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Somebody here gets to say "I told you so"
Old 08-24-2012, 12:35 PM   #1
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Somebody here gets to say "I told you so"

After reading and lurking here a good bit, and reading some books and articles about "early retirement", I decided to try one approach that was in a book. I'm a shareholder in a law firm. At the end of last year, I worked out a deal where I would take 75% compensation in return for more time off. It kind of worked out that 75% would be about 12 or 13 weeks off, instead of 3 or 4, plus the normal holidays. The plan was to spend about half the summer at a 2d home we have in the mountains.

It hasn't worked out well. During the 1st quarter of the year, I worked normall hours, but got paid 75% of what the other partners/shareholders got paid. Life was good, cash flow was good.

Starting in late April, I took a couple of weeks off, with the plan being to work 2 or 3 weeks, go away for 2 weeks or so, etc. That went pretty smoothly.

Then, my wife and I planned the next 2 weeks off, in late May, early June. That went fairly smoothly. No complaints.

The 3d time we were supposed to go away for 2 weeks did not go smoothly. A judge wanted me here for a trial that didn't happen and another judge wanted me somewhere in late July for another trial. I got my 2 weeks off, but spent several of those days preparing for a trial.

Cash flow dropped off. The other senior guy was also taking a good bit of time off, but he hadn't agreed to reduced compensation. We missed a bunch of our normal weekly draws. Although it was unspoken, some cracks were made that suggested it was my fault for being gone.

Now, we want to take another 2 weeks and can't because of another judge. So much for working half the summer.

The stress and inconvenience of trying to work full time in the 1st and 4th quarters, but kind of half time in the 2d and 3d quarters doesn't work. It just turns out to be impossible to accomodate client's schedules and court schedules and my schedule.

Our thought now is to pull the plug on April 1 next year-I'll be 18 months from medicare and can cobra or do something else. I'm seriously considering right now to make it January 1.

One of you folks posted last year or early this year that it sounded like a bad deal for me. You were right. I should have listened. I'm listening now! What I really got was reduced compensation, increased stress and less time off than I wanted. It just didn't work, so now I'm looking at plan D or E or something.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:08 PM   #2
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Hey, you tried it, it didn't work so you know what to do now. Sounds like you are more than ready, after all this is the "Early" retirement forum ya know. (heh)
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:22 PM   #3
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It sounds like it was worth a try and now you know that this kind of part-time arrangement doesn't work for you. Perhaps you should take a break as you note above, and then try to pick up some project-based or bounded engagements of some kind if you still feel the need to w*rk. Good luck!
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:59 PM   #4
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I hear ya walkon, My agreed upon 5 hour only a day (3 days a week job) turned into 8 today, and 6.5 earlier this week. And this is only the first full week on the job! I should have listened to my inner brain and not accepted the job, but my greedy wallet opened up his mouth and said yes. I guess we live and learn.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:05 PM   #5
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:09 PM   #6
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This was not something I personally experienced but which I observed. Like many retired military officers, I took a job in the Defense contractor/Beltway Bandit business. Some retired senior officers aspire to become corporate VPs who make a lot of money and many succeed. Others (and this was me) just want to sock away the bucks from private industry until we are FIRE'd. Still others want to work hard for a few years, save the money and then go part-time to "stay involved" but still make some decent (but not awesome) money. Inevitably, The latter group gets dragged back to full time. Just as the demands of the OP's judges are real, so is the need to put together a team to work on the next RFP or whatever the immediate crisis is (and there will always be an immediate crisis just down the road.) "We need you to be part of the team." "Nobody else but you as the skills we need now." "We cut you some slack but now we need you to be a team player." However it's couched, part-timing is unlikely, based on what I've seen, in higher paid professional occupations.

Others may have more positive experiences/observations than I do but that's my take.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 67walkon View Post
It just turns out to be impossible to accomodate client's schedules and court schedules and my schedule.
It sounds like the biggest problem has been the judges' schedules.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:45 AM   #8
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It sounds like the biggest problem has been the judges' schedules.
In the litigation portion of the legal field, your schedule is most driven by others and is impossible to control. I work in a litigation support field (forensic engineering) and have written off part time work for this reason. I am working until I am ready to quit, and them I am going to be 100% done. Only 18 months to go!
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:57 AM   #9
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A friend was in a similar situation... Partner in a firm, wanting to go parttime.

The solution she came up with was to give up her partnership, but work hourly, telecommuting from another state.

My husband and I both work part time. My husband, unlike most architects, negotiates to be paid hourly. That way if there is a crunch - he gets compensated for the extra time. If the work is slow, he gets a much smaller paycheck, and more time off. The employer likes it because they aren't paying him for busy work when there are lulls in projects.

I work an 80% schedule - I work 4 days a week. In the 11 years I've been doing this I have trained my bosses and coworkers to not expect me on Fridays. I get 80% pay.

I often put in more than 8 hours on the 4 days I'm here. But that's pretty typical for an engineer. I try very hard not to get sucked into weekend work. Some of my coworkers have been less successful. It's stalled my career - but that's ok... it's improved my quality of life.
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Old 08-27-2012, 12:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by friar1610
However it's couched, part-timing is unlikely, based on what I've seen, in higher paid professional occupations.

Others may have more positive experiences/observations than I do but that's my take.

The one way I have seen it work (not personal experience... yet, hopefully in a few months) is by being a Board Member. With today's boards responsibilities and liabilities, it does involve more preparation and work than it used to, but it is still part-time...
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:17 PM   #11
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To be fair to the dark side, I have taken a little more than 6 weeks off so far this year and will likely squeeze in another 3 or 4 at least, but I won't get the 12 to 13 I negotiated for. And, the stress of it kind of made it less enjoyable than I had hoped for.

I'm looking at going cold turkey on April 1, 2013, or maybe January 1. April 1 works good cuz I'll be within 18 months of medicare and can take advantage of Cobra. It also works because our youngest will be finishing up his next to last year of college around May 1--we have the money put aside for the last year already.

It sounded like such a good idea. And I know there will be 2 or 3 things at least that clients I really like will want me to finish up and I will, but I'm not coming to an office any more. Live and learn!
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:31 PM   #12
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Check with your tax person before choosing Jan 1, it may be advantageous to have earned at least one paycheck in 2013 instead of none. If you can tolerate the extra time, the COBRA starting in April is probably a better deal than bothering with the healthcare alternatives.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:45 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Culture View Post
In the litigation portion of the legal field, your schedule is most driven by others and is impossible to control. I work in a litigation support field (forensic engineering) and have written off part time work for this reason. I am working until I am ready to quit, and them I am going to be 100% done. Only 18 months to go!
Not just in litigation.

I'm also in the legal profession and, having watched a number of people attempt to go part time, I have long concluded that part time often ends up being nearly full time with disproportionate reduction in income. Although generalising somewhat, part time in this profession tends to only work:

1. if you go to a PSL role doing precedents/know-how

2. for people with a few very strong client relationships who step back and only service a very small number of clients

I (finally) agreed an end date with our office managing partner. He's already pushing for me to stay on "part time". For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I am not really interested.

@ 67walkon - sorry to hear about your experience, but it sounds like you are now ready to move on.
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Old 09-01-2012, 01:57 PM   #14
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I hear ya walkon, My agreed upon 5 hour only a day (3 days a week job) turned into 8 today, and 6.5 earlier this week. And this is only the first full week on the job! I should have listened to my inner brain and not accepted the job, but my greedy wallet opened up his mouth and said yes. I guess we live and learn.
Sorry to hear about your schedule...are you paid hourly, or 'part-time salary' regardless of how many hours you work?

Since it's the first week, you MUST set the precedent now. If you end up working 35 hours instead of the 24 you agreed to, and you say nothing....fully expect it to be a recurring event, unless you speak up now!

Even though your greedy wallet did the initial speaking for you - your employer obviously wants your skills, so they shouldn't be turned off if they agreed to a 3 day/week part time schedule, and you actually want to enforce your end of the bargain.
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