Author Topic: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?  (Read 3201 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« on: April 07, 2015, 03:27:04 PM »
Here are the basics of my situation:

-I just graduated law school in 2014.
-I obtained an associate position at a very good but small firm in a low COL area in Ohio.
-I really like the work I'm doing, the flexible hours, and the people I work with, but...
-My salary is only $47,500 per year.

On top of all that, I graduated with about $150,000 in student loan debt. I have this down to $145,000 and feel like I'm making great strides on reducing my debt (my goal is to target specific high interest rate loans be down to $135,000 by the end of the year).

In my previous posts, many people have suggested to increase my income via a second job or lateraling to a new firm in a market that pays higher (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus). This sounded great to me, so I started doing a lot of research on nearby firms, what it takes to lateral, side jobs for lawyers, other miscellaneous second jobs, etc.

Unfortunately, I've come to the realization that this has negatively affected my attitude at work. I am less efficient at work because I am always reading about nearby firms. I am constantly thinking about second incomes (construction work, landscaping, etc.) and haven't been able to focus my time and attention towards my files and my clients (I actually completely missed a hearing a couple weeks ago...luckily the defendant didn't appear either and it wasn't a big deal). And most importantly, this has resulted in a slight reduction in billable hours.

Thus, today, I am committed to focusing on just doing a great job now and be grateful that I have a job (I'd guess that only 60% of new graduates actually obtain a job). I ordered four books on Amazon about being the best young lawyer possible, and all of these focus on essential lawyering skills (legal writing, client development, building a practice, and the keys to becoming a partner). I feel like this is step one to start investing in myself to hope to see long term results.

After all this rambling, I guess my question is this: am I better off investing in myself by working as hard as possible at my current firm and educating myself about being a great lawyer; or, given my substantial debt, should I still continue to look for side money?

I feel like investing in myself is a long term investment that could pay off enormously in the future. But, at the same time, this debt is taking away almost 50% of net income every month and is drastically restricting my ability to save for retirement.

So, what do you think? Invest in my career or second income?

UltraRunning

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2015, 04:35:43 PM »
Sounds like you really enjoy your work at the firm.  If your okay with your salary and your slow but sure repayment schedule I would just stay at the firm. Depends on how much you value enjoyment of a career vs becoming f.i. at all  cost and where you fall on that spectrum.  How much job satisfaction are you willing to sacrifice for more $ per hour. 

Retired To Win

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2015, 04:41:10 PM »
Here are the basics of my situation:

-I just graduated law school in 2014.
-I obtained an associate position at a very good but small firm in a low COL area in Ohio.
-I really like the work I'm doing, the flexible hours, and the people I work with, but...
-My salary is only $47,500 per year...

I would think this is a starting salary and that (1) you should quickly get raised up and (2) you should be in line for some kind of substantial yearly bonus (which I understand is standard law firm practice?)  So I would, in your shoes, stay focused on the lawyering and the billable hours.  But still leave yourself some free-time wiggle room or you may burn out.

Good luck.

mozar

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2015, 07:56:13 PM »
My advice is to focus on your legal career, and only research finding a new job after work. Construction, house painting, etc aren't going to make you nearly the income that a raise will, and may also take you a few years to break even.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 07:27:05 AM »
I would think this is a starting salary and that (1) you should quickly get raised up and (2) you should be in line for some kind of substantial yearly bonus (which I understand is standard law firm practice?)  So I would, in your shoes, stay focused on the lawyering and the billable hours.  But still leave yourself some free-time wiggle room or you may burn out.

Good luck.
Thanks. My worry is that by living in a low COL area, raises won't be easy to come by (I guess my assumption is that the employer knows how low the COL is here and thus knows that I don't need an exorbitant salary to live comfortably).

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 07:28:49 AM »
You should focus on your job so you don't lose it. I wouldn't put too much effort into the second income thing. Seems like you could move to another city/county/state and get a better paying gig.

I thought paralegals make $50kish?

But if you can't ever make the mental capacity to search for a new job, will you be stuck there forever?

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 09:19:06 AM »
I would think this is a starting salary and that (1) you should quickly get raised up and (2) you should be in line for some kind of substantial yearly bonus (which I understand is standard law firm practice?)  So I would, in your shoes, stay focused on the lawyering and the billable hours.  But still leave yourself some free-time wiggle room or you may burn out.

Good luck.
Thanks. My worry is that by living in a low COL area, raises won't be easy to come by (I guess my assumption is that the employer knows how low the COL is here and thus knows that I don't need an exorbitant salary to live comfortably).

First, your employer still has to compete for your services.

Second, if costs are that low where you live, crunch the numbers and see if you wouldn't actually get to FI faster by staying there -- assuming you want to remain there after FI.

Dee18

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Re: Invest in Career or in a Second Income?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 12:19:24 PM »
You omit a key piece of information: what are the long term prospects where you are?  I'm sure you know that in recent years many large firms laid off associates and even aside from that, few associates at big firms survive past the 7 year mark.  I suggest you put in two solid years where you are, building a great reputation for outstanding work.  Then evaluate your options, including possibly federal government jobs, many of which require some experience.  In the meantime, keep expenses low and avoid long term commitments like buying a house.  Best of luck!