobody does.  Being a lawyer is--for most people--not very pleasant.  And this is coming from someone who went to one of those top 2 or 3 schools and probably has one of the best law jobs in the country. 

I've also never heard that having a law degree but not practicing adds any meaningful value to a resume or to your value in the work world.  Certainly not enough to offset the 3 years lost to law school.  When I was coming out and it was the dot com boom, banks and consulting firms would hire a few people directly from law school on the theory that a smart, young kid could be taught whatever they needed to know about finance, business, etc.  But I doubt that has continued.

If you are seriously considering it, reach out to lawyers in the specific field that you think you would consider who have been there 5-10 years.  Chat with them about their daily experience, what they enjoy, and what parts they would change if they could or what other areas of law they would consider.  But really listen between the lines for how happy they sound about it.  I suggest that experience level because young attorneys are still occasionally excited about the paycheck or the sense that "they're working on something important," and significantly more senior attorneys often have had work become so much a part of their identity that they can't imagine not doing it.

Criminal law is completely different.  But there's nothing in your post that seems to suggest that's where you're looking.  It's much more exciting, but low pay on the prosecution side (outside a few jobs), and a lot of hustling for business on the defense side (or low pay, if you go the public defender route).
(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y_ODcECzxGQ/T4sMKffGa8I/AAAAAAAAA88/LnQ8Dvynqbg/s1600/michael-scott-no.gif)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on August 18, 2016, 01:06:45 PM
Oh, chesebert, I love it!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 18, 2016, 01:56:51 PM
^^^  chesebert for the win!!!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ryanht13 on August 18, 2016, 03:24:26 PM
Very funny, and classic.
I'll play devil's advocate to the common response (current job market still sucks). Maybe it's because I work in the futures contract business... but WILL the legal profession job market STILL suck in 3-4 years (when I would be graduating)? I know FIRE is a big deal on this blog/thread, but suppose one wants to have even a 15-20 year career, let alone a 30-40 year career.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DCKatie09 on August 18, 2016, 03:36:47 PM
It's a fair question, but the answer is still basically yes, depending on what you want your starting salary to look like. http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib - the legal profession has long had a bimodal salary curve, only exacerbated by the recession. And also, there are so many unhappy lawyers out there - if you don't actually know that you want to be a lawyer, it's a real risky bet right now in terms of mental health, not just finances.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on August 18, 2016, 09:36:33 PM
Very funny, and classic.
I'll play devil's advocate to the common response (current job market still sucks). Maybe it's because I work in the futures contract business... but WILL the legal profession job market STILL suck in 3-4 years (when I would be graduating)? I know FIRE is a big deal on this blog/thread, but suppose one wants to have even a 15-20 year career, let alone a 30-40 year career.

It's not devil's advocate - you just are not listening. For some reason, that is a common reaction to being told law school is not a good idea for lots of people. If you leave a job making 110k a year for three years you immediately incur a 330k opportunity cost. If you pay for law school you can add that to the price tag. As shown by other posters, your salary is highly unlikely to be more than 110k after law school. Add that to your opportunity cost. Finally, add on that most lawyers do not like their job.

You could easily be making a 500k error by going to law school. It does not make sense for most people and definitely not a person with your salary and financial situation.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TVRodriguez on August 18, 2016, 09:50:40 PM
. . .  WILL the legal profession job market STILL suck in 3-4 years (when I would be graduating)?. . .

YES. Yes, it will.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 19, 2016, 07:34:39 AM
Very funny, and classic.
I'll play devil's advocate to the common response (current job market still sucks). Maybe it's because I work in the futures contract business... but WILL the legal profession job market STILL suck in 3-4 years (when I would be graduating)? I know FIRE is a big deal on this blog/thread, but suppose one wants to have even a 15-20 year career, let alone a 30-40 year career.

It's not devil's advocate - you just are not listening. For some reason, that is a common reaction to being told law school is not a good idea for lots of people. If you leave a job making 110k a year for three years you immediately incur a 330k opportunity cost. If you pay for law school you can add that to the price tag. As shown by other posters, your salary is highly unlikely to be more than 110k after law school. Add that to your opportunity cost. Finally, add on that most lawyers do not like their job.

You could easily be making a 500k error by going to law school. It does not make sense for most people and definitely not a person with your salary and financial situation.

+1

Prior to law school (2008 - 2011), I was a social studies teacher with a MA in history and National Board Certification.  With 12 years in the classroom, my 2008 salary was $43,500 and I had 18 years to go before I could retire.  The law school math looks very different from that vantage point.

For you, I saw nothing in your post that conveys a burning curiosity about law and quite frankly M & A is one of the most dry and boring kinds of law practices you could have (and also highly subject to economic winds of fortune).  The actual practice of law is nothing like what the general public perceives it to be -- it is often nothing more than a grind.  And all that is aside from the financial cost.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: StacheyStache on August 19, 2016, 07:56:07 AM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.
Don't do it. Not worth it. The job market still basically sucks, particularly for schools outside of the top 20. You make more money now than 75% of new law school grads, with no student debt.

OP, this could be your story if you go to law school now:

I didn't get into a top tier school, but I went to the best school in my state where I got the most scholarship money.  I did reasonably well though not at the top of my class, won several somewhat prestigious awards while in school, great recommendations.  After applying for literally any job requiring a JD I could find anywhere in the country for a year I got a job in state government making UNDER 40k.  This job also required me to be willing to move anywhere in my state, at anytime, at a moment's notice, on my dime, NO expenses reimbursed.  During one of my yearly reviews (where I maintained excellent marks in all categories but still couldn't get a raise because budget) I tried to reason with management that the moving requirement was too much, that new attorneys couldn't afford to constantly move on such a small salary, that it impacted our ability to make connections within local bars, within our own offices and with opposing counsel and that something had to change or the position would continue to be the revolving door it had become since the new requirement was rolled out.  They responded with a sick grin that the job market was so bad they weren't worried at all about attracting and even retaining talent and could pretty much do anything they wanted and we would shut up and put up with it.  The only thing that conversation was missing was a 'nyah nyah nyah boo boo' and wiggling fingers in ears with an outstretched tongue.  And they were RIGHT.  I applied to new jobs constantly but it took me TWO YEARS to escape to a job where I'm now making about 10k more and don't have the moving around requirement.  I know several talented young attorneys that are still stuck there in that job on their second third or even fourth expensive relocation at that same stagnant salary because they can't find anything else.

Do I regret going to law school even after all that?  No but that's because I love what I do, I love being an attorney, there is nothing else that would have made me this happy and this is what I'm meant to do.  If you don't have that kind of passion or drive to do this, don't do it. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DreamingOfFIRE on August 19, 2016, 08:02:30 AM
+1

Prior to law school (2008 - 2011), I was a social studies teacher with a MA in history and National Board Certification.  With 12 years in the classroom, my 2008 salary was $43,500 and I had 18 years to go before I could retire.  The law school math looks very different from that vantage point.

For you, I saw nothing in your post that conveys a burning curiosity about law and quite frankly M & A is one of the most dry and boring kinds of law practices you could have (and also highly subject to economic winds of fortune).  The actual practice of law is nothing like what the general public perceives it to be -- it is often nothing more than a grind.  And all that is aside from the financial cost.

I would agree with almost all of this, and the posters above, and encourage you not to go to law school unless you are a rare one with a passion for the area of law you would be practicing. 

The one point I would disagree with, personally, is that M&A is one of the more dry and boring kinds of law practices.  I feel the opposite - it is the only practice area I have worked in that I regularly find interesting - but no strong passion for the law itself ahere.  M&A is more about deal process and drafting and less about legal research than other areas of corporate law.  During your junior years of practice, you may have to do a lot of diligence, which can be boring, but this is one part of M&A deals and tends to fall on the most junior associates. 

M&A does tend to have the most volatile hours out of the corporate practices I've experienced/witnessed.  You will not be working 8-5 in M&A law.  You may enjoy some slow months, but you'll inevitably have some very, very busy months too. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Check2400 on August 19, 2016, 08:39:34 AM
If you're considering law school, read this: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/02/27/faq-should-i-go-to-law-school/.  Then consider if you meet the requirements.  This is one of the most objective answers to your question I have found. 

To your follow up point, the honest truth is that even if the job market for being a lawyer improves in 3-4 years, it is still the job market ... for being a lawyer. 

If you are serious on pulling the plug on your career, investing more money into your education, and dedicating your life (at least through loan repayment) to a profession you seem to have little intimate experience with, I strongly encourage you to go to the plausible law school of your choice, or a young lawyers association meet up in your area, or even better a BAR exam course in your area, and ask opinions from those on the front line and try to objectively listen to those opinions. 

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on August 19, 2016, 03:03:09 PM
Hey lawyers of MMM... just tossing it out there, does $30,000 for an attorney sound reasonable for a full civil case where the evidence may also help with the criminal court side of things? He has won similar cases before, albeit with possibly better evidence.

Frankly, that sounds like a bargain but may not be a good idea.  $30k at $300/ hour is 100 hours of work.  In the civil case I just finished I have at least double that amount of time, though that's partly because the opposing attorney filed every motion he could think of just to slow things down or throw sand in my gears.  Litigation is unpredictable so flat rate pricing is very unusual.  The risk for you here is that your attorney now has an incentive to work as little as possible.  That's not a good thing, IMHO, because successfully litigating a case requires a deep familiarity with the nitty-gritty facts of a case and that takes hours of reading, document review, witness interviews, and simply sitting and pondering all the facts so that some detail can surface.

Example:  In my recent case, I remembered one tiny fact that had been buried deep in the documentation -- the defendant's son is an attorney in the same town where she lives.  When she testified that she really, really didn't want to serve as her mother's power of attorney but woe be unto her she HAD to do it because no one else was available, I nailed her on cross exam.  Isn't your son (your mother's grandson) an attorney in town?  Couldn't HE have served as power of attorney?    Later, after the case, a juror told me that this tiny fact was very persuasive to them in finding that she committed fraud.   I only knew that fact because I spent HOURS combing through every document, more than once, taking notes and committing details to memory.  Your attorney won't have an incentive to do this.  Quite the opposite.

People tend to behave according to incentives.

Who is covering the COSTS of litigation?  If I were you, I'd expect to be paying this in addition to paying his fee.  And, brace yourself, litigation is expensive.  We have about $38k in costs incurred from the same recent case. 

I hope this helps.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on August 19, 2016, 03:11:59 PM
Hey lawyers of MMM... just tossing it out there, does $30,000 for an attorney sound reasonable for a full civil case where the evidence may also help with the criminal court side of things? He has won similar cases before, albeit with possibly better evidence.

There's not even close to enough information here to evaluate that.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on August 21, 2016, 02:09:14 PM
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.

I'll second, third, fourth etc. everyone else here, and I'm speaking as someone who went to a state school, got enough scholarships that I only had to spend $17k on tuition, and got a BigLaw job paying $130k upon graduation (actually I got the offer at the end of my 2L summer, so almost a year before I graduated, as is traditional for BigLaw young associates). In other words I hit the law school jackpot and I will still tell you, in your situation, don't do it. I got my job a couple of years before the crash. The situation is far different for today's grads than it was for me. If you're already making $110k/year at 25, and you don't have a burning passion for a particular area of law that is so compelling you're willing to basically lose around $500k (including opportunity cost) to become a lawyer, DO NOT GO.

If you want to position yourself for higher-end business jobs, sign up for an executive MBA that you can get in 9 months, studying evenings and weekends so you can still do your job, for a tuition cost of $20k or $30k.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on September 07, 2016, 03:30:04 PM
I saw the pharmacy thread and couldn't help but wonder how many lawyer mustachians there are on here. If so, what kind of law do you practice? BigLaw, MidLaw, SmallLaw, or InHouse? Approximate salaries? Any debt left from law school?

I'll start: I'm a mid-law associate. I'm on the transactional side (no litigation for me) and mainly do general commercial contracts and corporate governance related work. Salary is pretty good, mid-to-low 100's, depending on bonus. Law school debt was just paid off last week!

You?
  Still no six figure income, and my work has suddenly dropped off a cliff.  I got a burst of aggression and went after the cases on my desk with a vengeance.  I either got judgements and fully collected or the other side got scared and came begging to settle with high settlement offers.

Now I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs with little work to do.

I never thought doing a really good job for my clients could put my in danger of going out of business.

Stressed out right now.

I graduated from a top 20 school in the 90s, practiced at small/mid firms starting in the 50K range and worked my way up to $120K.  I spent every damn dime and then some. 

Now I am a solo, and I am trying to save money like crazy.  My income, however, was less than six figures last year, and will probably be less or barely break the six figure mark by the end of this year.

Amazingly, I still have some debt left from law school, but since it is at 3.38%, I am not in a big, giant rush to pay it off.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Cycling Stache on September 07, 2016, 06:31:04 PM
You know, I normally just mark this thread as "read" and move on, but I realized I kind of wanted to type "no" in response to the question.  I think FIRE is getting closer!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: NYCMustachian on September 08, 2016, 01:01:02 PM
Hey everyone!

I'm a NYC based government lawyer (litigation). I'm two years out of law school. I chose a lower tier law school because they gave me a scholarship equal to 100% of tuition (that's why it's so important to do well on the LSAT). I graduated top of my class but still found it difficult to get the job I wanted. In hindsight, taking two years to get this job isn't that bad though.

I have a great job now. I make $60k but that will go up with regular raises and I'm not in the office more than 35 hours a week. For these reasons I think it's a very mustachian job. But I worked like hell to get here with $0 in debt.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: DA on September 16, 2016, 02:06:18 PM
Quote
What would some of you more seasoned guys on here say to someone who is considering going to law school?
Would be non-traditional student (25 years old with great work experience- business/sales). Could probably only get into a state school.

Would be interested in anything under the umbrella of business (possibly m&a?)

What about getting a law degree and not being a lawyer? I.e. going into business, management, etc.

Salary is $110k before bonus. No debt other than on rental property. Low six fig net worth.

For the love of God, please follow the advice that every other lawyer on this board has posted and DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!  I will share a bit of my legal horror story.  I went to a prestigious law school, did well, made law review, published articles, etc.  Well, it took me THREE AND HALF YEARS to find legal employment.  I swear that I applied for at least one thousand jobs during that time, and probably had 75 - 100 interviews.  I'm a good interviewer, I'm well-spoken, and I'm fairly attractive.  Do not start inventing reasons for my failure that won't apply to you.  I know plenty of others who had a similar experience, and most of them ended up never practicing law a single day in their life, but their law school debt will be around until they're 50 years old (after which IBR will get rid of it--and tax it). 

I'm not saying that no one ever finds a place in the legal profession that they enjoy.  As far as jobs go, my current gig is actually pretty good.  But I had to fight like hell and hemorrhage money to get it, and there's no guarantee I won't get laid off tomorrow.  Sure, there's a 1% chance you'll be extremely happy with your decision to join the legal profession.  Are those odds you want to bet on? 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TwoJays on September 17, 2016, 07:57:27 AM
Hello!

Can any of you speak to what, if any, benefits are offered by mid-to-large private firms (though I assume this can vary dramatically) and on the government side? Some of you may have seen my post earlier about deciding whether or not to leave my current job for law school and I realized that including the value of benefits it may be hard for me to beat my current income as a young lawyer. While I want to practice law and have enough experience around it to be as sure as anyone can be before actually practicing, setting myself on a solid path to FIRE is more important to me in the long run.

(For those of you who didn't see my previous post, any information and suggestions are welcome! You can find it here - http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/law-degree-or-stay-put/msg1158673/#msg1158673)
 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 20, 2016, 12:06:06 PM
Not sure if this deserves a separate thread, but what do you guys think is the best way to leave a firm?  I'm already part time but I'm 90% sure I want to leave/retire/"take a year off" at the end of the year (we've been discussing/renewing my part time status in January for the last two years).  Except I'd like to stick around until FEB-March perhaps to max out my 401k.

So my options are:

Just tell them in January I'm leaving in March, but that risks them accelerating my notice (i.e., thanks for letting us know get out)

Try to negotiate/renew my part time agreement in January and then Give two weeks notice in March. Might cause a little ill will since I'll have to "pretend" I want to work another year.

Underperform from now until January and hope they lay me off in January (basically meet existing responsibilities but take no new work if I can avoid it).  Historically speaking, they might give me the "take three months to look for another job" speech and so I'd end up leaving in March anyways but wouldn't have to do anything.  Might get unemployment insurance on top of that but it's a separate topic. 

I don't want to straight up burn any bridges, but I also dont want to give up decent severance monies just to have the satisfaction of quitting myself.  Still working through the options but Any advice appreciated

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on September 20, 2016, 07:43:53 PM
Hey Dragoncar, can you refresh us on what kind of law firm/practice? My experience is in firms with less than 15 attorneys. I don't know if that is useful at all.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on September 20, 2016, 07:48:21 PM
Option one would be my choice if you have a good relationship with the partners and they value your work.  If not, option two.  Option 3 is risky as you don't control your own destiny.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on September 20, 2016, 08:08:40 PM
To dragoncar:  For context, I worked for close to 9 years in a non-headquarters office of a biglaw firm.  Based on how our local groups operated and my own personal approach to professionalism and forthright relationships with colleagues, I would go with option 1.  Essentially, say that you don't think you're able to renew the contract for another full year, but you really would like to continue working there through the end of March, and ask if that's something that could work for them.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 20, 2016, 08:24:43 PM
To dragoncar:  For context, I worked for close to 9 years in a non-headquarters office of a biglaw firm.  Based on how our local groups operated and my own personal approach to professionalism and forthright relationships with colleagues, I would go with option 1.  Essentially, say that you don't think you're able to renew the contract for another full year, but you really would like to continue working there through the end of March, and ask if that's something that could work for them.

Ok, I'm also in a non-headquarters office of a big firm.  Sounds like everyone likes option 1, and I'd guess they would probably not accelerate termination if they can avoid it... I really don't know, though as the firm doesn't have the cohesive HR of corporation.  I've seen people stay on for a year while they looked for something else and I've also seen people escorted out immediately for trivial social slights.  Really depends on which partner is making the decision that day.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: emilypsf on September 21, 2016, 07:49:58 AM
I left a small firm (15 lawyers) after 9 years.  I gave notice as soon as my 401k was full (Feb or March).  They wanted me to stay as long as necessary to transition things.  Unless there is some policy of walking people out the door as soon as they give notice, I doubt they would do that.  There is too much stuff that you need to pass on as a lawyer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TVRodriguez on September 21, 2016, 07:54:59 AM
To dragoncar:  For context, I worked for close to 9 years in a non-headquarters office of a biglaw firm.  Based on how our local groups operated and my own personal approach to professionalism and forthright relationships with colleagues, I would go with option 1.  Essentially, say that you don't think you're able to renew the contract for another full year, but you really would like to continue working there through the end of March, and ask if that's something that could work for them.

Ok, I'm also in a non-headquarters office of a big firm.  Sounds like everyone likes option 1, and I'd guess they would probably not accelerate termination if they can avoid it... I really don't know, though as the firm doesn't have the cohesive HR of corporation.  I've seen people stay on for a year while they looked for something else and I've also seen people escorted out immediately for trivial social slights.  Really depends on which partner is making the decision that day.

Definitely do NOT do option #3.  No No NO.  Option #2 I've seen work and I've seen backfire--you really risk burning bridges that way.  Someone may need to go to bat for you in your contract negotiation, and that person will hate you if you flee soon after s/he fights for your contract.

Option #1 is, to me, the most ethical route, and I've taken it myself (gave four months notice once when I planned to leave the state at a specific date, and it worked out great for all).  Perhaps consider modifying it to say you'd like to stay another year but you are thinking of other options, including taking a sabbatical from practice in the near future, which is also ethical and true.  This might be more palatable than just "I'm leaving in March." Leaving?  Where to?  Is this a salary negotiation?  Does dragoncar want more money?  Is dragoncar going to try to take clients from us?  Etc.

I'd say that what their response would be to straight out telling them you plan to leave in March will depend on a) the amount of work that exists at the firm/practice area, b) your work to date, c) how much they like you, d) how much they think they can make off of you in three more months, and (flipside of d) e) how much they think they could save by dropping you asap.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 21, 2016, 11:32:35 AM
Hey thanks again for the advice.  Should I discuss first with the partners who send me the most work?  They aren't really the ones making the final calls on the part time agreement as far as I know.  If you think they might be going to bat for me, it would likely happen before January, so I'd basically have to tell them in December. 

I'm sure they can make money off of me Jan-mar, but I suspect they'd rather ramp up new associates than give new work to someone with one foot out the door.  There are some matters where my institutional knowledge will be useful, but that won't apply to anything new. 

I guess it's not the end of the world if I don't max out my 401k... It just seems like missing out on an opportunity for a temporary 40%+ raise
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on September 21, 2016, 11:40:46 AM
How big is that office?  What kind of relationship you have with the partners?  If it was me, I would have the conversation with the partner(s) in your office that you have the best relationship with.  Is there someone at the firm who you consider your mentor?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Daleth on September 26, 2016, 07:56:26 AM
I will share a bit of my legal horror story.  I went to a prestigious law school, did well, made law review, published articles, etc.  Well, it took me THREE AND HALF YEARS to find legal employment.  I swear that I applied for at least one thousand jobs during that time, and probably had 75 - 100 interviews.  I'm a good interviewer, I'm well-spoken, and I'm fairly attractive. 

What did you do during your 2L summer--did you summer with a firm, did they make you an offer? What part of the country and what type of place were you looking for work in (large city, college town etc.)? I'm curious because things should not have been that bad with your profile. Unless you were unsuccessfully looking for a summer position in 2008 and graduating in 2010, in the middle of the recession.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on September 26, 2016, 03:00:44 PM
I will share a bit of my legal horror story.  I went to a prestigious law school, did well, made law review, published articles, etc.  Well, it took me THREE AND HALF YEARS to find legal employment.  I swear that I applied for at least one thousand jobs during that time, and probably had 75 - 100 interviews.  I'm a good interviewer, I'm well-spoken, and I'm fairly attractive. 

What did you do during your 2L summer--did you summer with a firm, did they make you an offer? What part of the country and what type of place were you looking for work in (large city, college town etc.)? I'm curious because things should not have been that bad with your profile. Unless you were unsuccessfully looking for a summer position in 2008 and graduating in 2010, in the middle of the recession.
Ten bucks says it wasn't a top-14 school (i.e. prestigious). With that profile at a top-14, you'd have no problem finding a job. Even if you graduated at the height of the Great Recession, you'd have found a job within a year with that kind of resume unless you were a painfully awkward person to interview. Anything outside of the top-14 (maybe even top-10) isn't prestigious if you let the data on legal hiring define prestige.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 26, 2016, 03:09:07 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on September 26, 2016, 03:15:28 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

This comment made me LOL because I tend to agree (even though I'm a lawyer). But tell the average person that you went to Harvard Law and I don't think the first thought they'll associate with that is "oh, he's just a service provider who bills by the hour".
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 26, 2016, 03:23:38 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 26, 2016, 04:25:42 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
10th hour are for third tier legal service providers. "Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours. Certain "traditional" service providers are definitely more prestigious than any lawyer as they get to bill by the hour/day.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on September 26, 2016, 04:42:49 PM
I will share a bit of my legal horror story.  I went to a prestigious law school, did well, made law review, published articles, etc.  Well, it took me THREE AND HALF YEARS to find legal employment.  I swear that I applied for at least one thousand jobs during that time, and probably had 75 - 100 interviews.  I'm a good interviewer, I'm well-spoken, and I'm fairly attractive. 

What did you do during your 2L summer--did you summer with a firm, did they make you an offer? What part of the country and what type of place were you looking for work in (large city, college town etc.)? I'm curious because things should not have been that bad with your profile. Unless you were unsuccessfully looking for a summer position in 2008 and graduating in 2010, in the middle of the recession.
Ten bucks says it wasn't a top-14 school (i.e. prestigious). With that profile at a top-14, you'd have no problem finding a job. Even if you graduated at the height of the Great Recession, you'd have found a job within a year with that kind of resume unless you were a painfully awkward person to interview. Anything outside of the top-14 (maybe even top-10) isn't prestigious if you let the data on legal hiring define prestige.

Guys, please don't be a jerk to DA!  He's a new forum member, and there's no need to alienate one of our own.  At least, not right off the bat . . . but maybe later ;-)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 26, 2016, 09:56:42 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
10th hour are for third tier legal service providers. "Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours. Certain "traditional" service providers are definitely more prestigious than any lawyer as they get to bill by the hour/day.

Hold up.  You already said:

"Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together."

and now you say:

"Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours."

Your testimony is not credible.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 26, 2016, 10:24:32 PM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
10th hour are for third tier legal service providers. "Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours. Certain "traditional" service providers are definitely more prestigious than any lawyer as they get to bill by the hour/day.

Hold up.  You already said:

"Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together."

and now you say:

"Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours."

Your testimony is not credible.
In quotes - attention to detail you need, yes yes...
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: dragoncar on September 27, 2016, 12:27:55 AM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
10th hour are for third tier legal service providers. "Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours. Certain "traditional" service providers are definitely more prestigious than any lawyer as they get to bill by the hour/day.

Hold up.  You already said:

"Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together."

and now you say:

"Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours."

Your testimony is not credible.
In quotes - attention to detail you need, yes yes...

And who are you quoting?  Do you have a citation?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on September 27, 2016, 12:30:01 AM
Lawyers are not prestigious and therefore no law school is prestigious. Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together.

Quarter hour?  hahaha!

.1 - reply to chesebert regarding legal billing requirements
10th hour are for third tier legal service providers. "Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours. Certain "traditional" service providers are definitely more prestigious than any lawyer as they get to bill by the hour/day.

Hold up.  You already said:

"Service providers billing by every quarter hour and the word prestige just don't go together."

and now you say:

"Prestigious" providers all bill in quarter hours."

Your testimony is not credible.
In quotes - attention to detail you need, yes yes...

And who are you quoting?  Do you have a citation?

Please use the proper Bluebook format.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Cycling Stache on September 27, 2016, 02:01:54 AM
Guys, please don't be a jerk to DA!  He's a new forum member, and there's no need to alienate one of our own.

Ahh, but you missed the point where we are lawyers.  Which is another reason not to become a lawyer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on September 29, 2016, 12:00:10 PM
Hey guys, I could use some advice.  I'm a second year, going into my third year, associate that does plaintiffs side foreclosure and creditor's rights defense.  I like my firm, money is ok, but work is slowing down overall and I don't think foreclosure is great for my development as there isn't a lot of room to grow.  I have an offer from a small firm, 5-10 lawyers, that does construction law litigation and other work related to construction law, like labor & employment and business litigation. I had the interview earlier in the week and go t the offer today.  As expected, it pays less than my current but I think it provides greater room for growth.  He encourages associates to bring in business after a few years and gives them a cut of what they bring in.  Nothing is expected in terms of bringing in business for 3-5 years.  It pays about 10k less per year, factoring in base salary plus benefits, that what I currently make doing foreclosures (75,000) and would add about 10 miles to my daily commute.  I'm strongly considering it since it sounds like construction law is more interesting and leads to more growth than foreclosure.  The decrease in pay is a negative but I'm mustachians and could make it on 65-70k.  Any advice?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 29, 2016, 02:27:51 PM
Go bigger not smaller unless you have a stable book of business (the difference probably approaches nil once you go over 200 attorneys for your office). Easier to coast, easier to get cover if you need to take vacation/MMM-style sabbatical and easier to get work if you absolutely need the hour. Busy, not busy, it's all part of the cycle, no need to worry. The American style of business cycle almost guarantees boom and bust on a periodic basis (you practice probably flourishes during the bust cycle :)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on September 30, 2016, 08:36:17 AM
Hey guys, I could use some advice.  I'm a second year, going into my third year, associate that does plaintiffs side foreclosure and creditor's rights defense.  I like my firm, money is ok, but work is slowing down overall and I don't think foreclosure is great for my development as there isn't a lot of room to grow.  I have an offer from a small firm, 5-10 lawyers, that does construction law litigation and other work related to construction law, like labor & employment and business litigation. I had the interview earlier in the week and go t the offer today.  As expected, it pays less than my current but I think it provides greater room for growth.  He encourages associates to bring in business after a few years and gives them a cut of what they bring in.  Nothing is expected in terms of bringing in business for 3-5 years.  It pays about 10k less per year, factoring in base salary plus benefits, that what I currently make doing foreclosures (75,000) and would add about 10 miles to my daily commute.  I'm strongly considering it since it sounds like construction law is more interesting and leads to more growth than foreclosure.  The decrease in pay is a negative but I'm mustachians and could make it on 65-70k.  Any advice?

I'd take it. If you do the foreclosure work for a few more years, you're going to get pigeon-holed and you'll have an incredibly difficult time leaving that area of practice unless you go out on your own. If I were you, I'd try to focus on the L&E or business lit if you want to eventually end up in-house or at a larger firm. Work at the new firm for two years and start applying to even bigger firms if you have the law school credentials to be a viable candidate. You may be able to lateral to a lower mid-level firm and make low to mid 100's.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on September 30, 2016, 09:58:34 AM
Any advice?

I'd take if you feel that the opportunity for growth is better (which it sounds like you do). Ultimately, the question of whether you could fly higher there is really only one you can make, but it's better to take these kinds of risks earlier in your career (you can always go back to foreclosure if construction law / L&E isn't what you think it will be.

The $10K drop in your pay shouldn't be a deciding factor. Careers are for the long haul, so give yourself a runway to take off.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2016, 01:57:46 PM
Any advice?

I'd take if you feel that the opportunity for growth is better (which it sounds like you do). Ultimately, the question of whether you could fly higher there is really only one you can make, but it's better to take these kinds of risks earlier in your career (you can always go back to foreclosure if construction law / L&E isn't what you think it will be.

The $10K drop in your pay shouldn't be a deciding factor. Careers are for the long haul, so give yourself a runway to take off.

+1   In general, it's good policy to choose growth and new learning over an unsatisfactory status quo.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 30, 2016, 02:31:13 PM
Any advice?

I'd take if you feel that the opportunity for growth is better (which it sounds like you do). Ultimately, the question of whether you could fly higher there is really only one you can make, but it's better to take these kinds of risks earlier in your career (you can always go back to foreclosure if construction law / L&E isn't what you think it will be.

The $10K drop in your pay shouldn't be a deciding factor. Careers are for the long haul, so give yourself a runway to take off.

+1   In general, it's good policy to choose growth and new learning over an unsatisfactory status quo.
Really? We are talking about tiny law here with 5-10 lawyers. *I don't even know why there is a range? Are we talking about 5 lawyers and 5 contractors?

5 lawyers means there are 1-2 partners, that's it! No offense to all those working for small law, but OP would be better off from a stability perspective to stay with the larger firm. Slow and steady is the secret to FIRE, unless that's not OP's goal.

Also, leaving 10k on the table means OP is giving up ~60k in 5yrs assuming 7% ROE or ~140k in 10yrs.

I would keep looking. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2016, 02:37:21 PM
Any advice?

I'd take if you feel that the opportunity for growth is better (which it sounds like you do). Ultimately, the question of whether you could fly higher there is really only one you can make, but it's better to take these kinds of risks earlier in your career (you can always go back to foreclosure if construction law / L&E isn't what you think it will be.

The $10K drop in your pay shouldn't be a deciding factor. Careers are for the long haul, so give yourself a runway to take off.

+1   In general, it's good policy to choose growth and new learning over an unsatisfactory status quo.
Really? We are talking about tiny law here with 5-10 lawyers. *I don't even know why there is a range? Are we talking about 5 lawyers and 5 contractors?

5 lawyers means there are 1-2 partners, that's it! No offense to all those working for small law, but OP would be better off from a stability perspective to stay with the larger firm. Slow and steady is the secret to FIRE, unless that's not OP's goal.

Also, leaving 10k on the table means OP is giving up ~60k in 5yrs assuming 7% ROE or ~140k in 10yrs.

I left BigLaw for a solo practice so, yes, I'm biased toward growth and new learning over stability.  All this is just my 2 cents.   One of the values of a law degree is that our practice of law can morph/ grow/ change many times over our careers and we're not stuck plugging away at a practice area we hate (unless we choose to be).  Plus L & E works nicely in a solo practice, if need be.  So a L & E/ business litigation focus is a pretty strong platform that would take OP in many directions.  Having options is also a form of wealth.

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on September 30, 2016, 02:41:14 PM
I agree with chesebert regarding OneCoolCat's dilemma.  I was in biglaw and did a ton of construction litigation and also some transactional construction work.  I would be shocked if a firm in the 5-10 attorney range were getting much in the way of interesting/high-stakes construction litigation.  My guess is that it would be small-time residential cases or more likely the transactional side, which I thought was typically pretty boring, easy, and formulaic (just like foreclosure).  If it's the latter, that's also a pigeon-hole specialty that doesn't do much to translate elsewhere.  Plus, it is very unlikely to be a stepping stone into a larger firm, unless you are in major city where they have the boutique construction firms in the 20-50 attorney range.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 30, 2016, 02:44:44 PM
Any advice?

I'd take if you feel that the opportunity for growth is better (which it sounds like you do). Ultimately, the question of whether you could fly higher there is really only one you can make, but it's better to take these kinds of risks earlier in your career (you can always go back to foreclosure if construction law / L&E isn't what you think it will be.

The $10K drop in your pay shouldn't be a deciding factor. Careers are for the long haul, so give yourself a runway to take off.

+1   In general, it's good policy to choose growth and new learning over an unsatisfactory status quo.
Really? We are talking about tiny law here with 5-10 lawyers. *I don't even know why there is a range? Are we talking about 5 lawyers and 5 contractors?

5 lawyers means there are 1-2 partners, that's it! No offense to all those working for small law, but OP would be better off from a stability perspective to stay with the larger firm. Slow and steady is the secret to FIRE, unless that's not OP's goal.

Also, leaving 10k on the table means OP is giving up ~60k in 5yrs assuming 7% ROE or ~140k in 10yrs.

I left BigLaw for a solo practice so, yes, I'm biased toward growth and new learning over stability.  All this is just my 2 cents.   One of the values of a law degree is that our practice of law can morph/ grow/ change many times over our careers and we're not stuck plugging away at a practice area we hate (unless we choose to be).  Plus L & E works nicely in a solo practice, if need be.  So a L & E/ business litigation focus is a pretty strong platform that would take OP in many directions.  Having options is also a form of wealth.
Not saying OneCoolCat should not lateral at all, just not to a firm with 5-10 lawyers. There must be better firms for LE/Lit in the area.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 30, 2016, 02:53:02 PM
I think we all admire you for your courage, TrulyStashin. But if looking at your career path solely in term of FIRE, I think it's probably not the best decision you could have made. You are missing out on $200-300k a year in salary and another $50-100k a year in bonus. You could be FIREd before you hit the partnership ceiling had you stayed with your old firm. You can always start your solo practice during your "retirement".

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2016, 03:07:33 PM
I think we all admire you for your courage, TrulyStashin. But if looking at your career path solely in term of FIRE, I think it's probably not the best decision you could have made. You are missing out on $200-300k a year in salary and another $50-100k a year in bonus. You could be FIREd before you hit the partnership ceiling had you stayed with your old firm. You can always start your solo practice during your "retirement".

Nah.  These numbers are WAY off because I was a staff attorney (doing associate work -- they even called me an "associate" to clients) and thus pigeon holed, plus working for a partner with a weak book and no political pull in the firm.  It was a dead end.  I'll make as much or more this year -- first year solo -- than I did in my third and last year at that firm.  Even if I had pulled off a shift to associate, the starting pay was $145k with a 5% bonus only if I billed over 2100 hours.  Bleh. 

Once my firm is established, I can bill half that much time and far outearn what BigLaw would have paid.  All without the asshole factor.  Total win in my book.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on September 30, 2016, 03:09:47 PM
I made my decision and will taking the new job.

Pros of foreclosure

Cons of foreclosure

I feel that the construction law firm offers much more room for growth in commercial construction law and I liked the partners when I met them.  I think after 1 year I might be making as much as I would had I stayed in foreclosure and will expect to make more after 2 years for sure.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on September 30, 2016, 03:13:37 PM
I agree with chesebert regarding OneCoolCat's dilemma.  I was in biglaw and did a ton of construction litigation and also some transactional construction work.  I would be shocked if a firm in the 5-10 attorney range were getting much in the way of interesting/high-stakes construction litigation.  My guess is that it would be small-time residential cases or more likely the transactional side, which I thought was typically pretty boring, easy, and formulaic (just like foreclosure).  If it's the latter, that's also a pigeon-hole specialty that doesn't do much to translate elsewhere.  Plus, it is very unlikely to be a stepping stone into a larger firm, unless you are in major city where they have the boutique construction firms in the 20-50 attorney range.

It is mostly commercial construction litigation if that matters.  2 of the 3 former associates I found on linkedin wound up in mid/biglaw.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on September 30, 2016, 03:15:27 PM
I think we all admire you for your courage, TrulyStashin. But if looking at your career path solely in term of FIRE, I think it's probably not the best decision you could have made. You are missing out on $200-300k a year in salary and another $50-100k a year in bonus. You could be FIREd before you hit the partnership ceiling had you stayed with your old firm. You can always start your solo practice during your "retirement".

Nah.  These numbers are WAY off because I was a staff attorney (doing associate work -- they even called me an "associate" to clients) and thus pigeon holed, plus working for a partner with a weak book and no political pull in the firm.  It was a dead end.  I'll make as much or more this year -- first year solo -- than I did in my third and last year at that firm.  Even if I had pulled off a shift to associate, the starting pay was $145k with a 5% bonus only if I billed over 2100 hours.  Bleh. 

Once my firm is established, I can bill half that much time and far outearn what BigLaw would have paid.  All without the asshole factor.  Total win in my book.
I see, that makes more sense.

We are all cheering for you ;)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2016, 03:17:05 PM
I think we all admire you for your courage, TrulyStashin. But if looking at your career path solely in term of FIRE, I think it's probably not the best decision you could have made. You are missing out on $200-300k a year in salary and another $50-100k a year in bonus. You could be FIREd before you hit the partnership ceiling had you stayed with your old firm. You can always start your solo practice during your "retirement".

Nah.  These numbers are WAY off because I was a staff attorney (doing associate work -- they even called me an "associate" to clients) and thus pigeon holed, plus working for a partner with a weak book and no political pull in the firm.  It was a dead end.  I'll make as much or more this year -- first year solo -- than I did in my third and last year at that firm.  Even if I had pulled off a shift to associate, the starting pay was $145k with a 5% bonus only if I billed over 2100 hours.  Bleh. 

Once my firm is established, I can bill half that much time and far outearn what BigLaw would have paid.  All without the asshole factor.  Total win in my book.
I see, that makes more sense.

We are all cheering for you ;)

Thanks!  I can feel it.  It's true that my personality is not that of a typically cautious lawyer.  ;) 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on September 30, 2016, 03:26:57 PM
I made my decision and will taking the new job.

Pros of foreclosure
  • Make more now
  • Familiar with it
  • I like my boss, my firm and pretty much every co-worker
  • I've got a sick office to myself

Cons of foreclosure
  • The field has a bad reputation among lawyers which makes it extremely hard to lateral into any other field.
  • Small window to lateral out.  I feel like you have to lateral out as a junior or you get stuck in foreclosure which is exceptionally bad because...
  • Work is drying up.
  • Personally unsatisfied with my career.
  • Very little room for growth -- no encouragement to build a book of business (senior attorneys do the same work as juniors and never meet with clients.
  • Salary is not expected to grow much at all.  Would probably get paid less at any other foreclosure firm.

I feel that the construction law firm offers much more room for growth in commercial construction law and I liked the partners when I met them.  I think after 1 year I might be making as much as I would had I stayed in foreclosure and will expect to make more after 2 years for sure.

Good luck OCC!!   Knock 'em dead!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on September 30, 2016, 04:08:55 PM
I agree with chesebert regarding OneCoolCat's dilemma.  I was in biglaw and did a ton of construction litigation and also some transactional construction work.  I would be shocked if a firm in the 5-10 attorney range were getting much in the way of interesting/high-stakes construction litigation.  My guess is that it would be small-time residential cases or more likely the transactional side, which I thought was typically pretty boring, easy, and formulaic (just like foreclosure).  If it's the latter, that's also a pigeon-hole specialty that doesn't do much to translate elsewhere.  Plus, it is very unlikely to be a stepping stone into a larger firm, unless you are in major city where they have the boutique construction firms in the 20-50 attorney range.

It is mostly commercial construction litigation if that matters.  2 of the 3 former associates I found on linkedin wound up in mid/biglaw.

Oh, well, that's good news!  Commercial construction litigation can be pretty interesting, has lots of room for work with experts, and typically presents many, many factual issues.  You'll need to familiarize yourself with a lot of new lingo if you haven't been in the industry before, but it's certainly something you can handle, I'm sure.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: lexde on October 01, 2016, 05:30:47 AM
Brand-new lawyer, midlaw, workers comp. $65K + benefits.
$53K of $120K student loans remaining, put an inheritance toward loans and am now slowly grinding down the rest of it at 800-1000/mo. Refinancing soon.

The plan is to just grind experience for the first 2 years: lots of depositions, eventually trial work, and then try to move to a firm where I will want to make partner.

Starting at such a low salary (my area is very oversaturated), what can I expect in terms of increasing my salary over the next few years? Any anecdotal input would be greatly appreciated!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on October 01, 2016, 05:44:24 AM
Lexde, great job getting a huge head-start on repaying your student loans!  In light of the fact that came from an inheritance, I must say I am sorry for your loss.

Good plan to crank away at the work, learn, and get experience for at least 2 years.  When I started in litigation at biglaw, I was thinking I would do the grind for around 2 years, too, but once I got into it, I ended up climbing the ladder for 8 1/2 years.  I'm the kind of person that pretty much never leaves something, even when I know in my heart that I should, and it's a lot easier for me to just stay on the known path than to make a change.  This sort of mindset can be helpful for persevering and overcoming challenges, but it also means I stuck around later than was wise while my group began disintegrating around me.  In any event, I would just encourage you to periodically reevaluate where you're at and what your career goals are.

I'm sorry I can't speak to your salary questions since I worked in biglaw and we were on a very different compensation scale with known metrics for advancement.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: lexde on October 01, 2016, 09:51:10 AM
Lexde, great job getting a huge head-start on repaying your student loans!  In light of the fact that came from an inheritance, I must say I am sorry for your loss.

Good plan to crank away at the work, learn, and get experience for at least 2 years.  When I started in litigation at biglaw, I was thinking I would do the grind for around 2 years, too, but once I got into it, I ended up climbing the ladder for 8 1/2 years.  I'm the kind of person that pretty much never leaves something, even when I know in my heart that I should, and it's a lot easier for me to just stay on the known path than to make a change.  This sort of mindset can be helpful for persevering and overcoming challenges, but it also means I stuck around later than was wise while my group began disintegrating around me.  In any event, I would just encourage you to periodically reevaluate where you're at and what your career goals are.

I'm sorry I can't speak to your salary questions since I worked in biglaw and we were on a very different compensation scale with known metrics for advancement.

Thanks so much. I worked 2 paralegal jobs prior to passing the bar and found that after 6 months each I was just not thrilled with the work. I'm hoping it gets better as an attorney at this firm, but I think I have the opposite problem as you do in that I want to leave sooner than I should - bad for resumes and career. I'm still planning on 2 years with this firm though at a minimum.
Thanks for your response, it was really helpful!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Hideous Hog on October 01, 2016, 08:10:16 PM
Not a lawyer but married to one. My wife has 15 years as a criminal prosecutor, working for the State Attorney's office here. It doesn't pay as well as the silk-stocking firms, but she loves her work.  She started at 30K fresh out of school and now makes 90K.  Over her career, she has:


On a slightly more on-topic note, we borrowed the bare minimum necessary.  She graduated with about 80K in student loans, now paid off.  Many of her classmates graduated with 200K or more of debt.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on October 01, 2016, 09:39:09 PM
Not a lawyer but married to one. My wife has 15 years as a criminal prosecutor, working for the State Attorney's office here. It doesn't pay as well as the silk-stocking firms, but she loves her work.  She started at 30K fresh out of school and now makes 90K.  Over her career, she has:

  • Caused opposing counsel to have a heart attack (in mid-trial)
  • Caused at least one defendant to have a non-fatal heart attack during her cross-examination.
  • Reduced more than one defendant to tears (during cross-examination).
  • Acquired the moniker of "Angel of Death" from members of the local criminal elements.

On a slightly more on-topic note, we borrowed the bare minimum necessary.  She graduated with about 80K in student loans, now paid off.  Many of her classmates graduated with 200K or more of debt.

Wow, I thought the 200k club was a newer phenomenon.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Chiron on October 03, 2016, 03:26:02 PM
I think we all admire you for your courage, TrulyStashin. But if looking at your career path solely in term of FIRE, I think it's probably not the best decision you could have made. You are missing out on $200-300k a year in salary and another $50-100k a year in bonus. You could be FIREd before you hit the partnership ceiling had you stayed with your old firm. You can always start your solo practice during your "retirement".

Nah.  These numbers are WAY off because I was a staff attorney (doing associate work -- they even called me an "associate" to clients) and thus pigeon holed, plus working for a partner with a weak book and no political pull in the firm.  It was a dead end.  I'll make as much or more this year -- first year solo -- than I did in my third and last year at that firm.  Even if I had pulled off a shift to associate, the starting pay was $145k with a 5% bonus only if I billed over 2100 hours.  Bleh. 

Once my firm is established, I can bill half that much time and far outearn what BigLaw would have paid.  All without the asshole factor.  Total win in my book.

IF (this is the big variable) you can establish your own book, I think you are way better off in solo/small law practice than in Biglaw and it's much more conducive to a Mustachian lifestyle.  Biglaw firms spend over $200k/year per attorney on overhead (more in the more expensive markets).  Solo and boutique partners with their own books independent of biglaw firms capture most of that excess for themselves. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 03, 2016, 09:58:42 PM
Yeah, I agree. I was solo and now own my own small practice with three total attorneys. No big law associate in my region has out earned me in the last five years. I also work far less. But, it is all about getting your own clients.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on October 04, 2016, 09:29:01 AM
I made my decision and will taking the new job.

Pros of foreclosure
  • Make more now
  • Familiar with it
  • I like my boss, my firm and pretty much every co-worker
  • I've got a sick office to myself

Cons of foreclosure
  • The field has a bad reputation among lawyers which makes it extremely hard to lateral into any other field.
  • Small window to lateral out.  I feel like you have to lateral out as a junior or you get stuck in foreclosure which is exceptionally bad because...
  • Work is drying up.
  • Personally unsatisfied with my career.
  • Very little room for growth -- no encouragement to build a book of business (senior attorneys do the same work as juniors and never meet with clients.
  • Salary is not expected to grow much at all.  Would probably get paid less at any other foreclosure firm.

I feel that the construction law firm offers much more room for growth in commercial construction law and I liked the partners when I met them.  I think after 1 year I might be making as much as I would had I stayed in foreclosure and will expect to make more after 2 years for sure.

I think this is a very smart move. Foreclosure work will continue to dry up as it's particularly susceptible to automation. It's already prone to error when people touch it (legal descriptions, addresses, chain of title, etc) and automating it would save everyone money and decrease likelihood of error.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on October 11, 2016, 12:59:25 PM
it is all about getting your own clients.
  Success in any firm of any size is all about getting your own clients.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: JD Student on October 11, 2016, 01:13:06 PM
I am 2L at a top ranked public university. I worked last summer for a V100 firm and am splitting next summer with a V50 and V100 firm. I am interested in financial services litigation and have a strong banking background prior to law school. Also regretfully on Law Review and proudly in the top 10% of my class.

I saved prior to law school and with scholarships will finish without any debt. Can't wait to start saving that $155k salary!

Great to see so many lawyer mustachians.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 12, 2016, 08:34:11 AM
Not to be dramatic, but as previously indicated, might get fired at end of year, so please read.

I posted about having a "graduated" or "progressive" retirement in another thread. And that flowery idea at the firm I'm currently at is a little silly considering all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about previously), and the fact that I might get fired at the end of this year.

Anyway, a big idea has kind of popped in my head lately (in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit in this thread): if I get fired, what about starting a mediation company while also trying to launch a solo firm, and see which one takes off?

I ask because my market, even though it's small, seems to be completely under-saturated with mediators. A google search for "city mediator" leads to basically nothing except two mediators who are from bigger cities out of town.

I'm 99% sure this is because there is a full time mediator at the court of common pleas and local rule requires all civil cases to proceed to mediation. This mediation is basically free for the parties (aside from attorney's fees and the increased court costs of front).

This mediator, however, is beginning to be overburdened. He's mediating eight cases per day, sometimes three at once. Based on my limited experience, he's not very effective and the mediation has become a dog and pony show for lawyers to bill 3-4 hours to their clients while showing how terrible the opposing side is.

I think there's a market for a full-time mediation company, but I'm a little scared to dip my toe in that water. I can't imagine I'm the first person in the area with the idea, or maybe I am, but it just seems risky.

Anyway, based on all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about before), it seems prudent to me to be thinking about these ideas. And what has come to mind is, if I get fired, (a) starting my own practice AND (b) starting a mediation practice, and see which one takes off.

Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on October 12, 2016, 08:39:07 AM
Not to be dramatic, but as previously indicated, might get fired at end of year, so please read.

I posted about having a "graduated" or "progressive" retirement in another thread. And that flowery idea at the firm I'm currently at is a little silly considering all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about previously), and the fact that I might get fired at the end of this year.

Anyway, a big idea has kind of popped in my head lately (in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit in this thread): if I get fired, what about starting a mediation company while also trying to launch a solo firm, and see which one takes off?

I ask because my market, even though it's small, seems to be completely under-saturated with mediators. A google search for "city mediator" leads to basically nothing except two mediators who are from bigger cities out of town.

I'm 99% sure this is because there is a full time mediator at the court of common pleas and local rule requires all civil cases to proceed to mediation. This mediation is basically free for the parties (aside from attorney's fees and the increased court costs of front).

This mediator, however, is beginning to be overburdened. He's mediating eight cases per day, sometimes three at once. Based on my limited experience, he's not very effective and the mediation has become a dog and pony show for lawyers to bill 3-4 hours to their clients while showing how terrible the opposing side is.

I think there's a market for a full-time mediation company, but I'm a little scared to dip my toe in that water. I can't imagine I'm the first person in the area with the idea, or maybe I am, but it just seems risky.

Anyway, based on all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about before), it seems prudent to me to be thinking about these ideas. And what has come to mind is, if I get fired, (a) starting my own practice AND (b) starting a mediation practice, and see which one takes off.

Any thoughts?

The first thing that comes to mind is malpractice insurance.  I assume it's required, and I'm sure it's well-advised to get anyway, but are there different requirements for mediators?  Could one policy cover both practice areas?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 12, 2016, 10:13:01 AM
The first thing that comes to mind is malpractice insurance.  I assume it's required, and I'm sure it's well-advised to get anyway, but are there different requirements for mediators?  Could one policy cover both practice areas?

Interesting question. I was intending on forming two separate LLCs (one for the mediation company, one for my solo practice). I don't think I'd need malpractice insurance as a mediator, but I'm sure there's some type of insurance out there.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: RDUSTT on October 12, 2016, 11:47:52 AM
Hey, everybody! I've been lurking around the site for some time and thought I'd finally jump in with a lawyer specific budgeting question. 

I'm an equity partner at a medium-sized law firm. I struggle with creating a budget because I am forever uncertain of my compensation. I am told a budgeted compensation number in the 1st quarter along with draw amount that is changed each year.  We usually hit our budgeted number and a little more but not always.  My comp number can vary significantly- the past 8 years have been particularly bumpy for those of us involved in real estate.  My comp this year is three times as much as my comp five years ago, for example.

I am paid a monthly draw, quarterly tax draws as available, and "true ups" based upon my percentage ownership of the firm in December and then a small percentage (about 10%) of held back comp in January and April of the following year. Essentially this means I draw about half my comp for the year through November and then get about 40% more in December, with about 10% coming in as January and April tax draws.  I am required to contribute % of my comp to a retirement plan, which is good, but the funds are only disbursed to me once a year in the following year, which is bad.  All of this lets the partnership with no debt and zero out at year end.  I like that but it makes my ride a little bumpier. 

My goal is to live on my draw less taxes and save the rest. I'm not there yet but I am making progress thanks to MMM and many of your interesting posts. I end up hitting the HELOC every year to make up the difference and paying it off at the end of the year. I'm curious what others who are similarly situated handle their finances.

Thanks!

RDUSTT

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on October 12, 2016, 12:31:22 PM
I'm curious what others who are similarly situated handle their finances.

Hey RDUSTT! Welcome. Curious to see what others post here in response to your question (which might actually be a good question to post in the general forum if you want to get thoughts from others that have uneven income).

I'm an associate in Biglaw, so don't have the "problem" of the uneven equity draw, but it seems like you're on the right track to see if you can minimize your lifestyle to living on the monthly draw. That would certainly be my goal and then I'd use the extra money to fund various savings/retirement goals. For instance, if you always know that the January "true-up" will be enough to cover two Backdoor Roth IRA contributions, then I'd get in the habit of doing those in January. I'd think pretty quickly you could get in the habit of earmarking certain things for the various times in the year when you get extra money.

You mentioned using a HELOC as a sort of short-term credit card to help smooth the ride but it sounds like you want to avoid paying interest going forward. What about setting aside in 2017 the amount of money you borrowed from your HELOC in 2016 so that you can fund the difference yourself and not worry about paying any interest in the HELOC?

If you're looking for tactical advice, I'd suggest checking out You Need A Budget. Despite it's goofy name, it's a great program that's really helped me fine tune budgeting and tracking expenses. No reason why you'd have to use it if you don't like budgeting, but the concepts embedded in the program are pretty good at helping you figure out how much you'll need to live through the year.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: RDUSTT on October 12, 2016, 04:02:02 PM
Thanks, biglawinvestor! YNAB sounds like great advice.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 12, 2016, 07:46:51 PM
Not to be dramatic, but as previously indicated, might get fired at end of year, so please read.

I posted about having a "graduated" or "progressive" retirement in another thread. And that flowery idea at the firm I'm currently at is a little silly considering all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about previously), and the fact that I might get fired at the end of this year.

Anyway, a big idea has kind of popped in my head lately (in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit in this thread): if I get fired, what about starting a mediation company while also trying to launch a solo firm, and see which one takes off?

I ask because my market, even though it's small, seems to be completely under-saturated with mediators. A google search for "city mediator" leads to basically nothing except two mediators who are from bigger cities out of town.

I'm 99% sure this is because there is a full time mediator at the court of common pleas and local rule requires all civil cases to proceed to mediation. This mediation is basically free for the parties (aside from attorney's fees and the increased court costs of front).

This mediator, however, is beginning to be overburdened. He's mediating eight cases per day, sometimes three at once. Based on my limited experience, he's not very effective and the mediation has become a dog and pony show for lawyers to bill 3-4 hours to their clients while showing how terrible the opposing side is.

I think there's a market for a full-time mediation company, but I'm a little scared to dip my toe in that water. I can't imagine I'm the first person in the area with the idea, or maybe I am, but it just seems risky.

Anyway, based on all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about before), it seems prudent to me to be thinking about these ideas. And what has come to mind is, if I get fired, (a) starting my own practice AND (b) starting a mediation practice, and see which one takes off.

Any thoughts?

The first thing that comes to mind is malpractice insurance.  I assume it's required, and I'm sure it's well-advised to get anyway, but are there different requirements for mediators?  Could one policy cover both practice areas?

First, insurance is a really easy problem to solve. You buy it and move on. With all due respect to my bigger law brothers and sisters, on the forum and in the real world, I'll never understand the fixation on insurance as an obstacle. I hear it all the time.

Why wait to get fired to start a mediation practice? As I stated above, success in the law is all about getting your own clients. One of the bigger law attorneys on the forum pointed out that is true at any firm of any size. I don't know much about big firm politics, but I can' t see how creating a new specialty and client base inside your firm can hurt you. Don't ask, just do.

In my area, a good mediator who is trusted by both sides of a dispute, is a rare breed, in demand and well compensated. I don't think a mediator who is doing 8 cases a day would fall into the prior description. For example, if I need to mediate a 500k lawsuit with an insurance company, I would never consider someone who had 7 other cases going on. You might start with divorces and small stuff (high volume) and work your way into bigger dollar disputes. The important part is to start. You will see step four, after you take step three - not earlier.

Btw, everyone who sees a business opportunity wonders why no one else has done it first. It seems so easy, to the person who sees it and has the skills needed to capitalize on it. Being an entrepreneur is a lot about trusting your own instinct when a market opportunity is hiding in plain view. I often tell other attorneys looking for a job, there might not be any jobs, but there is plenty of work. I see work everywhere. You see work. Go get it.

My opinion, which is admittedly entrepreneurial, is to start building a mediation practice immediately. Or, I guess you could just wait to get fired and continue to let other people control your fate....
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on October 13, 2016, 07:51:13 AM
Not to be dramatic, but as previously indicated, might get fired at end of year, so please read.

I posted about having a "graduated" or "progressive" retirement in another thread. And that flowery idea at the firm I'm currently at is a little silly considering all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about previously), and the fact that I might get fired at the end of this year.

Anyway, a big idea has kind of popped in my head lately (in part due to the entrepreneurial spirit in this thread): if I get fired, what about starting a mediation company while also trying to launch a solo firm, and see which one takes off?

I ask because my market, even though it's small, seems to be completely under-saturated with mediators. A google search for "city mediator" leads to basically nothing except two mediators who are from bigger cities out of town.

I'm 99% sure this is because there is a full time mediator at the court of common pleas and local rule requires all civil cases to proceed to mediation. This mediation is basically free for the parties (aside from attorney's fees and the increased court costs of front).

This mediator, however, is beginning to be overburdened. He's mediating eight cases per day, sometimes three at once. Based on my limited experience, he's not very effective and the mediation has become a dog and pony show for lawyers to bill 3-4 hours to their clients while showing how terrible the opposing side is.

I think there's a market for a full-time mediation company, but I'm a little scared to dip my toe in that water. I can't imagine I'm the first person in the area with the idea, or maybe I am, but it just seems risky.

Anyway, based on all the politics at my firm (which I've posted about before), it seems prudent to me to be thinking about these ideas. And what has come to mind is, if I get fired, (a) starting my own practice AND (b) starting a mediation practice, and see which one takes off.

Any thoughts?

The first thing that comes to mind is malpractice insurance.  I assume it's required, and I'm sure it's well-advised to get anyway, but are there different requirements for mediators?  Could one policy cover both practice areas?

First, insurance is a really easy problem to solve. You buy it and move on. With all due respect to my bigger law brothers and sisters, on the forum and in the real world, I'll never understand the fixation on insurance as an obstacle. I hear it all the time.

Why wait to get fired to start a mediation practice? As I stated above, success in the law is all about getting your own clients. One of the bigger law attorneys on the forum pointed out that is true at any firm of any size. I don't know much about big firm politics, but I can' t see how creating a new specialty and client base inside your firm can hurt you. Don't ask, just do.

In my area, a good mediator who is trusted by both sides of a dispute, is a rare breed, in demand and well compensated. I don't think a mediator who is doing 8 cases a day would fall into the prior description. For example, if I need to mediate a 500k lawsuit with an insurance company, I would never consider someone who had 7 other cases going on. You might start with divorces and small stuff (high volume) and work your way into bigger dollar disputes. The important part is to start. You will see step four, after you take step three - not earlier.

Btw, everyone who sees a business opportunity wonders why no one else has done it first. It seems so easy, to the person who sees it and has the skills needed to capitalize on it. Being an entrepreneur is a lot about trusting your own instinct when a market opportunity is hiding in plain view. I often tell other attorneys looking for a job, there might not be any jobs, but there is plenty of work. I see work everywhere. You see work. Go get it.

My opinion, which is admittedly entrepreneurial, is to start building a mediation practice immediately. Or, I guess you could just wait to get fired and continue to let other people control your fate....

I think a benefit of starting with the mediation practice is that it's less likely to be covered by any non-compete you have with your existing firm (although, full disclosure, I just checked my employment docs, and they purport to cover mediation practices that I would start, so I guess YMMV.  Not sure if the non-compete would be enforceable, etc).
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 13, 2016, 08:18:20 AM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ZiziPB on October 13, 2016, 08:22:33 AM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.

As far as I know, there are no non-competes in the legal profession.  However, your present employer may (and is likely) to prohibit you from doing other legal work WHILE YOU ARE STILL EMPLOYED BY THEM.  But you should not be subject to any restrictions once you leave your current employer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 13, 2016, 08:42:06 AM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.

As far as I know, there are no non-competes in the legal profession.  However, your present employer may (and is likely) to prohibit you from doing other legal work WHILE YOU ARE STILL EMPLOYED BY THEM.  But you should not be subject to any restrictions once you leave your current employer.

That makes sense. 

RE: FireBy35's idea that RSM set up a mediation practice NOW is something RSM might be able to do at his current firm.  He could figure out what credentials he needs to offer the service (if any) and then start offering it under his employer's umbrella.  I did that at my firm and those clients followed me when I left.   Starting a new practice group is common -- see e.g. all the UAV/ Drone practice groups springing up at firms nationwide.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 13, 2016, 09:20:59 AM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.

As far as I know, there are no non-competes in the legal profession.  However, your present employer may (and is likely) to prohibit you from doing other legal work WHILE YOU ARE STILL EMPLOYED BY THEM.  But you should not be subject to any restrictions once you leave your current employer.

That makes sense. 

RE: FireBy35's idea that RSM set up a mediation practice NOW is something RSM might be able to do at his current firm.  He could figure out what credentials he needs to offer the service (if any) and then start offering it under his employer's umbrella.  I did that at my firm and those clients followed me when I left.   Starting a new practice group is common -- see e.g. all the UAV/ Drone practice groups springing up at firms nationwide.

Interesting discussion here. This is dumb, but when I first started I asked, "Do I have to do X file under the firm's umbrella? This is a family friend and I only want to charge him $500." And they said yes, even if you are basically taking a bath on something, you are employed by our firm and therefore our firm, and not you, represents them.

So if I was to do anything NOW, I think I'd have to do it under my firm's umbrella. Whether they would want me to offer such services is an interesting question that, quite frankly, I have no idea where to even begin to find an answer. I also pause to ask any of the partners here because it might light the match in their head that I'm thinking about alternatives. Or maybe it will show ambition? I don't know.

How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on October 13, 2016, 09:37:57 AM
How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?

I am only 5 years out, but I absolutely think the practices can help each other.  I worked for a solo practitioner in law school who did both, and I think it was beneficial for him and a selling point. 

I can't speak to the boss thing.  I've worked at a one/two-lawyer firm, a ten-lawyer plaintiffs firm, and in massive NYC big law, and only the tiny firm would have allowed that sort of side hustle.  But it seems worth pursuing, especially if your options are quite limited at that place going forward anyway.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: hoodedfalcon on October 13, 2016, 09:42:57 AM

Quote
How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?

In my area, most mediators seem to be at the tail end of their practice. They are seasoned trial attorneys with strong reputations. Now, I think it is perfectly reasonable to work your way up to that. I personally don't know any mediators who are early in their careers as lawyers, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. It just means you might have to work a little harder to build up a reputation and client base. I think simultaneously practicing could be very beneficial.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 13, 2016, 09:49:04 AM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.

As far as I know, there are no non-competes in the legal profession.  However, your present employer may (and is likely) to prohibit you from doing other legal work WHILE YOU ARE STILL EMPLOYED BY THEM.  But you should not be subject to any restrictions once you leave your current employer.

That makes sense. 

RE: FireBy35's idea that RSM set up a mediation practice NOW is something RSM might be able to do at his current firm.  He could figure out what credentials he needs to offer the service (if any) and then start offering it under his employer's umbrella.  I did that at my firm and those clients followed me when I left.   Starting a new practice group is common -- see e.g. all the UAV/ Drone practice groups springing up at firms nationwide.

Interesting discussion here. This is dumb, but when I first started I asked, "Do I have to do X file under the firm's umbrella? This is a family friend and I only want to charge him $500." And they said yes, even if you are basically taking a bath on something, you are employed by our firm and therefore our firm, and not you, represents them.

So if I was to do anything NOW, I think I'd have to do it under my firm's umbrella. Whether they would want me to offer such services is an interesting question that, quite frankly, I have no idea where to even begin to find an answer. I also pause to ask any of the partners here because it might light the match in their head that I'm thinking about alternatives. Or maybe it will show ambition? I don't know.

How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?

Do some research on the opportunity, the competition, and the necessary credentials.  Write a business plan.  You then have two options:  1) present the business plan to a partner whom you believe would be most open to it; or 2) use the business plan to go out on your own.

Doing the research and writing the plan will cost you nothing but time.  Actually, you will learn a lot from this exercise even if you never execute the plan.  You can always stick it in a drawer if you don't want to act on it.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on October 13, 2016, 01:25:42 PM
How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?
  When I hire a mediator, I want a mediator with some experience in the type of case I am litigating.  He needs to be able to twist arms (my client included) and get a deal done.  Experience in the cost and outcomes of jury trial is absolutely necessary to calling bullshit on some of the client positions on both sides.

Not to be offensive, but I would never hire a young mediator just for that reason.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Cycling Stache on October 13, 2016, 02:56:21 PM
How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?
  When I hire a mediator, I want a mediator with some experience in the type of case I am litigating.  He needs to be able to twist arms (my client included) and get a deal done.  Experience in the cost and outcomes of jury trial is absolutely necessary to calling bullshit on some of the client positions on both sides.

Not to be offensive, but I would never hire a young mediator just for that reason.

I agree that a mediator almost certainly needs a lot of experience.  It's the ability to tell the parties what is likely going to happen from a neutral perspective that is the key to breaking through the litigating positions. 

That said, it might be entirely possible to join a mediation firm as a young associate who does the research and helps the "senior" mediator get ready for the mediation.   I imagine that there's actually a fair amount of that work unless it's a very area-specific mediator because the mediator needs to understand the law in the area to value the likelihood of success and expected outcomes of the parties' positions.

Btw, I think mediation would be a fantastic thing to do in law.  If I didn't have my current job and had to take another law job, it's what I would try to do.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on October 14, 2016, 07:54:41 AM
Why not approach the current mediator in town and ask if you can team up somehow (i.e. you pay him a referral fee for each case he gives to you that you take off his plate, and he assists you when you're in over your head)?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 14, 2016, 12:19:10 PM
How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?
  When I hire a mediator, I want a mediator with some experience in the type of case I am litigating.  He needs to be able to twist arms (my client included) and get a deal done.  Experience in the cost and outcomes of jury trial is absolutely necessary to calling bullshit on some of the client positions on both sides.

Not to be offensive, but I would never hire a young mediator just for that reason.

This is the wrong question. Sure, lots of people will not hire RSM. The question is who will hire RSM. Probably small cases, family cases, cases where the parties are required to mediate and given a list of people and they happen to call RSM. That is how someone starts. After they have done enough of these types of cases then RSM will have experience and be able to take bigger, more complicated cases. This is how people build businesses and experience.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on October 14, 2016, 01:28:00 PM
^^^  A non-compete clause barring a lawyer from practicing law (or mediation) for another employer??? 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around that.  I'm in a very employer-friendly Circuit and state and even here I've never heard of such a clause.  When I left BigLaw to go solo, last year, everyone in my BigLaw firm knew it because I walked around and told them.  The Managing Partner wished me well.  They even refer clients to me.

As far as I know, there are no non-competes in the legal profession.  However, your present employer may (and is likely) to prohibit you from doing other legal work WHILE YOU ARE STILL EMPLOYED BY THEM.  But you should not be subject to any restrictions once you leave your current employer.

That makes sense. 

RE: FireBy35's idea that RSM set up a mediation practice NOW is something RSM might be able to do at his current firm.  He could figure out what credentials he needs to offer the service (if any) and then start offering it under his employer's umbrella.  I did that at my firm and those clients followed me when I left.   Starting a new practice group is common -- see e.g. all the UAV/ Drone practice groups springing up at firms nationwide.

Interesting discussion here. This is dumb, but when I first started I asked, "Do I have to do X file under the firm's umbrella? This is a family friend and I only want to charge him $500." And they said yes, even if you are basically taking a bath on something, you are employed by our firm and therefore our firm, and not you, represents them.

So if I was to do anything NOW, I think I'd have to do it under my firm's umbrella. Whether they would want me to offer such services is an interesting question that, quite frankly, I have no idea where to even begin to find an answer. I also pause to ask any of the partners here because it might light the match in their head that I'm thinking about alternatives. Or maybe it will show ambition? I don't know.

How much legal experience do you guys think is necessary to be a "respected" mediator? Because I'm only two years out of school at this point. I definitely have some experience but not that much at all. And this is why I think simultaneously practicing (whether it be here or as a solo) would be beneficial--hey, I'm a practicing lawyer, I'm up to date on these issues, etc. It just seems to me that the mediation practice could help my law practice and vise versa. Or am I loony?

RSM - Don't overthink it. I said, "Don't ask, just do." This is exactly what I meant. You do not need permission to do this. The reason you don't know where to ask is because there is no one to ask. You just start.

I would suggest the best time to tell you firm about you mediation "practice" is when you get paid for the first time. I would offer to give the firm the money earned from your new specialty. You know the old saying: show me the money. Are they really going to look at you and say: "stop bringing in unexpected legal fees." Don't overthink it. Move one step at a time. First credentials. Second, shadowing or introductions to mediators. Second prospecting. Third???? You might notice, there are lots of steps before you get your first client and you need tell your firm anything.

Also, don't go thinking you will be the first person to bring money to the firm. Other people do bring in actual cash (rather than just collect a check). They are usually called partners/rainmakers.

You'll be a respected mediator immediately, btw. The question is who will respect you. Big law attorneys on this board, are not going to hire you for your first case because they don't respect you. But there are people who are not lawyers (surprise) and don't know anything except that you ARE a lawyer. They will respect you when you mediate their small claims issue, divorce or whatever starter case you get. Fake it until you make it. You will become respected by people with bigger and better cases over time once you gain experience. You've heard it before: Rome wasn't built in a day.

I also agree it is a good idea to work with other mediators. Watch trials to witness outcomes for cases that you might want to mediate in the future. Just become very familiar with whatever area you aspire to be involved in.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: YTProphet on October 14, 2016, 02:49:45 PM
RSM - Don't overthink it. I said, "Don't ask, just do." This is exactly what I meant. You do not need permission to do this. The reason you don't know where to ask is because there is no one to ask. You just start.

I would suggest the best time to tell you firm about you mediation "practice" is when you get paid for the first time. I would offer to give the firm the money earned from your new specialty. You know the old saying: show me the money. Are they really going to look at you and say: "stop bringing in unexpected legal fees." Don't overthink it. Move one step at a time. First credentials. Second, shadowing or introductions to mediators. Second prospecting. Third???? You might notice, there are lots of steps before you get your first client and you need tell your firm anything.

Also, don't go thinking you will be the first person to bring money to the firm. Other people do bring in actual cash (rather than just collect a check). They are usually called partners/rainmakers.

You'll be a respected mediator immediately, btw. The question is who will respect you. Big law attorneys on this board, are not going to hire you for your first case because they don't respect you. But there are people who are not lawyers (surprise) and don't know anything except that you ARE a lawyer. They will respect you when you mediate their small claims issue, divorce or whatever starter case you get. Fake it until you make it. You will become respected by people with bigger and better cases over time once you gain experience. You've heard it before: Rome wasn't built in a day.

I also agree it is a good idea to work with other mediators. Watch trials to witness outcomes for cases that you might want to mediate in the future. Just become very familiar with whatever area you aspire to be involved in.

This is a fantastic piece of advice.

Also, non-compete's basically don't apply to lawyers who work at a law firm. If they ask you to sign one, they probably don't know what the hell they're doing.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LouLou on October 14, 2016, 04:46:43 PM
RSM - Another way to prepare for your mediation practice is to do it on a volunteer basis.  I mediated small cases for my local Better Business Bureau during law school.  The service was free, so the consumers and businesses did not mind that I was not an attorney yet.  My BBB does not require any particular experience to be a mediator. Now, I can truthfully say that I've successfully mediated dozens of cases.  I also completed arbitrator training, and I plan to start acting as an arbitrator soon.

I would not formally ask permission.  Rather, I would go through the normal conflict checking process for my firm.  (If you act as a third party neutral, you would likely be conflicted out of representing either party in the future without a waiver.  You also need to make sure no one is a current client of your firm, or someone your firm is targeting).  If someone has a problem with it, they can tell you then.

You should also research requirements for mediator rosters in industries you are familiar with.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 18, 2016, 12:34:32 PM
RSM - Don't overthink it. I said, "Don't ask, just do." This is exactly what I meant. You do not need permission to do this. The reason you don't know where to ask is because there is no one to ask. You just start.

I would suggest the best time to tell you firm about you mediation "practice" is when you get paid for the first time. I would offer to give the firm the money earned from your new specialty. You know the old saying: show me the money. Are they really going to look at you and say: "stop bringing in unexpected legal fees." Don't overthink it. Move one step at a time. First credentials. Second, shadowing or introductions to mediators. Second prospecting. Third???? You might notice, there are lots of steps before you get your first client and you need tell your firm anything.

Also, don't go thinking you will be the first person to bring money to the firm. Other people do bring in actual cash (rather than just collect a check). They are usually called partners/rainmakers.

You'll be a respected mediator immediately, btw. The question is who will respect you. Big law attorneys on this board, are not going to hire you for your first case because they don't respect you. But there are people who are not lawyers (surprise) and don't know anything except that you ARE a lawyer. They will respect you when you mediate their small claims issue, divorce or whatever starter case you get. Fake it until you make it. You will become respected by people with bigger and better cases over time once you gain experience. You've heard it before: Rome wasn't built in a day.

I also agree it is a good idea to work with other mediators. Watch trials to witness outcomes for cases that you might want to mediate in the future. Just become very familiar with whatever area you aspire to be involved in.

This is an awesome post. Thank you for your encouragement.

RSM - Another way to prepare for your mediation practice is to do it on a volunteer basis.  I mediated small cases for my local Better Business Bureau during law school.  The service was free, so the consumers and businesses did not mind that I was not an attorney yet.  My BBB does not require any particular experience to be a mediator. Now, I can truthfully say that I've successfully mediated dozens of cases.  I also completed arbitrator training, and I plan to start acting as an arbitrator soon.

I would not formally ask permission.  Rather, I would go through the normal conflict checking process for my firm.  (If you act as a third party neutral, you would likely be conflicted out of representing either party in the future without a waiver.  You also need to make sure no one is a current client of your firm, or someone your firm is targeting).  If someone has a problem with it, they can tell you then.

You should also research requirements for mediator rosters in industries you are familiar with.

This is a great idea as well. I actually work in the same building as the BBB and can't see why it would hurt to go down there and ask if they need any volunteers to conduct mediations.


Based on the advice in this thread, I scheduled a lunch with one of my corporate clients today. He also happens to be a very good family friend who was my little league baseball coach--we go back a long ways.

Anyway, I wanted to get a non-lawyer's perspective on the matter. And he said he would definitely follow me wherever I go, and that the mediation idea was a good one; however, he noted that it might be a little too soon to go out on my own. He said a lot of the things you guys have said when I initially found that internal corporate memo--start putting together a business plan, start getting a client base together, etc.

This meeting confirmed a lot of what you guys said, and the fact that it came from someone who I have known for more than half my life was reassuring.

My overall plan is this:

(1) Continue to do as good a job as possible here. This is a small town and even if I intend on going out on my own, I don't want to burn any bridges. My firm is well respected and I can't let any future hypotheticals get me distracted from doing a good job here.

(2) Start getting more aggressive with recruiting and developing relationships with clients.

(3) Attend mediation CLEs (which my current firm would pay for).

(4) Volunteer to be a mediator at the BBB. Also perhaps volunteer at small claims courts and give my information to the local bar association.

(5) Work towards my future on the weekends. Create a business plan for both solo firm and mediation firm.

Thanks again for all the feedback.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: ReadySetMillionaire on October 18, 2016, 12:38:55 PM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 18, 2016, 01:25:23 PM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on October 19, 2016, 10:03:44 PM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!

I just started a new BigLaw job on Monday - this story is mildly reassuring and also mildly terrifying, depending on how I interpret it - if it's second year at the firm, I'm golden. If it's second year out of law school, I'm screwed - due to clerkships/a gap year, I'm starting as a 3rd year/rising 4th year, and getting a leeeeeetle concerned that I'll soon find myself out of my depth. Oh well, I guess worst WORST case scenario, I get to keep the clerkship bonus and get paid for a couple months before they figure out I suck :)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on October 19, 2016, 10:30:50 PM
Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Awesome!  I am so happy to hear this, RSM.  Keep up the great work for the firm, but also, more importantly, for your own career -- whether that be continued advancement there or something else.  You're on a good trajectory now!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: onlykelsey on October 20, 2016, 06:47:43 AM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!

I just started a new BigLaw job on Monday - this story is mildly reassuring and also mildly terrifying, depending on how I interpret it - if it's second year at the firm, I'm golden. If it's second year out of law school, I'm screwed - due to clerkships/a gap year, I'm starting as a 3rd year/rising 4th year, and getting a leeeeeetle concerned that I'll soon find myself out of my depth. Oh well, I guess worst WORST case scenario, I get to keep the clerkship bonus and get paid for a couple months before they figure out I suck :)

I was in a sort of similar situation in that I lateraled in nearly a year ahead of my class (I did a MA so graduated from JD at a weird time) from a more general practice to the most elite and very focused group in the country.  My advice is: fake it to your clients, juniors and big bosses, and not to your immediate superiors.  For the first 3-6 months, always try to figure out problems on your own but don't be afraid to come back after some digging and say "I spent some time looking x, y and z but I haven't actually done ______ before, so I just wanted to confirm my approach with you." Big bosses who hired you actually know you don't have the experience and hired you for your intelligence, other skills and trainability.  Juniors need to think you're omniscient to avoid their own panic attacks. But senior associates/counsels/junior partners may need a reminder.

Obviously you can't use this forever, but I wouldn't be too terrified to gently remind people of your alternate training path in the beginning.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on October 20, 2016, 08:49:10 AM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!

I just started a new BigLaw job on Monday - this story is mildly reassuring and also mildly terrifying, depending on how I interpret it - if it's second year at the firm, I'm golden. If it's second year out of law school, I'm screwed - due to clerkships/a gap year, I'm starting as a 3rd year/rising 4th year, and getting a leeeeeetle concerned that I'll soon find myself out of my depth. Oh well, I guess worst WORST case scenario, I get to keep the clerkship bonus and get paid for a couple months before they figure out I suck :)

I was in a sort of similar situation in that I lateraled in nearly a year ahead of my class (I did a MA so graduated from JD at a weird time) from a more general practice to the most elite and very focused group in the country.  My advice is: fake it to your clients, juniors and big bosses, and not to your immediate superiors.  For the first 3-6 months, always try to figure out problems on your own but don't be afraid to come back after some digging and say "I spent some time looking x, y and z but I haven't actually done ______ before, so I just wanted to confirm my approach with you." Big bosses who hired you actually know you don't have the experience and hired you for your intelligence, other skills and trainability.  Juniors need to think you're omniscient to avoid their own panic attacks. But senior associates/counsels/junior partners may need a reminder.

Obviously you can't use this forever, but I wouldn't be too terrified to gently remind people of your alternate training path in the beginning.

This is great advice.  Totally agree.  Also, assess the senior associates and/ or "counsel" at your firm for their Compassion Quotient.  Find one person who will listen when you're freaking out and help when you're stuck.  For me, it was a woman with 13 years at the firm.  She knew the ropes, the personalities, where the bodies were buried, and how to survive.  She told me who else to talk to on specific questions and who to avoid.  When the partners were assholes (routine event), she helped with perspective ("he's like that to everyone, it's not you.").  She was a Godsend.  Find someone like her, if you can.

Also, expect that you will fail from time to time.  It's inevitable and it's the only way we really learn.  If you're not failing, you're not learning or growing.   Reach.  Fail.  Cry (in private).  Get up.  Keep going.  You get stronger each time.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on October 20, 2016, 05:40:06 PM
Bridget, I add a +1 to the comments from onlykelsey and TrulyStachin.  (I worked in biglaw for 8.5 years out of law school and just left earlier this year.)
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on October 20, 2016, 07:50:34 PM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!

I just started a new BigLaw job on Monday - this story is mildly reassuring and also mildly terrifying, depending on how I interpret it - if it's second year at the firm, I'm golden. If it's second year out of law school, I'm screwed - due to clerkships/a gap year, I'm starting as a 3rd year/rising 4th year, and getting a leeeeeetle concerned that I'll soon find myself out of my depth. Oh well, I guess worst WORST case scenario, I get to keep the clerkship bonus and get paid for a couple months before they figure out I suck :)

I was in a sort of similar situation in that I lateraled in nearly a year ahead of my class (I did a MA so graduated from JD at a weird time) from a more general practice to the most elite and very focused group in the country.  My advice is: fake it to your clients, juniors and big bosses, and not to your immediate superiors.  For the first 3-6 months, always try to figure out problems on your own but don't be afraid to come back after some digging and say "I spent some time looking x, y and z but I haven't actually done ______ before, so I just wanted to confirm my approach with you." Big bosses who hired you actually know you don't have the experience and hired you for your intelligence, other skills and trainability.  Juniors need to think you're omniscient to avoid their own panic attacks. But senior associates/counsels/junior partners may need a reminder.

Obviously you can't use this forever, but I wouldn't be too terrified to gently remind people of your alternate training path in the beginning.
Why wouldn't you just ask for the preferred approach and get canned documents. Associates takes too much time recreating the wheel when perfect solutions and documents are just a question away. This is 2016 and not 1996 and clients will not pay for unnecessary billing.

You can spend your own time learning; just don't make your clients pay.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: bridget on October 21, 2016, 06:00:57 PM
And holy smokes. Literally seconds after posting that, one of the partners came in here and said "Do you have a minute?"

"Yes."

And she went on to say that I'm doing a fantastic job here and that they've noticed incredible improvement this year. She said I have a "swagger" and confidence about me that I didn't have last year. She said I'm more enthusiastic about doing new assignments. Finished it with, "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it, because a lot of partners appreciate your effort."

Wow. I've gone from finding that corporate memo about three months ago to working my ass off, and here's the payoff. I can't believe I'm typing this.

With all that said...I still want to push forward. Where I'm at now is a great fallback plan and a great learning ground that will help me immeasurably in the future.

Annnnnnd I want to go drink a beer.

This is great news!  Congratulations! 

As an aside, IMHO, its common for new attorneys to struggle in the first couple of years of practice.  I sure did.  When I confided in a friend (partner, BigLaw) about all my shortcomings and failings she laughed and said "You're barely into your second year.  We don't expect much of anyone until the end of second year."

It sounds like you've got a strong plan mapped out.  Onward!

I just started a new BigLaw job on Monday - this story is mildly reassuring and also mildly terrifying, depending on how I interpret it - if it's second year at the firm, I'm golden. If it's second year out of law school, I'm screwed - due to clerkships/a gap year, I'm starting as a 3rd year/rising 4th year, and getting a leeeeeetle concerned that I'll soon find myself out of my depth. Oh well, I guess worst WORST case scenario, I get to keep the clerkship bonus and get paid for a couple months before they figure out I suck :)

I was in a sort of similar situation in that I lateraled in nearly a year ahead of my class (I did a MA so graduated from JD at a weird time) from a more general practice to the most elite and very focused group in the country.  My advice is: fake it to your clients, juniors and big bosses, and not to your immediate superiors.  For the first 3-6 months, always try to figure out problems on your own but don't be afraid to come back after some digging and say "I spent some time looking x, y and z but I haven't actually done ______ before, so I just wanted to confirm my approach with you." Big bosses who hired you actually know you don't have the experience and hired you for your intelligence, other skills and trainability.  Juniors need to think you're omniscient to avoid their own panic attacks. But senior associates/counsels/junior partners may need a reminder.

Obviously you can't use this forever, but I wouldn't be too terrified to gently remind people of your alternate training path in the beginning.

This is great advice.  Totally agree.  Also, assess the senior associates and/ or "counsel" at your firm for their Compassion Quotient.  Find one person who will listen when you're freaking out and help when you're stuck.  For me, it was a woman with 13 years at the firm.  She knew the ropes, the personalities, where the bodies were buried, and how to survive.  She told me who else to talk to on specific questions and who to avoid.  When the partners were assholes (routine event), she helped with perspective ("he's like that to everyone, it's not you.").  She was a Godsend.  Find someone like her, if you can.

Also, expect that you will fail from time to time.  It's inevitable and it's the only way we really learn.  If you're not failing, you're not learning or growing.   Reach.  Fail.  Cry (in private).  Get up.  Keep going.  You get stronger each time.


Thanks for the advice, everyone! I already see the dynamics you're talking about. There is a 5th year associate here who is two years ahead of me in terms of graduating class, but like, five in terms of firm/practice group experience. She's the intermediary between me and the partner. She's been super helpful in giving me clear direction and blunt feedback (sometimes a little blunter than I'd like, but I'm pretty sure it's just her personality to be a little brusque. It's fine, we don't have to be besties, and it doesn't seem like she actually hates me or anything). She's shielding me from looking dumb in front of the partner by catching my blunders before they're visible. Her Compassion Quotient seems to be low, but for that I'm pretty sure I have the ear of a fresh junior partner. Hopefully I don't need it in the immediate future.

Good news: there is plenty of work to do, so unlike when I practiced at my previous firm, I have no worries about hitting the billable target, which obviously translates into lots of $$ because we're on the cravath bonus scale. And since I'm new, I can busily grind away without the stress of worrying whether the fires were caused by my procrastination or incompetence - at this point, they can't have been!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: OneCoolCat on November 05, 2016, 01:13:01 AM
I made the move from associate at a Plaintiff's side foreclosure firm to associate at a boutique construction law firm.  I like it a lot so far and am confident that I'm moving my career in the right direction despite taking an initial pay-cut.  The foreclosure firm was great but I had to leave it while I still could.  I did really well at the foreclosure firm and probably would have grown a bit there but I was never happy with the general practice area.  It felt like a job.

The construction work is definitely more stimulating and personally satisfying.  We represent mostly contractors and subcontractors on commercial construction projects.  I can definitely see it as my niche area in which I stay in long term which is awesome.  I have A LOT to learn but there are absolutely no regrets right now.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: LeRainDrop on November 05, 2016, 07:49:24 AM
OCC, that is great to hear!  I did a ton of litigation work on commercial construction projects, mostly representing general contractors or owners, sometimes design teams.  It really can be quite interesting.  I loved learning about the different building systems and construction methods to such a detailed level that I could intelligently explain it back to others.  It has actually come quite in handy for me even apart from my work since I serve on my condo board of directors.  I have a much more intelligent understanding when we have building problems that need repairs and a better ability to manage contractor vendors, make them give sufficiently detailed plans and quantities in their estimates, hold them to their schedule, etc.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Malum Prohibitum on November 09, 2016, 08:54:34 AM
I made the move from associate at a Plaintiff's side foreclosure firm to associate at a boutique construction law firm.  I like it a lot so far and am confident that I'm moving my career in the right direction despite taking an initial pay-cut.  The foreclosure firm was great but I had to leave it while I still could.  I did really well at the foreclosure firm and probably would have grown a bit there but I was never happy with the general practice area.  It felt like a job.

The construction work is definitely more stimulating and personally satisfying.  We represent mostly contractors and subcontractors on commercial construction projects.  I can definitely see it as my niche area in which I stay in long term which is awesome.  I have A LOT to learn but there are absolutely no regrets right now.
I do construction, and I like the work.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: IllusionNW on December 06, 2016, 03:10:04 PM
Eeek!  I just found out that I made partner!  Or I guess that the partnership voted me through and I will be a partner starting January 1!  As one of my colleagues told me, I've just one the pie eating contest and the prize is more pie!

And now I'm terrified because I'm going from a nice stable salary with a bonus to being compensated based on my fees.  While I don't think any of my existing clients are going anywhere, it still gives me a bit of heartburn.  I'll also have a similar compensation structure to the one mentioned by RDUSTT with a monthly payout and then a quarterly draw.  The quarterly draws are low at first and then increase toward the end of the year.  All our finances have been on auto pilot for a while now, so I'm going to have to spend some time tweaking things over the next couple of weeks. 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Suit on December 06, 2016, 07:15:00 PM
Congratulations on making partner IllusionNW!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: chesebert on December 07, 2016, 08:56:30 AM
Congratulations.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 07, 2016, 09:34:39 AM
Eeek!  I just found out that I made partner!  Or I guess that the partnership voted me through and I will be a partner starting January 1!  As one of my colleagues told me, I've just one the pie eating contest and the prize is more pie!

Congratulations!!! 
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: FIREby35 on December 07, 2016, 06:32:29 PM
Eeek!  I just found out that I made partner!  Or I guess that the partnership voted me through and I will be a partner starting January 1!  As one of my colleagues told me, I've just one the pie eating contest and the prize is more pie!

Congratulations!!!

Yo, TrulyStashin' did you get paid on that case?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on December 07, 2016, 07:17:11 PM
I made the move from associate at a Plaintiff's side foreclosure firm to associate at a boutique construction law firm.

Congratulations OCC! Thanks for updating the thread. Happy to hear that you made the move and are trying something new out. The money will come in time.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: biglawinvestor on December 07, 2016, 07:18:53 PM
All our finances have been on auto pilot for a while now, so I'm going to have to spend some time tweaking things over the next couple of weeks.

No doubt, but then it's a good (financial) problem to have. How are you going to handle the partnership equity contribution?
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Nick_Miller on December 08, 2016, 12:01:44 PM
Anyone in my boat?

I'm nearing the start of my third year with a small personal injury firm. I'm 43, if that matters. The other two attorneys are the owner and one other associate.

Pros: Pretty decent money, at least for our L/M COL area. Around $100-$110K. VERY low pressure. I work maybe 35-40 hours per week max. I leave at 5PM every day. I take 2-hour lunches with friends. We hardly ever sue, so most of the time it's just me at my desk settling claims with adjusters.

Cons: The main con is that sometimes I don't feel like a "real" attorney, meaning that I rarely file suit or deal with attorneys outside our office. Same with court reporters, judges, other legal professionals. I feel like I'm "in hiding" or something. If we have to file suit, I generally refer it out and take 1/3 of the fee.

If I was 2 years from FIRE, I would just relax and enjoy the (pretty easy) ride. However, I'll likely need to practice for another 8-10 years, and I'm afraid of my litigation skills deteriorating and my networking drying up. Frankly, if I lost this job I'd probably have to do my own thing, as firms aren't chomping at the bit to hire a attorney in his mid 40s who hasn't really litigated much in years and who's used to setting his own schedule and enjoying tremendous flexibility.

What would you do in my situation?







Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 08, 2016, 12:02:52 PM
Eeek!  I just found out that I made partner!  Or I guess that the partnership voted me through and I will be a partner starting January 1!  As one of my colleagues told me, I've just one the pie eating contest and the prize is more pie!

Congratulations!!!

Yo, TrulyStashin' did you get paid on that case?

Damn skippy I did.  Made $83k on the constructive fraud case.  Still working on the case where adjacent landowner negligently burned 15 acres of my client's hardwood forest.

Also just landed several new clients/ projects:  (1) new client (a regional bank) -- they have a curriculum for women entrepreneurs.  I'm going to handle their copyright registration and then help them license its use nationwide.  (2) existing client needs employee handbook revised aligned to state/ fed law.  (3) new client (wealthy nonprofit) -- needs help fixing issues with corporate filings.  And.... soon to close, a gig with a sustainability firm that needs my expertise on corporate sustainability disclosures to grow their practice.  That will be my first monthly fee arrangement.

It's been a hell of a year!
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 08, 2016, 12:04:17 PM
Anyone in my boat?

I'm nearing the start of my third year with a small personal injury firm. I'm 43, if that matters. The other two attorneys are the owner and one other associate.

Pros: Pretty decent money, at least for our L/M COL area. Around $100-$110K. VERY low pressure. I work maybe 35-40 hours per week max. I leave at 5PM every day. I take 2-hour lunches with friends. We hardly ever sue, so most of the time it's just me at my desk settling claims with adjusters.

Cons: The main con is that sometimes I don't feel like a "real" attorney, meaning that I rarely file suit or deal with attorneys outside our office. Same with court reporters, judges, other legal professionals. I feel like I'm "in hiding" or something. If we have to file suit, I generally refer it out and take 1/3 of the fee.

If I was 2 years from FIRE, I would just relax and enjoy the (pretty easy) ride. However, I'll likely need to practice for another 8-10 years, and I'm afraid of my litigation skills deteriorating and my networking drying up. Frankly, if I lost this job I'd probably have to do my own thing, as firms aren't chomping at the bit to hire a attorney in his mid 40s who hasn't really litigated much in years and who's used to setting his own schedule and enjoying tremendous flexibility.

What would you do in my situation?

Stop referring out the cases that need to be litigated and do it yourself.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Nick_Miller on December 08, 2016, 12:17:33 PM
Anyone in my boat?

I'm nearing the start of my third year with a small personal injury firm. I'm 43, if that matters. The other two attorneys are the owner and one other associate.

Pros: Pretty decent money, at least for our L/M COL area. Around $100-$110K. VERY low pressure. I work maybe 35-40 hours per week max. I leave at 5PM every day. I take 2-hour lunches with friends. We hardly ever sue, so most of the time it's just me at my desk settling claims with adjusters.

Cons: The main con is that sometimes I don't feel like a "real" attorney, meaning that I rarely file suit or deal with attorneys outside our office. Same with court reporters, judges, other legal professionals. I feel like I'm "in hiding" or something. If we have to file suit, I generally refer it out and take 1/3 of the fee.

If I was 2 years from FIRE, I would just relax and enjoy the (pretty easy) ride. However, I'll likely need to practice for another 8-10 years, and I'm afraid of my litigation skills deteriorating and my networking drying up. Frankly, if I lost this job I'd probably have to do my own thing, as firms aren't chomping at the bit to hire a attorney in his mid 40s who hasn't really litigated much in years and who's used to setting his own schedule and enjoying tremendous flexibility.

What would you do in my situation?

Stop referring out the cases that need to be litigated and do it yourself.

I would like to get to that point, but none of the staff here have any litigation experience. I'm in the process of putting together some pleading templates, and I know how to litigate, BUT not having the correct support staff would result in a disaster if I tried to put much into litigation right now. My staff folks don't know the correct way to do pleadings, motions, answer discovery, etc. I would have to train them, starting at the very beginning, so it would be a process.

Currently, I'm just keeping 2 or 3 files in litigation at a time, very (very) slowly exposing them to the process.

Of course there is always the option of bringing in a paralegal or secretary with lit experience, but that would mean we'd have to let someone go.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TrulyStashin on December 08, 2016, 12:37:00 PM
Anyone in my boat?

I'm nearing the start of my third year with a small personal injury firm. I'm 43, if that matters. The other two attorneys are the owner and one other associate.

Pros: Pretty decent money, at least for our L/M COL area. Around $100-$110K. VERY low pressure. I work maybe 35-40 hours per week max. I leave at 5PM every day. I take 2-hour lunches with friends. We hardly ever sue, so most of the time it's just me at my desk settling claims with adjusters.

Cons: The main con is that sometimes I don't feel like a "real" attorney, meaning that I rarely file suit or deal with attorneys outside our office. Same with court reporters, judges, other legal professionals. I feel like I'm "in hiding" or something. If we have to file suit, I generally refer it out and take 1/3 of the fee.

If I was 2 years from FIRE, I would just relax and enjoy the (pretty easy) ride. However, I'll likely need to practice for another 8-10 years, and I'm afraid of my litigation skills deteriorating and my networking drying up. Frankly, if I lost this job I'd probably have to do my own thing, as firms aren't chomping at the bit to hire a attorney in his mid 40s who hasn't really litigated much in years and who's used to setting his own schedule and enjoying tremendous flexibility.

What would you do in my situation?

Stop referring out the cases that need to be litigated and do it yourself.

I would like to get to that point, but none of the staff here have any litigation experience. I'm in the process of putting together some pleading templates, and I know how to litigate, BUT not having the correct support staff would result in a disaster if I tried to put much into litigation right now. My staff folks don't know the correct way to do pleadings, motions, answer discovery, etc. I would have to train them, starting at the very beginning, so it would be a process.

Currently, I'm just keeping 2 or 3 files in litigation at a time, very (very) slowly exposing them to the process.

Of course there is always the option of bringing in a paralegal or secretary with lit experience, but that would mean we'd have to let someone go.

I have to push back on this at least a little.  You're working 35-40 hours a week.  Is there a reason you can't work 50-60 (or more) and handle the litigation chores yourself?  After you're built a revenue stream from litigation, you can justify adding another assistant.  Though I agree litigation is best done as a team sport, you don't have to have a trained assistant to litigate.   How much revenue are you foregoing by referring out these cases?

Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: Shade00 on December 08, 2016, 12:53:03 PM
Glad to see others are still alive and kicking. I need to vent a bit.

I'm a seventh-year associate in a regional BigLaw firm. About a year ago I moved into a larger office about 600 miles from my former office when my wife had an opportunity to take a new job in our new location. New location is great, but here's the problem. I'm a management-side labor and employment attorney, and my new office doesn't have the work to support me in L&E. I'm not excited about the prospect of completely retooling my practice to go to healthcare or construction lit or something, but right now I'm not seeing many other options. I'm having a hell of a time finding another full-time firm or in-house position in L&E. An L&E boutique posted a job here about three weeks ago, to which I applied, but I haven't heard anything yet. I suppose hiring may pick up after the new year, but I'm very frustrated with the whole ordeal.

I've considered taking a remote work (basically staff attorney) position, but that would be a 50% cut in pay. That'll really set back my FIRE goals. And I'm concerned about the long-term viability of those positions. As it stands, I can probably ride out my current job a while longer (and things may well change or pick up), but I don't know if I can realistically be promoted in my current firm, and I haven't had any encouraging news on the job search front.
Title: Re: Any Lawyer Mustachians on here?
Post by: TVRodriguez on December 08, 2016, 01:10:50 PM
Anyone in my boat?

I'm nearing the start of my third year with a small personal injury firm. I'm 43, if that matters. The other two attorneys are the owner and one other associate.

Pros: Pretty decent money, at least for our L/M COL area. Around $100-$110K. VERY low pressure. I work maybe 35-40 hours per week max. I leave at 5PM every day. I take 2-hour lunches with friends. We hardly ever sue, so most of the time it's just me at my desk settling claims with adjusters.

Cons: The main con is that sometimes I don't feel like a "real" attorney, meaning that I rarely file suit or deal with attorneys outside our office. Same with court reporters, judges, other legal professionals. I feel like I'm "in hiding" or something. If we have to file suit, I generally refer it out and take 1/3 of the fee.

If I was 2 years from FIRE, I would just relax and enjoy the (pretty easy) ride. However, I'll likely need to practice for another 8-10 years, and I'm afraid of my litigation skills deteriorating and my networking drying up. Frankly, if I lost this job I'd probably have to do my own thing, as firms aren't chomping at the bit to hire a attorney in his mid 40s who hasn't really litigated much in years and who's used to setting his own schedule and enjoying tremendous flexibility.

What would you do in my situation?

Stop referring out the cases that need to be litigated and do it yourself.

I would like to get to that point, but none of the staff here have any litigation experience. I'm in the process of putting together some pleading templates, and I know how to litigate, BUT not having the correct support staff would result in a disaster if I tried to put much into litigation right now. My staff folks don't know the correct way to do pleadings, motions, answer discovery, etc. I would have to train them, starting at the very beginning, so it would be a process.

Currently, I'm just keeping 2 or 3 files in litigation at a time, very (very) slowly exposing them to the process.

Of