Author Topic: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?  (Read 50613 times)

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #250 on: June 06, 2019, 12:50:27 PM »
How did this fall to page 4?  I literally come to MMM to read this thread, as I think it's excellent (and I'm not even an attorney, or a business owner!).  I mean, I read a few other things while I'm here, but I'm a bit hooked on this thread, or was at least.

Any updates on it?

@TheInsuranceMan ... so sorry for the delays.  As said, my son was born in early March.  He's doing great -- sleeping well, eating well, loves his mom, etc.

To add to that, I moved offices at end of March, which obviously took a ton of time. The new office, though, is amazing and is arguably the best decision I've made -- most especially because I also did a complete redesign of my logo, letterhead, website, etc.  I will post pictures of it some time soon, but it's been getting great compliments from other attorneys and clients. Also, as I alluded to in another post, coming here and basically being guaranteed to not be bother has been an almost surreal experience coming from multiple offices with a ton of lawyers and staff and the phone ringing off the hook.

Expense wise (since @Fuzz and @FIREby35 mentioned it), I'm still running very lean.  My rent did go up to $475/month and I now have a phone answering service for $276/month, but my overall budget is still less than $1,100 per month.

Business revenues are going really well. So well that I've hired my brother to come in about twice a month (or $100/month or so) to help out. Well worth the expense -- he does all the work I hate doing (printing envelopes, creating new folders, etc.).

Through end of May, I have $72,000 in earned receipts. My June invoices were $9,950 -- almost $5,000 of which were billed against retainers.  The invoice amount would have been higher, but I withheld invoices on a couple cases that are just about to wrap up. I'm hoping my July invoices (for June's work) total more than $12,000.

I feel pretty confident because I've diversified my revenue sources pretty well.  I have 4-5 big pieces of litigation into the foreseeable future.  I'm also still doing local counsel work and appointed work.  I also got added to the criminal appeals appointment list, so that's an entirely new thing to figure out.

Also in the pipeline is a co-counseling relationship with an attorney in another county.  We met in February and he followed up just this week and said he is going to get me involved in 3-4 of his biggest cases -- he said he was allowing me to enjoy time with my son before getting too involved.

Also in the pipeline is a co-counseling relationship with that family law attorney I've mentioned before.  We settled that $250,000 whopper and she's brought me on board for three other cases since.

Revenue goal for this year is $150,000.  I think I can get there if one of the contingency fee cases settle.

Awesome!  I mean, besides the fact that I know you're an OSU fan, of course.  And, I can understand the kid thing taking time, I've got 3, oldest just turned 5, middle just turned 3, youngest is 9 months.  Oooofta.

Good luck, I'll continue following the story for any updates.  Nice to see the hard work paying off.  I dream of going off on my own and starting an agency, but in my area, it isn't the most feasible.  It could be done, but I've got a non-compete, and I literally live a block from where I work, and a few miles from where we farm.  Not worth moving to get out of the radius required, and I don't have the cash to fight it.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #251 on: June 06, 2019, 12:51:39 PM »
Excellent update, RSM!  Sounds like the move was a great, uh, move. 

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #252 on: June 07, 2019, 07:34:51 AM »
It seems almost to good to be true, right? More money, more freedom, less headaches (caused by bosses or partners, etcetera). I'm glad it is working.

Dicey

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #253 on: June 09, 2019, 10:57:15 PM »
I always love a good update! ♡♡♡

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #254 on: November 15, 2019, 10:50:17 AM »
What's up everyone.  Some pics, an update, and a question.

***

Office Pics

A lot of you chimed in and helped with my office move and setup, so I thought I'd post some pictures. 

The view when you walk in:



Receptionist/waiting area:



Kitchen/production room:



Conference/meeting area:



My desk/work area:



***

Office ultimately came out great.  There's tons of storage here.  I tried to blend being me versus looking professional, and I hope I struck a nice balance there.  I'm really comfortable working here, and clients are also very comfortable here.  It's not stuffy at all, which is what I was going for.

***

Big Picture Update

Big picture, things are getting busier and busier.  I still have a nice income stream from a variety of sources -- appearance work, appointment work, my own cases, and co-counseling.  I had a bit of a lull in September, but it's picked back up, and I'm busier now than I've ever been.

Gross income is at approximately $130,000 year to date.  Pretty good year so far.  $21,000 is from that huge settlement in January.

There are currently $15-16,000 in accounts receivables.  I expect to get most of these by years end.

I switched to an S-Corp this year.  Everything is a bit more complicated but I'm finally starting to get this on auto-pilot.

Total expenses, excluding my own salary and taxes, are approximately $20,000, or about $2,000 per month.  This is higher than I'd like, but the office move was about $5,000 total once the dust settled.

As stated more below, I have partnered up as co-counsel with two very reputable lawyers on about 10 cases total.  They are very well renowned and are in their upper 60s.  It's provided a ton of billable work here lately.  This, plus my other income streams, mean that 2020 is going to be a good year.

I also have four pending contingency cases.  I hate this work and I'll probably stop doing any of it next year.  I can't wait to close these files.

Should I Hire Part-Time Help?

So here's the big issue I'm facing. I have started partnering up with two other lawyers on about 4-5 cases each.  This is all hourly billing at $200/hour, and I want to knock these out of the park so these cases keep coming.

This, on top of my already pretty busy workload, means that the smaller, more menial BS has been getting put on standby.  Things like sending letters, doing small criminal motions, cleaning the office, reviewing mail, calendaring things, running errands, etc. is all not really getting done the way it used to.  Granted, it's getting done, but much slower, and it piles up and then takes a whole day to accomplish.

A secretary I used to work with moved jobs to a state agency.  She's looking for a little side work.  I think I could pay her between $12-15 an hour.  She is honestly an awesome secretary and, perhaps more importantly, she knows that I'm a perfectionist after working with me for quite a while.  We get along.

My only concern here is that I'm trying to run a lean and mean practice.  Expenses have flattened out to about $1,500 a month.  My wife works less now that we have a kid, so I'm a little cautious in adding an additional expense.

My thought here is that she could come in for about 4-8 hours per week.  This will free up my time to bill hourly clients.  Plus, Ohio allows "value billing," so when she does criminal motions, for instance, she can bill for that.  I'm thinking she ultimately pays for herself just through this, but she will also free up a ton of time for me to bill more $200/hour stuff.   

Assuming she wants $15/hour, an average of six hours per week is a yearly expense of $4,500.  That seems like a really good expense to me.

I think this decision is obvious, but I'm looking for someone to push me over the ledge here.  Any thoughts?

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #255 on: November 15, 2019, 11:21:10 AM »
Do it -- hire her immediately.  I am not joking when I say that when my assistant retires, I will too.  ;-)

If you want some rationalization, go back and look at your initial projections when you first opened the office -- what you hoped for.  Now look at what you've actually done this year.  Pretty freaking awesome, right???  So (A), you can afford it.  You don't need to anchor to your initial expense estimates when you have so far exceeded your initial income estimates.

And then (B), your unexpected success has meant that your time is far more occupied with good-paying work than you anticipated -- and you have a much more lucrative option coming in.  So that means that you either need to work even harder to make sure you get the bills out (and thus defeat the purpose of running your own shop), or forsake $200/hr legal work so you can spend your time doing billing and such (and thus minimize your future profits/growth), or let the bills and administrivia lag (and thus both work your butt off AND not get paid for it).  Or you can hire someone at $12-15/hr to do the administrivia, thus freeing up your time to do more $200/hr legal work.

You're a smart guy.  You don't need me or anyone else here to tell you the answer.  ;-) 

Oh, and (C):  the nice thing about additional help is that it is not a fixed expense -- if the need goes up, you can ask for more time; if the workload drops, you can drop her hours.

robartsd

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #256 on: November 15, 2019, 12:03:33 PM »
A secretary I used to work with moved jobs to a state agency.  She's looking for a little side work.  I think I could pay her between $12-15 an hour.  She is honestly an awesome secretary and, perhaps more importantly, she knows that I'm a perfectionist after working with me for quite a while.  We get along.

My only concern here is that I'm trying to run a lean and mean practice.  Expenses have flattened out to about $1,500 a month.  My wife works less now that we have a kid, so I'm a little cautious in adding an additional expense.

My thought here is that she could come in for about 4-8 hours per week.  This will free up my time to bill hourly clients.  Plus, Ohio allows "value billing," so when she does criminal motions, for instance, she can bill for that.  I'm thinking she ultimately pays for herself just through this, but she will also free up a ton of time for me to bill more $200/hour stuff.   

Assuming she wants $15/hour, an average of six hours per week is a yearly expense of $4,500.  That seems like a really good expense to me.

I think this decision is obvious, but I'm looking for someone to push me over the ledge here.  Any thoughts?
Your estimation of the expense is low (at least needs to add employer portion of payroll taxes but you also need to consider any other new expenses you'll have due to taking on an employee). Even so, it sounds like the only real downside of making the hire is that you will become dependent on her services. It sounds like she'd be profitable to you at a rate much higher than $15/hr.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #257 on: November 15, 2019, 12:19:25 PM »
Do it!

Also, congratulations on building the practice. Keep an eye on how much work you have and what you like. Keep the good stuff and let the rest fade out. Eventually, you'll find yourself right where you want to be.

feelingroovy

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #258 on: November 15, 2019, 05:09:39 PM »
I agree you should do it.

I am a small business owner and I was also hesitant about hiring at first.

I think just about everyone in your situation underestimates how much admin work there is and how much of a drag it is on your productivity. She will easily pay for herself at even a much higher rate.


Gronnie

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #259 on: November 15, 2019, 05:13:53 PM »
Awesome thread, posting to follow.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #260 on: November 18, 2019, 06:29:59 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement.  We are getting lunch Wednesday.

My thought is that, to start, she comes in one day per week.  I have plenty of small items for her to do.  Just today, for instance, I got a letter with a settlement check that needs signed by my clients and then returned to me.  Right now that means drafting a letter, printing it, signing it, printing both their envelope and my return envelope, scanning everything before it goes out, etc. Huge time-sink for me that I can't bill for.  Now I can just throw this on a list for her to do.

This is how she did it at our old job.  Just give her a list and she plow through it.  So as the week goes on, just keep adding to her to-do list, and I know she will do a good job.

If she completes those tasks, I also have a huge project of going paperless and digitally organizing my files. Another big to-do is to make trial binders. In other words, there's always going to be 4 hours of work for her to do.

I also hate, hate, HATE contingency fee cases.  I think I'm going to defer almost all the record-finding to her and give her a 10% bonus of my fee on these cases.  It will make these cases worth it.

Thanks for the push everyone.  Hope this works out.

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #261 on: November 18, 2019, 07:55:13 AM »
I think I'm going to defer almost all the record-finding to her and give her a 10% bonus of my fee on these cases.

Please make sure this is ok under your local ethics rules -- ours have a lot of rules about fee-splitting with non-lawyers.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #262 on: November 18, 2019, 08:54:37 AM »
I think I'm going to defer almost all the record-finding to her and give her a 10% bonus of my fee on these cases.

Please make sure this is ok under your local ethics rules -- ours have a lot of rules about fee-splitting with non-lawyers.

I looked into this, but probably need to more.  My post is obviously somewhat hypocritical, but the payment can be made to a non-lawyer *within the firm,* so long as it is a "bonus" and not a percentage.  My ten percent number was just a kind of rule of thumb thing.

Obviously I need to look into this more.

civil4life

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #263 on: November 18, 2019, 09:23:17 AM »
That is all great.  I was trying to figure out the blue/purple football thing on the one cabinet.  Is it Berea?

One other thing.  You said she works in government?  Is it in the legal arena.  There may be that conflict of interest for her.  Just like I can't work under the table for a company that does business with my municipality.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #264 on: November 18, 2019, 12:45:55 PM »
I will say that my assistant more than earns what I pay her.  I friggin LOVE not doing all the work that she does.  It saves me so much time.  I love paying my contract attorney to do work for me, too, because that saves me time, too.  A good assistant is definitely worth it.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #265 on: November 19, 2019, 02:59:15 PM »
If you don't like collecting medical bills and records for insurance adjusters then file the lawsuit and watch the defense attorney happily issue endless subpoena's to earn their hourly rate. Plus, when the adjuster makes a crap offer you are much closer to a jury. Being close to a jury means you will get your best offer sooner and, if you don't like it, you are right there, ready to tell a jury what you think is fair. Any pre-trial litigation work you have to do is equal to or less than the work to collect the bills and make a demand.

That is the only solution I have found to that problem.

Contingency work is too profitable to hate! :)

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #266 on: November 20, 2019, 05:52:26 PM »
ReadySetMillionaire,

Got a 401(k) yet?  ABA Retirement has one that is easy to set up.  The funds are not as cheap as Vanguard, but the choices are halfway decent, and, being self employed, your match can be as high as you want it (up to 25% of W-2 income).

Just a suggestion from one solo to another.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #267 on: January 08, 2020, 02:31:35 PM »
Just wanted to provide an EOY update...

2019 Numbers/Thoughts

My Quickbooks was actually jacked up (counting all A/R as "income" for some reason), so my income was way higher on my P&L than I actually thought. Anyway, the final numbers for the full year are as follows:

Gross Income: $117,000

Expenses (not including taxes/payroll): $23,000 (a little higher than I would like, mostly due to new office/moving)

Net Profit (Before Taxes): $94,000

After Taxes (Rough Guess for Right Now): $78,000

***

Currently have about 40-50 active matters.

The co-counseling relationships are going pretty well in terms of income, although I hate the co-dependency and not getting back to me.

Things are generally looking up, but my hiring of the secretary got all screwed up.  Basically, I hired her, she called off, then she stated she could not work due to a medical condition.  Super bummed out because I had a ton of administrative work for her, and now it's all on me again.

My wife has actually started to come in once per week.  That is actually going pretty well, and it saves me a ton of money.  And she can work from home.  Not sure if this is a long-term solution, but oh well.

But...Another Opportunity?

I got a call today from the Magistrate at the local county court.  He stated that the city is looking to hire somebody for the City Law Department.  This is pretty interesting because I know the director of the City Law Department, and he is great friends with my mentor; so with the magistrate and my mentor giving me praise, something tells me this job is mine if I want it.

I've heard whispers that starting pay is around $63,000.  I have been involved in cases suing the city, and I know for a fact that the healthcare package is worth $30,000-plus.  My wife and my current healthcare sucks (almost a $1k/month premium, $13k deductible).

Also state retirement pension, student loan benefits, etc.  I've talked to numerous lawyers, and both agree that if the salary is around $63k, then the total compensation package is worth close to double that.

The biggest factor also is that, generally, the city lets you still run your private practice on "flex time."  I know several lawyers who do this and make a killing.  I think this would allow me to fire the majority of clients that don't pay or annoy me, and only keep my best clients.  I'd also stop doing the flat fee appearance work and appointment work, which nets me probably around $2k/month.

The biggest con -- government work.  A couple of my friends have lasted less than a couple years working in government (not this particular office, though). 

I think it's worth meeting to iron out the details, but if I can still operate my practice on the side, $63k plus awesome benefits is no small "base" to start from. 

Any thoughts?

Gronnie

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #268 on: January 08, 2020, 03:09:14 PM »
Is the healthcare worth $30k to you?

If you pay $1k/mo right now but hardly use any healthcare (don't have any chronic ongoing conditions that you know you will shell out $x/yr for) then the "better healthcare" might not be worth all that much to you. It would also depend on how much the premium is, deductible, etc.

It does sound like the government job would provide you a very secure base (I assume it's pretty darn hard to get fired and you will always get paid on time). So as long as you think you would be able to tolerate the work (ie not hate your life) and can keep your best clients on the side, I would say go for it.

If you were to just continue with private practice, do you still have a ton of room for income growth or are you getting near capped out for your area? That would be something to think about too. If you have a real possibility of making many multiples of $63k without working 100 hour weeks by staying in private practice, that would get you to FIRE much sooner.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #269 on: January 08, 2020, 03:26:59 PM »
Is the healthcare worth $30k to you?

If you pay $1k/mo right now but hardly use any healthcare (don't have any chronic ongoing conditions that you know you will shell out $x/yr for) then the "better healthcare" might not be worth all that much to you. It would also depend on how much the premium is, deductible, etc.

It does sound like the government job would provide you a very secure base (I assume it's pretty darn hard to get fired and you will always get paid on time). So as long as you think you would be able to tolerate the work (ie not hate your life) and can keep your best clients on the side, I would say go for it.

If you were to just continue with private practice, do you still have a ton of room for income growth or are you getting near capped out for your area? That would be something to think about too. If you have a real possibility of making many multiples of $63k without working 100 hour weeks by staying in private practice, that would get you to FIRE much sooner.

Regarding healthcare, that's the thing -- we hardly use it, and our premiums are $1,000 per month.  Premiums for the city are $250/month with significantly better health insurance.  So at minimum we would save $9,000/year, and if we actually need to use it, a ton more.

Regarding income cap, that's a really tough question to answer.  I feel like I really hustled this year and I grossed $117k.  I'm in a very rust belt, LCOL area.  I could see it getting better, maybe $140ish, in 2020.  But I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine, and he said there's maybe 10-15 solos going north of $200k, and all of them work like dogs.  I personally know a couple of them that we discussed and can confirm that they work crazy hours.

Another thing -- being self-employed, all my income gets the brutal self-employment tax.  I did do an S-Corp this year but my taxes generally suck as compared to when I was a W-2.  So getting more W-2 income and less self-employment income would probably be okay.

But, the one co-counseling relationship I'm starting is one of those unicorn guys.  He definitely works hard but he's got to be north of $300k per year.  Granted, he's almost 70, and I imagine it's taken him his entire career to get here, but the ceiling is obviously way higher in private practice if things break the right way.

That "if" should be size 72 font.  Like most other government vs. private sector analyses, the government job is the conservative, safe choice (I think).

Dicey

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #270 on: January 08, 2020, 04:38:57 PM »
How stable are the city's finances? It would suck for the city to experience a budget crisis and you get axed. If you're the only one in this position, that might not be a concern... Also, does the healthcare coverage extend into retirement? My city's does not, which is part of why they are more fiscally healthy than many others. Finally, how many years do all these things take to kick in? I think this sounds interesting as hell.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #271 on: January 08, 2020, 05:07:49 PM »
How stable are the city's finances? It would suck for the city to experience a budget crisis and you get axed. If you're the only one in this position, that might not be a concern... Also, does the healthcare coverage extend into retirement? My city's does not, which is part of why they are more fiscally healthy than many others. Finally, how many years do all these things take to kick in? I think this sounds interesting as hell.

All good questions to ask, none of which I know the answers to.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #272 on: January 08, 2020, 07:37:45 PM »
I like the opportunity, itís a win win. If it doesnít work out or you hate it, you just go back to your current plan. You have nothing to lose, guaranteed work and the ability to run your practice. Iíd just make sure youíre not killing yourself with the schedule.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #273 on: January 09, 2020, 07:34:12 AM »
I like the opportunity, itís a win win. If it doesnít work out or you hate it, you just go back to your current plan. You have nothing to lose, guaranteed work and the ability to run your practice. Iíd just make sure youíre not killing yourself with the schedule.

The last part is the most important.  I've posted in here I don't know how many times that I did not want my practice to take over me.  My goal was always to make $100,000 or so and not work myself to death to get over that.

If I'm working for the city, boom, there's $65,000ish (plus ridiculous benefits); and now I need to net $35,000 (so earn roughly $50,000) in my practice.  That doesn't seem too hard to me, and won't require a ridiculous schedule.

My biggest long-term concern is that my practice gets referrals solely through word of mouth.  If other attorneys know I'm working for the city, I'm not sure if they send clients my way.  Tough to know the answer to that.

For right now I'm leaning towards taking the meeting and, for me to take the job, everything has to be right.  Great amount of "flex time" (allow me to cover my own hearings during the work day), not too much criminal work, and a complete green light on running my practice on the side.

Absent that I think I have too much of a good thing going.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #274 on: January 10, 2020, 10:29:12 AM »
RSM -

1. I may be a "unicorn" but I think your private practice has more upside than you think. It's always about working smarter, not harder. One car accident with a clear policy limit situation on a 100k policy is a 33k fee. I call that a "lightning bolt" - I plan for it to happen one per quarter. There are other situations where the money can happen without limit. It has taken me 8 years to figure it out, but I settled a 1.1 million med mal case, a $450k semi-truck case and 400k truck case in the last few months. It was over 300k in fee on just those cases (I had experienced co-counsel partners who did the heavy lifting and took a lot of the total fee, but still). I'm not suggesting it was easy or happened fast (I worked for years without pay and investing costs into all three of those cases). But, don't underestimate the possibility as you grow in stature and experience. The more I learn how to hunt elephants, the easier it becomes.

Side note, once you have MMM-style financial independence, you can take a smaller case load of big cases, focus more attention on those cases, which results in better results make plenty of money with part-time work hours. To me, that is the law practice I want.

2. The city job may not compromise that long term growth so it could still be a good idea. You may learn how to win lawsuits against political subdivisions by seeing behind "enemy" lines. So, consider what you would be doing for the city. At the very least, I'd pay very close attention to the relationship between the city and their insurance carrier and what types of situations get paid large settlements. It happens. The question is how and why.

3. Healthcare is such an interesting topic. I've been uninsured for 8 years. I have saved my premiums. Now I have over 100k in saved premiums available to directly purchase the health care I may need. Working with severely injured people who need emergency and long term healthcare, I can say with confidence that 100k in cash is a lot of purchasing power. My personal belief is that very many people are brainwashed into a fear about their healthcare. The insurance companies clearly want it to be scary and confusing so you can solve the problem by aligning yourself with them - very large and ever growing price with larger and ever rising deductibles. You can do that, and be very normal. But man, to let healthcare be such a huge factor in your decision making doesn't make sense to me (me personally). I know I'm contrarian on that point, but I feel it is worth saying.

I could have wrote more, but I have meetings. Forgive typos or spelling errors. Good luck. You are in "high cotton."


Dicey

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #275 on: January 10, 2020, 10:57:30 AM »
^^Some people get cancer out of the blue when they're 21 years old. Other people get hit by uninsured drivers. I agree the insurance industry is fucked up, but so is this advice. I know that sounds harsh, but you are one lucky [something].

ETA: $100k can vaporize in an instant in a medical crisis, and health insurance cannot be purchased retroactively.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 11:01:19 AM by Dicey »

civil4life

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #276 on: January 10, 2020, 11:27:58 AM »
I will give my perspective as a government employee.  Although not in legal.

I am familiar with Ohio's pension system since I have been trying to get into ODOT for years. 

Most positions you pretty much have to commit murder before you are fired.  It probably takes more work to get fired than to do the work.  However there are certain positions that "Serve at the pleasure of..."  In that case you do not have as much security.  The job could be lost for politics alone.

Many government offices are obsessed with ass in seat time.  In other words, they want you there a set time no matter how busy/slow you are.  Some are not willing to do alternative work schedules or teleworking. 

I know working with our legal office in my position they always seem extremely busy and over worked.  You do not mention what city and its size or expectation of work load. 

You will need to be concerned with conflict of interests with your clients in the city.  Do you do a lot of business in this city?  You would probably need to drop any clients you have within the city?

I have not looked at the individual stocks available for Ohio but they have options for a defined benefit, defined contribution, or combo of both.  The health insurance is excellent.

I would search to see if the city publicizes its salary bands and employee salaries.  You could then get a better idea of possible negotiation power.  My current employer allows for hiring up to 15% greater than the base, if you want more it needs to be approved by the chief operating officer.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #277 on: January 10, 2020, 01:49:17 PM »
All great questions @civil4life .  I actually met with the Law Director today. The highlights:

-While not expressly stated, job is mine if I want it

-Job duties are less litigation than I thought, but I met with another person who used to work there, and she said the legal issues are interesting (real estate, personnel/employment issues, local government stuff, etc.)

-Job is 8:00 to 4:00 with an hour paid lunch (so 35 hours per week); all holidays paid

-Salary likely close to $69,000

-Defined benefit retirement includes 24% salary to OPERS (Ohio Public Employee Retirement System) after working there for six months, so add $16,000+ there

-Healthcare premium is $190 (!!!) per month with a $500 deductible

-Most importantly, the Law Director told me point blank that "job security is not guaranteed."  He said a new administration could come in and fire everyone, although that rarely happens.  He certainly thinks he would be gone if the mayor is not re-elected.

But, I could tell they were desperate to hire someone, so ten minutes later in the conversation, I turned this on its head and said, "Look, that's exactly why I can't shut my practice completely down."  I said I can't take this for 18 months, get fired, and then start up again. And he approved.  He said, "You can't say I told you this, but I need you in the office 4.5 days a week.  If you can do your practice during lunch, after 4:00, and on weekends, then that's your business."

***

I met with a magistrate who used to work there.  The highlights:

-She said the Law Director doesn't know what he's doing for the civil side, but he's nice and tolerable, you just have to deal with him and repeat things

-Said I'd be very competent there

-Said it's "low mental energy work," doesn't think doing stuff on the side would be an issue

***

Met with another friend for lunch as well.  Guy I trust a ton.  Said you have to consider this like a $100,000 super demanding and irrational client.  Would you do it?  Interesting way to look at it.

***

So @FIREby35 -- with the being able to do my side practice out of the way, you've hit the nail on the head.  How will this affect my long term career growth?  How will this affect referrals? Things are on the up.  I'm better at picking cases.  I'm better at looking at clients and saying they need to give me a $10,000 retainer and not flinching. A couple referral sources are really starting to flourish. Things seem to be going well.

But, I don't know if I have enough data yet. I've only been on my own for 20 months.  I still had that big settlement in January.  What if that doesn't come this year?  I think it would go up, but it also could go down.  I just don't know.

My ideal version is this: work that government job, do private practice emails/calls during lunch, work until 4:00, drive over to my office (10 minutes from City Hall), work for an hour, and then work on big projects on weekends/holidays.  I work a ton of hours now anyway.  If I trim it down to my 8-12 best clients, that's manageable.

***

Needless to say I'm strongly considering this.  I'd have to gross about $96,000 to make the equivalent salary at my office.  AND I get to run my own practice still, so there's a vent of autonomy still available.

Paging @Dicey , @MrThatsDifferent , @Malum Prohibitum , and @TVRodriguez .  Tough decision here, although I'm leaning towards jumping in.

robartsd

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #278 on: January 10, 2020, 02:40:52 PM »
But, I could tell they were desperate to hire someone, so ten minutes later in the conversation, I turned this on its head and said, "Look, that's exactly why I can't shut my practice completely down."  I said I can't take this for 18 months, get fired, and then start up again. And he approved.  He said, "You can't say I told you this, but I need you in the office 4.5 days a week.  If you can do your practice during lunch, after 4:00, and on weekends, then that's your business."
I'd be very concerned that this doesn't sound like enough flexibility to run your practice. You certainly can't make your own appearances if you are in the office at city hall.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #279 on: January 10, 2020, 05:09:11 PM »
But, I could tell they were desperate to hire someone, so ten minutes later in the conversation, I turned this on its head and said, "Look, that's exactly why I can't shut my practice completely down."  I said I can't take this for 18 months, get fired, and then start up again. And he approved.  He said, "You can't say I told you this, but I need you in the office 4.5 days a week.  If you can do your practice during lunch, after 4:00, and on weekends, then that's your business."
I'd be very concerned that this doesn't sound like enough flexibility to run your practice. You certainly can't make your own appearances if you are in the office at city hall.

To be clear, I expressly asked about this, and he said I would need to take flex time or vacation time to make up for my own hearings. But it was clear to me that Iíd be able to run my own practice.

mozar

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #280 on: January 10, 2020, 05:37:11 PM »
I used to work for the federal government so this may be different,  but they seemed to have a don't ask don't tell butt in seat policy. So if someone wasn't at work but they had gotten all their work done they looked the other way and ignored the fact that they weren't in the office. I would ask around about butt in seat time. Say you're supposed to be at work until 4, but your seat is empty between 3 and 4 some random afternoon. What are they going to do about it? Ask for forgiveness,  not permission.

robartsd

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #281 on: January 10, 2020, 05:41:25 PM »
So it is OK to take off time between 8:00 and 4:00 to do your own practice, just not on city time (which makes sense). At first pass it sounded to me like you might have difficulty getting the time off approved. Is the amount of time you'd be able to take off sufficient for all your needs (private practice hearings, vacations, your appointments with professionals, sick days, etc.)? Can you negotiate more time off for lower salary to make having the time needed for your private practice easier?

Gronnie

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #282 on: January 10, 2020, 06:11:29 PM »
Does flex time mean you are supposed to work 8-4 but say you had a hearing from 11-12 you just stay an hour later?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #283 on: January 10, 2020, 06:44:07 PM »
Does flex time mean you are supposed to work 8-4 but say you had a hearing from 11-12 you just stay an hour later?

Right. Itís under the radar as someone else stated. You donít announce youíre leaving for your own hearing, but you have the professionalism to make up for it.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #284 on: January 10, 2020, 08:21:31 PM »
Mate, youíre squeezing a lot in here, a lot! Youíre setting yourself for work from 8-6ish almost every day and weekends. You still have to do all the admin stuff with running your own practice, and taxes. How much time is left for you and your young family? How long do you plan on doing this for?  Instead of designing your perfect life with flexibility, youíre boxing yourself in.

From youíve described, Iíd see it as an either/or, not an and.

Option 1: stay as is. Youíve put a lot of work in your practice and by every measure, youíve been a success. Youíre your own boss and you have lots of room to grow, and even add lawyers to the practice if you wanted to. downside, is you have to keep hustling, but youíve seem to have a good handle on it, and itís not killing you.

Option 2: Gov job. Mildly engaging, working for others, punch a clock and youíre out. Absent someone clearing house it seems you could do this, de-prioritize work and focus on your family. Work becomes just something in the background to pay bills. Downside: you seem to crave intellectual stimulation and Iím not sure youíll find it here. It also wonít be easy working for someone again after youíve been your own boss. Remember the politics of work places? That will return in droves.

Option 3: Doing both 1 & 2. Manageable but barely and you might find yourself pulled way to thin, while sacrificing your family time.

Personally, Iíd stick with 1. Otherwise, Iíd go to them and say, I can give you 3 days a week, or all mornings 8-1 but the rest of the time is for me. If that doesnít work for them, you already have things just how you want them with the power to shape it to your needs as you wish.

civil4life

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #285 on: January 10, 2020, 08:35:22 PM »
If you hate it you can easily jump ship.  If it does not work out how easy would it be to ramp up the type of work you would turn away if you took the job? 

Would you be able to make the appearances for your other cases if needed?

Dicey

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #286 on: January 10, 2020, 09:55:07 PM »
How much sick time and vacation time do you get to start? Are there any waiting periods for benefits like healthcare and retirement? Do you think you can actually get their work done in the time allotted? What if some big-time shit hits the fan in the city?

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #287 on: January 11, 2020, 09:45:30 AM »
I have to be honest RSM, I don't really like the idea of working a full-time public law job and a private law practice at the same time. Your longest term, best financial asset is your marriage. You've got a kid and wife at home and you are contemplating working a day job and a side job on nights and weekends. I'd say you are talking about engulfing your entire life in the law. Lots of my peers who did this didn't stay happily married.

On the other hand, I worked a lot at the beginning - now that I think about it. Years 0-5 in my law practice were a lot of hours. Perhaps I'm talking from further up the stream, but I wouldn't want to work that much today. If you do it, you should at least be aware that you are undertaking a huge task.

Side convo on insurance......

Hey Dicey - Is it really f**ked up to accept and accurately assess the risk of sickness and death on terms equal to every human being all over the planet across all times? It is an illusion to think that insurance diminishes the probabilities of sickness and death appearing in our lives. Perhaps it could determine the probability of survival of a battle with sickness and death, but it is only one variable among many. I am absolutely certain I have multiple assets (financial and otherwise) that will provide a greater than average chance at surviving that inevitable battle with sickness and death. I also acknowledge, I will die.

If someone is unhealthy and needs insurance to survive, then they should have it. But, that is not the situation for many people. For a healthy person, there is a different analysis. Arguments about the social benefits of universal participation in a social contract do not change an individual rational calculation of optimal behavior. Making an accurate assessment for an individual circumstance (i.e. a healthy person) and choosing not to engage in a financially sub-optimal transaction is not f**ked up. You might call it undesirable or selfish, but I just call it self-insuring.

To RSM  or other lawyers on this point, if you are a lawyer then you may understand that medical care is provided to people who are involved in catastrophic incidents that routinely happen in your community. These incidents are a fact of human existence and are dealt with in county courthouses all across our land. They involve many parties, possibly including a health insurance company. A bill is generated and sent - care is not denied at any hospital around me. None of those bills are real. Medicaid/Medicare doesn't pay that price, private health insurance doesn't pay that price. No one actually pays the price that medical care is alleged to cost. The providers have to sue to collect. I'd much rather use money to defend myself than pay for protection up front. As you well know, $10,000 can buy a lot of legal defense and dramatically affect the ultimate resolution of a complex financial dispute.

It's incredible to see people's faith in their insurance shatter when they receive a denial of coverage letter for a major expense. Our bar association sub-group will semi-regularly solicit legal assistance for people in this situation. Health insurance companies are hardly a warm blanket of compassion for the sick and dying.

For chronic conditions or slow moving disease, you are allowed to register with pre-existing conditions annually. I also have medical bills sharing which I am comfortable using as a much lower cost substitute. Cash can be used to secure medical treatment in such a situation.

People on this forum should understand the power of money. It actually can be used to gain access to medical institutions in this country - cash, lots of it if necessary. This is a power many on this forum are privileged to enjoy. Can you imagine what it is like for human beings with only access government health insurance in your community? Many specialists in my community won't see medicaid patients, insured-but-can't-afford-their-deductible or uninsured people without cash (i.e. the people I serve daily) but they will always see people with cash. That is a simple fact in my community. I make use of that fact to help my injured clients get access to these specialists. I know my cash is more valuable than their insurance. If you have insurance but you can't afford to use it or your insurance won't get you access to the specialist you need, are you still insured?

I'm not trying to provoke. Conversations about insurance often cause tension due to the strongly held views around insurance and it's association with politics. I'm not even talking about the macro vision of insurance. I am specifically talking about an individual analysis of existence within the current system - as is. I'm not varnishing today's reality with potential future improvements or suggestions on how to fix it. To me, in today's system, cash is a more powerful ally than insurance in the inevitable battle for survival with sickness and death.

Is that really so f**ked?

P.S. Edit: What I am saying is RSM should consider deeply how much weight he gives to the availability of health-insurance in these decisions. If given too much control, it could easily extinguish many very exciting paths in life.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2020, 10:19:05 AM by FIREby35 »

Dee18

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #288 on: January 11, 2020, 10:25:26 AM »
When I was a government attorney we were absolutely forbidden from engaging in any private practice.  That was years ago and perhaps that is not the rule everywhere, but it is certainly something to check out.  However, I agree with the many others that government job + private practice+young children=serious overload

Dicey

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #289 on: January 11, 2020, 11:15:45 AM »
P.S. Edit: What I am saying is RSM should consider deeply how much weight he gives to the availability of health-insurance in these decisions. If given too much control, it could easily extinguish many very exciting paths in life.
After I had cancer, I was diagnosed with a heart condition that doctors believe was related to that fact that I grew six inches over the course of a single summer. And I was ahealthy, active, normal weight person. You bet your ever-loving ass that the need for affordable healthcare, or any healthcare at all, colored every single decision after that. Yes, you certainly could say it extinguished many potentially exciting paths in my life, especially pre-Obamacare.

Yes, that is fucked up indeed.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #290 on: January 11, 2020, 01:48:19 PM »
P.S. Edit: What I am saying is RSM should consider deeply how much weight he gives to the availability of health-insurance in these decisions. If given too much control, it could easily extinguish many very exciting paths in life.
After I had cancer, I was diagnosed with a heart condition that doctors believe was related to that fact that I grew six inches over the course of a single summer. And I was ahealthy, active, normal weight person. You bet your ever-loving ass that the need for affordable healthcare, or any healthcare at all, colored every single decision after that. Yes, you certainly could say it extinguished many potentially exciting paths in my life, especially pre-Obamacare.

Yes, that is fucked up indeed.

I'm sorry you are in that situation. I bet it did affect your decision making. It would be reasonable for a person without those health conditions to make different decisions.

I can only say, if I had insisted on health insurance from my employer then I wouldn't have been able to create my law practice. If I did all the work to create my practice, but surrendered to the siren song of health insurance from an employer after 18 months, I would have foregone a lucrative career. The career has, so far, been lucrative enough to provide resources I can deploy in place of health insurance. For my part, I do prepare for a bad situation by saving and investing consciously (rather than spending those resources on non-essentials). I think there are millions of people who fit within this fact pattern (except maybe the saving, but we are on the MMM forum so...). I think many of those people are self-employed - as is RSM.

I still don't see how money is not as valuable an ally as insurance. Also, for those in good health, medical bills sharing as a lower cost supplement. To me, this is the best a self-employed person can do: 1) save your cash 2) try the medical bill sharing. I think it is okay to accept this situation rather than desire/insist on health insurance for some human beings. That is probably the unfair or "F'd" part, you need to be healthy enough to consider this option. To my knowledge, RSM is healthy enough to consider this option.

It is also very important that post-Obamacare it is possible to get insurance despite having a pre-existing condition. I think it is a good policy for reducing human suffering in our communities.

PS Lucrative is only one part for me. I don't think I could stand having a butt-in-seat requirement. I'd be a terrible government employee. A self-employed person can have control of their time. Again, you might not have health insurance. But, if you do the rest, is it a risk worth taking to gain near total control of your time?

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #291 on: January 11, 2020, 02:47:57 PM »
PS again - Everyone is truly welcome to prioritize their health insurance situation uniquely. I wouldn't have even mentioned it except RSM discussed it as relevant to his decision. It is a thing for all self-employed. In the law, you can go with a big firm or the government and get good benefits. But if you are solo or small law you have to accept something else or pay a pretty penny. I said my part and I don't want anyone to think I was trying to give them any crap for their situation. Sincerely :)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #292 on: January 11, 2020, 05:40:17 PM »
Appreciate all the comments.

Someone mentioned the low income work I do (flat fee appearance work and appointment work). I can shut that down and pick that up whenever I want. But it takes a disproportionate amount of my time. I bet itís 25% of my income and about 40% of my time.

I also bet other loss leaders take up a huge portion of my time. Extremely small hourly cases with $500-$1000 retainers. Iíd drop these in a heartbeat.

Take these two things out and Iíve reclaimed 50% of my time, if not more. Also, contrary to another poster, my admin time would be WAY down without these small matters.

Based on the comments here, I took a real serious look at my active matter list. Thereís honestly just about 8-10 matters Iíd like to keep. I think this is manageable. Iíd obviously be very selective in other cases moving forward.

Iíve talked with 6-7 local lawyers now who all think juggling the city job and solo practice are manageable. The solo  practice will not be anywhere near what it is now ó but it will basically be a small revenue generator and also an insurance policy if I want to leave.

Iíve basically coasted in several months and those months were always $3,500-4,000. I think my practice would do about the same if it were on the side. Thatís 20 billable hours a month. Probably talking 10-15 hours a week. Yes, motions and depositions will make this fluctuate, but it wonít be close to another full time job.

Regarding insurance, itís really important. Our insurance sucks. We are trying for Kid #2 and just being on better insurance will be worth $4,000 (what we paid OOP for our first son).

If itís overwhelming, Iíll have a decision to make. Keeping the lights on at my practice permanently gives me options. Ramping up takes time (2-3 months to make a penny). Keeping it running is better than shutting it down.

Ultimately, I never started my practice to make a ton of money. My previous job that started this thread 2+ years ago paid $47k with mediocre benefits (compared to city job). Now itís two years later and Iím being offered $68-69k with amazing benefits; and a private practice on the side that could generate more money than most side jobs. Not bad.

Iím going to meet with one more mentor and one of my clients, who is also a mentor. I want to see how he reacts to me saying, ďI think Iím taking a city job, but Iím keeping my practice open and want to keep you on board.Ē If his reaction is positive then Iím probably going to try it out.

The risk seems very low given that my practice will always be there to fall back on.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 06:51:01 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #293 on: January 12, 2020, 08:29:03 AM »
Somewhat of an important update: I called my best two clients, who both act as mentors, as well as my best referral source this morning.

I approached my clients with a two-phase conversation -- (1) what's your professional/business advice and (2) what would you think of our attorney-client relationship.  They were extremely positive and both indicated they'd be glad to stay on board.

I had a similar conversation with my best referral source.  He said if he were my age he would take the job, and that keeping the practice open is the key.  He stated (and I agree) that even if they paid $100,000, but they required you to close the practice, then it's a much harder decision.  This is "an easy decision because you have the safety valve."

I also transitioned the conversation to his referrals, and he stated he would "hope and pray" I still make time for him.  This is great news.  Everything he sends me is $200/hour, sometimes $225/hour.  This relationship started in October and I made $8,000 just getting started with him, and things are only going on the up.

Strongly, strongly leaning towards taking it.  I agree with you guys that perhaps juggling both will be too much, but at that point, maybe the city job is fine, or maybe go back to private practice.  But this seems like a great opportunity at this point in my life.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #294 on: January 12, 2020, 12:26:42 PM »
Mate, itís clear you want to juggle both, youíre young, with energy, we get that. I guess the one thing you havenít seemed to share is what your wife thinks, and how you think any of this will help you being a more present husband and father, especially as you consider adding a second kid? Not trying to be patronizing with the youth comments, we all know though that time for you and your family is far more valuable than time for work and money. Please donít underestimate the cognitive load that youíre going to be placing on yourself, while you work two jobs that will give you almost exactly what you have with one job, save for some work perks (which you have the capacity to exceed on your own). When you chat with your mentors, ask them about family life, happy and healthy marriages, and being truly involved with their kids. Thatís life. Thatís what you remember in your deathbed, and what will make a true difference to you. Measure that impact and if you come out ahead there, youíre golden. If not, something to strongly consider.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #295 on: January 12, 2020, 02:28:29 PM »
Mate, itís clear you want to juggle both, youíre young, with energy, we get that. I guess the one thing you havenít seemed to share is what your wife thinks, and how you think any of this will help you being a more present husband and father, especially as you consider adding a second kid? Not trying to be patronizing with the youth comments, we all know though that time for you and your family is far more valuable than time for work and money. Please donít underestimate the cognitive load that youíre going to be placing on yourself, while you work two jobs that will give you almost exactly what you have with one job, save for some work perks (which you have the capacity to exceed on your own). When you chat with your mentors, ask them about family life, happy and healthy marriages, and being truly involved with their kids. Thatís life. Thatís what you remember in your deathbed, and what will make a true difference to you. Measure that impact and if you come out ahead there, youíre golden. If not, something to strongly consider.

Wife is totally and 100% on board. I would never do this if she was not. The benefits are extremely important to her at this phase in our life together.

I appreciate your input and the input of the more experienced people here. Life is short. Itís easy for me to sit here and forecast, but my forecast is just an educated guess.

I truly believe I can narrow my practice down to the point that it is not overwhelming me. If it does then I will reevaluate and change things one way or another.

But, youíre right. Your post will resonate with me, Iím sure, as Iím working weekends. I will keep this strongly in mind as I move forward.

This opportunity seems very low risk to me. If itís too much Iíll go back to private practice. If I can find a balance then it will be best of both worlds.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #296 on: January 12, 2020, 02:29:03 PM »
You know man, you are right. It is a great situation.

I'd say, there is power in knowing you can support yourself. You have learned that and proven that - to yourself and others. The power comes from you having a private law practice. But, really, whether you close that or not, you know you have the ability to do it. So, tip of the cap :)

I'd still be cautious about the work/life balance. Don't get lost in the law. Life is still out there to be lived.


Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #297 on: January 13, 2020, 03:16:22 PM »
You asked for my opinion, so I am giving it - and I would be inclined not to go to work for the city.  I would instead focus on growing the practice and increasing hourly rates and developing a specialty or two that make you the go-to guy for that issue.

I wish you well either way, bit I think going to the city will harm your practice beyond repair, and, let's face it, there are no long term prospects of outstanding success there. 

The only way I would take that job is if you are desperate to survive because your practice is dying on the vine.  I do not get that sense at all from your description.  Indeed, I get the opposite impression, that your practice is growing. 

Going to work in a lower end job for a city at sixty something is not what you dreamed of when going to law school.

Just my honest answer.

robartsd

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #298 on: January 13, 2020, 05:08:29 PM »
Going to work in a lower end job for a city at sixty something is not what you dreamed of when going to law school.
I'm pretty sure by 60 RSM will be retired even if he decides to take the city job and close down the practice. I personally agree that the upside potential of the private practice is worth keeping and that working both is too much work, but we don't have to throw straw man arguments at him to give him feedback on his options.

grantmeaname

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #299 on: January 13, 2020, 06:11:32 PM »
Sixty something thousand dollars