Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

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JayDubya

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Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by JayDubya » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am

I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.

cheaptilts

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by cheaptilts » Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:14 am

I vote for staying miserable and collecting paychecks for doing nothing until you literally can’t do it anymore.

sparty99

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by sparty99 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:29 am

JayDubya wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am
I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.
that is a great salary. Do you have debt? I would not leave 130 k to do government work for 60k unless u have 0 debt and like 50k in savings. And maybe wait for the pandemic to end.

bobthebuilder4

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by bobthebuilder4 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 1:35 pm

You are living the dream man, the grass isn't greener on the other side.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:08 pm

I left a similarly paying job with similar hours and great benefits (*a job I really liked*) for law school. Just graduated and will clerk. I want to be a litigator, so despite the cushy gig I had, this is the better path for me. I really want to be a practicing lawyer. I did not enter law school or decide on litigation because I was unsure of what to do.

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Yugihoe

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Yugihoe » Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:13 pm

How much money do you have saved up and how much is your yearly expenses? If you're in a good financial spot, I'd consider it. Life is too short to be miserable. I make like 2x what you make but in a way more stressful inhouse position that I hate and I plan on leaving in 6 months after I get my bonus.

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Sackboy

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Sackboy » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:02 pm

Personally, I would hate to retire or die saying that I hated my 40 year working career. Life is short, and there isn't a respawn option, to my knowledge. I definitely won't be smiling and saying it was worth it because I have $4M in the bank, or however much I have at retirement/death. For some people, it's worth it, but it doesn't sound like you're that type of person.

Some people are forced to work brutal jobs or jobs they hate for the sake of their family or due to being born in the wrong country. You're very fortunate to be a practicing American lawyer. In your situation, you have the opportunity to move on to something you like more in a low to moderate cost of living area starting at $40-$60k and scaling up to $80-$100k+. That's by no means a luxurious living, but if you choose the right part of the country it's more than enough to get by and live a good life.

I've only worked one cushy job, and it's the worst one I've ever had. I used to get paid $150k to do about 15-25 hours of work a week. I was miserable. I now earn senior associate money and work 50-60hrs a week, and I'm considerably happier, because I truly enjoy the work I do and feel valued in my role. For some of us, we're lucky that what we enjoy doing also pays quite well. For people like you, it's a bummer that the pay isn't nearly as good, but I still think the net positive of doing what you like, feeling valued, and living more of the life that you imagined for yourself is worth the pay cut.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by gregfootball2001 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:39 pm

JayDubya wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am
I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.
The real issue is going to be a lack of experience. I'm assuming from the above that you want to do criminal defense as a solo (if not, you shouldn't do PD/DA). Are you getting any litigation experience in your company? If not, can you pivot to get any litigation experience whatsoever before you leave? Along those lines, if you haven't gotten litigation experience and you think you want to do criminal defense, think long and hard - it's not an easy road. Do something in court pro bono. Get on your feet and make sure you like it, because as someone else said above, the grass isn't always greener. If you're unhappy, I fully support changing, but make sure you take the time and make sure it's the right change.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:01 pm

JayDubya wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am
I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.
I did exactly this. I was hired directly by a company from law school, worked 8-5 (no nights or weekends), slightly more vacation days than you, was earning about $150k all in, and I was bored and frustrated. I left for a firm after about three years and am incredibly glad I made the jump. I can go back in house of I ever want to, and look even more attractive for those roles with my prior experience. In the interim, my law firm job is (reasonably) interesting and challenging, there's way less bureaucracy, I'm learning more, I get to be creative, etc. I also make substantially more now, though you likely won't if you go the DA/PD route.

Sometimes I miss my free vacations and weekends, and I don't know that I'll stay at a firm forever (billables are miserable and I'm not sure I want to be a partner), but I am sure I made the right choice. It seems counterintuitive, but my mental health has improved despite having way more work.

Apply and see how excited you get for any offers. You don't have to make this decision now and you're in the great spot of being able to be picky about job options.

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Ohiobumpkin

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Ohiobumpkin » Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:20 pm

What do you want to do in a hypothetical solo practice? That determines whether you should get more experience elsewhere or go work somewhere to get more experience first.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Lacepiece23 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:43 am

I’d do it. The average solo/small firm attorney makes 190k a year. It might take you three years to get there, but you can definitely do it.

I’d cut out the DA/PD step unless you really want to do criminal law. It’s not necessary. No one really tries cases anymore and you’re either good at it or you aren’t. Read a few books if you ever get there.

The hardest part is that you now need to become a sales person and marketer. Ask yourself if you have those skills. That’s more important than legal knowledge.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by nixy » Tue Aug 25, 2020 11:39 am

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:43 am
I’d cut out the DA/PD step unless you really want to do criminal law. It’s not necessary. No one really tries cases anymore and you’re either good at it or you aren’t. Read a few books if you ever get there.
I really disagree that you’re either good at trying cases or you’re not. It’s a skill (or lots of them) that can (and have to) be learned. I’ll acknowledge that the naturally charismatic have an edge in front of juries, but it’s not a mystical characteristic that you either have or you don’t.

That said, yeah, trials are uncommon, and if you don’t want to do criminal stuff as a solo, I’m not sure the trial skills you’d get as a PD/DA would add as much value as the marketing and sales referenced (as well as content knowledge in whatever field you do want to do and making connections with people who can give you advice and referrals.) OTOH, if you do want to do criminal defense as a solo then DEFINITELY do the PD/DA.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by TigerIsBack » Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:07 pm

JayDubya wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am
I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.
What's the company? Based on your username, does Marriott hire directly out of law school?

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Sackboy

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Sackboy » Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:17 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:43 am
I’d do it. The average solo/small firm attorney makes 190k a year. It might take you three years to get there, but you can definitely do it.
This is the second time in the past few weeks I've seen this "average solo makes 190K" get tossed around. Do you have a source for that number? I find it very hard to believe. At least where I come from, the average solo made nowhere near that kind of money. The average lawyer charges <$200/hr. where I grew up and generally has decent administrative, rental, research, and advertising costs, on top of clients who do not pay. Maybe this number is true in a big city, though.

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Lacepiece23

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Lacepiece23 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:36 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:17 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:43 am
I’d do it. The average solo/small firm attorney makes 190k a year. It might take you three years to get there, but you can definitely do it.
This is the second time in the past few weeks I've seen this "average solo makes 190K" get tossed around. Do you have a source for that number? I find it very hard to believe. At least where I come from, the average solo made nowhere near that kind of money. The average lawyer charges <$200/hr. where I grew up and generally has decent administrative, rental, research, and advertising costs, on top of clients who do not pay. Maybe this number is true in a big city, though.
It’s an average. I know small firm attorneys that make 500k a year, either in the solo space or small firm space. Some solo contingency lawyers make a killing just being solo.

Then, you have the many start ups that make like 30-60 for the first few years. They either go out of business or make it. It’s a lot easier to make it if you only have to learn how to run a business rather than how to practice law on top of that.

There’s of course COL considerations. So, a lot goes into that number. It’s actually kind of low, all things considered.

sparty99

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by sparty99 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:50 pm

TigerIsBack wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:07 pm
JayDubya wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:40 am
I got hired out of law school to work in-house at a very large company. I’ve been there three years and I’ve hated it the whole time. I can’t stand the douchey corporate culture and I have no interest in what I do (and I’m not that good at either). That said, the pay and benefits are great (130k, four weeks off, no stress, maybe 20 hours a week of actual work max).

Lately I’ve been thinking of going to a PD or DAs office for few a years to actually learn how to practice law and then hanging my shingle. I like the idea of being involved in the community, owning a small business, talking to and helping real people, and really practicing law.

Should I do this or stay miserable and keep collecting my enormous paycheck to do nothing every week?

Looking forward to everyone’s thoughts.
What's the company? Based on your username, does Marriott hire directly out of law school?
$130,000, four weeks off, and hotel discounts? Why are you trying to leave again?

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by PMan99 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:05 pm

Median is going to be more informative for a number of reasons.

https://www.abajournal.com/news/article ... _last_year

According to that article (itself summarizing a paywalled Martindale survey):
Solo and small-firm lawyers made an average of $198,000 last year, while their median earnings were $140,000, according to a press release. More than 6,900 full-time lawyers participated in the survey.

So not only is median substantially (25-30%) below average, but it's also self-reported and self-selected, which I would strongly think bias the numbers further upward.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by BrainsyK » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:08 pm

Sackboy wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 12:17 pm
This is the second time in the past few weeks I've seen this "average solo makes 190K" get tossed around. Do you have a source for that number?
https://myshingle.com/2018/05/articles/ ... l%20income.

I went into this doubting that figure as well, but it's actually like the first thing that comes up on Google. Average for solo/small firm attorneys combined is $198k. Median is $148k. True solos average $140k. Small firm attorneys average $226,000.

I don't find any of those numbers surprising. I mean... technically, Dovel & Luner is a small firm so those really skew the average. Also, average JD graduate is 27-28 so average age for that average income is like... 45+. There's nothing surprising about a solo with 20+ years of experience clearing $140,000 while having to, at the very least, pay full freight on their own health insurance premiums, FICA, and malpractice insurance just for the privilege of owning The Law Offices of Solo Attorney.
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:43 am
I’d do it. The average solo/small firm attorney makes 190k a year. It might take you three years to get there, but you can definitely do it.
The above sort of addresses this point as well. That $190,000 figure probably would take significantly longer than 3 years to reach.
PMan99 wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:05 pm
Median is going to be more informative for a number of reasons.

https://www.abajournal.com/news/article ... _last_year
Scooped.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Aug 26, 2020 11:16 am

Sackboy wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:02 pm
Personally, I would hate to retire or die saying that I hated my 40 year working career. Life is short, and there isn't a respawn option, to my knowledge. I definitely won't be smiling and saying it was worth it because I have $4M in the bank, or however much I have at retirement/death. For some people, it's worth it, but it doesn't sound like you're that type of person.

Some people are forced to work brutal jobs or jobs they hate for the sake of their family or due to being born in the wrong country. You're very fortunate to be a practicing American lawyer. In your situation, you have the opportunity to move on to something you like more in a low to moderate cost of living area starting at $40-$60k and scaling up to $80-$100k+. That's by no means a luxurious living, but if you choose the right part of the country it's more than enough to get by and live a good life.

I've only worked one cushy job, and it's the worst one I've ever had. I used to get paid $150k to do about 15-25 hours of work a week. I was miserable. I now earn senior associate money and work 50-60hrs a week, and I'm considerably happier, because I truly enjoy the work I do and feel valued in my role. For some of us, we're lucky that what we enjoy doing also pays quite well. For people like you, it's a bummer that the pay isn't nearly as good, but I still think the net positive of doing what you like, feeling valued, and living more of the life that you imagined for yourself is worth the pay cut.

^ This. You have a lot of opportunities still with a legal degree in America relative to the struggles of most in the world. Life is too short. See if you like to actually practice /litigate. You'll likely excel if you find an area that you can build enough experience to begin thinking creatively.. So I think it's valid to think where your next curiosity is at this point and not exclusively look at the pay number. Still, this might not lead to an immediate change from your current job, but it may give you vision and motivation to develop a particular skill at your current job so you are ready for that next job interview down the road. I started at a new firm at the end of 2019 and the change has given lots of good insight from new perspectives and approaches.

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Re: Should I leave my in-house gig to hang my shingle?

Post by dabigchina » Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:54 pm

Sorry if I'm missing something obvious, but is the 140k cited net of expenses like health insurance? If OP is at a large corp, they are probably getting benefits that would be expensive to replicate.

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