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Old 11-29-2012, 09:52 PM   #41
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I don't know if lawyers are hard wired a certain way that makes them different from other professions when it comes to taking down the shingle. I do think big law firm practice is less civil or compassionate than practice in corporations or government. Most of the innovative and compassionate work-life practices don't seem to originate in big law firms but in the office of small firms, corporations or government. The absence of good work-life balances in the workplace might result in people treating their jobs too seriously and more critical to their self worth. And what makes practice in a corporation or government very attractive for many, especially women who have to bear the burden of phsycially having children, is that in-house and government practice is generally better from a work-life balance perspective. Take for instance, telework, which many government agencies or corporations routinely provide to employees, including lawyers. Only recently have I seen telework embraced by some big law firms for their lawyers. And I maintain that there is more leadership and succession planning in corporations and government, which frequently provides for a better path forward to retirement.

We all have anecdotal stories of lawyers, irrespective of their practices and employment, working for reasons other than financial necessity. I know so many of my colleagues who simply go to work because they like feeling important in their practice -- these include solo practicioners, small law firm practice, in-house counsel, big law firm partners or government lawyers. Some simply like being the go-to-guy in their offices or they like controlling the lives of other people! I clearly understand this feeling but I think it can be replicated in other settings instead of work.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:38 PM   #42
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I feel no such need to be the Big Dog or anything like that. I truly enjoy helping clients and explaining what they can expect and how their facts fit the law, but.....

If I could safely withdraw 4.5% of my nest, I would do so and start taking month long sailing trips... My boat is bored sitting in the parking lot.... My beloved DW would like to get out and have some fun while we are still young...

Given most FIRE folks are at 3-3.5%, I guess I need to wait until my nest egg can support me at 4% or less....
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:55 PM   #43
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At work you are the big dog. After retirement you are just another old man in line at Wal Mart.
I don't really understand the Wal Mart reference. If you mean that Wal Mart is a low rent sort of place, full of tacky people, I guess that is arguably correct; but any reasonably successful retired lawyer who has invested prudently will not be compelled to shop at Walmart, and will be able to spend their time in tonier stores (or even doing things other than shopping!).

As far as the "big dog at work" thing goes: in my experience senior partners often receive their share of sycophancy from certain associates, but that sort of thing is not particularly desired by anyone with a healthy ego.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:20 PM   #44
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I agree with Finley that most lawyers are honest, conscientious and decent. I have several friends and relatives who are lawyers, and my dealings with the profession have always been positive. But the billing rates!!! As a physician, my hourly billing rates are ~1/3 those of a lawyer. I can see how easy it would be to get addicted to work if you could see it translated into money at that rate.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:38 PM   #45
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<>or they like controlling the lives of other people! I clearly understand this feeling but I think it can be replicated in other settings instead of work.
Absolutely! Since wives are usually not too easy as subjects and this contain and control project, I recommend starting with a 15 year old daughter.

Ha
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:42 PM   #46
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I don't really understand the Wal Mart reference. If you mean that Wal Mart is a low rent sort of place, full of tacky people, I guess that is arguably correct; but any reasonably successful retired lawyer who has invested prudently will not be compelled to shop at Walmart, and will be able to spend their time in tonier stores (or even doing things other than shopping!).
Many people are happier selling things to others, or doing billed services on the account of others, than they would be as marks themselves. It's hard to spend a lifetime in a commercial, arguably capitalist society and not enjoy the money flowing from others to oneself.

Ha
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:19 PM   #47
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From my experience in a prior life as a paralegal in a large law firm, it was because the ones I happened to work with/for couldn't afford it! Their wives didn't work, spent everything the husbands made (and then some) and I was shocked to see how many of them lived paycheck to paycheck. In fact I could hear them going into the office manager's office a day early to see if they could get her to cut their check before the rest of us got ours. It was very eye opening to me. Of course, YMMV, but this is what I observed in the early 80's. Just seemed to be poor money (or wife) management.
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:38 AM   #48
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From my experience in a prior life as a paralegal in a large law firm, it was because the ones I happened to work with/for couldn't afford it! Their wives didn't work, spent everything the husbands made (and then some) and I was shocked to see how many of them lived paycheck to paycheck. In fact I could hear them going into the office manager's office a day early to see if they could get her to cut their check before the rest of us got ours. It was very eye opening to me. Of course, YMMV, but this is what I observed in the early 80's. Just seemed to be poor money (or wife) management.
I've seen plenty of lawyers with really good incomes who have gone off the rails financially for one reason (imitating the lifestyles of wealthy clients is one reason) or another but I always struggle to understand why they get themselves into a position where they are forced to work until they can't.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:27 AM   #49
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I don't really understand the Wal Mart reference. If you mean that Wal Mart is a low rent sort of place, full of tacky people, I guess that is arguably correct; but any reasonably successful retired lawyer who has invested prudently will not be compelled to shop at Walmart, and will be able to spend their time in tonier stores (or even doing things other than shopping!).
With benefits of:
- One stop shopping (where else can you buy a new TV, Gun, Eyeglasses, and get your haircut)
- People watching (especially late at night, or on the first of the month)
- Massive oversized parking lots that help you get in your daily walking exercise quota
and my personal favorite of
- Screaming toddlers

You'd have to be nuts skipping out on that experience.

If I had saved $20M, I'd still be there once/week.



On the original topic, if you are at a top firm, it is very hard going from being (in your mind) the smartest person in the room, arguing the finer points of any intellectual topic, to not being able to exercise that part of your brain on a regular basis. The usual intellectual pursuit stand-ins of becoming a bridge/scrabble/NY Times crossword puzzle master just doesn't do it for most folks.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:59 AM   #50
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Here's a better joke. So simple even mere laymen can get it.

Why didn't the honest attorney retire early?
Honesty and Lawyer is like Water and Oil.

There are no admission limits on law schools and produce over 50K lawyers a year for about 25K vacant positions. If lawyers who could afford to retire, should retire and give those kids chance to afford experiences in the profession. I had advised one of my kids aganst becoming a shyster lawyer but damn kids now days don't listen. I'm sure by time he does get a job in his field, he'll be working all his life because he don't want to give up what he got for so long before he got it. Not to mention paying off student loan and already 5 years behind his friends who are graduate engineers and earning a living.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:05 AM   #51
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Honesty and Lawyer is like Water and Oil.
It's a shame you feel that way. My experience has led me to the opposite conclusion, although some people may confuse lawyers with their occasional dishonest clients.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:13 AM   #52
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It's a shame you feel that way. My experience has led me to the opposite conclusion, although some people may confuse lawyers with their occasional dishonest clients.
You have to remembered that I have been divorced twice and sued once in my professional practice for something that wasn't negligence on my part.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:15 AM   #53
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You have to remembered that I have been divorced twice and sued once in my professional practice for something that wasn't negligence on my part.
That doesn't change my opinion of lawyers.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:33 AM   #54
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That doesn't change my opinion of lawyers.
Good for you and I respect your opinion. IMHO, I haven't met a lawyer that I liked and who is totally honest (including one of my kids). But that's just me.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:08 PM   #55
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My brother is one of those honest attorneys...amazing amount of pro bono work each year....including any sad case i ever refer to him. He is 56 yo with a wife and a 7 year old son.

Tomorrow morning i am driving to his town to witness his being sworn in as a district judge. He has no plans to retire, though he is just 13 months younger than i.

I am very proud to have him as a brother ....he is so full of integrity....but i am not envious. I think his poorer retired teacher sister, with less integrity and a much lower pension than he will earn one day, is having more fun.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:59 PM   #56
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I don't really understand the Wal Mart reference. If you mean that Wal Mart is a low rent sort of place, full of tacky people, I guess that is arguably correct; but any reasonably successful retired lawyer who has invested prudently will not be compelled to shop at Walmart, and will be able to spend their time in tonier stores (or even doing things other than shopping!)..
The WalMart experience depends on if you are in a big city or a small town. In my town of 23k with 44k in the county it is the second largest grocery store in town, having better selections in some areas than the others. Of course for non perishables, Wal-Mart has Amazon as a competitor which with Amazon charging sales tax but still a bit cheaper. (It should be Amazon does not have the inventory costs of Wal-Mart if it is at the stores, however Wal_Mart online has a bigger selection, and leverages its distribution network to do direct to store free shipping, since the truck goes from the distribution center to the store anyway).
Things may be different in the big city or where super Wal-Marts are not allowed by the city fathers.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:27 PM   #57
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This describes me exactly. I'm 10 years out of law school now, with two young children. I'm a partner in a great firm, but I'm just not willing to make the lifestyle sacrifices necessary to spend the rest of my career here. So, I'm trying to wrangle my way into an in-house job. I'm probably jinxing it by writing about it, actually.
Actually, you're not jinxing anything. You may be in the perfect position to go in-house as a GC, DGC/AGC, or other mid-to-senior legal management type. Most in-house positions are asking for a minimum of 5-7 years of experience in a particular field, with many asking for 10 years. It all depends on your legal specialty.

I have two young kids and can't imagine going back to private practice - EVER.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:31 PM   #58
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This describes me exactly. I'm 10 years out of law school now, with two young children. I'm a partner in a great firm, but I'm just not willing to make the lifestyle sacrifices necessary to spend the rest of my career here. So, I'm trying to wrangle my way into an in-house job. I'm probably jinxing it by writing about it, actually.
Actually, you're not jinxing anything. You may be in the perfect position to go in-house as a GC, DGC/AGC, or other mid-to-senior legal management type. Most in-house positions are asking for a minimum of 5-7 years of experience in a particular field, with many asking for 10 years. It all depends on your legal specialty.

I have two young kids and can't imagine going back to private practice - EVER. It's not because I can't handle the law firm lifestyle, but rather because I choose not to do so. I could earn another $50-$75k a year, but I'd have to give up putting my kids to bed, after work athletic activities and time with my wife. Sorry, but those things are just as important, if not more important than my choice of career.

As for the money, in-house life compensates pretty well, particularly if you live in a low cost-of-living area. Unfortunately, my wife and I live in a high cost area, but she pulls in decent coin (sometimes better than me).
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Old 06-21-2016, 04:51 PM   #59
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I'm planning on retiring from private practice at the end of the year at age 62. I have a small firm of 6 attorneys with 3 partners. 2 of my partners and I have been at it for 25 years. One partner is 72 and will never retire. But dying at the desk isn't for me. Untangling the business relationships and handing off clients is difficult. There is always one more case from one more client. At some point you just have to pull the plug.

Since this is a 4 year old thread, I'm curious how retirement has been for the soon-to-be retired attorneys who were in private commenting back in 2012? Any advice for someone who hopes to become a recovering attorney? Regrets? Things you would have done differently?
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Old 06-21-2016, 05:19 PM   #60
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Interesting timing seeing this thread. I am an attorney and just today I had a phone consultation with a law firm succession consultant to start working on my exit plan. It's probably a 6 year plan but I want to set it up to be best for all concerned. I dislike the work, but enjoy the money, so will hold out a few more years. I should add that the reason so many lawyers keep working is they don't make very much and/or are horrible at running a business. I am utterly amazed at how many seemingly "successful" lawyers I have encountered who are really barely scraping by. I have seen this through family, friends, clients, etc... and a lot of attorneys are all hat no cattle or however that saying goes. Yes some of us make very good livings but a lot do not. A lot more than people would expect.
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