Author Topic: Career Bombshell  (Read 9106 times)

anonlawyer

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Career Bombshell
« on: February 18, 2015, 10:44:31 PM »
Recently, my boss informed me that he is leaving for another firm and asked me to come with him.  My understanding is that they will increase my compensation by 50% to almost $700K per year as an enticement (my comp has already gone up a lot in recent years).  I haven't told anyone but we are planning to take a career break in about a year.  My immediate reaction was that the raise would be a great way to stuff the coffers for the next few months.  But then we're already almost FI and going would mean being really busy and stressed out doing work I don't really like.  If I stay, his leaving will be felt and there probably won't be a lot of work for me except what I can keep from going out the door with him.  I don't want to burn the bridge with him so I'm debating the following approaches:

1.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans and hope he'll say he needs more commitment from me to go with him so I stay.
2.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans and that it wouldn't be fair to him or the new firm if I were to go.  Try to negotiate some assurances with my current firm (maybe even some increase) and leave as originally planned.
3.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans, go with him with that understanding, and suffer through another year.

Not telling him plans and either refusing to go with him or bailing in a year would probably result in hurt feelings.

What do you guys think?  We have $1.5M saved and spend $50K a year; I'm mid 30's, wife is late 20's.  Going on the sabbatical also means we probably won't get back on this high earning trajectory ever again.

deborah

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 10:53:00 PM »
So you could almost add half again to your stash in a year? What does your wife think?

aspiringnomad

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 11:16:35 PM »
Based on your stash and spending, you're FI already. Obviously, this is a deeply personal choice, but if I were in your shoes I would ask your boss to grab a drink after work. During which, I would tell him your plans in confidence and tell him the ground rules under which you would consider going with him (i.e., salary requirements, work/life balance, and the understanding that you will pull the plug and take your sabbatical whenever you please after some agreed upon timeframe). Of course, since you're FI, you could just tell him you're not interested and wish him the best in his new endeavour.

Out of curiousity, why do you say sabbatical and not retirement? Does that indicate that you plan to return to law post-sabbatical?

27y/oTennesseeRetiree

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2015, 12:47:06 AM »
It is hard to say. It sounds like your loyalty is to your current boss more than to your current firm. It also sounds like you work directly with your boss to serve a very specific niche of clients most of whom will go out the door with your boss.

I think this is an opportunity. I think you should ask your boss his opinion. Tell him your FIRE plans and say that you don't want to put him in a tough spot a year from now because he brought you with him. The risk is he rescinds his offer to bring you with him, but if your loyalty is to him then this maintains that relationship. If he doesn't then it gives him a valuable ally in the transition and advance knowledge that he needs to groom someone at the new firm to replace you.

Because of your fear of working long hours doing something you seem to dislike I think that regardless of his opinion you should take the offer of a 50% pay bump to your current employer. Tell them you have been approached by another firm and they are incentivizing you with a rather substantial income increase. Tell them you are less concerned about the income and more concerned with job flexibility. Tell them you don't need them to double your salary to get you to stay. That if they could find a way to bump you to $500,000 and let you work from home (at your discretion) a couple of days a week (if that is possible in whatever your field is) that you would much prefer to do that. With the knowledge that your client base at your current firm is going to take a huge hit and with it much of your workload this is a way to transition out of your job early. Out of sight, out of mind. Go to work two or three days a week (don't always make it a four day weekend... mix it up, start with one day and go up from there) and be extra productive the time you are in the office. As long as your productivity is the same, or seems to be the same then you can increase your nest egg that much faster and avoid those longer hours doing something you hate.

I transitioned out of a job so well I haven't quit. I work about 10 hours a week on average with about 8 in the office per month. (I try to go in once a week to let them know I am alive.) I went out west for two weeks in August and didn't take a single day off of work. Nobody noticed... Except for the tan.

Good luck and let us know what happens!

Beric01

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2015, 01:03:59 AM »
With $1.5 million in savings, the OP is already financially independent.

Pretty much this.

I cannot understand OMY syndrome unless the work you are doing is something you would do for free - i.e. you enjoy it for its own sake. That's a lot of money, and I would love that opportunity as someone who is still almost 10 years from FI. But if you're already FI, why do you need it?

As you know from reading MMM's blog, more spending does not equal more happiness after your needs are met. $2M will not make you any happier than $1.5M. So why waste your time earning it if you'd prefer to be doing something else?

Mustachians have the "problem" of becoming FI and ready to retire in the peak of their career, when opportunities to make more money abound. But you only have one life to live. Don't spend it doing something you don't like one day more than you have to.

former player

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2015, 02:40:41 AM »
You need to get out of your head the idea of being "fair" to your current firm.  What you have with them is a professional relationship based on free mutual exchange: your labour for their money.  You do not need to be "fair" to them, you need to be "professional" with them.  Which could mean staying or going, but whichever you do you are doing it for your own benefit just as they are employing you or not for their benefit.

You may have a personal as well as professional link with your boss, but what you have in this situation is mainly a professional link - after all, he has made his decisions and plans for his move before telling you: that means that it is mainly a professional link, rather than a mainly personal link where he would have talked the plans over with you before making them.   If your boss has any sense, he will have a back-up plan for you saying "no" to moving.  That means that he will also be able to have a back-up plan for you saying "yes" but moving on at some point in the future.  (It also sounds as though your boss is the rainmaker, so he has a lot of power in this situation, and which also means that I don't quite understand what you mean by "not wanting to burn the bridge with him".   What bridge, and why do you not want to burn it, given your plans for FIRE?)

All of which means that you are free to do exactly what you suits you best.   As far as I can see, each of your three options displays a deep reluctance to make the move to working with your boss, and FIRE seems to have very little to do with that reluctance.  That suggests to me that you really would prefer to stay where you are.  They question then is: will your firm want to try to fight to retain as much of the work in your area as possible, or want to wind it down?  If the first, they should be offering you boss-level money to try to hold on to existing clients and bring in new ones, and might also be looking to bring in a new lawyer who can bring a following with them.  If the latter, you will be out of the door as soon as you are no longer earning your keep and the loose ends of remaining clients have been tidied up.  Whichever it is, your firm will be able to look out for themselves, so don't worry about them.

You asked specifically about what to tell your boss.    It seems to me that you need to tell your boss that you will not be going with him and that once he has made a formal announcement you will need to discuss your position with the firm and obviously aren't in a position to talk to him about that.  There's no reason why you shouldn't indicate to your boss that you and your wife have been looking at making some major life changes in about a year and that those plans have factored into your decision not to go with him. 

The other side of the coin is that you also need to work out what to tell your firm once your boss has announced his plans.  I'd start out by listening to them, finding out what their plans are for dealing with your boss's departure and then responding to them according to whatever you think your own best interests are.

Good luck, and I hope you come back here to tell us how it all goes - I for one am fascinated.

27y/oTennesseeRetiree

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2015, 05:36:14 AM »
@Cathy: You're absolutely right. I got my wires crossed and doubled the salary rather than a 50% increase. Either way the gist of what I was saying works even if the numbers aren't right.

wtjbatman

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2015, 06:16:02 AM »
With that salary you have a surprisingly low net worth. Maybe OMY in your case isn't such a bad idea, if only to pad the stash for what could be a 60-70 year retirement.

"Low" being a matter of perspective, of course :)

YTProphet

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2015, 06:34:33 AM »
1) Anon Lawyer - Love your blog (I'm assuming you're the guy behind the anonymous lawyer blog).
2) I'd just tell your boss that you've been thinking about retiring but that you'd be up for helping him make the transition smooth. Agree upon a time frame (say, 1 year of full time work followed by a second year of part time work during which you help "break in" a new associate).
3) If he needs a new associate, I'm more than happy to volunteer! T-14 law school and work for a large law firm doing finance transactions.

chasesfish

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2015, 06:36:24 AM »
I really think you have a unique opportunity here:

You can now tell your boss about what YOUR plans are and ask him not to share it with the current firm.  Tell him that you're very loyal to him and want to come along, but here's what you're looking to do career wise.  Work full time for 1-2 more years and then scale back.  He's going into a new situation and can probably setup that option as part of this move or know eyes wide open why you're staying without burning a bridge.

I'm not sure how much of your legal work is face to face and has to be in an office, but one of the nice things about your profession is you can sell your time.  If I was in your position, I would be living in Hawaii and work 10-20 hours a week remotely for 1/3 the pay.   That's just a personal opinion (and its how I'm wired - I enjoy my work now that I've made it to my current level).





Regarding the person who said you had a low net worth, they're wrong.  Law school delays income earning and sometimes comes with debt.  You've done a great job.

JGB

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2015, 07:13:10 AM »
Random question: You state that you'd get roughly 50% more pay but be stressed working longer hours. How does that compare to the hours you are putting in currently?

If you're putting in twice as many hours, but only getting 50% more pay (gross, no less), then this wouldn't really be a raise. It'd just be working more at the same rate (or even a slightly lower rate, given that the increase is going to be taxed at the highest level).

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2015, 07:21:26 AM »
I see nothing to lose with being open to current boss.

Possibly he will say "Ya come with me, we will keep your stress down" and really not, because he thinks he will trick him into staying past 1 year... but if so, meh... stash is padded, why not?


cynthia1848

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2015, 08:05:26 AM »
Meh.  I would absolutely go with your boss and NOT tell him about your plans to take a break/sabbatical/retire whatever.  Then reevaluate in a year, after you have been saving a lot.  A year is plenty of time to have adjusted to the new place and THEN tell your boss, "this is too many hours for me, I need a sabbatical/go to 60% time/whatever".

Think of it this way, he is only bringing you with him because you will help to make HIM more money.  True, he probably likes you personally as well, but this is primarily a business transaction.  If the new firm had another person to support him, he would leave and leave you at the current firm.


epipenguin

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2015, 08:36:35 AM »
If your work comes from your boss, then you have to go. It is tough staying behind at a law firm when the partner whose cases you work on has left. Having said that, I would not tell him about your plans. Who knows, you may absolutely love working at the new firm and stay for 20 years (well, WE know that's not going to happen but it's possible). Then, after a year, you say, well, you know, I don't love working for this new firm because of X, Y, and Z reasons, and the stress has gotten too much, so I'm leaving.

brandino29

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2015, 08:59:35 AM »
I have to disagree with those on the side of not telling your boss of your near-future sabbatical plans.  Personally, I think it's unethical to accept a job knowing that you'll be leaving it very soon without telling your new employer about it.  On the other hand, if you're really just considering a sabbatical and have no firm plans in place for when/where/how long then maybe it's not as much of a big deal. 

I was in a similar situation (albeit with significantly lower income, $50k vs. $700k).  I was offered a job that gave me better income potential and more flexibility but I had already started making plans to go back to med school, which would take over a year to get through the application process and there was no guarantee I would be accepted.  I was on the fence about telling my potential employer about it but I felt guilty not doing so and struggled with accepting the job or not for that reason.  Eventually, I decided I had to for my own moral well-being and met with my potential boss.  As I told him he thought about it for a few quick seconds and said "Well, let's give it a shot." And it was like magically all of this weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and I took the job without an ounce of concern. 

anonlawyer

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2015, 09:35:29 AM »
Thanks for all the responses!  Yes I do have a blog and thanks for reading :)  Part of me feels like we're not over the finish line in terms of FIRE so would be great to spend a little more time working either making what I make now or at the higher salary.  Either way we'll get there by the time we want to take a break / retire / whatever. 

Not worried about loyalty per se -- actually giving him a heads up is for selfish reasons.  If I ever want to come back to law, go in-house, etc., rainmakers know a lot of people and can facilitate introductions, etc.

One good thing about staying at my firm is an opportunity to try to be my own boss for a year or so -- see if I can gin up some business on my own -- I'm more motivated that way.  Workload might be halved and comp might drop a bit too, but that's OK.  I don't think they'd show me the door.  Compared to workload increasing substantially in the short term and still up overall after things settle if I leave with him.  Not a huge fan of the work right now -- really stressful and not enjoyable at all.  Seems better to let him off lightly and stay for the rest of the year?

OptionWorkloadCompensation
Stay50%90%
Leave175%150%

Based on this additional information, do people think I should still leave with him?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2015, 09:42:51 AM by anonlawyer »

arebelspy

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2015, 09:42:12 AM »
To me it comes down to: How much do you like the work or not?

If it's something you're okay with, I'd leave with him, put my head down for the year and do the extra work, stache the extra few hundred k, and then let him know you're burnt out/need a break.

If it's something you don't care for much, take the reduced work option.

If it's something you hate, quit today.
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brandino29

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2015, 09:47:17 AM »
Thanks for all the responses!  Yes I do have a blog and thanks for reading :)  Part of me feels like we're not over the finish line in terms of FIRE so would be great to spend a little more time working either making what I make now or at the higher salary.  Either way we'll get there by the time we want to take a break / retire / whatever. 

Not worried about loyalty per se -- actually giving him a heads up is for selfish reasons.  If I ever want to come back to law, go in-house, etc., rainmakers know a lot of people and can facilitate introductions, etc.

One good thing about staying at my firm is an opportunity to try to be my own boss for a year or so -- see if I can gin up some business on my own -- I'm more motivated that way.  Workload might be halved and comp might drop a bit too, but that's OK.  I don't think they'd show me the door.  Compared to workload increasing substantially in the short term and still up overall after things settle if I leave with him.  Not a huge fan of the work right now -- really stressful and not enjoyable at all.  Seems better to let him off lightly and stay for the rest of the year?

OptionWorkloadCompensation
Stay50%90%
Leave175%150%

Based on this additional information, do people think I should still leave with him?

Work half as much and only make 10% less??  Hell yes!

seattlecyclone

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2015, 10:14:57 AM »
In your shoes I might talk to your boss, say you could be interested in going with him, but only if your workload remained the same as it is now. Given those constraints, how much would he be willing to pay you? Probably not $700k anymore, but if it's still a raise you might go with it anyway. Help him get his new practice off the ground while working reasonable hours, perhaps give him warning that he should be looking to hire another lawyer for the long term, and take off after a year. If you leave on good terms you might still have the flexibility to help out with the odd case here or there for some side income during your retirement.

As others have said, you're essentially FI already given your current spending, but OMY could pad the stash significantly in your case so I don't see a huge problem with doing it if it would make you sleep better at night. Just make sure that this OMY is your last one, regardless of what happens next.

Wile E. Coyote

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2015, 12:39:32 PM »
First of all, congrats on being able to make $450K+ without bringing in any business.  That's quite an accomplishment even at BigLaw.

If I were in your shoes, I would go with him to the new firm and not mention a thing unless I would have been willing to do so if we both stayed at our current firm (highly unlikely).  Either way, he is likley counting on you to support his book of business and understands that people may leave at any time.  Telling him is likely to result in him leaving you behind.

If you go into this with an open mind that perhaps the new firm is a better fit for you and you find you actually have a renewed interest in the law, then that's great if you can remain happy/sane.  If you go and find that you continue to not enjoy the work that you are doing, then you leave after 8 months or so and you've made as much as you would have made had you stayed with your current firm for a year.  If you go to the new firm and give it your all for 8 months and find that it still jsut isn't for you, then you can have that discussion with your boss then.  (As a side note, I would probably stay through perhaps the first quarter of 2016 to have 1/4 of the salary as taxable income for 2016, max 401(k) for the year, etc.).

If you stay where you are, with a goal of trying to learn to bring in new business, I suspect that you will find that it is more work than you anticipated (not less) and you will be doing things that you may not enjoy or be particualrly good at since you've never had to do it before and you won't have a mentor to help you along.  If you want to learn how to build a practice, then start your own firm.  You will eliminate all of the nonsense that you don't like about your current position and be free to do only what makes you happy.  I am not sure if your practice lends itself to that, but I would image that most do.

cynthia1848

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2015, 06:21:56 AM »
What if you went with your boss but on the condition that he also hire a 3rd-4th year associate to come too?  Would that improve the workload?

27y/oTennesseeRetiree

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2015, 08:25:04 PM »
Work 50% and make 90% would be my personal choice.

curlyfry

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2015, 10:04:44 PM »
I'd stay at the current job. The whole point of being mustachian (which it seems you are, low expenses for your high salary, good work!) is so you can enjoy life. And who knows, your current job may bloom a bit or may become the best thing. If not, likely have options to move on at a later date.   Either way, you make decent $.

It sounds like you know that a current change would be a bit dreadful in the -too-much-work-you-don't-enjoy department.

I'd focus on happiness & health!

Exflyboy

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2015, 11:12:21 PM »
Well $1.5M is good for $60k per year spend at 4%.. If you have a long retirement that might be a little too close to your $50k projected spend.

Personally I'd wait till I had $2M before pulling the plug completely.. How you choose to get there is your choice.

Disclaimer.. People think I am completely insane.. I have about the same i.e a liquid NW of $1.5M, paid off house, $15k in rent and $42k in pension that kick in in in 6.5 years.. Oh and I'm currently doing a part time job... annual spend of $30k.. but I expect that to rise considerably if we want to travel a lot.


Rosbif

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2015, 03:30:17 AM »
snip

Not a huge fan of the work right now -- really stressful and not enjoyable at all.

OptionWorkloadCompensation
Stay50%90%
Leave175%150%

Based on this additional information, do people think I should still leave with him?

50% of something unpleasant is still unpleasant, just for less of the time. If you take all your work with you, the new job probably won't be any less stressful. New firms are exciting, however, so the honeymoon period will probably get you as far as your financial target.

If you loved your current job, that table makes the decision for you, take your foot off the gas and enjoy it. If staying and growing your own practice is something you might like to do, then go for it, the potential upside is massive. It's not a short term move, though. I'm guessing that if you're on this website, you may not necessarily be planning to work to the usual partner push-out ages...

Good luck!

desk_jockey

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2015, 05:10:43 AM »
so I'm debating the following approaches:

1.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans and hope he'll say he needs more commitment from me to go with him so I stay.
2.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans and that it wouldn't be fair to him or the new firm if I were to go.  Try to negotiate some assurances with my current firm (maybe even some increase) and leave as originally planned.
3.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans, go with him with that understanding, and suffer through another year.

Not telling him plans and either refusing to go with him or bailing in a year would probably result in hurt feelings.

Damn, you make that much money and your first option is to hope someone else makes the decision for you?

How about "4.  Tell him about our sabbatical plans, say no thank you for now, but that you have enjoyed working for him and would love to do so again when you return to work”?   

rocketman48097

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Re: Career Bombshell
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2015, 01:42:41 PM »
I think your spending level is such that number 2 is your best option.  I value time more than anything, I am 38, and the day the numbers work (closer), I am going to retire, even though I could amass a TON more money simply doing a fairly stress free job as a finance manager for many more years. 

The secretary here is turning 63, and is just now retiring.  She talks about how everyday will be "Saturday."  Just 4 years ago she was telling me she would work for a very long time.  My how times have changed.

Do I really want to be working until I am 63, in her shoes, buying a new car every 3 years (or leasing???) like she does? This brings me no enjoyment.  63 would be another 25 years in the workforce, full time.  NO WAY.