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Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:33 pm
by Ludo!
Anonymous User wrote:
That seems really high for a monthly premium contribution for a government employee, even if that employee has his/her spouse and two children listed as dependents on their health insurance. My work offers two insurance plans, and even under the more comprehensive family plan option, the monthly premium contribution is about $160 (the "low" family plan is only $75 a month). But then again this is just my work.


Maybe it's a little high, but you also have to think about dental (optional, but if you have crappy teeth like me, it's probably worth it), plus out-of-pocket. Seems like someone is always going to the doctor or the dentist in our family.

(Note: This gets a ton better when the kids are all in school. Though then it gets really bad again a decade later when they're off to college.)


huh? why?

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:34 pm
by bandenjamin
Anonymous User wrote:
I dunno... no question you can make more in private practice, but $150,000, even in a major metro area, is hardly roughing it.


Yes and no. If you have 2+ kids, before they are in school, $150k can evaporate pretty quickly. For example, assume three kids:

Mortgage: $2.5k
Child care: $3.5k (we'll say that two are in preschool (at $1500 a pop), and one is in regular school but needs after school care (at $500 a pop). This goes up to $4.5k in the summer.
Student loans: $1k (assuming both spouses paid down their loans to manageable levels)
Medical: $500 ($300 premium contribution, plus there's always about $200 worth of out of pocket stuff with that many kids)
Car: $400 (assuming one car, not paid off, plus insurance)
Phone/internet/energy/cable/water: $300

That's just the major stuff, and we're already at $8,200 -- leaving probably around a grand to pay for food, entertainment, clothes, gas, etc. And nothing in the summer.


2500 for a mortgage is basically insane. You can commute from Brooklyn (hour each way on subway). I'm sure you can find a home in that area that will cost less than 450k (roughly what a 2500 monthly mortgage will buy with 0 down and 4.5%).

If you're only counting the 150k income then you don't need childcare as it would be assumed that your SO is taking care of that. If they are working then you're adding to the income too (hopefully more than you would pay for child care). Quick search found 140 4+ bedroom homes for under 300k

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhom ... -na-300000

Granted it is not a models & bottles kind of lifestyle, but you are certainly not living in abject poverty.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:34 pm
by Anonymous User
Sorry, should have been clearer -- I'm assuming both spouses work to earn the $150k. Say one is a government lawyer making in the $90k range, and the other is a teacher making $60k or so.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:35 pm
by Ludo!
Then that's a different argument. Also, why is this anonymous?

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:37 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
Ludovico Technique wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
That seems really high for a monthly premium contribution for a government employee, even if that employee has his/her spouse and two children listed as dependents on their health insurance. My work offers two insurance plans, and even under the more comprehensive family plan option, the monthly premium contribution is about $160 (the "low" family plan is only $75 a month). But then again this is just my work.


Maybe it's a little high, but you also have to think about dental (optional, but if you have crappy teeth like me, it's probably worth it), plus out-of-pocket. Seems like someone is always going to the doctor or the dentist in our family.

(Note: This gets a ton better when the kids are all in school. Though then it gets really bad again a decade later when they're off to college.)


huh? why?

Because you're paying for college?

(I think "this" refers to "expenses for children in general," not just medical expenses.)

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:37 pm
by Ludo!
Oh woe is me I'm so poor I can't even pay for my kids to go to college

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:38 pm
by dixiecupdrinking
bandenjamin wrote:2500 for a mortgage is basically insane. You can commute from Brooklyn (hour each way on subway). I'm sure you can find a home in that area that will cost less than 450k (roughly what a 2500 monthly mortgage will buy with 0 down and 4.5%).

If you're only counting the 150k income then you don't need childcare as it would be assumed that your SO is taking care of that. If they are working then you're adding to the income too (hopefully more than you would pay for child care). Quick search found 140 4+ bedroom homes for under 300k

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhom ... -na-300000

Granted it is not a models & bottles kind of lifestyle, but you are certainly not living in abject poverty.

As you can see, I agree with you in general, but this observation about Brooklyn housing is unfortunately completely incorrect. It would be very difficult even to rent, let alone buy, a three- or four-bedroom apartment in a safe, convenient neighborhood in Brooklyn for $2,500 a month. Maybe if you go to Bay Ridge. Queens is a better bet. Even so, that is really a fairly conservative mortgage estimate for the NYC area.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:38 pm
by Anonymous User
2500 for a mortgage is basically insane. You can commute from Brooklyn (hour each way on subway). I'm sure you can find a home in that area that will cost less than 450k (roughly what a 2500 monthly mortgage will buy with 0 down and 4.5%).


Catch-22. Buy a home in a crappy neighborhood, get hit with private school tuition on the back end. But I do agree it would probably be smarter to buy a $300k home in a suburb with better schools. Though in my case, we didn't have kids 2 and 3 when we bought, plus I was at a firm and made more.

Then that's a different argument. Also, why is this anonymous?


Because it's frighteningly close to my personal situation. And I'd prefer not to broadcast that, even under my TLS ID.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:40 pm
by AreJay711
This thread reminds me of a lunch talk one of our professors did. Basically his point is that we should all clerk for the supreme court and then get the Chief Justice to write you a recommendation for the solicitor generals office because he really enjoyed that. lol what a douche.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:42 pm
by ph14
A lot of people want to make more money than what the government pays.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:53 pm
by Anonymous User
AreJay711 wrote:This thread reminds me of a lunch talk one of our professors did. Basically his point is that we should all clerk for the supreme court and then get the Chief Justice to write you a recommendation for the solicitor generals office because he really enjoyed that. lol what a douche.

One of our SSC justices came to talk to a class, and when s/he was asked what advice s/he'd give to new law grads, s/he said, to be open to unexpected career paths, and gave as an example the time the state AG called up and asked him/her to be the solicitor general. It was really well meant, but part of me was like, really?? I don't think the state AG's gonna be calling me any time soon...

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:19 pm
by RocĂ­o
Anonymous User wrote:
That seems really high for a monthly premium contribution for a government employee, even if that employee has his/her spouse and two children listed as dependents on their health insurance. My work offers two insurance plans, and even under the more comprehensive family plan option, the monthly premium contribution is about $160 (the "low" family plan is only $75 a month). But then again this is just my work.


Maybe it's a little high, but you also have to think about dental (optional, but if you have crappy teeth like me, it's probably worth it), plus out-of-pocket. Seems like someone is always going to the doctor or the dentist in our family.

(Note: This gets a ton better when the kids are all in school. Though then it gets really bad again a decade later when they're off to college.)


My annual family dental deductible is $100, no copays or anything for annual cleanings, X-rays, fillings, etc. There's an orthodontics cap, though, so I guess the year your kids get braces would be the only expensive year.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:20 pm
by anon168
dixiecupdrinking wrote:
anon168 wrote:
JohnnyLaw wrote:Ok, so there is a sector where I get holidays (paid, oh also vacations are paid) and weekends off. I work a steady, but easily flexible schedule. I get health, dental, and tax benefits. Of course, we have yet to factor in the slow (but reliable and unequivocal) pay increases, though most government attorneys will eventually make six figures. These pay increases occur regardless of my work ethic, ability, or 'earning potential'. Oh, also, it's nearly impossible to fire me.

Tell me again how is this less desirable than an 80 hour, boot-kissing, coffee grabbing suckfest at a big firm?

Bitches, enlighten me.


I'm just talking about federal government work, so bear with me.

What you're missing is that government jobs -- be it at an agency, the courts, DOJ/USAO, WH, etc. -- your pay is going to basically suck in real dollar terms (i.e. buying power) if you live in any of the major metro markets (e.g. NYC, SF, LA, etc.).

You can do it on a federal salary as a single professional, but unless you marry rich, it's almost impossible to raise a family on a federal salary, even if you are willing to live 50 miles away in the 'burbs somewhere. And, yes, eventually you'll make "six figures" but we're talking generally maxing out at 150k ... and that's typically after 10+ years of federal service. You don't hit the century mark, depending on what agency you are at, until generally after you've been out of law school for 10 years.

So what you are missing is the money issue.

It's why people who have exit options, exit.

And, it's why even federal judges, who have life tenure and lifetime pensions (based on their salary, as mediocre as it might be) leave the bench for private practice. Because even they get dollar-bill Schadenfreude. Wouldn't you? Esp. if you see not only your peers, but your fucking law clerks pay more in taxes than you make in gross pay.

Now, if you live and practice in Podunk, it's very viable to live comfortably and raise a family on a federal salary. But then, you live and practice in Podunk.

I dunno... no question you can make more in private practice, but $150,000, even in a major metro area, is hardly roughing it. Especially if you're in a two-income family. But I guess having friends who are high on the totem pole in biglaw could make it seem like peanuts. It's all relative but you should be able to live a pretty damn comfortable life on that money.


Uh, 150k or thereabouts is max. Not what you start at. And you only begin to approach the six figure threshold 10 years post graduation from law school.

If you are a young AUSA the chances are the court reporter is making as much if not more than you. And so are many of the non-secretarial support staff in your office.

Yeah you can absolutely live comfortably, especially if your significant other works or if you don't live in a major market but many many lawyers did not got to law school esp a T14 to just live as comfortably as a middle manager at Macy's.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:33 pm
by A. Nony Mouse
anon168 wrote:Yeah you can absolutely live comfortably, especially if your significant other works or if you don't live in a major market but many many lawyers did not got to law school esp a T14 to just live as comfortably as a middle manager at Macy's.

No, but some of us did. :P

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:12 pm
by Anonymous User
My annual family dental deductible is $100, no copays or anything for annual cleanings, X-rays, fillings, etc.


You must be a youngin'. Once you hit your mid 30s, things start to go wrong with your teeth -- fillings fail, they crack, etc. (at least this is what is happening with me and my wife). Under most plans, for stuff like that you owe 50%. So the cracked tooth that I had to have grinded out and a crown put on is going to run me probably $500 out-of-pocket. Double if I need a root canal.

But again, I'll concede that $500 a month is a bit on the high end. But not by much -- my premium is roughly $250, we have a $25 copay every visit, plus $50 a month for dental and whatever the out-of-pocket it. It's at least $300, and probably closer to $350 not counting the months where there's a big expenditure.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:16 pm
by presh
Look I totally get why lots of people start in or move to private practice, but y'all are making it sound like federal work puts you in with the poors. You hit 90k the third year (I think this is across all agencies but have never looked into it). It's not going to make you rich, but it's fine.

Federal jobs are great if you want and can get them, but not everyone is going to want them and the salary is generally a big part of that. But it's not a bad salary.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:52 pm
by anon168
presh wrote:Look I totally get why lots of people start in or move to private practice, but y'all are making it sound like federal work puts you in with the poors. You hit 90k the third year (I think this is across all agencies but have never looked into it). It's not going to make you rich, but it's fine.


Not true. Most definitely not true for the USAO.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:19 pm
by presh
anon168 wrote:
presh wrote:Look I totally get why lots of people start in or move to private practice, but y'all are making it sound like federal work puts you in with the poors. You hit 90k the third year (I think this is across all agencies but have never looked into it). It's not going to make you rich, but it's fine.


Not true. Most definitely not true for the USAO.


My bad. I guess it is dependent on agency then.

ETA: It may not be true for the USAO, but it is true for some agencies. Of course, this is dependent on what your locality pay bump is.

Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:36 pm
by Tullstone

    Go in as a military lawyer, get trained for 4 years making adequate pay w/o kids (more if you have a spouse) then exit to the government through preferential hiring and don't live beyond your means. Go home at 5:30 most days and spend time with your kids.

    Stop debating over the meaning of success!

    Oh and by the way, no one gives a damn about prestige on their death beds. They care about having meaningful people in their lives.

    Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

    Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:29 am
    by anon168
    A. Nony Mouse wrote:
    presh wrote:
    anon168 wrote:
    presh wrote:Look I totally get why lots of people start in or move to private practice, but y'all are making it sound like federal work puts you in with the poors. You hit 90k the third year (I think this is across all agencies but have never looked into it). It's not going to make you rich, but it's fine.


    Not true. Most definitely not true for the USAO.


    My bad. I guess it is dependent on agency then.

    ETA: It may not be true for the USAO, but it is true for some agencies. Of course, this is dependent on what your locality pay bump is.

    Yeah, the USAO has its own unique pay scale. My impression is that the rest of the agencies are more similar to each other than to the USAO, though.


    Which agencies can you be 3 years out of law school and bring in 90k/year (with or without locality adjustments)?

    Even DOJ attorneys, who are on the GS as opposed to the AD scale, generally do not make 90k/year 3 years after law school. I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that's the case for just about every Executive Branch agency out there.

    Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

    Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:47 am
    by AreJay711
    Tullstone wrote:

      Oh and by the way, no one gives a damn about prestige on their death beds. They care about having meaningful people in their lives.


      Meh, if you think dynastically there might be some reason to make as much money as possible.

      Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

      Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:55 am
      by atcushman
      Tullstone wrote:

        Go in as a military lawyer, get trained for 4 years making adequate pay w/o kids (more if you have a spouse) then exit to the government through preferential hiring and don't live beyond your means. Go home at 5:30 most days and spend time with your kids.

        Stop debating over the meaning of success!

        Oh and by the way, no one gives a damn about prestige on their death beds. They care about having meaningful people in their lives.


        You mean JAG? Because their acceptance rate is less than 10% im pretty sure.

        Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

        Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:04 am
        by Tullstone
        AreJay711 wrote:
        Tullstone wrote:

          Oh and by the way, no one gives a damn about prestige on their death beds. They care about having meaningful people in their lives.


          Meh, if you think dynastically there might be some reason to make as much money as possible.


          Exactly. Die knowing you made someone else happy. True service.

          Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

          Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:26 am
          by A. Nony Mouse
          anon168 wrote:Which agencies can you be 3 years out of law school and bring in 90k/year (with or without locality adjustments)?

          Even DOJ attorneys, who are on the GS as opposed to the AD scale, generally do not make 90k/year 3 years after law school. I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that's the case for just about every Executive Branch agency out there.


          According to http://www.justice.gov/careers/legal/entry-salary.html, someone entering DOJ with 3 years of post-law school experience gets paid $89,033 in DC.

          Re: Government Law? What am I missing?

          Posted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:30 am
          by BruceWayne
          I'll say this,for those who do land Fed government and have sticker debt, it is a better choice than biglaw (especially NYC biglaw).