Any happy lawyers out there?

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CFK
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by CFK »

lgs88 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:01 pm Hello, all.

I have a first-world problem to share with the Bogleheads.

I'm in my mid-late 20s with a couple years of high school teaching under my belt. I do not lack for money and (with any luck) likely never will. I live below my means, and I want for nothing material. I do not have a family of my own, but I'd like to start one in the next five years or so. I am good at my job, and my students frequently ask me why I'm in such a good mood. Why wouldn't I be? I love my job. Sure, it's got its drawbacks -- grading is a bore, I'm not paid what I'm worth, and it could be more intellectually stimulating -- but the kids keep me young, and there are no politics, and the hours are such that I can be deeply and satisfyingly involved in the community outside of work. I am a respected member of my community.

But I have a serious interest in the law, so this past year I applied for law school. I got into one of the vaunted ones -- just a couple slots below the ones the Supreme Court justices come from. I'd have to pay full freight, but I can afford it and it wouldn't change my financial trajectory much. I find the law intellectually fascinating, and I love teaching it to high school students. I read the course descriptions and salivate. I think I'd enjoy the experience of an intense intellectual experience amidst high-performing peers, a la Scott Turow's book One L, and I expect I'd have excellent job opportunities after those three years.

The catch is that I don't particularly want to be a lawyer. My friends in Biglaw describe work that, while well-compensated, is an intellectual wasteland devoid of meaning. They don't get much out of their lives outside of the office either, because they're so busy at work. It's hard on their relationships. I'd graduate right around when I'd want to start a family, and I worry about being unavailable for those years. Moreover, the internet is full of lawyers griping about how much they hate their lives.

So, my question for you lawyers out there: do you have unalloyed good things to say about the profession? Have you found a niche that allows you to be well-compensated and intellectually stimulated while having a life outside of work? Have you been able to prioritize your family? How did you find this niche, and how long did it take you to get there?

Thanks very much to the Bogleheads for their take on this topic.
I am apparently in the minority based on the comments in this thread, but I really enjoy being a senior big law associate. Here's a few reasons why: 1) interesting, complex work that is at least sometimes in the news; 2) the expectations are to bill 1950 hours per year, which is about 40 hours per week for 49 weeks (note that billable hours don't include going to the bathroom, eating lunch, practice group meetings, client pitches or development, recruiting, etc..., so it is more than 40 hours a week of what normal people would consider work; it is my understanding that the average associate bills about 1850 per year at our firm); 3) I work from home (and plan to continue working from home 3-4 days per week post-pandemic); 4) I have flexible hours; 5) I really like my colleagues; 6) I got paid close to $400k last year; 7) generous fully paid parental leave.

Downsides: 1) The hours are unpredictable, which means sometimes I bill 10 hours on a Saturday, and other times (like at present), I have little to do on a Tuesday, and it is tough to know more than a few days in advance which it will be; 2) there are periods of high stress to meet deadlines; 3) depending on the case, the consequences for the client can be severe, which is also stressful; 4) it is hard to fully disengage, so I'm always thinking about my cases, and frequently need to work at night unexpectedly. All in all, though, the positives far outweigh the negatives, at least for me.

I have a theory that a lot of the burnout at law firms has to do with people that have been grinding hard for a very long time prior to joining the firm, and by the time they get to the firm, they are already about at the end of their rope. Think about a person who was over-extended with extracurriculars in high school, pulled a lot of all nighters in college, was on law review and moot court and gets good grades in law school. By the time they get to the firm some of these people have been grinding hard for more than half their lives without a break. People that took time off, have families, traveled, have other hobbies, etc... seem to stick around longer, and enjoy themselves more. That's anecdotal, obviously, but it seems to hold up.

In terms of your specific situation, you seem pretty happy as a teacher. And as others have pointed out, it probably isn't worth taking out the debt and dedicating years of your life to the law unless it is something you really want to do. That being said, practicing law is nothing like what I expected, and I had only a vague sense of what it meant to be a lawyer until I actually got out of law school. I knew nothing about my practice areas (antitrust and white collar) before going to law school, and it wasn't until I'd been at the firm a while before I found my niche.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to discuss further.
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ipdiddly
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by ipdiddly »

lgs88 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:01 pm there are no politics, and . . . I am a respected member of my community.
Those two statements sound incorrect in today's climate so I am wondering in what community do you teach?

Let's turn the question around. I am a practicing lawyer (ok, that's fictional since long retired) and am thinking of going into the teaching profession. Are there any happy teachers???

My wife taught second grade for most of her career and she loved it. But in second grade, the students still love their teachers. They love homework. And she taught in an era where teachers were conscientious and respected. Unfortunately, today those who govern education are political bureaucrats who have never been inside the classroom and who have never spent 10 seconds teaching anything. And those are the people telling teachers what they should teach and when they should teach it. No politics - are you kidding? [Political commentary removed by Moderator Misenplace.] And respect? There was a time when parents supported teachers. Now if you discipline a student - well, forget discipline, perhaps you just spoke critically - the parents and the administration are all over you. We are in a time where self-esteem is more important than knowledge. Everyone gets an A. So no thanks. My wife is happy to be retired.
hoffse
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by hoffse »

One thing to consider is you are hearing from one very small group of lawyers - BigLaw lawyers.

Most of us aren't in BigLaw and those of us who aren't are happier for it, I dare say.

I'm in private practice, in what you might call "medium law." My firm has about 350 attorneys, scattered across 15 states. My husband is similarly-situated in a rival firm (across the street!) with about 250 attorneys in maybe 8 states. We both started in our firms as first year associates. I made partner in 7 years, my husband made partner in 6 years. I have never once crested 1900 hours per year of billable work. My husband has had a couple of crazy years due to people leaving (and not taking work with them), but most years he is in the 2000-2100 hour range. Those couple of crazy years when he billed more than that did contribute to him going up for partner early. So he/we got something tangible out of it.

Since making partner I have billed under 1700 hours per year. I leave the office at 3:30 every day to pick up my kid and only occasionally log on in the evenings or over weekends when I have something that needs an urgent response.

We enjoy working with sophisticated clients. Each of our firms have national clients you would absolutely recognize. But we don't kill ourselves for the job. We earn a lot less than our BigLaw peers, but we work a lot less too. We also don't live in NYC or SFO or other parts of the country where you really have to earn BigLaw money to afford a nice standard of living and also be able to pay back student loans. Instead, we live in a small city in the southeast, where $500-$800K dollars buys you a 4-5 bedroom house with an acre of land in the best public school district in the state and walking distance to restaurants, shopping, etc (with a sub-20 minute commute!). As a result, many of my partners can comfortably afford second homes. Lake homes and beach homes are prevalent among the people we work with.

I'm not miserable, not even close. In fact, I'm pretty happy with how we have landed. Husband is too. And both of us would only leave this kind of private practice for a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity.
zanian
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by zanian »

I went to law school a little ambivalent about becoming a lawyer. After my first year, I decided to take a semester off. I was burned out by the experience and now was really doubting working as a lawyer. Also the legal job market was horrible.

EVERY person told me to go back and complete law school. I had huge loans, even from just one year and I had to start paying back right away if I didn't go back. A bit cornered, I went back, but this time I knew I was just doing it for the degree and didn't want to become a lawyer.

With this attitude, I picked classes that interested me. Land Use, Environmental Law, Entertainment Law, International Law, Trade Law. I was enjoying Law School more now. However this was super super expensive. Why was I doing this?

In retrospect I learned a lot in Law School. I got my JD and then went straight into Film School to get an MFA. That ended up being my career. and still is. No law for me. Law School bought me time to figure stuff out, but that is one hell of an expensive delaying device!

I probably should have figured out a better way to analyze what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up with over 100k in loans which I paid back in 7 years since I still lived like a student as I started making money.

Do I regret it? Not the learning part. But the money really crimped my life. I could have been putting that money into retirement savings.

My friends that became lawyers? They HATE it.
grkmec
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by grkmec »

I am not a lawyer but my sister is. She is very happy but purposely chose a path outside of biglaw. Upon graduation, she went to go clerk for a federal judge and then a couple years later became an assistant US attorney. Her ultimate goal is to become a Federal judge. She loves what she does and has a great work/life balance.

Biglaw is similar to working as an investment banker (I used to be one of those). It can be soul crushing work. You seem to be in a job you enjoy. I suggest you stay put and taking up reading law journals and books to satisfy your curiosity. Some of us go through life working in jobs we don't enjoy which probably leads to all this discussion about FIRE... If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

Don't go. I advise undergrads for a living. Going to law school is a dicey proposition even if one wants to be a lawyer, and you don't want to be a lawyer. And the problem is that after $200k in debt, you're not going to have much of a choice but to be a lawyer.

I know a happy government lawyer. Graduated from law school with no debt, clerked for a year, and then took a government position where he's been for fifteen years. The rest seem just unbelievably stressed.
FoolMeOnce
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by FoolMeOnce »

I'm a happy lawyer. My hours are easy and flexible, my work is constantly intellectually stimulating, and I am doing what I believe to be good, honorable work for people in dire need. My compensation is not great - my starting salary back in the late 2000s was under $50k. As others have noted above, and as you might glean from all the replies, it seems there is a greater percentage of content lawyers in government or public interest / non-profit arenas. That's not to say that all government or public interest jobs are low stress affairs.
chicagoan23 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:04 am In my opinion, law school is not an intense intellectual experience. Most full-time students will do enough to get by for three months (until finals time). The exceptional students will be the ones who can identify and explain the key issues on a final exam in a coherent way, so that the professor grading the exam will tally up enough points in the few minutes he or she takes to read it.
My experience was different. I found it an incredible intellectual experience. Perhaps it helped that I was at a top school that made efforts to encourage collaboration and discourage competition, and also that I had no interest in BigLaw and did not participate in any OCI. I also took some fascinating seminar-style courses. Though by roughly the middle of 2L year, I started coasting toward the end. Some practical classes and clinic work helped keep me engaged in my last year.

But if the OP has no interest in actually practicing law, giving up what sounds like a very rewarding and enriching current career to go to law school sounds like a poor choice. Perhaps wait until you are finantially independent and do it as a hobby (I know one person who did that, plus the poster up-thread who seems to have accidentally done that). Or look into LLM programs, though I don't know what career that leads to.
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anon_investor
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by anon_investor »

ipdiddly wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am I was also fortunate because I spent almost my entire career as a corporate lawyer, so I didn't have the billable hour grind and could balance work and family.
Do you mean you were an in-house attorney at a corporation?
sketchy9
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by sketchy9 »

Not me but my wife. She has a real passion for the law and wanted to be a lawyer since she was a teenager. She's a senior associate at a smaller firm (~15 attorneys) and it's definitely a "lifestyle" firm. She works 8-9 hours/day, and very rarely a couple of hours at most on the weekends (once a month or so). She has a fairly broad area of practice, but it's all civil litigation. Lots of small business disputes, trusts & estates, and so on. She feels she makes a real difference in people's lives and has no desire to do anything else. Coincidentally, many of my friends are attorneys and they can't understand how she is able to be happy at her job :D
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ipdiddly
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by ipdiddly »

anon_investor wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:09 pm
ipdiddly wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am I was also fortunate because I spent almost my entire career as a corporate lawyer, so I didn't have the billable hour grind and could balance work and family.
Do you mean you were an in-house attorney at a corporation?
Yes.

I should also point out that while my corporate salary was three to four times that of my teacher wife, her pension is a fair amount higher than mine. Plus she gets a COL increase every year. Nothing beats a government pension! And nothing beats having the summer off!
Morford
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Morford »

In your circumstances, if money isn't an issue why not go do it? You don't need to compete for a biglaw role and I think it's a useful degree for most any job opportunity (presuming a decent school). I'm a graduate of one of the top three law schools - practiced for a few years before moving into a business role. Biglaw pays relatively well, but I think most partners/associates don't understand or appreciate that it's not unusual to make as much or significantly more in mid/senior level corporate roles (the folks who dump the work on the lawyers and go home to family). If nothing else you can scratch this itch and go back and resume what you're doing now.
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anon_investor
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by anon_investor »

ipdiddly wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:18 pm
anon_investor wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:09 pm
ipdiddly wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am I was also fortunate because I spent almost my entire career as a corporate lawyer, so I didn't have the billable hour grind and could balance work and family.
Do you mean you were an in-house attorney at a corporation?
Yes.

I should also point out that while my corporate salary was three to four times that of my teacher wife, her pension is a fair amount higher than mine. Plus she gets a COL increase every year. Nothing beats a government pension! And nothing beats having the summer off!
My megacorp got rid of pensions a couple of decades ago. A few of the old timers in our legal department retired at the end of 2020 with pensions, not many folks with pensions left. At least they give us a very generous 401k company contribution.

Biglaw and in-house at a megacorp is pretty night and day. No billable hours = real work/life balance.
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lgs88
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by lgs88 »

All,

This thread has been fascinating thus far, and I am grateful to all of you for volunteering your knowledge.

One thing that jumped out at me was the remarks upthread from ipdiddly and stoptothink about how terrible the teaching profession can be. That has not been my experience; I must have that "unicorn district." Judging from the rest of your responses, the situation in law is similar: lots of people have bad experiences, while some thoroughly enjoy it.

Another similarity between teaching and the law is the somewhat limited career progression. A lawyer can go from associate to partner, and a teacher can go from teacher to administrator, but it's not like starting out as a business analyst at Megacorp and working your way up through several layers of management.

For future readers of this thread, I should note that I have received (via private message) a couple overwhelmingly positive reviews of the legal profession.

Shuchong, thank you for that excellent resource on legal academia. It is sobering to see those numbers.

To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer; I think it's more that I don't want to be a corporate lawyer in a big firm for the long term. I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.

However, I do also care about the "intense intellectual experience" which I alluded to, and I've heard that's more the case at the top schools. Additionally, I've been told by people who should know that 2-3 years at a big firm will make me a better lawyer since the expectations for quality of work are so high there.

lgs88
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anon_investor
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by anon_investor »

lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm All,

This thread has been fascinating thus far, and I am grateful to all of you for volunteering your knowledge.

One thing that jumped out at me was the remarks upthread from ipdiddly and stoptothink about how terrible the teaching profession can be. That has not been my experience; I must have that "unicorn district." Judging from the rest of your responses, the situation in law is similar: lots of people have bad experiences, while some thoroughly enjoy it.

Another similarity between teaching and the law is the somewhat limited career progression. A lawyer can go from associate to partner, and a teacher can go from teacher to administrator, but it's not like starting out as a business analyst at Megacorp and working your way up through several layers of management.

For future readers of this thread, I should note that I have received (via private message) a couple overwhelmingly positive reviews of the legal profession.

Shuchong, thank you for that excellent resource on legal academia. It is sobering to see those numbers.

To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer; I think it's more that I don't want to be a corporate lawyer in a big firm for the long term. I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.

However, I do also care about the "intense intellectual experience" which I alluded to, and I've heard that's more the case at the top schools. Additionally, I've been told by people who should know that 2-3 years at a big firm will make me a better lawyer since the expectations for quality of work are so high there.

lgs88
If you decide to go to a lesser school because of a generous scholarship, be very careful what the scholarship stipulations are. Quite often the better schools require only academic good standing, while the lesser schools will be tricky and require a class raking or gpa that may be tough to actually maintain. This happend to a good friend's wife, who had a full ride to a mid-tier law school, but lost it after a year when she was not able to stay in the top 1/3 of her class.

At least from my experience, having a big firm on your resume is helpful when trying to go in-house at a large corporation. I did interviews at a few megacorps, and I noticed their legal departments were filled with alums from biglaw or at least the most prestigious regional law firm in their geographic location. Although there were some DOJ and other Fed government agency alums as well.

If you have a particular set of law schools you are looking into, you should share the details with folks here (whether posting or via direct message) for some objective input. Feel free to direct message me. Sometimes regional law schools can have some advantages if you want to stay in a particular geographic location.
Random Poster
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

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lgs88 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:01 pm
So, my question for you lawyers out there: do you have unalloyed good things to say about the profession? Have you found a niche that allows you to be well-compensated and intellectually stimulated while having a life outside of work? Have you been able to prioritize your family? How did you find this niche, and how long did it take you to get there?
I have very little good to say about the legal profession.

The pay can be fantastic and it can be abysmal.

The clients can be unrealistic, overly demanding, refuse to take your advice and then blame you for the result, and your fellow lawyers can be abrasive, ignorant, and difficult to deal with.

The work can be interesting, but more often it is dull, repetitive, and ultimately pointless. Rarely do you truly need a law degree to do legal work. The Bar is protectionist and stuck in the 1950s.

I got extremely lucky in regards to my legal career and I still didn’t enjoy it. I went to a middling law school and did average (at best) but knew from day 1 that I wanted to do oil and gas law and that guided everything and opened up doors that would otherwise be closed to an “average” lawyer like me. But I was very good at what I did and that probably helped a bit too.

I’ve worked in a small firm in a small town, a medium sized firm in a big town, a big law firm in a big town, and in-house for a mega Corp. The medium sized firm and mega Corp had the best hours and work.

My advice? Find a niche (oil and gas is on the decline, but will be around for a while—but find something you are really interested in) and seek out a 15-30 lawyer firm in a smaller/medium sized town. You’ll likely have a nice work/life balance in that spot.

lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm Additionally, I've been told by people who should know that 2-3 years at a big firm will make me a better lawyer since the expectations for quality of work are so high there.
You’d think that would be true, but in my experience the top big law firms put out abysmal work product. The lawyers get hired because of the credentials and not because of their ability. And mega corp General Counsels won’t lose their job by hiring the “top legal talent”, which is mostly name and credential dependent, so that is what they do.

There was very little real training offered or given at the big law that I was at. At the small and mid-size firm, there was a lot of training opportunities. It was much more of a family environment.

For the most part, the difference between a $500B deal and a $10M one is the dollar value. But because the big law firms run the $500B deals, they are perceived to be better and smarter than those who run the $10M ones.

But they aren’t.

And, in any event, the associates at the firms doing the $500B deals are only doing very small parts of that deal. The associates at the firms doing $10M deals, though, might be running most of the show.
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anon_investor
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by anon_investor »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:00 pm
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm Additionally, I've been told by people who should know that 2-3 years at a big firm will make me a better lawyer since the expectations for quality of work are so high there.
You’d think that would be true, but in my experience the top big law firms put out abysmal work product. The lawyers get hired because of the credentials and not because of their ability. And mega corp General Counsels won’t lose their job by hiring the “top legal talent”, which is mostly name and credential dependent, so that is what they do.

For the most part, the difference between a $500B deal and a $10M one is the dollar value. But because the big law firms run the $500B deals, they are perceived to be better and smarter than those who run the $10M ones.

But they aren’t.

And, in any event, the associates at the firms doing the $500B deals are only doing very small parts of that deal. The associates at the firms doing $10M deals, though, might be running most of the show.
+1. This is VERY TRUE.
chazas
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by chazas »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:00 pm You’d think that would be true, but in my experience the top big law firms put out abysmal work product. The lawyers get hired because of the credentials and not because of their ability. And mega corp General Counsels won’t lose their job by hiring the “top legal talent”, which is mostly name and credential dependent, so that is what they do.

There was very little real training offered or given at the big law that I was at. At the small and mid-size firm, there was a lot of training opportunities. It was much more of a family environment.

For the most part, the difference between a $500B deal and a $10M one is the dollar value. But because the big law firms run the $500B deals, they are perceived to be better and smarter than those who run the $10M ones.

But they aren’t.

And, in any event, the associates at the firms doing the $500B deals are only doing very small parts of that deal. The associates at the firms doing $10M deals, though, might be running most of the show.
Interesting, and somewhat contrary to my experience. I'm in a niche securities/finance practice. Lawyers who are not in one of the few firms with this specialty and try to do it have no idea what they're doing, and most of the firms that do it are the biggest of the big. But there are big well known firms without the specialty and they can be just as bad as smaller regional firms trying to do it..

We also push our associates to run deals as soon as they can. That's their value.

But I agree on, say, run-of-the-mill middle market M&A.
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ipdiddly
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by ipdiddly »

Random Poster wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:00 pm
There was very little real training offered or given at the big law that I was at. At the small and mid-size firm, there was a lot of training opportunities. It was much more of a family environment.

For the most part, the difference between a $500B deal and a $10M one is the dollar value. But because the big law firms run the $500B deals, they are perceived to be better and smarter than those who run the $10M ones.

But they aren’t.

And, in any event, the associates at the firms doing the $500B deals are only doing very small parts of that deal. The associates at the firms doing $10M deals, though, might be running most of the show.
You make a very good point. It is definitely a better experience to be a big fish in a small pond than a little fish in a big pond. I once worked for a company that had two in-house lawyers (counting me and the GC). What a learning experience. Between the two of us, we had to do everything and become knowledgeable in all areas. When we hired an outside lawyer at a firm, one of us had to manage that lawyer. The experience was invaluable. I've seen too many associates at big firms that get pigeonholed into narrow areas. Sure, they may eventually become experts in that one small area, but no nothing about other areas. The other downside is that they acquire legal knowledge, but no practical, real world expertise.
Frank the Tank
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Frank the Tank »

OP - I'm a lawyer married to a teacher, so I see both sides.

I would call myself happy in the sense that I enjoy my job as much as you can enjoy work. Currently, I'm in-house counsel at a medium-sized corporation. (I've worked at a megacorp, too.)

However, it took some time to get there. I went through a stint at BIGLAW and it's a painful experience as described by others on this thread. While the compensation was great (it took me 10 years as an in-house attorney to get back to the salary that I made as a junior associate), I personally found it to be brutal to be constantly on the billable clock and in a work environment where face time seemed to mean everything. The best career choice that I ever made was to leave that position and go in-house before I had kids.

Now, to be sure, having BIGLAW on your resume and the training that you receive is a positive that can pay dividends for the rest of your career. So, it's not that I'd discourage having a couple of years at BIGLAW when you're young, but it's I don't find too many people that actually *like* it for the long-term (much less love it).

The two in-house positions that I've had since leaving, on the other hand, have been great. I get paid reasonably well, have been able be completely present as a father with my kids (including coaching their basketball/baseball/softball teams several times), and the work is varied and interesting. To be sure, though, it's still a *job* at the end of the day (not a romantic passion).

On the flip side, my wife was a 4.0 student and could have gone to an elite law school (which I certainly did not attend) if she wanted to, but I will say that she was truly *born* to be a teacher. Education is absolutely her passion in a way that it's not necessarily the case for me with law.

In terms of intellectual stimulation, my wife actually ended up getting her PhD in Educational Psychology and it was largely paid for by her school district. (She did need to take a year off to write and defend her dissertation.) If your primary intent is to seek intellectual stimulation, I honestly think those grad level ed psych and educational policy studies courses that she took were a heck of lot more interesting than law school. Plus, if you're in a public school district with a union contract, you're probably getting a direct increase in salary with each additional grad school credit hour that you take (with possibly additional bumps when you get a Master's and PhD).

As others have echoed, there is only one reason to go to law school: become a lawyer. It's not about intellectual stimulation or opening up opportunities in other fields. It's *purely* about becoming a lawyer.

If you truly want to go to law school, I'd still recommend going to the best law school that you gain admission to even if it costs more, especially if it's true that you got into one in the top 14. (Not top 15 - it's top 14.) The legal profession is NOT like, say, STEM or accounting where school brand name doesn't mean as much compared to your skills. If anything, the legal profession has actually gotten *more* snobby when it comes to school prestige over the past 10 years. Even if you don't think that you want to go into a large law firm now, top tier government and non-profit positions can be just as (if not more) elitist while in-house positions generally aren't available until you have a few years experience in BIGLAW (which increasingly requires elite law school credentials).

However, don't think that you'll suddenly be performing grander or more intellectually stimulating work compared to being a teacher. Be sure to get that thought out of your head immediately. This has been especially the case in the past year witnessing my wife help her school district have to change their strategies and curriculum constantly as a result of the pandemic.

Ultimately, only you can determine whether your dream is to be a lawyer (in which case, you should go to the best law school possible) or whether the focus is to have a more intellectually stimulating career (in which case, I don't think you'll find the law to be more intellectually stimulating than teaching). Feel free to PM me if you'd like!
Last edited by Frank the Tank on Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Misenplace
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Misenplace »

An off topic political comment, and several replies, have been removed. Please stay on topic and away from politics.

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novillero
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by novillero »

My brother, a lawyer, advised me not to go to law school. I did anyway. I should have listened.
We're wolves
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by We're wolves »

I'm a fairly happy in-house IP lawyer. The work-life balance is great, the work is interesting and varied, you're not chasing billable hours or clients, and my colleagues are helpful and understanding. It helps that I do something that 90% of other lawyers cannot even if they wanted to, since only those with a science or engineering undergrad degree can sit for the patent bar. This eliminates a huge swath of competition for jobs. Going to law school was a very good decision in my life.

That being said, if you have any doubt that you want to be a lawyer, there is no way you should go to law school. Why would you pay $300k and use up 3 years of your life to essentially audit law classes? Read books, listen to podcasts, and learn about the law on your own if you are interested.
Van
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Van »

Happy Lawyer = Oxymoron
eqinvestor
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by eqinvestor »

Right here-happy. philosophy undergrad, then law school (w/3 jurisprudence classes) then local government for 25 years, then private practice for 4, then not-for-profit for ten. Now back 2 days a week for govt. Govt work was stimulating, educational, challenging and intellectual, all at once. As a litigator, and agency general counsel in a big city, many of the issues were humongous. loved it, was glad I did it, and hav a pension to go with my social security to make life easier.
trueblueky
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by trueblueky »

Oakdale19 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:02 am What is your definition of well compensated? I am a lawyer. The few happy lawyers I know work in either government or nonprofits. You'll make less than big law, but you might have a chance at reasonable hours and actual work life balance. If you want to go down either of those routes, get a good scholarship/fellowship or explore LRAPs. Good luck!
IANAL.
I knew many federal government lawyers who enjoyed their jobs -- steady income, weekends off, the opportunity to specialize in an area you enjoy, relative status (the highest paid non-supervisors).
Lee_WSP
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Lee_WSP »

I think you can spot the pattern OP. The more control over our daily lives we have and the greater the ability to choose our clients, the happier we report our job satisfaction.
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cchrissyy
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by cchrissyy »

quantAndHold wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:20 am You know you enjoy teaching and don’t want to be a lawyer. Haven’t you answered your own question?
this!
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Beensabu
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Beensabu »

How many primary source happy lawyers have there been on this thread so far? Anyone?
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next."
hbdad
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by hbdad »

I'm a government criminal law lawyer. I went to law school wanting the specific job that I have and I have no regrets. With that said, I tell everyone who asks, don't go to law school. Finding a well paying job that you enjoy is very hard. Plus, as you indicated, you will have to pay full retail. So unless you have large savings or a generous benefactor, you will be paying off law school loans for a very long time. Stick to teaching. If you want, take some intro to law courses at the local JC. Do you have a masters? If not, look into getting that instead. I know very few lawyers who like their job. You don't need to go to law school and pay well into triple digits to be intellectually stimulated. What area of law excites you? Tort? Tax? Contract? Patent? Whatever area you think you like, you can study it yourself.
FrugalFed
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by FrugalFed »

hbdad wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:36 pm I'm a government criminal law lawyer. I went to law school wanting the specific job that I have and I have no regrets. With that said, I tell everyone who asks, don't go to law school. Finding a well paying job that you enjoy is very hard. Plus, as you indicated, you will have to pay full retail. So unless you have large savings or a generous benefactor, you will be paying off law school loans for a very long time. Stick to teaching. If you want, take some intro to law courses at the local JC. Do you have a masters? If not, look into getting that instead. I know very few lawyers who like their job. You don't need to go to law school and pay well into triple digits to be intellectually stimulated. What area of law excites you? Tort? Tax? Contract? Patent? Whatever area you think you like, you can study it yourself.
Concur. I’m a government lawyer also that has been, overall, relatively happy in my jobs over the years. I went to law school after college because I didn’t know what else to do with my life.

After a few stumbles, I fell into a niche I liked. But as I get older, I realize I got dumb lucky. Finding unhappy lawyers is like shooting fish in a barrel.

If one of my children were someday considering law school when it was not something they were passionate about, I would beg them to steer clear. I still think many times “what if” I had done something else with my career, even though I’ve thankfully been relatively content and have been able to help support my household.
Texanbybirth
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Texanbybirth »

OP, would you quit teaching to go to law school? You mention how well you’re doing financially, and it sounded like you wouldn’t take too much of a financial hit to quit your job and go hard at an almost top notch law school for 3 years? I’m impressed with your financial discipline up to this point! You could probably be FI in 10 years or so, and then the world is your oyster. Maybe you could get a PhD, get involved in your local politics scene? :beer

Just keep teaching and having a great impact on the next generation. How many lawyers can ever say that? (I’m a CPA from a family of lawyers. :-)
“The strong cannot be brave. Only the weak can be brave; and yet again, in practice, only those who can be brave can be trusted, in time of doubt, to be strong.“ - GK Chesterton
FoolMeOnce
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by FoolMeOnce »

lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer; I think it's more that I don't want to be a corporate lawyer in a big firm for the long term. I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.
If you just want to hang a shingle and do solo general practice in a quiet town, yeah, you don't need a top school. And even in some big cities, a lower-ranked school could be fine for certain niches. But if you are interested in non-profit or government work, where job and life satisfaction seem highest (at least according to this thread), then take heed of this sound advice, with which wholly agree:
Frank the Tank wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:42 pm If you truly want to go to law school, I'd still recommend going to the best law school that you gain admission to even if it costs more, especially if it's true that you got into one in the top 14. (Not top 15 - it's top 14.) The legal profession is NOT like, say, STEM or accounting where school brand name doesn't mean as much compared to your skills. If anything, the legal profession has actually gotten *more* snobby when it comes to school prestige over the past 10 years. Even if you don't think that you want to go into a large law firm now, top tier government and non-profit positions can be just as (if not more) elitist while in-house positions generally aren't available until you have a few years experience in BIGLAW (which increasingly requires elite law school credentials).
(The full post is a great read, too).
JMG
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by JMG »

It’s great that you like your job now, but sooner or later you’ll want more challenge. Law school would give you that. It’s an advanced form of a liberal arts education..I worked as an attorney for federal financial regulators for 10 years and I loved the work. The people…not so much, especially overpaid mid-level bureaucrats..the talent is at the top and at the bottom..being around mediocrity can be very demoralizing..I’ve been a law professor for 17 years and I like it a lot..the job combines two things that don't usually go together--freedom and security..that's what triggers some of the populist hostility to universities..having been on many appointments committees, though, I can tell you that the selection process is often completely irrational, so you can’t bank on getting a job.
Cruise
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Cruise »

lgs88 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:01 pm The catch is that I don't particularly want to be a lawyer.
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer...
So, after countless BH's gave you advice based upon your assertion that you don't want to be a lawyer, you do want to be a lawyer? :oops: :oops: :oops:
hbdad
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by hbdad »

lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm
I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.
You want to be intellectually stimulated by going to top law school so you can become small town trust and estate lawyer? Not to be mean, but it doesn’t sound like you know what you want. Trusts and estates isn’t exactly cutting edge legal theory. It’s redundant and mainly boiler plate work. The law in that area does not change. If you want to do criminal law, you don’t need to go to a top law school. And whoever told you that you can only be intellectually stimulated at a top law school was lying to you. You get what you put in. You claim you want to be intellectually stimulated but then make the dumb play by paying obscene money to go to a school you don’t need to go to, to do a job that isn’t intellectually stimulating in an area that isn’t particularly intellectually stimulating. An intellectually stimulated person would be wiser than that. And criminal law can be stimulating, but in a small town, what kind of cases do you think you’re going to get? Probably low level misdemeanor. People aren’t going to hire you for a murder case. After about 5 DUI cases, you won’t be stimulated anymore.
NS_Bane
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by NS_Bane »

lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer; I think it's more that I don't want to be a corporate lawyer in a big firm for the long term. I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.
I don't think you have a very good idea of the economics of the legal profession or what law jobs are like. Which is common for pre-law students, and is not a slight. I recommend you read the following websites:

- https://data.lawschooltransparency.com has data on law school stats like what % of graduates got a job, and what are the salaries
- https://top-law-schools.com has forums. You can post in the career forums to ask questions of people who are practicing "small-town lawyer stuff" and ask what their day-to-day is like, and if they find it rewarding.

Personally, I don't care if I'm in a small town - I wouldn't want to hire a guy who specializes in T&E to handle my DUI case, or a guy who does crim law to handle my T&E matter. The clients who don't care are the clients who can't pay much, and that's something you need to think about when you consider the kind of money you're going to make and pay off your loans.
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm However, I do also care about the "intense intellectual experience" which I alluded to, and I've heard that's more the case at the top schools.
I went to law school after taking some years in between undergrad and law school, and it was nice to have classes with smart teachers and students. But it wasn't worth $320k, and that's the amount of loans I graduated with. You should seriously consider how much you're willing to pay for a semester of ~40 hours of "intense intellectual" class room lectures on torts law.
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm Additionally, I've been told by people who should know that 2-3 years at a big firm will make me a better lawyer since the expectations for quality of work are so high there.
I highly endorse this. I left a top 10 firm after ~6 years doing corporate / M&A work. At the end of those 6 years I was extremely burnt out and was feeling very negative about my job. I'm now at a "mid-law" size firm, and the training I received at my last firm has allowed me to excel here.
bsteiner
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by bsteiner »

hbdad wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:51 pm
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm
I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.
You want to be intellectually stimulated by going to top law school so you can become small town trust and estate lawyer? Not to be mean, but it doesn’t sound like you know what you want. Trusts and estates isn’t exactly cutting edge legal theory. It’s redundant and mainly boiler plate work. The law in that area does not change. ...
I enjoy tax and trusts and estates law

The tax law changes frequently. You have to consider the Federal estate tax, state estate and inheritance taxes, the generation-skipping transfer tax, and state income taxes. Tax rates, exemptions and exclusions change. Rules governing required distributions from retirement plans change.
NS_Bane wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:19 am ...
Personally, I don't care if I'm in a small town - I wouldn't want to hire a guy who specializes in T&E to handle my DUI case, or a guy who does crim law to handle my T&E matter. ...
Neither of those is likely to work out well. It would be like a foot doctor fixing my eye or an eye doctor fixing my foot.
McGowan
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by McGowan »

I have a friend who as a challenge in the early 80's took a review course for the bar without having attended law school. Somehow, in his state, he was able to take the bar exam. He passed. Very smart guy with a Wharton MBA who now teaches at a university and consults.

If you want the intellectual challenge, maybe that is a way to go. You can literally teach yourself anything in today's world with online classes. Some are sponsored by world class universities like Harvard and MIT.
cardinal45
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by cardinal45 »

The standard advice would be to save your money and time unless you actually have a passion to do some aspect of law or see it as a clear launching pad.

Biglaw is a grind for sure. I don't know a single "happy" midlevel associate to of counsel to partner that works in biglaw, except a couple of folks in appellate litigation which they geek out on. Even the most seasoned biglaw corporate partners I know lament the grind. Small town law can be a straight hustle. Being a government attorney seems a bit bureaucratic but my friends have better work life balance.

Personally both the biglaw and small town law practice alike doesn't suit my view on a life well lived, at least for an entire career (fwiw, I went to a top law school, worked at top biglaw firm and then moved to a boutique area which is much more business and less law in sports/entertainment).

That said, I think a diverse career can be key to a life well lived, so if the money really isn't an issue, there's no reason why you need to make the economic "rational" decision to try something new...it just doesn't seem like law study/practice is necessarily it for you?
financiallycurious
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by financiallycurious »

I am a happy lawyer. I really enjoyed law school. I graduated with less than $10,000 in debt from a great value law school instead of the most highly ranked law school, and I still had multiple offers from top firms because I graduated in the 10% plus law review. I did six years in big law, followed by a few years in-house, and now I'm at a small niche firm. I don't think that I would have liked starting law school and then big law in my thirties when I was starting a family.
Valuethinker
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Valuethinker »

FoolMeOnce wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:29 pm
lgs88 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 2:32 pm To clarify my own situation, it's not so much that I don't want to be a lawyer; I think it's more that I don't want to be a corporate lawyer in a big firm for the long term. I'd rather do small-town lawyer stuff -- criminal defense, trusts and estates, etc. But the career path out of the top-notch schools is overwhelmingly weighted toward being a corporate lawyer at a big firm; recent graduates whom I know describe the well-greased slide from 1L to Biglaw. Those are factors which push me toward a lesser-ranked school, where I likely wouldn't have the option of Biglaw (which I don't want anyway). I could probably go to a lower-ranked school for short money.
If you just want to hang a shingle and do solo general practice in a quiet town, yeah, you don't need a top school. And even in some big cities, a lower-ranked school could be fine for certain niches. But if you are interested in non-profit or government work, where job and life satisfaction seem highest (at least according to this thread), then take heed of this sound advice, with which wholly agree:
Frank the Tank wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:42 pm If you truly want to go to law school, I'd still recommend going to the best law school that you gain admission to even if it costs more, especially if it's true that you got into one in the top 14. (Not top 15 - it's top 14.) The legal profession is NOT like, say, STEM or accounting where school brand name doesn't mean as much compared to your skills. If anything, the legal profession has actually gotten *more* snobby when it comes to school prestige over the past 10 years. Even if you don't think that you want to go into a large law firm now, top tier government and non-profit positions can be just as (if not more) elitist while in-house positions generally aren't available until you have a few years experience in BIGLAW (which increasingly requires elite law school credentials).
(The full post is a great read, too).
I have a friend w a PhD in humanities from one of top universities in world in his field. Then taught for years at elite American 4 year colleges.

In his 40s went back to law school, a top 15 US law school. Is now happily ensconced in a specialised field of law at a smaller firm (which pays biglawish money to its associates it seems).

His comments absolutely echo this. He was only able to break into the law at that level and discharge his debts by going to a top ranked law school (which also happens to be in the City in which he practises, connections count).

Law really cares about your school and your class ranking. Decades after you have been there.

He likened it to his PhD where it was clear that college hiring committees, especially composed of people not in his field, really valued that name in his CV. Because they advertise to prospective parents & other stakeholders that "90% of our teaching staff have phds from leading universities etc". If you can't send your kid to Yale have them taught by someone who went there, etc.
CloseEnough
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by CloseEnough »

OP: I agree with many of the comments here, both positive and negative. The law is a huge area as a profession and there’s a wide range of experiences, plus everyone is different. Every job, every profession has it’s pros and cons, and I’m not sure that’s more the case in law. To the extent it is viewed as a profession with many unhappy people I think in part it’s self-selecting due to the types of personalities that are attracted to law school and unreasonable expectations.

One thing I’d add that I don’t think has been mentioned. Within legal academia there is an area of clinical teaching. Most law schools now have clinics which provide law students with real world practice experience while in law school in different areas of practice. These are often public interest focused, but not always. Clinical teaching is an interface of teaching, law practice and service to the community. It is much easier to get into than being a podium law professor although is viewed by some (mostly traditional law professors within the academy) as second tier. With your love of teaching and some of the other things you describe, clinical teaching could provide a path in law that would meet your goals. Most clinical teachers have some significant practice experience before making the jump, which could be a negative for you, although some are able to practice for just a few years before becoming a clinician. An aside editorial comment: I find it amazing that many podium law professors have never actually practiced law at all. I would suggest you research clinical teaching as part of your evaluation of law as a career.
Last edited by CloseEnough on Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Dagwood
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Dagwood »

Wife and I both attorneys for 20+ years. I am now in what most would consider a prestigious government job with excellent pay (not the GS scale) and my wife has her own practice. We went to good but not top 15 schools.

Lots of good advice here. Problem is no one can tell you the right thing to do for you - advice is shaped by personal experience, most of which is obviously personal. Two things I can offer: try to experience law practice in an intern capacity in some way before committing. You have a great profession already so the more first hand knowledge you have, the better the chance of a good and informed decision. Second, don’t get tempted by the lifestyle that goes with the big salary. You sound financially level headed but if you become an attorney and are involved in private practice, there is a culture of excessive consumption. I am not trying to get preachy but those choices are what will limit your ability to make changes to find what you like. Because my wife and I put ourselves through school, we had a good sense of money early on and while we enjoyed a few modest splurges here and there, when we were both at big law with a plan to pay off loans and leave in 5 or so years, we used that income to increase our freedom, not our lifestyle. It was difficult to do in a culture where people overspend. See, e.g., Millionaire Next Door. If you are unhappy, those choices will be a prison. Stay with the Boglehead philosophy!

The decision is yours, however. Talk to others and inform yourself, and trust your gut. Good luck.
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beyou
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by beyou »

How about perspective from the spouse of a lawyer ?

DW is in small law and I work in fintech.
We both had to work unpredictable hours, periodic weekends and evenings But frankly my career was far better compensated. Better salary, bonuses, benefits and more predictable as to ability to take time off. Every “vacation” we planned, involved her pulling all nighters for days before leaving, then taking calls during the vacation (sometimes bringing the laptop to work in the hotel), and hard work upon our return to catch up. To me that is no vacation at all.

That said, she does enjoy the process quite a bit. But financially it is not a great career choice if comparing effort vs reward IMO. The only reason to do it is love of the process. I find it hard to believe it could be more rewarding than teaching, but then again depends where, what and who you teach, just as your legal specialty and type of clients would matter too.

Not every choice should be to maximize $, and in fact I picked software engineering decades ago before it became such a well paid profession, because I found it intellectually stimulating. But I also find law stimulating and glad I didn’t go that way, or we’d have 2 overworked and underpaid people supporting our family. Of course when one does what they enjoy and excel at, that is always the best outcome, but I think I could have excelled at either and the rewards are just not the same. Too many lawyers out there. The world needs more and better teachers and doctors. Not sure we need more lawyers. Finally not clear why you want law school but not to be an attorney. There are many who do in fact go that route, but not sure how often it is intentional before starting law school (vs facing reality of real world law practice). My wife is still excited decades after law school, so I am glad she finds purpose, but I wish she was a teacher.
trueblueky
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by trueblueky »

Again IANAL.
Not mentioned here are the connections at State U. Law. If you are committed to living in a state with no Top 14/15 law school (interesting debate. Which is 15th and why do some leave it off?), a law degree from State U. Law seems to open doors and carry prestige with locals, most of whom will never meet an attorney from Yale.

Governors tend to have graduated from State U. Law, for instance.
Dottie57
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Dottie57 »

Northern Flicker wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:53 am If you don't want to be an attorney, maybe a master's in legal studies is worth considering? Here is some info and an example:

https://legalstudiesmastersonline.northeastern.edu

Attorneys posting to the thread may be able to offer an opinion of such a degree.
+1. Or studying constitutional law.
AngelFIRE
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Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by AngelFIRE »

Recovering attorney here. I went to law school because i didnt know what i wanted to do. After graduating i spent some time in the low slave rungs of the profession and realized how much i hated it. I hated my clients, the long hours and the pointlessness of it all. After some soul searching and some luck i found a career that i enjoy and i have great work life balance. Like you, i do need intellectual challenges - and have collected some graduate degrees along the way without incurring the debt. I like to learn and study, and as one of the posters said the study of law is not the same as the practice of it.So i would encourage you to explore all options - does it have to be a law degree? Can you study while working? After my law degree i did that worked while i got a Masters and a MBA. Not at the same time. Think about how much debt you are willing to incur for the intellectual stimulation
If i was going to incur debt i would never have studied further. (I used a windfall to fund these & i had an employee who susidized so got lucky. I have never regretted it.
ModifiedDuration
Posts: 308
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:33 pm

Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by ModifiedDuration »

trueblueky wrote: Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:01 am Again IANAL.
Not mentioned here are the connections at State U. Law. If you are committed to living in a state with no Top 14/15 law school (interesting debate. Which is 15th and why do some leave it off?), a law degree from State U. Law seems to open doors and carry prestige with locals, most of whom will never meet an attorney from Yale.

Governors tend to have graduated from State U. Law, for instance.
The 15th school is usually the University of Texas.

Some say it has supplanted Georgetown in the rankings and, hence, some now refer to the Top 15.

Most still seem to stick with the traditional Top 14 though.

Here’s more on the subject than you would ever want to know:

https://abovethelaw.com/2017/03/is-t14- ... all-along/
Firemenot
Posts: 579
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2020 8:48 pm

Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Firemenot »

Only reason I’m still practicing law is the golden handcuffs of stock options. If I didn’t have options I’d resign tomorrow. I’m very good at what I do but there is no real passion (or very little most of the time) for the work. And mostly sitting all day and staring at computer screens is the pits! And my hours are very decent. But even 8 hours of sitting and staring into computer screens is too much for me.

It would be great to do my job 15-20 hours a week. But corporations don’t allow that mostly.
Paullmas
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:37 pm

Re: Any happy lawyers out there?

Post by Paullmas »

grkmec wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:09 pm I am not a lawyer but my sister is. She is very happy but purposely chose a path outside of biglaw. Upon graduation, she went to go clerk for a federal judge and then a couple years later became an assistant US attorney.
Second this route. Friend who was exceptionally bright, but did not want to work more than 9:30-4:00 received law degree. He is now an administrative judge. Nice pensions, great perks, has a life.
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