Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

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Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:58 am

I know that most people have the general impression that BigLaw is teh sucks, that its main usage is to payoff student loans, and that it should otherwise be avoided at all costs.

But what about if you somehow lucked out and you've escaped with minimal debt - is BigLaw worth it? I've heard the horror stories, with people saying that "You literally could not pay me enough to stay in BigLaw" - and that makes me wonder if it's worth getting into at all.

For those of you who have made the jump (or are going to) into BigLaw and don't have huge secondary financial obligations, how are you planning financially? What percentage do you want to save?

Maybe more importantly, who's planning on blowing cash up front on a 3 Series? And is it worth it if you only enjoy it on the commute home at 11PM?

johndhi
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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby johndhi » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:03 am

I'll kick things off with:

Not everyone hates the idea of big law. I'm excited for it. I want to do it. I'm not doing it to pay off loans. In fact, much like you, I don't have many loans.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:I know that most people have the general impression that BigLaw is teh sucks, that its main usage is to payoff student loans, and that it should otherwise be avoided at all costs.

I don't know who is saying this exactly. A lot of people are saying that it's hard to get and harder to keep, and when you combine that (as a 0L) with the low odds of even getting a job there right now, it's nonsensical to go to law school with it as your goal. There are a few people who keep rambling on and on about how much it sucks, but a lot of those people seem like bitter folks complaining about sour grapes. The folks I've known who are in BigLaw are happy they made it there, because 1) they actually landed it, 2) they can tolerate the long hours and 3) the benefits outweigh the negatives for them.

Anonymous User wrote:But what about if you somehow lucked out and you've escaped with minimal debt - is BigLaw worth it? I've heard the horror stories, with people saying that "You literally could not pay me enough to stay in BigLaw" - and that makes me wonder if it's worth getting into at all.

It depends on person. See what I said above. There are plenty of people who are satisfied with it, and not all of them are aiming to stay and make partner. Some do it for the experience/training/money and then plan on moving on to other things after a few years. If you've "escaped with minimal debt" it could make even more sense, since you could bank the extra money you're making and have a cushion ready so that you could bail anytime you wanted.

Anonymous User wrote:For those of you who have made the jump (or are going to) into BigLaw and don't have huge secondary financial obligations, how are you planning financially? What percentage do you want to save?

This question doesn't really apply to me.

Anonymous User wrote:Maybe more importantly, who's planning on blowing cash up front on a 3 Series? And is it worth it if you only enjoy it on the commute home at 11PM?

A lot of BigLaw folks are going to be in NYC, where it simply does not make sense to own a car. There your status symbol often isn't what you drive but where you live, and a lot of people will probably blow quite a bit of cash renting a nice place in Manhattan near a subway line that runs to their job. I personally suspect it's not worth it to blow money renting a really nice pad if you spend most of your time there asleep, but a lot of people do it, and they each have their reasons.

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:16 am

OP here - I guess this is what I get for reading too much Above the Law, where the misery factor is perhaps a bit inflated.

My plan is to live like a bum, and bank the majority of my paycheck. I have no idea what to do with the money (investing, IRAs, etc).

That's if I can refrain from buying a used M3....

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:26 am

Well, think of it this way. I intend to go into biglaw and get out from under my loans as quickly as I comfortably can. I expect this to mean paying down somewhere in the vicinity of $3500 a month, maybe more. After doing that for three years or so, I will be breaking even. If you invest the same amount of money for three years, you'll have a $125k+ nest egg, probably by your late 20s or early 30s. Is it worth it? That's up to you. As a general rule, if you have a practice area you are passionate about that is not biglaw, I'd encourage you to pursue it; if you don't have that passion, I'd encourage you to seek it out with enthusiasm. You're lucky to have the safety net to be able to do the work you want. I find that most people don't have that interest, however, and seek out non-biglaw options mainly because they just think the work/life balance thing is going to be backbreaking or they have generalized notions that corporations are evil or something. In my opinion, working a job that you're not that interested in is all pretty much the same, which is to say, not great. Can you handle, say, an extra 20 hours a week of it for an extra $100k? It seems like a no-brainer to me. But I'd be prepared to have a short shelf life at any job where you just aren't that interested in the work, biglaw or not.

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Maybe more importantly, who's planning on blowing cash up front on a 3 Series? And is it worth it if you only enjoy it on the commute home at 11PM?


Lol since when is a $30k car "blowing cash"? Maybe you meant 5 series? And the above poster was right- no cars in NYC.

I'm a little worried about where your post is heading- money does not make you happy. It truly doesn't. You shouldn't want the salary so that you can "enjoy it". I am in the same boat- no loans and going biglaw. I am doing it so that I can set my future family up with an easier life, so that my wife and kids can have an easier life without the worry of mortgages, car loans, school loans, etc. As for the money, do the math and you'll see that 160k in NYC isn't private jet territory. You lose about 50% to taxes, leaving you with 80k, then at least 40-50k goes to living (housing, food, etc). At the end of the month you're only talking 2-3k in free cash, but if you plan on saving anything you'll see that it's not the windfall people make it out to be.

As for percentage of savings, I'm going to lead the same life I do now, and anything I don't spend is saved. With a larger salary, it will just be larger savings. Cars, suits, clothes, and other traditional expensive things make me decidedly unhappy, so I won't be blowing it there.

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:26 pm

Cars, suits, clothes, and other traditional expensive things make me decidedly unhappy, so I won't be blowing it there.


That makes one of us!

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:11 pm

I plan on working in a major Southern metro area. Should pull 160k. Minimal debt. After tax, say it's 110k. Plan on living quite comfortably on 50-60, banking whatever's left. Having upwards of a quarter mil banked by the time I hit 30 will be nice. Depending on a lot of things, I plan on helping relatives pay for college and saving for a future family of my own.

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alirod12
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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby alirod12 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Maybe more importantly, who's planning on blowing cash up front on a 3 Series? And is it worth it if you only enjoy it on the commute home at 11PM?


Lol since when is a $30k car "blowing cash"? Maybe you meant 5 series? And the above poster was right- no cars in NYC.

I'm a little worried about where your post is heading- money does not make you happy. It truly doesn't. You shouldn't want the salary so that you can "enjoy it". I am in the same boat- no loans and going biglaw. I am doing it so that I can set my future family up with an easier life, so that my wife and kids can have an easier life without the worry of mortgages, car loans, school loans, etc. As for the money, do the math and you'll see that 160k in NYC isn't private jet territory. You lose about 50% to taxes, leaving you with 80k, then at least 40-50k goes to living (housing, food, etc). At the end of the month you're only talking 2-3k in free cash, but if you plan on saving anything you'll see that it's not the windfall people make it out to be.

As for percentage of savings, I'm going to lead the same life I do now, and anything I don't spend is saved. With a larger salary, it will just be larger savings. Cars, suits, clothes, and other traditional expensive things make me decidedly unhappy, so I won't be blowing it there.


LOL at this guy knowing diddly dick about cars. GL getting a 3 series for $30k without blowing the salesman.

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Re: Minimal Debt and BigLaw - Worth the Agony?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:42 pm

I've had lots of money and I've had no money and I was happier, WAY happier, without the money. It didn't have to do with the money, it had to do with who I was at each respective point in time. I've heard it said: "Happiness is an inside job." YMMV




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