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Old 06-21-2016, 05:39 PM   #61
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Wow. I posted on this thread back in the day. Still on target for me (now a small firm, 6-7 day week litigator) and DW (private practice OBG) to retire at 57 & 56. I made it easy in this job by declining ownership interest in firm and letting them know from the start in 2008 that I'd likely be out before 60; thus, fairly easy to untangle. The only thing slowing us down is getting a replacement for DW.

We've had too many years where the jobs had to take priority over everything else and sadly have become used to dinners at 8pm after leaving home at 6am. Time to finally take off our professional hats and get back to life.

In our peer circles, more of the docs appear to be getting less in love with their jobs. The lawyers, however, remain relatively uninterested in stepping off the treadmill.
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Old 06-21-2016, 06:39 PM   #62
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I worked as a lawyer for state government and then for an insurance company. I never particularly liked working as a lawyer. I stayed long enough with the government job to vest into a small deferred pension. I worked for the insurance company for about eight years. In 2014 I was about 90 percent toward reaching my goal of FIRE. In July of 2014 I was fired and two weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.

I had surgery and chemotherapy for the cancer. There is a possibility that I will stay in long term remission. So plan as I might, fate sort of put me into early retirement. It is hard to assess how great FIRE is when you are dealing with a life threatening illness, but in this last year I can say that I enjoy my freedom and there is nothing that I miss about work.

I was never one of those people who knew that they wanted to be a lawyer from the age of five. I simply saw it as a means to an end- FIRE. I do recognize that there are far worse jobs that pay far less money, so I was grateful for that.

I always lived below my means while saving for FIRE and I continue to do so. I am only 46, so I have not ruled out doing some type of paid employment in the future. I think it would only be something that I find pleasure in doing. But the cancer diagnosis forced me to realize that "time" is not guaranteed to anyone, so I wanted to get some retirement living in while I still had the chance.
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Old 06-21-2016, 07:40 PM   #63
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i am not a lawyer, but there are several generations of lawyers in my extended family. By far the happiest one was a woman a little younger than I am who worked for a large county public defender's office where staff were county employees. She was a 60s firebrand and criminal defense appealed to her lefty leanings.

She married one of their investigators, and they have a well funded attractive early retirement, part of their excellent package. Most of the lawyers I know struggle. I think a law office costs a lot to run.

Ha
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Old 06-21-2016, 08:15 PM   #64
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The thread's topic reminded me of a MMM interview with a lawyer that retired at 33. Her website is Power of Thrift. In a nutshell, she made a lot of money, she saved a lot of money, and she spends very little money.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:11 PM   #65
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Some lawyers do retire early. I retired at 53 about sixteen months ago.

While I became a lawyer in small part because of my perception (at the time) that it was prestigious, the main reason was that I believed it paid well. I was lucky enough to get into the profession when fine pay was still possible. I started out in 1986 at $28K a year (!) but my raises were between $10K and $20K plus bonus and perqs. I worked my a*s off. It was sixty hours a week (always, without exception, at least 4 hours per weekend). By the time I left, I was making, with distributions, about fifteen times what I was making when I started. And once, there was a small jackpot of about $200K bonus.

Why did I do it? To get out at 55. That was my goal from day one. I lived frugally, helped to start a spinoff firm (a crucial move), maxed out the retirement plan, and then pumped more into an indexed portfolio.

My goal was to do art once I retired (I know, a common, somewhat stereotypical plan).

But guess what? I am doing it. I am into art big time and am making tons of friends. I am not great, but I am good, and I am working my a*s off trying to get some traction. Lovin' it.

The time chained to my desk might be a bad choice in the eyes of many, and there were health consequences I did not plan on. But I now have a life that I once only dreamed of. It is not perfect, but as the sixteen months have gone by, it has been pretty sweet. I am finally doing what I love, and I made the money to make that possible, without having to starve.

As to lawyers today? It is clearly harder. The raises are more grudging, and lawyers are flooding the market as law schools greedily peddle their wares to far, far more students than they should accept. The starting salaries are lower in many cities. Outsourcing and technology are replacing a lot of the tasks. Moreover, many young lawyers are, IMHO, less willing to ask "How high do you want me to jump?"

I have no easy answer for today's young lawyers except that if you want to be a successful lawyer making a really good income, you have to try even harder in most cases. Sad, and I wish it weren't so, but true.

But LBYM is still an ER option even with a lower salary. That's true for lawyers, longshoremen and liposuctionists (okay, I am only guessing that the last profession exists....)
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:24 PM   #66
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I retired early (at age 52) from my position with the state as an Assistant Attorney General. Law was my second career with the state (first was in IT), and my cumulative service time from both was 35 years. My highest annual salary was $65K, certainly not an amount that anyone in private practice would envy. I have a state pension of $45K per year, which covers most of our expenses in retirement. I also participated in the state's 457 plan, and managed to save a nice amount. DH and I have now been retired 6 years, and have not yet touched our tax-deferred retirement savings. We do receive interest and dividends from our taxable savings accounts.

I retired early because I could, but also because my mental acuity -- especially memory -- was beginning to decline. I know many lawyers much older than I whose minds are as sharp as ever, but I thought I needed to quit before I became a detriment to the office, rather than an asset.
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:15 AM   #67
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To give an update on my retirement from partnership in September 2013 (age 47), I have continued to work very part time as a consultant since then. I found it easy to walk away and I'm finding the part time thing is good for me. It keeps me engaged mentally and in touch with some people I like. (I also get the use of an office in the CBD + meeting rooms and a small income.)

One of the things I've learnt about myself is that I like to be moderately busy with things that I find meaningful and to have at least a small amount of structure in my days. Maybe I should get some therapy.

I've been approached for another part time position that would require about 15 hours a week (on average) for a reasonably uplift in income. I don't need the money, but the job sound interesting and there are things I would like to spend the money on. Still sitting on the fence.
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Old 06-22-2016, 08:39 AM   #68
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I worked with a lot of attorneys at very large law firms in the last 30 years.


Some retired in their 40s, some kept going to/past 65. It's a lifestyle for some; some have 3 families and spend every dime they make. Everyone has a different story.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:16 AM   #69
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the three lawyers I know well, personally are aged 68,68, and 70. all are still working.

of the two 68s, neither can afford to retire. One never saved a dime along the way, and swears he doesn't mind working. He only works about 20-30 hours a week. He only does one type of law. His wife is his only employee. I think he's good with it.

The other 68 hasn't saved enough, and his body is breaking down to the point that he can't see himself doing a lot outside of work. He works 50-60 hours/week. He likes it. He never ever complains about work.

The oldest one could retire, financially, works at least 50 hours/week. He loves it. Never complains about work. He's healthy, strong, has outside interests (lake home, golf) but loves practicing law.

So reasons vary, but at least one over-riding reason in my mind is that "they can". They aren't going to be fired, down-sized, or have some boss make them relocate their lives to the point they'd rather quit. Also, unless they are suffering cognitive issues, physical impairments that might make a dentist, a surgeon, a carpenter or someone who has to travel a lot, quit, won't preclude them from continuing.
They don't have a boss insisting they work more hours than they want, so they can fit work into life, rather than trying to fit life around work.

As I got to be an older dentist, I got better at the thinking part, but the physical part got harder. A lot of jobs are like that. Law, maybe not so much?
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Old 06-22-2016, 12:02 PM   #70
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Here is another blog of a FIRE'd lawyer.

https://anonlawyer.wordpress.com/

The author is in his 30's and practiced in big law (was an equity partner) and currently living in SF. It's a decent read. Maybe he's here on the forum...

I think there will be fewer ER lawyers since there is a glut of them and so many have LARGE student loans. The better school here in Atlanta has a tuition of $51,000 a YEAR. Students overwhelmingly take out loans for this as well as an annual living stipend of $20,000'ish a year. I imagine it's tough to retire early when you come out of school with over $200,000 in law school debt and aren't able to land a coveted big law associate position!
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Old 06-22-2016, 02:10 PM   #71
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I posted back in 2012. At the time I was semi-retired working about 15 hours a week for the same firm I had been at for many years. 4 years later, I still do some work but only a few hours a month and entirely from home. Honestly, at the time, I didn't really think I would still be doing any work at this time. I do it to be helpful with colleagues who sometimes want my thoughts on something. The idea of "being a lawyer" is no longer something that I think about all that much since the vast majority of my time is non-working time. I am not sorry that I semi-retired at 56. And, I'm not sorry that I have continued to do some work which is entirely optional to me. My opinions in my long post in 2012 are still pretty much the same.
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:03 PM   #72
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Speaking as a recovering atty, I tend to agree that in broad brush, the law more or less attracts 3 general types: (1) those for whom it is a calling; (2) those who want to save the world; and (3) those who are a bit indifferent to The Law, but are highly motivated to make a good living for themselves/family, and also find it intellectually stimulating enough as a career. These are of course gross over-generalizations, and there's a bit of overlap across the groups, with a lot of (1) and (2) grouped together.

Many of the RE candidates among lawyers I know are in (3). (1) and (2) won't leave b/c they truly love the work and/or can't afford to quit due to low paying public interest/sector jobs or b/c they are paying alimony to two or three ex-spouses b/c they bill 2500 hrs a year!

On the other side of that, however, legal skills improve over time with experience and usually hard-earned wisdom. It's often the 60-70+ y/o senior attorney who has seen it all before who can cut through a bunch of crap and get stuff done/resolved. They've seen it all and take no gruff from anyone, judges, peers, clients or regulators. That's one positive reason they stay if they enjoy it - they help their clients or employers and are well paid for it.

For those looking to RE, I think it's a lot easier to do in a corp role where you have the chance of an equity event or at least equity compensation to boost your returns. Many big firm lawyers are too busy to tend their investments actively and are prohibited from taking direct stakes in any current or potential clients -- so they end up in mutual funds with a set-and-forget approach. This works, but takes time ... and once you've paid of your loans, etc. you may not be on the early track.

FWIW, I am more than happy to not be practicing law one year into RE, and I've found plenty to occupy my time, incl some consulting and BOD work and a very active trading business.
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:12 PM   #73
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Speaking as a recovering atty, I tend to agree that in broad brush, the law more or less attracts 3 general types: (1) those for whom it is a calling; (2) those who want to save the world; and (3) those who are a bit indifferent to The Law, but are highly motivated to make a good living for themselves/family, and also find it intellectually stimulating enough as a career. These are of course gross over-generalizations, and there's a bit of overlap across the groups, with a lot of (1) and (2) grouped together.

Many of the RE candidates among lawyers I know are in (3). (1) and (2) won't leave b/c they truly love the work and/or can't afford to quit due to low paying public interest/sector jobs or b/c they are paying alimony to two or three ex-spouses b/c they bill 2500 hrs a year!

On the other side of that, however, legal skills improve over time with experience and usually hard-earned wisdom. It's often the 60-70+ y/o senior attorney who has seen it all before who can cut through a bunch of crap and get stuff done/resolved. They've seen it all and take no gruff from anyone, judges, peers, clients or regulators. That's one positive reason they stay if they enjoy it - they help their clients or employers and are well paid for it.

For those looking to RE, I think it's a lot easier to do in a corp role where you have the chance of an equity event or at least equity compensation to boost your returns. Many big firm lawyers are too busy to tend their investments actively and are prohibited from taking direct stakes in any current or potential clients -- so they end up in mutual funds with a set-and-forget approach. This works, but takes time ... and once you've paid of your loans, etc. you may not be on the early track.

FWIW, I am more than happy to not be practicing law one year into RE, and I've found plenty to occupy my time, incl some consulting and BOD work and a very active trading business.
Your explanation makes a lot of sense when I apply it to the 3 lawyers of which I spoke. Congratulations on your happy RE.
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Old 06-22-2016, 07:36 PM   #74
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On the other side of that, however, legal skills improve over time with experience and usually hard-earned wisdom. It's often the 60-70+ y/o senior attorney who has seen it all before who can cut through a bunch of crap and get stuff done/resolved. They've seen it all and take no gruff from anyone, judges, peers, clients or regulators. That's one positive reason they stay if they enjoy it - they help their clients or employers and are well paid for it.
I'm 59 and still practicing after 35 years. I think TallTim makes a good point. In many occupations you are past your prime in your 50's. I bet you won't see many female gymnasts older than 19 in the Olympics. Lawyers can be better in their 60's than they were in the 40's. It feels good to be getting better and better at something. I know some active lawyers in their late 70s that are still very good at what they do. I won't be one of lawyers practicing into their 70's. I'm already winding down, but I wonder if I'll miss it when I out done. I'll probably be in the class of 2019 or 2020 and will find out then.
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Old 06-22-2016, 08:20 PM   #75
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So reasons vary, but at least one over-riding reason in my mind is that "they can". They aren't going to be fired, down-sized, or have some boss make them relocate their lives to the point they'd rather quit. Also, unless they are suffering cognitive issues, physical impairments that might make a dentist, a surgeon, a carpenter or someone who has to travel a lot, quit, won't preclude them from continuing.
They don't have a boss insisting they work more hours than they want, so they can fit work into life, rather than trying to fit life around work.
This may be true for lawyers who work as sole practitioners but is not true for partners in big law firms - if you do not perform eventually you get moved down the equity ladder and asked to leave. The pressure to keep the recorded hours high and the revenues coming in can be immense. As for working hours, clients basically assume you will pick up the phone 24x7 and that there is nothing more important in your life than servicing their needs.
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:44 AM   #76
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I've been retired 3 years, but now work part time for a 73 yr old, private practice, lawyer. He was moaning one day about all the work he had to do. I jokingly suggested he needed to take more time off. (He already takes off Fridays). He thought a moment, then said, "Well, I guess I just like making money too much".
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:17 PM   #77
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i am not a lawyer, but there are several generations of lawyers in my extended family. By far the happiest one was a woman a little younger than I am who worked for a large county public defender's office where staff were county employees. She was a 60s firebrand and criminal defense appealed to her lefty leanings.

She married one of their investigators, and they have a well funded attractive early retirement, part of their excellent package. Most of the lawyers I know struggle. I think a law office costs a lot to run.

Ha
My situation is almost exactly like your relative's, only in my case I married another attorney in my office. We're both a bit left politically but I would say really more contrarian than lefty. We had no kids and though we were hardly frugal, we did live below our means most of the time. We contributed to deferred comp accounts, and when eligibility for ER came along we jumped on it. It was a great job, the best I could imagine, but it was hard, the hours were long, and I could never really leave all that stress at the office.

Also, I must say that at least when it comes to trial work, it's better to be a young lawyer than an old one.

As to Talltim's categories, I am clearly in the third group - indifferent to the law but liking the intellectual challenge and the fast pace of high volume legal work. DH on the other hand is in the first group - it's a calling for him, to the extent that he often said he would do it for free. We have both worked in ER, me for my old office when they needed the help, a total of 12 -14 months out of the last 5 years, and DH taking a very few court appointed cases, and also helping friends and friends' kids when they need it.

At this point I am done with work and DH is almost there too. We recently moved to a city on the coast, only 30 miles from the old place. I think moving helped me break the habit of having my identity too dependent on my profession. I can't really speak for DH on that.
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Old 06-30-2016, 07:46 AM   #78
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On the other side of that, however, legal skills improve over time with experience and usually hard-earned wisdom. It's often the 60-70+ y/o senior attorney who has seen it all before who can cut through a bunch of crap and get stuff done/resolved. They've seen it all and take no gruff from anyone, judges, peers, clients or regulators. That's one positive reason they stay if they enjoy it - they help their clients or employers and are well paid for it.
I think that's a big part of it; these seasoned lawyers probably also have a large client base and a great network so they can keep bringing in work. In fields where generating new business is crucial, there's less age discrimination if you're still good at rainmaking.
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Old 06-30-2016, 08:33 AM   #79
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I think that's a big part of it; these seasoned lawyers probably also have a large client base and a great network so they can keep bringing in work. In fields where generating new business is crucial, there's less age discrimination if you're still good at rainmaking.
same in consulting
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Old 06-30-2016, 09:47 AM   #80
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In a former life I was a paralegal, and worked for the senior partners. Every one of them LBTM, and in this case the B meant BEYOND. Boats, lake houses, BMW's, minimum payments on their credit cards, late fees on credit cards & house payments (I used to get sent to their banks to make said payments) sending their kids to Ivy League schools, bad real estate investments, you name it. Just an observation.

It may just have been the particular firm I worked for (now out of business) but it sure was educational and formative for my future financial behavior and planning.
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