Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

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pancakes3

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:41 pm

poor iowajohn leasing a penthouse in Vegas like some sort of peasant. when you work off your debt, get at me in monaco bro.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby BernieTrump » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:11 am

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Last edited by BernieTrump on Thu May 11, 2017 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Burlington4174 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:32 am

Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Desert Fox » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:55 am

Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


Sure, but living anywhere with a 40 min and under commute is still very expensive correct?
Last edited by Desert Fox on Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby nealric » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:49 am

There are very few specialities that are *truly* NYC only that aren't close enough to something else you can still lateral to. I can commiserate with NYC big law types who don't feel rich (I've been there), but those who think it's a terminal condition are suffering from a failure of imagination.

I think it's harder for those who have strong ties to NYC. I get that it's a big deal to pack up and leave friends and family.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby nealric » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:55 am

Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:32 am

The whole "everyone else makes more money for less work" canard is such garbage. Most professionals do not make $200k their first year. Doctors spend years working hours that make biglaw look like a vacation, for pennies, and have worse debt than lawyers. Not to mention: you probably weren't gonna get into med school! Nor were you going to be an investment banker. 90% of biglaw associates are liberal arts grads with no skills from unexceptional colleges. The idea they were ever going to make this much money doing anything else is laughable.

NYC is expensive, but anyone who spent time in NYC working an actual entry level job for an actual entry level salary should appreciate biglaw money.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby zot1 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:02 am

dixiecupdrinking wrote:The whole "everyone else makes more money for less work" canard is such garbage. Most professionals do not make $200k their first year. Doctors spend years working hours that make biglaw look like a vacation, for pennies, and have worse debt than lawyers. Not to mention: you probably weren't gonna get into med school! Nor were you going to be an investment banker. 90% of biglaw associates are liberal arts grads with no skills from unexceptional colleges. The idea they were ever going to make this much money doing anything else is laughable.

NYC is expensive, but anyone who spent time in NYC working an actual entry level job for an actual entry level salary should appreciate biglaw money.


I think, and could be totes wrong, that s/he was comparing a first year associate versus someone with a bachelor's from Harvard on their third year and with little to no debt (so the whole debate about opportunity cost foregone while in law school plus having to pay back all that monaaaay).

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby zot1 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:03 am

I guess it would be fourth year. Math :lol:.


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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:36 am

zot1 wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:The whole "everyone else makes more money for less work" canard is such garbage. Most professionals do not make $200k their first year. Doctors spend years working hours that make biglaw look like a vacation, for pennies, and have worse debt than lawyers. Not to mention: you probably weren't gonna get into med school! Nor were you going to be an investment banker. 90% of biglaw associates are liberal arts grads with no skills from unexceptional colleges. The idea they were ever going to make this much money doing anything else is laughable.

NYC is expensive, but anyone who spent time in NYC working an actual entry level job for an actual entry level salary should appreciate biglaw money.


I think, and could be totes wrong, that s/he was comparing a first year associate versus someone with a bachelor's from Harvard on their third year and with little to no debt (so the whole debate about opportunity cost foregone while in law school plus having to pay back all that monaaaay).

Sure. But still.

1. Most biglawyers did not go to Harvard undergrad.
2. Most Harvard grads -- even 3-4 years out! -- aren't making $200k.
3. The debt sucks -- I know, I've done it -- but the obsession with getting back to zero, as if the money you make in the meantime doesn't count, is misplaced. It's actually quite good all things considered to be able to pay off your entire loan balance within 3-4 years. You've still got the rest of your career.

The real issue is whether you want to be a lawyer for your career. If you don't, then you done fucked up well before you landed in biglaw. But that's got nothing to do with the salary.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:44 pm

deleted. someone else's breakdown was way better lol.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby unlicensedpotato » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:14 pm

BernieTrump wrote:
New York City taxes are very high. The paycheck calculators you all use do not factor in the AMT, which starts hitting you hard around your third year (deduct another $20K from your pre-tax pay). It does not factor in the marriage penalty if you're married (another $30K of pre-tax loss). It does not factorthat everyone else in the country is deducting mortgage interest, while you're paying $45K per year post tax with no deductions just for rent, so you're relatively worse off with substantially more income.



Assuming you're renting, what do you get dinged by on AMT? Is it that you lose the itemized deduction for NY/NYC taxes?

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:24 pm

At first I regarded returning to my secondary city hometown as an abject failure. After a year of living five minutes from my office and paying 1.1K in rent for a nice apartment in the "hip" section of downtown, it doesn't seem so bad. Zero prestige but fuck it, there is more to life.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:58 pm

unlicensedpotato wrote:
BernieTrump wrote:
New York City taxes are very high. The paycheck calculators you all use do not factor in the AMT, which starts hitting you hard around your third year (deduct another $20K from your pre-tax pay). It does not factor in the marriage penalty if you're married (another $30K of pre-tax loss). It does not factorthat everyone else in the country is deducting mortgage interest, while you're paying $45K per year post tax with no deductions just for rent, so you're relatively worse off with substantially more income.



Assuming you're renting, what do you get dinged by on AMT? Is it that you lose the itemized deduction for NY/NYC taxes?


That is correct. You pay NY/NYC taxes and high-bracket federal taxes on the same sliver on money, in a way that nobody except those making 200-400 in high-tax states (or with certain other deductions do). The AMT hammers the midlevel associate tax bracket, especially married. You also lose lower rate on many long term capital gains, and several other deductions.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:38 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:The whole "everyone else makes more money for less work" canard is such garbage. Most professionals do not make $200k their first year. Doctors spend years working hours that make biglaw look like a vacation, for pennies, and have worse debt than lawyers. Not to mention: you probably weren't gonna get into med school! Nor were you going to be an investment banker. 90% of biglaw associates are liberal arts grads with no skills from unexceptional colleges. The idea they were ever going to make this much money doing anything else is laughable.

NYC is expensive, but anyone who spent time in NYC working an actual entry level job for an actual entry level salary should appreciate biglaw money.


Explain how (the better than average trajectory of) $180, $200k, $220k, $110k, $110k, $110k, $110k, $110k, $110k.... in a shrinking procession where 4/10 people fail is better than $70k, $70K, $70K $70K, $70K, $325K, $325K, $325K, $325K, $325K, $325K, $325K, $325K... in a profession where there are insane levels of job security. Money is a bad argument here, and what you make for a nanosecond for a few years right after school means nothing over a 50 year career. I limited my "likely could have been a doctor" to HYS law students (though your thinking about college students works too). Book smart people who can superstudy their way into 4.0s and 99th percentile LSATs (regardless of undergrad) could have superstudied their way through a few weeder classes and the (much more learnable) MCAT. I stand by that most HYS grads could have been US MDs (though maybe not from top schools and residencies). I think a good percentage of the entire T14 grads could have. Getting down that path is more about planning and grinding than any innate intelligence, and this subset of people, especially the ones that go biglaw, are good at planning and grinding. Not turning this into a law/medicine debate (there should be no debate), but in my first year or so, before I met my wife, I dated a resident when I was a biglaw junior. She worked a lot, but far less than I did. She had 2-3 weekends off per month. I averaged maybe 1 or 2. When she was off, she was off. I was always an email away from needing to go back in. She worked 60 hour weeks (residency hours are capped at 80 hours a week, though some programs ignore that). I would go months without getting under that number. She had 3 weeks off per year. I took 2 weeks off, one of which I worked the entire time in Europe. My [immediate family member] is in his third year of residency now. His life is a gumdrop compared to mine in BIGLAW, and BIGLAW has become much worse since I was a third year. The docs realistically working BIGLAW hours are the surgeons and a few niche subspecialties, and those people actually love their jobs. Truly love going in. It's tough to explain to BIGLAWYERS, where nearly everyone hates it.

Same holds true for banking and consulting. I was a banker for a bulge bracket analyst program. I went all 3 years and (dumb!) decided on law school over business school. The analysts and associates work about as hard as intense biglaw practices (much less actual work, but much more face time), though they go to sleep when they give the lawyers the documents to "turn overnight". VPs and up work less than BIGLAW, but have more travel. They make far more money with much less debt. This isn't as much a numbers game as med school, and this obviously depends more on what undergrad and major you're coming out of, but again people who can get a 4.0 and 99.9% LSAT could have superstudied their way in. Maybe not to GS, JPM or MS, but to something that would pay more than BIGLAW with fewer hours. I did it, and wasn't all that smart.

In the 3-4 months the top (HYS) tier of law people spend doing the LSAT, they could have become very good at the basic accounting and modeling that gets asked about in banking interviews. They could have become very good at case studies for management interviews. They could have superstudied their way into the low 30s of the MCAT (worst case they'd need to do 18 more months of undergrad courses).

Those are only the "preset" career paths. 99% of jobs don't fall into that, and people who are that hard working can often succeed in many things. Again, not to belabor the point, but the proof is easily visible in real life. There's a reason why applications from the Ivy League undergrads are down 50-65% in actual numbers over the last decade. Matriculants are down even more. Law, especially BIGLAW, is a terrible path that most people with any drive can do better than now. People are wising up. Maybe this cuts in favor of your "HYS people couldn't have done anything" argument, as fewer top people choose law, but in my day a decade ago you had a lot of people in my HLS class that could have done almost anything.

People don't feel rich when they've made the worst possible decision on how to use their time and talent.

HIT WRONG BUTTON THIS IS BERNIE

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Burlington4174 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:00 pm

nealric wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.


There are parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Upper Manhattan that are all well within an hour and significantly cheaper.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby dabigchina » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:11 pm

TIL I should go back in time and superstudy in undergrad.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Pokemon » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:02 pm

Burlington4174 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.


There are parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Upper Manhattan that are all well within an hour and significantly cheaper.


Sure but most biglaw associated Prefer not having to worry about getting mugged at 4:00 am when they get home.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Johann » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:39 pm

probably because they aren't on PAYE and are paying around half of their post-tax income to loans.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Sgtpeppernyc » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:43 pm

Pokemon wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.


There are parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Upper Manhattan that are all well within an hour and significantly cheaper.


Sure but most biglaw associated Prefer not having to worry about getting mugged at 4:00 am when they get home.


Pokemon is right. If you go anywhere in NYC but Wall Street and midtown, you will almost certainly get mugged and die the second you get out of your firm-provided cab.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby nealric » Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:41 pm

Burlington4174 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.


There are parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Upper Manhattan that are all well within an hour and significantly cheaper.


I lived in Brooklyn for part of my time in NYC biglaw. The cheap parts of Brooklyn are a hike. May depend on where your firm is (i.e. Midtown vs Downtown), but it's unlikely you are going to get a truly quick commute from a cheap part of the boroughs. And most people grossly underestimate their commutes when they quote this kind of thing. Yeah, it's 30 minutes... if you run to the subway and the train pulls up precisely as you arrive, and there are no delays or other complications. In the real world, when you have an important morning meeting and the train is delayed and you have no easy alternatives to get to the office, you are going to be hating your life.
Last edited by nealric on Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby Pokemon » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:18 pm

Sgtpeppernyc wrote:
Pokemon wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Burlington4174 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Because it's not really worth it. You don't feel rich because you aren't. 180k maybe lower upper middle class in NYC. You can't even afford a two bedroom apartment within a 30 min walk to work. Most of the country would laugh at that.


Ughhhhhh. You do realize that NYC is more than just Manhattan; right?


NYC big law is. And the non-Manhattan areas without a long commute are almost as expensive. I can't imagine being a first-year with the hour and a half commute many NYC workers suffer through to get affordable housing. Your performance would suffer if you aren't superman.


There are parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Upper Manhattan that are all well within an hour and significantly cheaper.


Sure but most biglaw associated Prefer not having to worry about getting mugged at 4:00 am when they get home.


Pokemon is right. If you go anywhere in NYC but Wall Street and midtown, you will almost certainly get mugged and die the second you get out of your firm-provided cab.


Lol, the rental market in NYC is pretty competitive. If a place or neighborhood is cheap, it is because the area is a hike or the area is a shithole.


Your whole point about Wall Street and midtown is also unfair. Lic and Brooklyn coast neighborhoods are just as expensive as Manhattan. As a mid-level, places like woodside might be reasonable, but I would not recommend that to a first year that is not from NYC and has no idea what to expect in biglaw.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:33 pm

NYC is expensive but you're still making a shitload more money than most of your peers. If you don't like the lifestyle it affords, then you don't like NYC.

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Re: Why do a lot of biglaw lawyers say they're not "living the life" financially-wise?

Postby elendinel » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:16 pm

$160k is not a lot in NYC if you want to live within 20 mins of your office, if you don't want to live with roommates, if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans, and you're trying to save a lot of money (especially if you don't plan to be in biglaw your whole career). It's certainly not lower-middle class by any means, but it's not going half as far as it would in, say, DC or Boston, either.

Obviously, you can always find ways to save money (move to CT, live with roommates, shop at Jmart instead of Whole Foods, etc.); that's not the issue. The issue is that, in most other places, $160k would be so much money that you wouldn't have to be trying to find ways to save; you could "live the life" without having to scrimp on anything. In NYC, you will most likely have to concede some luxury other people with your salary would have elsewhere.



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