NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

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MCFC
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NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby MCFC » Wed May 13, 2015 8:47 am


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

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed May 13, 2015 9:06 am

In December, Yale Law School released a study that showed 70% of its students were affected by mental health issues, according to this article.
Last edited by CanadianWolf on Wed May 13, 2015 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby TasmanianToucan » Wed May 13, 2015 9:15 am

:shock:

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encore1101
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby encore1101 » Wed May 13, 2015 9:25 am

As a lowly-paid attorney, I can confirm that I am happy.

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

Postby seizmaar » Wed May 13, 2015 9:27 am

i think the headline should be "lower," right? or are the attorneys earning $0 really the happiest out there? if so the veil thread is working backwards.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby MCFC » Wed May 13, 2015 9:37 am

CanadianWolf wrote:In December, Yale Law School released a study that showed 70% of its students were affected by mental health issues, according to this article.

Yeah, the headline is kind of whatever to me honestly. The numbers like that one and this one were the ones that jumped out.
From 1999 to 2007, lawyers were 54 percent more likely to commit suicide than people in other professions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed May 13, 2015 9:55 am

CanadianWolf wrote:In December, Yale Law School released a study that showed 70% of its students were affected by mental health issues, according to this article.

I'd be curious how this compares to other high-powered grad programs. Almost everyone in my PhD program was on anti-depressants.

(Not disputing the suicide rate posted above, just curious about how much is chicken and how much is egg.)

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encore1101
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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby encore1101 » Wed May 13, 2015 10:36 am

seizmaar wrote:i think the headline should be "lower," right? or are the attorneys earning $0 really the happiest out there? if so the veil thread is working backwards.



Should rename it "The Vale of Eternal Happiness" is what you're suggesting?

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby delusional » Wed May 13, 2015 12:17 pm

Some potential problems:

They reported on the average rather than the median. Amal Clooney reports a zillion happies but the rest of the low-paid lawyers are miserable.

Rich people can go into public interest while poor social strivers can't afford it.

More successful people might be more successful because they are not as easily satisfied.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby bananatopia » Wed May 13, 2015 12:35 pm

encore1101 wrote:
seizmaar wrote:i think the headline should be "lower," right? or are the attorneys earning $0 really the happiest out there? if so the veil thread is working backwards.



Should rename it "The Vale of Eternal Happiness" is what you're suggesting?

Seconded. Having lots of money should be called the "vale of tears".

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby chimp » Wed May 13, 2015 12:41 pm

how does the article define low pay? I would think that attorneys with moderate salaries (i.e. 70-90k per year) and reasonable hours (40-50 hours per week) would be the happiest, but what the fuck do I know?

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon May 18, 2015 8:27 pm

If this report is accurate, then the attorneys on JDUnderground.com are the happiest 1% of lawyers out there.

Even if the report is statistically accurate, it doesn't account for the issues noted in delusional's post, which could explain why lawyers with lower pay reported more happiness while most people reading this article wouldn't be as happy with the "lowest paying" legal jobs.

chimp wrote:how does the article define low pay? I would think that attorneys with moderate salaries (i.e. 70-90k per year) and reasonable hours (40-50 hours per week) would be the happiest, but what the fuck do I know?


This makes sense. I can't imagine there are a ton of lawyers out there that make $40-60k /year and work a ton of hours in shitlaw that are particularly happy with their lives.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Cobretti » Mon May 18, 2015 8:49 pm

NYC to 60!

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue May 19, 2015 8:07 am

It's not a perfect study but I wouldn't be shocked if the overall result is accurate. People I know in small firms, government, and public interest seem almost universally happier than people in big law. And it's not because they're all independently wealthy.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby smallfirmassociate » Tue May 19, 2015 11:13 am

Yes, of course a lawyer would be happy if he had a wealthy enough family or spouse where he could afford to work a 40-hour per week gov't or PI job. That being said, I'm not rich but decided to go to a small firm where money was a bit tight as an associate. I have always been happy here.

In other words, I'm sure this study is confounded but also has some truth to it.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue May 19, 2015 8:02 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:Yes, of course a lawyer would be happy if he had a wealthy enough family or spouse where he could afford to work a 40-hour per week gov't or PI job. That being said, I'm not rich but decided to go to a small firm where money was a bit tight as an associate. I have always been happy here.

In other words, I'm sure this study is confounded but also has some truth to it.


Didn't you also say that you make something like $300k /year now in the middle of nowhere, where COL is dirt cheap? Not exactly the lowest pay (and it sounds like you always knew that the low pay would be a temporary thing at the firm you're at).

dixiecupdrinking wrote:It's not a perfect study but I wouldn't be shocked if the overall result is accurate. People I know in small firms, government, and public interest seem almost universally happier than people in big law. And it's not because they're all independently wealthy.


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 mean it's easy to be happy making $50k /year when you're in your mid 20s, freshly graduated from law school, and are getting a ton of responsibility/getting to do "meaningful" work. It's a different story when you're in your 40s and are making $60k /year with no retirement savings and a family. 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. Imagine those people who were happy in their mid 20s won't be so happy about their life choices when they're 75 (absent an inheritance or finding a wealthy spouse). Think in most cases, people who do PI or low paying government (i.e. not fed govt.) long-term either have spouses who can support them or wealthy families. The ones who don't are in for a very rude awakening when they get older.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue May 19, 2015 8:06 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
smallfirmassociate wrote:Yes, of course a lawyer would be happy if he had a wealthy enough family or spouse where he could afford to work a 40-hour per week gov't or PI job. That being said, I'm not rich but decided to go to a small firm where money was a bit tight as an associate. I have always been happy here.

In other words, I'm sure this study is confounded but also has some truth to it.


Didn't you also say that you make something like $300k /year now in the middle of nowhere, where COL is dirt cheap? Not exactly the lowest pay (and it sounds like you always knew that the low pay would be a temporary thing at the firm you're at).

dixiecupdrinking wrote:It's not a perfect study but I wouldn't be shocked if the overall result is accurate. People I know in small firms, government, and public interest seem almost universally happier than people in big law. And it's not because they're all independently wealthy.


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 mean it's easy to be happy making $50k /year when you're in your mid 20s, freshly graduated from law school, and are getting a ton of responsibility/getting to do "meaningful" work. It's a different story when you're in your 40s and are making $60k /year with no retirement savings and a family. 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. Imagine those people who were happy in their mid 20s won't be so happy about their life choices when they're 75 (absent an inheritance or finding a wealthy spouse). Think in most cases, people who do PI or low paying government (i.e. not fed govt.) long-term either have spouses who can support them or wealthy families. The ones who don't are in for a very rude awakening when they get older.

I think this is a little overly bleak, and overstates how dire people's economics are. There are lots and lots of people in the US making $50k-$60k a year. Just because you wouldn't be happy in that situation doesn't mean no one can be.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue May 19, 2015 10:11 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
smallfirmassociate wrote:Yes, of course a lawyer would be happy if he had a wealthy enough family or spouse where he could afford to work a 40-hour per week gov't or PI job. That being said, I'm not rich but decided to go to a small firm where money was a bit tight as an associate. I have always been happy here.

In other words, I'm sure this study is confounded but also has some truth to it.


Didn't you also say that you make something like $300k /year now in the middle of nowhere, where COL is dirt cheap? Not exactly the lowest pay (and it sounds like you always knew that the low pay would be a temporary thing at the firm you're at).

dixiecupdrinking wrote:It's not a perfect study but I wouldn't be shocked if the overall result is accurate. People I know in small firms, government, and public interest seem almost universally happier than people in big law. And it's not because they're all independently wealthy.


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 mean it's easy to be happy making $50k /year when you're in your mid 20s, freshly graduated from law school, and are getting a ton of responsibility/getting to do "meaningful" work. It's a different story when you're in your 40s and are making $60k /year with no retirement savings and a family. 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. Imagine those people who were happy in their mid 20s won't be so happy about their life choices when they're 75 (absent an inheritance or finding a wealthy spouse). Think in most cases, people who do PI or low paying government (i.e. not fed govt.) long-term either have spouses who can support them or wealthy families. The ones who don't are in for a very rude awakening when they get older.

I think this is a little overly bleak, and overstates how dire people's economics are. There are lots and lots of people in the US making $50k-$60k a year. Just because you wouldn't be happy in that situation doesn't mean no one can be.


Not saying a person can't be happy making $50-60k /year while employed. Just think that they won't be quite as happy when they get older and aren't able to retire. Notably, there's lots and lots of people in the US who don't have enough to retire by retirement age, and most of them are people who fall into the lower income brackets. See, e.g., http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ... nt-gamble/ ; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ... ment/view/

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby smallfirmassociate » Wed May 20, 2015 3:09 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
smallfirmassociate wrote:Yes, of course a lawyer would be happy if he had a wealthy enough family or spouse where he could afford to work a 40-hour per week gov't or PI job. That being said, I'm not rich but decided to go to a small firm where money was a bit tight as an associate. I have always been happy here.

In other words, I'm sure this study is confounded but also has some truth to it.


Didn't you also say that you make something like $300k /year now in the middle of nowhere, where COL is dirt cheap? Not exactly the lowest pay (and it sounds like you always knew that the low pay would be a temporary thing at the firm you're at).
...


I don't recall saying exactly how much I make, other than saying that it's more than a biglaw associate. Of course, I didn't always know that the low pay would be temporary. I hoped it would, but making partner was not a guarantee.

Even when I was making little money and unsure of my future here, I was pretty happy overall. Granted, I knew that eventually I'd have to make more money either here or by finding a different job, and that was a source of stress, but that concern was definitely outweighed by all of the time I had off to spend with my spouse and kids during some really cool years of our lives.

If I somehow felt I couldn't move on to a higher-paying job elsewhere, then the low pay may have felt oppressive. It's a complicated issue economically and psychologically, so it's hard to tell.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Wed May 20, 2015 3:58 pm

Lowly PI salary, no rich family, ridiculously happy.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 20, 2015 4:55 pm

I also make around 50k and do not have a wealthy family or spouse. I really love my job and feel fulfilled by it. Yes, I have to think hard about every dollar I spend, and yes, of course, I would love if I could magically get paid 100k to do the same job. But I chose this job over biglaw for a reason, and I don't regret that trade-off AT ALL.

I think, XxSpyKEx, that you're kind of missing the point of the article -- which is, obviously, that a job that is fulfilling, satisfying, helping others, etc. is more rewarding than financial stability or comfort. The tradeoffs, like not being able to buy a nice house (or any house at all) are more than offset, over the course of a lifetime, by enjoying your job and finding it meaningful.

I acknowledge I could feel differently when/if I have kids in a couple years, but I know plenty of PI lawyers with kids who still love their jobs and their lives and wouldn't trade them.

Also, it is totally possible to save enough over a lifetime to retire on even if you're only making 50-60k (and realistically, you might make slightly more than that over the course of a PI career, maybe up to 100k -- even PI organizations and non-fed gov't pay senior lawyers more than lawyers just starting out). Many Americans don't have those savings because many Americans live beyond their means, but that's a totally different issue. We, as a culture, are just very bad at saving money. But if you commit to living within your means and saving every month even on a 50k salary, you could totally have enough to live on. Of course, you might forego nice vacations, nice clothes, nice restaurants to make that happen -- but it's at least possible.

The nice thing too about being a lawyer is that you can work for a really long time because it doesn't require the physical capabilities that some other jobs do. Know plenty of practicing lawyers in their 70s and 80s.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Wed May 20, 2015 4:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I also make around 50k and do not have a wealthy family or spouse. I really love my job and feel fulfilled by it. Yes, I have to think hard about every dollar I spend, and yes, of course, I would love if I could magically get paid 100k to do the same job. But I chose this job over biglaw for a reason, and I don't regret that trade-off AT ALL.

I think, XxSpyKEx, that you're kind of missing the point of the article -- which is, obviously, that a job that is fulfilling, satisfying, helping others, etc. is more rewarding than financial stability or comfort. The tradeoffs, like not being able to buy a nice house (or any house at all) are more than offset, over the course of a lifetime, by enjoying your job and finding it meaningful.

I acknowledge I could feel differently when/if I have kids in a couple years, but I know plenty of PI lawyers with kids who still love their jobs and their lives and wouldn't trade them.

Also, it is totally possible to save enough over a lifetime to retire on even if you're only making 50-60k (and realistically, you might make slightly more than that over the course of a PI career, maybe up to 100k -- even PI organizations and non-fed gov't pay senior lawyers more than lawyers just starting out). Many Americans don't have those savings because many Americans live beyond their means, but that's a totally different issue. We, as a culture, are just very bad at saving money. But if you commit to living within your means and saving every month even on a 50k salary, you could totally have enough to live on. Of course, you might forego nice vacations, nice clothes, nice restaurants to make that happen -- but it's at least possible.

The nice thing too about being a lawyer is that you can work for a really long time because it doesn't require the physical capabilities that some other jobs do. Know plenty of practicing lawyers in their 70s and 80s.

^ the more eloquent version of what I meant.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby jchiles » Wed May 20, 2015 5:12 pm

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?

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed May 20, 2015 6:55 pm

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.

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Re: NYT: Lawyers with Lowest Pay Report More Happiness

Postby Holly Golightly » Wed May 20, 2015 7:39 pm

Nonprofits also have a pay scale based on experience. And with what I'm doing, I could go to a private firm eventually. But with how fulfilling I find my job, I really don't see that happening.




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