NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

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krads153
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby krads153 » Thu May 21, 2015 5:01 pm

(1) People who aren't driven by money (seeing a job as a means to an end of making more and more money) tend to be more easily satisfied in general and/or value other things (like learning, experiences).
(2) There are a lot of rich kids in PI who will be inheriting millions.
(3) Better QOL.


smallfirmassociate
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby smallfirmassociate » Fri May 22, 2015 9:50 am



That guy is doing an admirable job of trying to sell his book, but most of that article is shit. E.g.

"Virtually all of the legal work that is repetitive or simple -- whether corporate document review or a basic divorce -- will be automated, outsourced or handled by less expensive non-lawyers."

No, it won't be, because complex, disputed legal work generally arises from work that began with the possibility of being simple.

We already have arbitration and mediation to try to lower costs, and they are minimally-effective because people want to win, and that's not going to change in the next twenty years.

BeenDidThat
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri May 22, 2015 3:11 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:


That guy is doing an admirable job of trying to sell his book, but most of that article is shit. E.g.

"Virtually all of the legal work that is repetitive or simple -- whether corporate document review or a basic divorce -- will be automated, outsourced or handled by less expensive non-lawyers."

No, it won't be, because complex, disputed legal work generally arises from work that began with the possibility of being simple.

We already have arbitration and mediation to try to lower costs, and they are minimally-effective because people want to win, and that's not going to change in the next twenty years.


Anyone who thinks most legal work is easy to commoditize has no business doing legal work. Just because your run-of-the-mill transx lawyer is a shithead who just "does market" doesn't mean there isn't value to be added to a transaction by actually understanding the law behind and governing contractual provisions.

Anonymous User
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 22, 2015 7:35 pm

I'm the Anon from above. I thought of another point today at work.

I think, at least in my case, my feelings about how financially stable and well-off I am are constructed in reference to the other people around me.

I, like many public interest lawyers, often interact with people who make very little money -- whether that be criminal defendants, victims of crime and abuse, the mentally ill, the disabled, undocumented aliens, and so on. By comparison, my 50-60k salary looks downright wealthy. I appreciate that I can pay my bills, feed myself tasty, healthy food, occasionally go on vacations, and live in a safe neighborhood. On the other hand, if you work in BigLaw, I think you might compare your lifestyle to that of other lawyers at the firm, and so feel that if you aren't putting aside 20k a year for retirement, buying a nice house, taking luxury vacations abroad, or sending your kids to private school, you aren't stable or doing well.

I know I'm stereotyping here, and obviously people who work in biglaw are not oblivious to the fact that there are many people out there making way less money than them. But I do think there's a big difference between just abstractly thinking of how poor people live and actually, say, sitting down with someone and helping them fill out a form about their income and household expenses so they can get a fee waiver or get a public defender. Definitely helps to have that regular reminder.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat May 23, 2015 8:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm the Anon from above. I thought of another point today at work.

I think, at least in my case, my feelings about how financially stable and well-off I am are constructed in reference to the other people around me.

I, like many public interest lawyers, often interact with people who make very little money -- whether that be criminal defendants, victims of crime and abuse, the mentally ill, the disabled, undocumented aliens, and so on. By comparison, my 50-60k salary looks downright wealthy. I appreciate that I can pay my bills, feed myself tasty, healthy food, occasionally go on vacations, and live in a safe neighborhood. On the other hand, if you work in BigLaw, I think you might compare your lifestyle to that of other lawyers at the firm, and so feel that if you aren't putting aside 20k a year for retirement, buying a nice house, taking luxury vacations abroad, or sending your kids to private school, you aren't stable or doing well.

I know I'm stereotyping here, and obviously people who work in biglaw are not oblivious to the fact that there are many people out there making way less money than them. But I do think there's a big difference between just abstractly thinking of how poor people live and actually, say, sitting down with someone and helping them fill out a form about their income and household expenses so they can get a fee waiver or get a public defender. Definitely helps to have that regular reminder.
definitely all true. Biglawyers are generally incredibly unaware of how fortunate they are, and vastly tend to overestimate how much money they'd need to be happy.

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haus
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby haus » Sat May 23, 2015 8:16 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I agree that making $50-60k for the rest of your career, particularly in a high COL area, would make retirement difficult, but that's not really a scenario anyone is looking at.

Also, working in this field it is less likely that a worn-out body would make work extremely difficult/impossible as it might for a plumber or a brick mason. Also it seems more reasonable to establish work in a partial retirement mode than it would be in many other professions.

xiao_long
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby xiao_long » Sat May 23, 2015 9:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm the Anon from above. I thought of another point today at work.

I think, at least in my case, my feelings about how financially stable and well-off I am are constructed in reference to the other people around me.

I, like many public interest lawyers, often interact with people who make very little money -- whether that be criminal defendants, victims of crime and abuse, the mentally ill, the disabled, undocumented aliens, and so on. By comparison, my 50-60k salary looks downright wealthy. I appreciate that I can pay my bills, feed myself tasty, healthy food, occasionally go on vacations, and live in a safe neighborhood. On the other hand, if you work in BigLaw, I think you might compare your lifestyle to that of other lawyers at the firm, and so feel that if you aren't putting aside 20k a year for retirement, buying a nice house, taking luxury vacations abroad, or sending your kids to private school, you aren't stable or doing well.

I know I'm stereotyping here, and obviously people who work in biglaw are not oblivious to the fact that there are many people out there making way less money than them. But I do think there's a big difference between just abstractly thinking of how poor people live and actually, say, sitting down with someone and helping them fill out a form about their income and household expenses so they can get a fee waiver or get a public defender. Definitely helps to have that regular reminder.


Could it also be that PI lawyers receive immense satisfaction knowing they are directly helping people in need as opposed to working on a miniscule part of a HUGE corporate transaction (as they typically do in Big Law and therefore, feel disconnected to one's work)?

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BiglawAssociate
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby BiglawAssociate » Sun May 24, 2015 2:13 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:definitely all true. Biglawyers are generally incredibly unaware of how fortunate they are, and vastly tend to overestimate how much money they'd need to be happy.


Tbf, if you're living in a big city and don't want to feel completely financially fucked you have to buy a place. And in a big city, you need one million dollars+ to buy a place. So I don't think biglawyers are overestimating how much money they need to be happy- many are just looking at long term goals. Renting for life when you're paying 3k/4k a month in rent is just stupid (and keep in mind rents go up each year while mortgage payments don't). (But arguably paying condo fees/coop fees are stupid too...) Anyway, point is maybe people making less money are more short-sighted and care less about long term goals (like property ownership).

If you're making 50/60k in a secondary city that's affordable, it may be a different story. But I really don't get how people who make 50-60k a year expect to live in a big city long term.

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Young Marino
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Young Marino » Sun May 24, 2015 11:00 am

haus wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I agree that making $50-60k for the rest of your career, particularly in a high COL area, would make retirement difficult, but that's not really a scenario anyone is looking at.

Also, working in this field it is less likely that a worn-out body would make work extremely difficult/impossible as it might for a plumber or a brick mason. Also it seems more reasonable to establish work in a partial retirement mode than it would be in many other professions.

This is actually quite common In "retired" prosecutors. I know a few that prosecuted for a while and have their kushy pension disbursements but on the side do wills, some low level defense work, basic contractual stuff, etc. It's a good way to keep the mind sharp while earning extra $15k-$20k annually on top of a $25k-$40k a year pension

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon May 25, 2015 10:28 am

I love that the knee jerk biglaw response to this is "well they must just not understand how important money is." The denial is thick.

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twenty 8
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby twenty 8 » Mon May 25, 2015 4:45 pm

I am dubious, but hey, maybe they’re on to something. The paralegals here seem to be very content. No huge tuition hanging over their head (that I know of) and 9A-5P is a more often than not occurrence.
The couple of prosecutors I know are not complaining, the one DA I met grumbled about the pay (perhaps there is a level where very little income doesn’t make you get up and dance the happy song with Pharrell Williams).

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los blancos
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby los blancos » Mon May 25, 2015 6:15 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:And a very different story when you're 75 and working as a Walmart greeter because you don't have a retirement to life off.


I feel like walmart greeter at 75 with a family that doesn't hate you > using all of that retirement to fund nursing home at 75 due to dementia from all of that stress and hating your life (which literally kills your brain cells).

(but this was a bad point to begin with for all the reasons covered earlier ITT)

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BiglawAssociate
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby BiglawAssociate » Mon May 25, 2015 7:30 pm

twenty 8 wrote:I am dubious, but hey, maybe they’re on to something. The paralegals here seem to be very content. No huge tuition hanging over their head (that I know of) and 9A-5P is a more often than not occurrence.
The couple of prosecutors I know are not complaining, the one DA I met grumbled about the pay (perhaps there is a level where very little income doesn’t make you get up and dance the happy song with Pharrell Williams).


The paralegals at my firm clear 100k+ with some overtime. They also aren't expected to work the same hours as the lawyers. So not sure paralegals are a good example of people who don't like money since they get paid like twice as much as PI attorneys but don't have any debt.

The standards are also lower for paralegals than attorneys - attorneys are always supppsed to "check" paralegal work, even if the paralegal is 50 years old and has been working at a firm for as long as the biglaw associate has been alive.

DJ JD
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby DJ JD » Mon May 25, 2015 8:10 pm

xiao_long wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm the Anon from above. I thought of another point today at work.

I think, at least in my case, my feelings about how financially stable and well-off I am are constructed in reference to the other people around me.

I, like many public interest lawyers, often interact with people who make very little money -- whether that be criminal defendants, victims of crime and abuse, the mentally ill, the disabled, undocumented aliens, and so on. By comparison, my 50-60k salary looks downright wealthy. I appreciate that I can pay my bills, feed myself tasty, healthy food, occasionally go on vacations, and live in a safe neighborhood. On the other hand, if you work in BigLaw, I think you might compare your lifestyle to that of other lawyers at the firm, and so feel that if you aren't putting aside 20k a year for retirement, buying a nice house, taking luxury vacations abroad, or sending your kids to private school, you aren't stable or doing well.

I know I'm stereotyping here, and obviously people who work in biglaw are not oblivious to the fact that there are many people out there making way less money than them. But I do think there's a big difference between just abstractly thinking of how poor people live and actually, say, sitting down with someone and helping them fill out a form about their income and household expenses so they can get a fee waiver or get a public defender. Definitely helps to have that regular reminder.


Could it also be that PI lawyers receive immense satisfaction knowing they are directly helping people in need as opposed to working on a miniscule part of a HUGE corporate transaction (as they typically do in Big Law and therefore, feel disconnected to one's work)?


Idk. That satisfaction from creating jobs can't be understated. Working on M&A deals stimulating the economy is the REAL public interest law baby.

(obviously not serious)

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Wed May 27, 2015 10:00 pm

jchiles wrote:
And a very different story when you're 75 and working as a Walmart greeter because you don't have a retirement to life off.


At what age do you have to quit your lowly PI/Gov/Small firm job and work at Walmart?


Either when they're mentally incapable or practicing law anymore, when they're pushed out of their job, or when their organization ceases to exist and nowhere else wants to hire someone who's already 65+ (because they don't think the person will stick around very long).

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:I question whether those people you know who went into low paying government, PI, and small firm jobs, but don't have a wealthy family or spouse, will be happy long-term.

I think that at any given point in time, they'll continue to be happier than people in biglaw, and probably happier than most people in non-biglaw legal jobs that pay biglaw-comparable money.

I agree that making $50-60k for the rest of your career, particularly in a high COL area, would make retirement difficult, but that's not really a scenario anyone is looking at. I'm only really familiar with NYC, but if you're in state/local government or a PD's office here, you'll be making six figures or close to it eventually.

To be clear, I am not prepared to take a $100k paycut on the off chance it would make me happier (though I will be prepared to do it sooner than later). So maybe mine is a grass-is-greener perspective. But I think that yours sounds like a risk-averse/somewhat sour-grapes perspective.


Let's be clear, making six figures "eventually" means in around 20-30 years in many DA/PD's offices in NYC. At many nonprofits (which is a large part of PI and a place where many of these "happy" attorneys work), it pretty much isn't going to happen unless you take on a very senior management role. But those very senior management jobs are often very different than doing the work that makes these attorneys happy (i.e. often you're just running an office rather than doing actual legal work or helping individual clients). Moreover, the increase in pay later in your career isn't particularly helpful with respect to retirement with how compounding interest works. Some people might be fine with working into their late 70s, but I'm definitely not one of them. I suspect a lot of people who are "happy" with there low paying PI jobs now won't be when they're in their 70s and unable to retire.

BiglawAssociate wrote: Anyway, point is maybe people making less money are more short-sighted and care less about long term goals


THIS. They're happy now because they're short-sighted and aren't thinking nearly enough about the future.

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los blancos
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby los blancos » Wed May 27, 2015 10:08 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote: Anyway, point is maybe people making less money are more short-sighted and care less about long term goals


THIS. They're happy now because they're short-sighted and aren't thinking nearly enough about the future.


just lol

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby lapolicia » Wed May 27, 2015 10:10 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
jchiles wrote:
And a very different story when you're 75 and working as a Walmart greeter because you don't have a retirement to life off.


At what age do you have to quit your lowly PI/Gov/Small firm job and work at Walmart?


Either when they're mentally incapable or practicing law anymore, when they're pushed out of their job, or when their organization ceases to exist and nowhere else wants to hire someone who's already 65+ (because they don't think the person will stick around very long).

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:I question whether those people you know who went into low paying government, PI, and small firm jobs, but don't have a wealthy family or spouse, will be happy long-term.

I think that at any given point in time, they'll continue to be happier than people in biglaw, and probably happier than most people in non-biglaw legal jobs that pay biglaw-comparable money.

I agree that making $50-60k for the rest of your career, particularly in a high COL area, would make retirement difficult, but that's not really a scenario anyone is looking at. I'm only really familiar with NYC, but if you're in state/local government or a PD's office here, you'll be making six figures or close to it eventually.

To be clear, I am not prepared to take a $100k paycut on the off chance it would make me happier (though I will be prepared to do it sooner than later). So maybe mine is a grass-is-greener perspective. But I think that yours sounds like a risk-averse/somewhat sour-grapes perspective.


Let's be clear, making six figures "eventually" means in around 20-30 years in many DA/PD's offices in NYC. At many nonprofits (which is a large part of PI and a place where many of these "happy" attorneys work), it pretty much isn't going to happen unless you take on a very senior management role. But those very senior management jobs are often very different than doing the work that makes these attorneys happy (i.e. often you're just running an office rather than doing actual legal work or helping individual clients). Moreover, the increase in pay later in your career isn't particularly helpful with respect to retirement with how compounding interest works. Some people might be fine with working into their late 70s, but I'm definitely not one of them. I suspect a lot of people who are "happy" with there low paying PI jobs now won't be when they're in their 70s and unable to retire.

BiglawAssociate wrote: Anyway, point is maybe people making less money are more short-sighted and care less about long term goals


THIS. They're happy now because they're short-sighted and aren't thinking nearly enough about the future.


Many (most?) of those PI jobs come with great defined benefit pensions, so the compounding interest isn't really necessary and they will do fine in retirement.

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Holly Golightly
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Wed May 27, 2015 10:27 pm

lol just lol

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed May 27, 2015 10:32 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I love that the knee jerk biglaw response to this is "well they must just not understand how important money is." The denial is thick.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 28, 2015 7:56 am

Currently one of these low paid "happy attorney". I'm a prosecutor in a major city making less than 50K. If I'm lucky by around year 10 I might be at 80K. On a day to day level, I enjoy my job more than my friends in big law, but there's only so much job satisfaction can give you when you have 6 figures of student loan debt and have to live check to check. Pretty much everyone in my class at the office is constantly bitching about money because we have none. The only people in my office who don't walk around looking constantly stressed out are the rich kids whose parents are still paying the rent on their apartments.

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Young Marino
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Young Marino » Thu May 28, 2015 9:57 am

lapolicia wrote:
Many (most?) of those PI jobs come with great defined benefit pensions, so the compounding interest isn't really necessary and they will do fine in retirement.

This. I know you can potentially make more off the stock market but we shouldn't overlook the value of PI benefits. I would also think that as a prosecutor, although money is tight when you first start out, you can definitely contribute to a retirement account (like a Roth IRA) later on especially if you're on the federal loan forgiveness and repayment program (I'd like to hear from current ADAs on this).

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby worldtraveler » Thu May 28, 2015 12:25 pm

I'm one of those poorly paid but happy attorneys. The thing is, I'm kind of broke now but my salary is steadily climbing and I have all my basic needs covered, plus 16 weeks of vacation every year. Thanks to IBR/PSLF I'm also not paying loans. Things could be far worse.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby fats provolone » Thu May 28, 2015 12:52 pm

los blancos wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
BiglawAssociate wrote: Anyway, point is maybe people making less money are more short-sighted and care less about long term goals


THIS. They're happy now because they're short-sighted and aren't thinking nearly enough about the future.


just lol

holy shit this thread

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu May 28, 2015 1:14 pm

worldtraveler wrote:I'm one of those poorly paid but happy attorneys. The thing is, I'm kind of broke now but my salary is steadily climbing and I have all my basic needs covered, plus 16 weeks of vacation every year. Thanks to IBR/PSLF I'm also not paying loans. Things could be far worse.


I would pay 100k of my salary for this. Awesome.




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