NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

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

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu May 28, 2015 4:21 pm

lapolicia wrote:
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.


Federal government has a pretty reasonable defined benefit pension plan, which you can reasonably expect to get when you retire.* Pretty much everywhere else doesn't. Most nonprofits don't have pensions (largely because people don't tend to spend more than a few years at nonprofits). Even at ones that have pensions, in most situations, it's highly unlikely the nonprofit will be around and you'll collect that pension in 30 or 40 years. Many state and local government jobs have pension plans, but you have to pretty fucking crazy/dumb to planning your retirement around actually getting that pension. A ton of them are very heavily underfunded, and basically the first thing that gets cut are pensions when states, cities, counties, etc. face financial difficulties. Imo, it's not all that much more secure than having a pension at a company or law firm. You might get some of that money, but the risk is WAY too high that you won't get all or even most of it. Even in places where pensions are well funded now, there's really no way of knowing who's going to get elected and what terrible financial decisions they're going to make in the next 30 or 40 years, and the pensions could suddenly become a hot topic and a place where the state, city, etc. is looking to make cuts.

*Although, that point is kind of moot with fed government, because they actually pay pretty reasonably, and with a fed government salary, you easily could save for your own retirement. Most PI jobs don't pay anywhere near what the fed govt does.


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.


WTF job do you have that gives you 80 days of vacation per year? I'd take a pretty substantial paycut for 80 days off a year too.

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fats provolone
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby fats provolone » Thu May 28, 2015 4:24 pm

just be a teacher then amirite

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Thu May 28, 2015 4:47 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.

Still ljling at this.

Yeah there is no possibility that doing this is my long-term goal or that I really, truly love what I do. I do work from home not because I have to, but because I want to. My job is one of the most fulfilling things in my life and I legitimately look forward to doing the things I do here.

My org is also pretty well-established and has a great pension plan, and I practice a type of law that would lend itself well to plaintiff's firms if I really wanted to go the private practice route (which I probably won't, but I suppose you never know).

But please, tell me more about what I should care about.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu May 28, 2015 6:01 pm

It is simply not possible that we biglawyers won't come out ahead in the long run, and we're miserable now, so it must be that we are going to be happier than you later!

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby fats provolone » Thu May 28, 2015 6:16 pm

still dead

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu May 28, 2015 6:25 pm

Holly Golightly 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.

Still ljling at this.

Yeah there is no possibility that doing this is my long-term goal or that I really, truly love what I do. I do work from home not because I have to, but because I want to. My job is one of the most fulfilling things in my life and I legitimately look forward to doing the things I do here.

My org is also pretty well-established and has a great pension plan, and I practice a type of law that would lend itself well to plaintiff's firms if I really wanted to go the private practice route (which I probably won't, but I suppose you never know).

But please, tell me more about what I should care about.


You haven't really said enough about where you work, what you do, where you live, or your salary for me to make any comment. (Although, it sounds like you're assuming you're going to get that pension in 30-40 years, which is a mistake unless you work for fed govt). If you're making something like $75k /year in a low COL area, then I don't really see the problem. (Although, recognize if that's true, then you're not the typical "happy" lawyer because most lawyer jobs aren't in super low COL areas.) If, on the other hand, you make $50k in NYC and are living by yourself (i.e. no spouse that makes decent money) and no family money, you're pretty much screwed long-term because there's really no way you can retire at a reasonably age off a salary like that with NYC COL. I think all you people who keep posting "lol" to this comment are pretty short-sighted. There's no way you're putting away nearly enough to retire at a reasonable age while living like a normal adult in NYC off somewhere around $50k /year. The math simply doesn't work. Anyone who thinks otherwise, I'd like to see your budget.

dixiecupdrinking wrote:It is simply not possible that we biglawyers won't come out ahead in the long run, and we're miserable now, so it must be that we are going to be happier than you later!


The options aren't solely NYC biglaw or making $50-60k /year in NYC PI. Also, I find it hard to believe that someone who's taking home $50k /year in a place like NYC PI, does that for an entire career (granted there are small pay increases, but still not nearly enough to save for retirement given how compounding interest works), and doesn't have family wealth/spouse who makes significantly more is going to be able to happily retire at a normal age. I'd take being able to retire in my 50s over working as a Walmart greeter in my 70s because I was "happy" making too little money to save for retirement in a PI job for 30+ years, any day of the week...

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu May 28, 2015 8:15 pm

Your preferences are perfectly reasonably, but surely you can see how defensive it appears when your reaction to this story is to try to undermine the legitimacy of other people's happiness instead of saying "good for them" and moving on?

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu May 28, 2015 8:30 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:The options aren't solely NYC biglaw or making $50-60k /year in NYC PI. Also, I find it hard to believe that someone who's taking home $50k /year in a place like NYC PI, does that for an entire career (granted there are small pay increases, but still not nearly enough to save for retirement given how compounding interest works), and doesn't have family wealth/spouse who makes significantly more is going to be able to happily retire at a normal age. I'd take being able to retire in my 50s over working as a Walmart greeter in my 70s because I was "happy" making too little money to save for retirement in a PI job for 30+ years, any day of the week...


The thing you are missing is some people actually like going to work everyday. They won't be a walmart greeter; they'll be working PI still loving what they do helping people for plenty enough of income. Why would you need to retire if you love your job and have 16 weeks of vacay? Your money really won't mean shit when you retire at 50 and have nobody to share it with.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby los blancos » Thu May 28, 2015 9:10 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Your preferences are perfectly reasonably, but surely you can see how defensive it appears when your reaction to this story is to try to undermine the legitimacy of other people's happiness instead of saying "good for them" and moving on?


His/her preferences are only "reasonable" to the extent that beating the everloving shit out of a strawman can be "reasonable", and to the extent that striving-induced brain damage isn't irreversible.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu May 28, 2015 9:35 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Your preferences are perfectly reasonably, but surely you can see how defensive it appears when your reaction to this story is to try to undermine the legitimacy of other people's happiness instead of saying "good for them" and moving on?


Fair point.

JohannDeMann wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:The options aren't solely NYC biglaw or making $50-60k /year in NYC PI. Also, I find it hard to believe that someone who's taking home $50k /year in a place like NYC PI, does that for an entire career (granted there are small pay increases, but still not nearly enough to save for retirement given how compounding interest works), and doesn't have family wealth/spouse who makes significantly more is going to be able to happily retire at a normal age. I'd take being able to retire in my 50s over working as a Walmart greeter in my 70s because I was "happy" making too little money to save for retirement in a PI job for 30+ years, any day of the week...


The thing you are missing is some people actually like going to work everyday. They won't be a walmart greeter; they'll be working PI still loving what they do helping people for plenty enough of income. Why would you need to retire if you love your job and have 16 weeks of vacay? Your money really won't mean shit when you retire at 50 and have nobody to share it with.


Yeah, I guess that's true. I fucking hate working, so my goal is early retirement. I would definitely reconsider all of that if I somehow got 80 days of vacation each year along with a halfway reasonable salary (e.g. $70k /year in not a high COL area).

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Young Marino » Thu May 28, 2015 9:56 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Holly Golightly 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.

Still ljling at this.

Yeah there is no possibility that doing this is my long-term goal or that I really, truly love what I do. I do work from home not because I have to, but because I want to. My job is one of the most fulfilling things in my life and I legitimately look forward to doing the things I do here.

My org is also pretty well-established and has a great pension plan, and I practice a type of law that would lend itself well to plaintiff's firms if I really wanted to go the private practice route (which I probably won't, but I suppose you never know).

But please, tell me more about what I should care about.


You haven't really said enough about where you work, what you do, where you live, or your salary for me to make any comment. (Although, it sounds like you're assuming you're going to get that pension in 30-40 years, which is a mistake unless you work for fed govt). If you're making something like $75k /year in a low COL area, then I don't really see the problem. (Although, recognize if that's true, then you're not the typical "happy" lawyer because most lawyer jobs aren't in super low COL areas.) If, on the other hand, you make $50k in NYC and are living by yourself (i.e. no spouse that makes decent money) and no family money, you're pretty much screwed long-term because there's really no way you can retire at a reasonably age off a salary like that with NYC COL. I think all you people who keep posting "lol" to this comment are pretty short-sighted. There's no way you're putting away nearly enough to retire at a reasonable age while living like a normal adult in NYC off somewhere around $50k /year. The math simply doesn't work. Anyone who thinks otherwise, I'd like to see your budget.

dixiecupdrinking wrote:It is simply not possible that we biglawyers won't come out ahead in the long run, and we're miserable now, so it must be that we are going to be happier than you later!


The options aren't solely NYC biglaw or making $50-60k /year in NYC PI. Also, I find it hard to believe that someone who's taking home $50k /year in a place like NYC PI, does that for an entire career (granted there are small pay increases, but still not nearly enough to save for retirement given how compounding interest works), and doesn't have family wealth/spouse who makes significantly more is going to be able to happily retire at a normal age. I'd take being able to retire in my 50s over working as a Walmart greeter in my 70s because I was "happy" making too little money to save for retirement in a PI job for 30+ years, any day of the week...

Your thing about "pensions are only good if you work for the feds" is slightly overblown. States like FL, TX, NC and even NY have plans that are very well funded and should be for decades so PDs, ADAs, etc. that work for the state and are under the state pension system are not at such a big disadvantage in those states. Granted, there are state pensions out there that are in trouble but it's not as if all state pension systems are in trouble and as a result fed backed pension systems are the only reliable publicly funded retirement plan. Local municipalities that offer pension plans are a different story though.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri May 29, 2015 1:42 am

^ I don't think you understand how this works. Idiots/outright crooks get elected and make a lot of terrible financial decisions. The state winds up in hot water and needs money. Cutting pensions is the first place people start looking. Just because those states' pensions are well funded now doesn't mean that they will be when you retire. A lot can happen in 30-40 years. Also, isn't entirely state funded DA's and PD's offices pretty uncommon? It seems like most are funded by counties, which is obviously even more risky than a state funded office and pension (as you also noted in your post). Moreover, most PI jobs are not state govt jobs

Obviously this is very heavily a personal decision (as is all retirement planning), but I def think pension systems (aside from fed govt, at best) are way too risky to count on. I strongly prefer to have my own money to live off of after retirement. If I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that results in a pension, great. But no way in hell I'm planning my life based on some promise that I'll get a pension, becuase I think the risk that promise will be broken is entirely too high.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Young Marino » Fri May 29, 2015 8:09 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:^ I don't think you understand how this works. Idiots/outright crooks get elected and make a lot of terrible financial decisions. The state winds up in hot water and needs money. Cutting pensions is the first place people start looking. Just because those states' pensions are well funded now doesn't mean that they will be when you retire. A lot can happen in 30-40 years. Also, isn't entirely state funded DA's and PD's offices pretty uncommon? It seems like most are funded by counties, which is obviously even more risky than a state funded office and pension (as you also noted in your post). Moreover, most PI jobs are not state govt jobs

Obviously this is very heavily a personal decision (as is all retirement planning), but I def think pension systems (aside from fed govt, at best) are way too risky to count on. I strongly prefer to have my own money to live off of after retirement. If I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that results in a pension, great. But no way in hell I'm planning my life based on some promise that I'll get a pension, becuase I think the risk that promise will be broken is entirely too high.

I can't speak for other states but the PDs and ADAs are all state funded where I live. I understand your point of view and I agree that a pension shouldn't be the only way one funds their retirement (Everyone should be investing in a Roth IRA IMO) but I don't think state funded pension plans are a thing of the past just yet. There are strong police unions, teachers unions, firefighter unions, etc. in my state that have kept the government from making changes to the state pension system even when they wanted to and it's one of the best funded plans in the country.

Also, when you say that "crooks get elected" and can really f'up the pension system, the same can be said about investing in the market for retirement. Case in point, the 2008 recession where banks screwed the country, got bailed out and plenty of people working in the private sector lost retirement savings and are now forced to work longer than preferred.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Fri May 29, 2015 9:03 am

Illinois might go bankrupt because of it, but it's in the state constitution that they can't cut pensions.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby lukertin » Fri May 29, 2015 9:29 am

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.


XxSpyKEx wrote:Yeah, I guess that's true. I fucking hate working, so my goal is early retirement. I would definitely reconsider all of that if I somehow got 80 days of vacation each year along with a halfway reasonable salary (e.g. $70k /year in not a high COL area).



Wanna know something amusing? Working at a job you hate is worse for your mental health than being unemployed. Given the choice between having a tight budget or developing crippling psychological problems...I think these people have thought quite a bit about their future and long term goals, and made the right decision.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri May 29, 2015 10:47 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:^ I don't think you understand how this works. Idiots/outright crooks get elected and make a lot of terrible financial decisions. The state winds up in hot water and needs money. Cutting pensions is the first place people start looking. Just because those states' pensions are well funded now doesn't mean that they will be when you retire. A lot can happen in 30-40 years. Also, isn't entirely state funded DA's and PD's offices pretty uncommon? It seems like most are funded by counties, which is obviously even more risky than a state funded office and pension (as you also noted in your post). Moreover, most PI jobs are not state govt jobs

Obviously this is very heavily a personal decision (as is all retirement planning), but I def think pension systems (aside from fed govt, at best) are way too risky to count on. I strongly prefer to have my own money to live off of after retirement. If I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that results in a pension, great. But no way in hell I'm planning my life based on some promise that I'll get a pension, becuase I think the risk that promise will be broken is entirely too high.

I get your point, but you realize much of this personal preference/generalization, right?

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby JohannDeMann » Fri May 29, 2015 11:07 am

Holly Golightly wrote:Illinois might go bankrupt because of it, but it's in the state constitution that they can't cut pensions.


Exactly. I dont follow this stuff that closely (though I know a recent Illinois Supreme Court Case was a huge win for pension holders), but to my knowledge pensions are one of the most untouchable budget items out there. I'm not aware of any pensions being successfully cut. I think it's much more likely that the state goes bankrupt fulfilling the pensions or taxing everyone with a lot of money (aka Spyke and biglaw lawyers) to fulfill the pensions.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby bjohnsobf » Fri May 29, 2015 11:31 am

my understanding is they go bankrupt trying to pay the pensions, then the pension gets cut in bankruptcy.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-05/detroit-pension-cuts-from-bankruptcy-prompt-cries-of-betrayal

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri May 29, 2015 1:56 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:Illinois might go bankrupt because of it, but it's in the state constitution that they can't cut pensions.


Oh, but Rauner thinks he can get a constitutional amendment so that he can cut those pesky pensions.

Young Marino wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:^ I don't think you understand how this works. Idiots/outright crooks get elected and make a lot of terrible financial decisions. The state winds up in hot water and needs money. Cutting pensions is the first place people start looking. Just because those states' pensions are well funded now doesn't mean that they will be when you retire. A lot can happen in 30-40 years. Also, isn't entirely state funded DA's and PD's offices pretty uncommon? It seems like most are funded by counties, which is obviously even more risky than a state funded office and pension (as you also noted in your post). Moreover, most PI jobs are not state govt jobs

Obviously this is very heavily a personal decision (as is all retirement planning), but I def think pension systems (aside from fed govt, at best) are way too risky to count on. I strongly prefer to have my own money to live off of after retirement. If I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that results in a pension, great. But no way in hell I'm planning my life based on some promise that I'll get a pension, becuase I think the risk that promise will be broken is entirely too high.

I can't speak for other states but the PDs and ADAs are all state funded where I live. I understand your point of view and I agree that a pension shouldn't be the only way one funds their retirement (Everyone should be investing in a Roth IRA IMO) but I don't think state funded pension plans are a thing of the past just yet. There are strong police unions, teachers unions, firefighter unions, etc. in my state that have kept the government from making changes to the state pension system even when they wanted to and it's one of the best funded plans in the country.

Also, when you say that "crooks get elected" and can really f'up the pension system, the same can be said about investing in the market for retirement. Case in point, the 2008 recession where banks screwed the country, got bailed out and plenty of people working in the private sector lost retirement savings and are now forced to work longer than preferred.


Yes and no. The major difference with investing (assuming you invest wisely) is that the US stock market always rebounds in the long-run. If you're investing in something like an S&P500 index fund, in the long-run, you're going to make money. Sure things tanked hard when the financial crisis hit, but the S&P500 is now well above where it was in 2007. Losing a bunch of money in the short-term, but then regaining it and continuing to see returns, is a lot different that a pension that just gets taken away/heavily diminished because that's not something that will just "come back."

JohannDeMann wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:Illinois might go bankrupt because of it, but it's in the state constitution that they can't cut pensions.


Exactly. I dont follow this stuff that closely (though I know a recent Illinois Supreme Court Case was a huge win for pension holders), but to my knowledge pensions are one of the most untouchable budget items out there. I'm not aware of any pensions being successfully cut. I think it's much more likely that the state goes bankrupt fulfilling the pensions or taxing everyone with a lot of money (aka Spyke and biglaw lawyers) to fulfill the pensions.


Not sure how that would work with the constitutional guarantee on pensions in Illinois, but I would think pensions would get "reorganized" through the bankruptcy (as bjohnsobf noted).

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby BiglawAssociate » Sun May 31, 2015 3:31 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote: 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.



This. Nobody loves their job that much to want to work until death. Also I don't think non-government PI orgs have pension plans...

Aslo, if they are happy now, they probably don't have kids yet OR if they do, are married to someone who is making a ton more money. I don't see how a couple working PI could afford to have a family, buy property etc in a city off PI salaries. If you're in a secondary market, you could probably make it work, but a lot of PI jobs are in big cities.

Working PI is fine and dandy when you are married to someone who isn't working in PI and makes a lot more than you and/or your parents are rich.

My spouse is PI and loves their job. But guess what? They don't have any loans and are going to inherit a few million dollars and parents are willing to give a few thousand a month to rent. So why the fuck wouldn't they be happy? I wouldn't mind working less doing a more interesting job if I know I am going to be set financially for life. I think people underestimate the number of people who go into PI from these backgrounds - they are set for life financially.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun May 31, 2015 3:53 pm

Just when this thread appears to have died its well-deserved death, someone else has to come along and opine on how other people should feel.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby haus » Sun May 31, 2015 3:58 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Just when this thread appears to have died its well-deserved death, someone else has to come along and opine on how other people should feel.

:)

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun May 31, 2015 7:28 pm

Biglawassociate is just doing some gonzo performance art to help show why ppl who don't have to work with biglaw associates are happier.




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