How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

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angrybird
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby angrybird » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:03 pm

desertlaw wrote:How does a SA spend all of their money in 10 weeks? That's mind-boggling.

i've spent like half of mine and i don't start for another two weeks

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rayiner
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby rayiner » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:16 pm

Geon wrote:
rayiner wrote:
Kendi wrote:
Aberzombie1892 wrote:This. Big law provides a trap in which young big law associates fall into when they make the mistake of adjusting their lifestyles to reflect their high pay. The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of big law associates that start at $160K/year in big law won't be making that amount 4 years later.

Why is that? The $160k might drop to what? Is the drop temporary, like a year or two? My original question remains, what tends to happen after year 3-5. . .start over at a new firm, form a firm, or what?

For me Big Law would not likely include NYC, so having to earn the really big COL bucks to handle an extravagant lifestyle should not become an issue. Also, thanks for your input.


http://s3.amazonaws.com/DBM/M3/2011/Dow ... e_2012.pdf


Link no trabajo (work)


Try this (follow the links on the page to the data): http://www.inhouseblog.com/inhouse_counsel_salaries/

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elterrible78
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby elterrible78 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:21 pm

Geon wrote:
Link no trabajo (work)


What the holy hell was the purpose of writing this in Spanish to begin with and then"helpfully" providing a (completely fried) English translation? You could have just written it in English, no? Instead, you exposed yourself to anyone who has taken a month of Spanish 101 as someone with, well, less Spanish fluency than someone who has taken a month of Spanish 101.

I apologize for posting something that adds absolutely nothing relevant to the discussion here, but this kind of behavior is just so puzzling to me.

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angrybird
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby angrybird » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:24 pm

elterrible78 wrote:
Geon wrote:
Link no trabajo (work)


What the holy hell was the purpose of writing this in Spanish to begin with and then"helpfully" providing a (completely fried) English translation? You could have just written it in English, no? Instead, you exposed yourself to anyone who has taken a month of Spanish 101 as someone with, well, less Spanish fluency than someone who has taken a month of Spanish 101.

I apologize for posting something that adds absolutely nothing relevant to the discussion here, but this kind of behavior is just so puzzling to me.

take it easy, pendejo (penishead)

justinp
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby justinp » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:40 pm

desertlaw wrote:How does a SA spend all of their money in 10 weeks? That's mind-boggling.


New York City is a scary place.

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timeandspace11
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby timeandspace11 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:51 am

I can definitely see how people would adjust their standard of living to equal their paychecks from Big Law, ad how that can be detrimental to paying off loans. If (and I know its an if) I worked at Big Law I would try my best to maybe live at a standard below the norm of that level of income.


Does anyone know the most common position to lateral into? In house, Government ect...?

Geon
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:13 am

timeandspace11 wrote:I can definitely see how people would adjust their standard of living to equal their paychecks from Big Law, ad how that can be detrimental to paying off loans. If (and I know its an if) I worked at Big Law I would try my best to maybe live at a standard below the norm of that level of income.


Does anyone know the most common position to lateral into? In house, Government ect...?

After looking into it deeper what I can gather is what the other posters said.
-boutiques/speciality law
-in house counsel
-government

In that order. The one exception is people who go to top 5 schools, all those clerks seem to switch into big law.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:22 am

timeandspace11 wrote:I can definitely see how people would adjust their standard of living to equal their paychecks from Big Law, ad how that can be detrimental to paying off loans. If (and I know its an if) I worked at Big Law I would try my best to maybe live at a standard below the norm of that level of income.


It's not just detrimental to paying of loans -> it's detrimental to your post big law life. Everyone in big law should strongly consider making large payments on your loans during your time there instead of squandering it on a luxurious lifestyle maintained by overspending on items 1-6 below:

1. Transportation
2. Housing
3. Minor luxuries
4. Food
5. Entertainment
6. Significant other/dating expenses

Imagine a person was making $200K in big law (roughly 3rd year from $160K market). How much would do you think they would spend on each of those things? Now imagine that person is abruptly let go/quits, and they suddenly are "only" making $60-100K. That would invoke panic and regret in that person related to two issues: maintaining existing financial obligations and money that was spent that could have been saved.

Maintaining existing obligations - Do you think the person who adjusted their lifestyle to reflect $160K+ could maintain their lease/mortgage/car/utility/club/etc. payments with that large of an income drop?

Money already spent - How do you think that person feels about all of the money that was thrown away on high priced restaurants/luxuries/entertainment/dates/clubs or on living in a prestigious part of town in a legendary apartment complex? That money would be worth its weight in gold to that person now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying someone should live like a hermit during their time in big law. I'm just saying that if one is not conscious of their expenses and life choices while in big law, they will certainly regret it when they leave (assuming they don't make partner, which is a fair assumption).

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Odd Future Wolf Gang
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Odd Future Wolf Gang » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:22 am

So if you went to LS at sticker price, you pretty much went through all that bullshit just for the PRIVILEGE of slaving away in biglaw and paying off your debt? Then you move down to some 80-100k job, yes? But how hard is it to land such jobs? Is it really that easy as "oh, got shitcanned/pushed out of biglaw? Just do in-house, bro?" Isn't it super competitive since there are probably hundreds of worn-out biglaw dudes striving for these jobs?

Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

I can see why biglaw would be pretty awesome financially, if you had no/minimal debt; but it seems dumb as FUARK for dudes who paid sticker. Best case scenario, you last five years in biglaw and break even from your investment in LS, so your net worth goes back to 0 from -250k.

Putting aside your 1% chance at making partner and the PREFTIGE of being a lawyer, what's the upside here? Not trying to come off like an ass or anything. Just really curious.

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Nelson
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Nelson » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:28 am

Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

Lulz. Good luck with getting that first job.

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angrybird
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby angrybird » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:03 pm

Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

I can see why biglaw would be pretty awesome financially, if you had no/minimal debt; but it seems dumb as FUARK for dudes who paid sticker. Best case scenario, you last five years in biglaw and break even from your investment in LS, so your net worth goes back to 0 from -250k.

Putting aside your 1% chance at making partner and the PREFTIGE of being a lawyer, what's the upside here? Not trying to come off like an ass or anything. Just really curious.

many (perhaps the majority) of biglaw associates move to smaller firms, with more reasonable hours. the point is that these jobs are basically impossible to get without biglaw experience. so, if you want to be an in-house lawyer, or have a shot at making partner at a smaller firm, or a big government position, biglaw is the best way to get there.

i'm curious why you expect the value to be wildly different from any other career path? if you compare student A, who chooses law school and succeeds (gets good enough grades for a biglaw job, works for 4 years and exits to a 90k salary) to student B, who chooses no law school and succeeds (gets a job out of undergrad, works for 6-7 years up to a 90k salary), of course they're going to look pretty similar economically. otherwise everyone would go to law school. just depends on what you want your job to be.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:35 pm

angrybird wrote:
Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

I can see why biglaw would be pretty awesome financially, if you had no/minimal debt; but it seems dumb as FUARK for dudes who paid sticker. Best case scenario, you last five years in biglaw and break even from your investment in LS, so your net worth goes back to 0 from -250k.

Putting aside your 1% chance at making partner and the PREFTIGE of being a lawyer, what's the upside here? Not trying to come off like an ass or anything. Just really curious.

many (perhaps the majority) of biglaw associates move to smaller firms, with more reasonable hours. the point is that these jobs are basically impossible to get without biglaw experience. so, if you want to be an in-house lawyer, or have a shot at making partner at a smaller firm, or a big government position, biglaw is the best way to get there.

i'm curious why you expect the value to be wildly different from any other career path? if you compare student A, who chooses law school and succeeds (gets good enough grades for a biglaw job, works for 4 years and exits to a 90k salary) to student B, who chooses no law school and succeeds (gets a job out of undergrad, works for 6-7 years up to a 90k salary), of course they're going to look pretty similar economically. otherwise everyone would go to law school. just depends on what you want your job to be.


Except the non law guy would have SIGNIFICANTLY less debt. The real problem is that taxes make it VERY difficult to catch up up because come 2013, the federal rate is 39.6% = 40% for ease of calculation and anyone in big law or most will end up in high tax NYC, or California or Chicago where they can expect to pay another 10% in state and local taxes. so you end up paying a near 50% tax rate and even if your making the 7th year associate 300k (With bonus), you're only taking home 150k. Then you'll have your other taxes like property or in the alternative condo fees and cleaning fees and maintenance and cleaning fees, your not going to be cutting your own yard if you live in the suburbs but you'll probally live downtown and have condo fees in addition to your rent/mortgage. When you throw in all your cost, I can see 20-30k if you live frugally, but probably more like 50k-70k as you try to show off. With the lower tax rates from earning less, I could reasonably see a regular job out earning a big law lawyer. I mean if that given person opened up a business after 10 years of working in their regular 9-5. You can't get rich paying 50% taxes.

Any how, I'd wonder what someone was doing if they worked for 7 years and was only earning 90k.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:39 pm

Nelson wrote:
Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

Lulz. Good luck with getting that first job.

Many people here left well paying jobs post undergrad to enter law.
A sales job will start you out at 40-50k and you'd be up to 80k by 2nd year 100k in 3rd year and 150-250k by 7th year depending on what you were selling. Naturally the trick is to pick something in sales that sells large. Ie. you'd be smart to enter say corporate computer sales over selling computers on the street corner.

Fact of the matter is any persistent person with the talent to get into big law could just as easily land a good sales gig if they applied themself IMO.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:44 pm

Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:So if you went to LS at sticker price, you pretty much went through all that bullshit just for the PRIVILEGE of slaving away in biglaw and paying off your debt? Then you move down to some 80-100k job, yes? But how hard is it to land such jobs? Is it really that easy as "oh, got shitcanned/pushed out of biglaw? Just do in-house, bro?" Isn't it super competitive since there are probably hundreds of worn-out biglaw dudes striving for these jobs?

Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

I can see why biglaw would be pretty awesome financially, if you had no/minimal debt; but it seems dumb as FUARK for dudes who paid sticker. Best case scenario, you last five years in biglaw and break even from your investment in LS, so your net worth goes back to 0 from -250k.

Putting aside your 1% chance at making partner and the PREFTIGE of being a lawyer, what's the upside here? Not trying to come off like an ass or anything. Just really curious.


I tend to agree with you. But I think the economics are
law school cost = 210-150k
big law salary = 150-250k by 5th year, then divide by 2 and subtract 40k per year.

and all in all you end up + ~200k in the bank after 3-5 years of big law. Which is enough money in the bank account that you won't need to really worry about money again. Its not a million or nothing but its enough that you won't really have to worry if you move outta NYC.

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rayiner
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby rayiner » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:49 pm

Odd Future Wolf Gang wrote:So if you went to LS at sticker price, you pretty much went through all that bullshit just for the PRIVILEGE of slaving away in biglaw and paying off your debt? Then you move down to some 80-100k job, yes? But how hard is it to land such jobs? Is it really that easy as "oh, got shitcanned/pushed out of biglaw? Just do in-house, bro?" Isn't it super competitive since there are probably hundreds of worn-out biglaw dudes striving for these jobs?

Assuming you land some decent entry-level corporate job out of UG, couldn't someone move up to a 70-90k position in six years (time spent in LS + average shelf life at biglaw) while earning money all those years and not taking on 250k debt at 8% interest?

I can see why biglaw would be pretty awesome financially, if you had no/minimal debt; but it seems dumb as FUARK for dudes who paid sticker. Best case scenario, you last five years in biglaw and break even from your investment in LS, so your net worth goes back to 0 from -250k.


You're comparing an incredibly great scenario (making $90k after six years at a job with just a bachelors degree) to the average below/average scenario (coming off big law after 3 years making $80k). Median in-house salary for someone with 3 years of experience is about $90k-$120k (see the link I posted further up). Meanwhile, even in a well-paying job like engineering you'd be hard pressed to make $90k after only 6 years. Salaries just don't grow that fast in most jobs. Moreover, the ceiling for an in-house legal job is a lot higher than for the corporate job. Most corporate jobs top out in the low $100k range, and you need special qualifications (MBA, etc) to break that ceiling.

The total cost of a law degree, including interest, is about $300k at sticker. Over a 40 year career, that's $7,500 a year. If you manage to pay off $100k or so in the few years you last in big law, you literally need to make just about $6,000 a year more than you otherwise would to justify the degree.

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rayiner
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby rayiner » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:55 pm

Geon wrote: With the lower tax rates from earning less, I could reasonably see a regular job out earning a big law lawyer. I mean if that given person opened up a business after 10 years of working in their regular 9-5. You can't get rich paying 50% taxes.

Any how, I'd wonder what someone was doing if they worked for 7 years and was only earning 90k.


What's the point of comparing exceptional cases (opening your own business) to average/below-average cases (earning $90k after 7 years in a career that started out in big law).

Someone at a small/medium firm with 4-9 years of experience makes $80-150k on average, adjust upward 20% for a major metro area. An in-house attorney with 4-9 years of experience makes $100k-$180k on average, again adjust upward 20% for a major metro area. http://www.inhouseblog.com/inhouse_counsel_salaries/

If you have what it takes to work your way up the corporate ladder enough to eventually make $100k+ in a corporate job, a similar level of success in law will land you a $150k+ job in house or at a medium-sized firm.

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BruceWayne
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby BruceWayne » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:01 pm

rayiner wrote:You're comparing an incredibly great scenario (making $90k after six years at a job with just a bachelors degree) to the average below/average scenario (coming off big law after 3 years making $80k).


And this is being extremely generous. More like "bomb-ass pop lock and drop it" scenario. $90K after 6 years of work with a bachelor's degree? LOL you probably have better odds graduating below mean from a top 200 law school at landing a 100K firm job.

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rayiner
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby rayiner » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:25 pm

I think people have a bit of a warped perspective on life after big law.

There are about 60,000 partners at NLJ 250 firms (equity and non-equity). There are about 32,000 attorneys working as lawyers for the Federal government: http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/p ... are-there/.

There aren't a lot of statistics on in-house counsel, but we can estimate. A survey of 223 large companies shows that they employ 3.8-4.7 lawyers per $ billion of revenue. The Fortune 500 earned a combined $10.8 trillion in revenue last year. That suggests ~40,000 in-house lawyers.

Adding up the three categories, you have about 130,000 lawyers in positions where they make good money. Assume a low 1.5% growth rate (the NLJ 250 grew 1.7% last year, down from 5-6% during the boom), and a conservative retirement rate of about 2% (50 year careers). That puts the number of new positions each year at about 4,500. Meanwhile, about 5,500 new attorneys started at NLJ 250 firms in 2010 (down from 7,000 during the boom).

These calculations are very rough, but they clearly show that ending up in-house, in federal government, or at least as a non-equity partner is not a huge long-shot for someone who makes it into an NLJ 250 firm. These people will make a lot more over their careers, even accounting for debt, than they would have with just their undergraduate degrees.

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bk1
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby bk1 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:29 pm

rayiner wrote:There aren't a lot of statistics on in-house counsel, but we can estimate. A survey of 223 large companies shows that they employ 3.8-4.7 lawyers per $ billion of revenue. The Fortune 500 earned a combined $10.8 trillion in revenue last year. That suggests ~40,000 in-house lawyers.


The F500 on average employ 80 lawyers each? I had no idea it was that high.

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rayiner
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby rayiner » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:44 pm

bk1 wrote:
rayiner wrote:There aren't a lot of statistics on in-house counsel, but we can estimate. A survey of 223 large companies shows that they employ 3.8-4.7 lawyers per $ billion of revenue. The Fortune 500 earned a combined $10.8 trillion in revenue last year. That suggests ~40,000 in-house lawyers.


The F500 on average employ 80 lawyers each? I had no idea it was that high.


There's not a lot of in-house data, but let's look at one example: http://www.lawdepartmentmanagementblog. ... direc.html
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/ ... s/634.html

So Honeywell apparently had 100 in-house lawyers in 2006, and $29 billion in revenue. Rank #71 on F500. That's about 3.5 lawyers per billion in revenue.

# of lawyers per $ billion of revenue vary a lot by industry: http://www.lawdepartmentmanagementblog. ... venue.html

Other sources also report 3.5-4.5 per billion:
http://www.inhouseinsider.com/could-the ... improving/
http://www-local.legal.uillinois.edu/na ... ons/8E.pdf
http://www.senderlegalsearch.com/archives/62

Some legal departments are huge. GE has 1,200 in-house lawyers. AllState and Liberty Mutual have about 700 each.

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kerflux
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby kerflux » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:51 pm

desertlaw wrote:How does a SA spend all of their money in 10 weeks? That's mind-boggling.





cocaine is a helluva drug.

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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Geon » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:11 am

BruceWayne wrote:
rayiner wrote:You're comparing an incredibly great scenario (making $90k after six years at a job with just a bachelors degree) to the average below/average scenario (coming off big law after 3 years making $80k).


And this is being extremely generous. More like "bomb-ass pop lock and drop it" scenario. $90K after 6 years of work with a bachelor's degree? LOL you probably have better odds graduating below mean from a top 200 law school at landing a 100K firm job.


Not really. It really depends what your degree was in, where you live, etc. My degree in business from a good school, I know plenty of people who hit the 100k mark before 6 years. In fact very few people from this school do an mba because it is not necessarily financially ie. you should be earning more than what the mba would start you at.
Plenty of accountants, sales people, finance, consultants, marketing are breaking or surpassing this 6 years out. With an average/median starting salary in the low 50k range you'd seriously being doing something wrong not to double your salary 6 years out.

The valid point you may be pushing is that this is not common in most of north america, I don't know to be honest what all those other majors end up financially like gender studies for example. But anyone who got into these types of jobs would be just as good off financially and if you can make big law, you can definitively get into most these jobs.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:14 pm

Geon wrote:With an average/median starting salary in the low 50k range you'd seriously being doing something wrong not to double your salary 6 years out.


Starting at 50K just isn't normal, nor is doubling your salary in six years.

Geon wrote:The real problem is that taxes make it VERY difficult to catch up up because come 2013, the federal rate is 39.6% = 40% for ease of calculation and anyone in big law or most will end up in high tax NYC, or California or Chicago where they can expect to pay another 10% in state and local taxes. so you end up paying a near 50% tax rate and even if your making the 7th year associate 300k (With bonus), you're only taking home 150k.


You really think this is how income tax rates work?

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Birdnals
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Birdnals » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:37 pm

The top 10% of US households makes ~100K. You are saying all it takes to make more than 90% of American HOUSEHOLDS is a business degree from a respected school and 6 years experience?

Also, where is this magical world where doubling a base business salary in 6 years is common? Even if you have an extraordinary year a 10% increase is the most you will see. Also, even the CPAs I know start off around 55K (although admittedly after 7 years, being a Senior Manager making 6 figures isn’t uncommon) and there is a pretty large gap between general business degree (even from a very good business school) and being a CPA. And these are CPAs graduating from a top 20 accounting program.

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Nelson
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Re: How much time does the average lawyer spend in big law?

Postby Nelson » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:34 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
Geon wrote:The real problem is that taxes make it VERY difficult to catch up up because come 2013, the federal rate is 39.6% = 40% for ease of calculation and anyone in big law or most will end up in high tax NYC, or California or Chicago where they can expect to pay another 10% in state and local taxes. so you end up paying a near 50% tax rate and even if your making the 7th year associate 300k (With bonus), you're only taking home 150k.


You really think this is how income tax rates work?

:lol:




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