I graduated law school in June of 2009, in the darkest days of the "great recession" which I believe is a full blown depression masked by emergency measures undertaken by the U.S. central bank. My journey replicated that of many fellow lower tiered JD's. I struggled to find employment and I didn't get a full time associate position until December of 2010, 17 months post graduation. I stayed there for two years and was effectively forced to leave as financial troubles engulfed the firm. I moved on to another firm where I worked for the quintessential lunatic boss. Hours were crushing from 8 to 8, sometimes longer. Weekend attendance was mandatory. Verbal assaults were par for the course, with temper tantrums and screaming being doled out for the most minor infraction. I was working double the hours of most of my nonlaw friends while they were making six figures. LOL.
Less than seven weeks at that grueling place I walked out like a fucking champ. It simply was not worth the price to pay after so many years of struggle. He would constantly remind us of the "thousands of unemployed" attorneys that were ready to take our place if we didn't like the job. I heard that my replacement was a guy from out of town. Moved his entire family as he got a good paying gig. Poor sap if he only knew he was absolutely fucked working for one of the worst attorneys in the region.
At that point it was either get another job, go solo, or get the hell out of law. I chose to give it a shot going solo as I have a huge network and some help from my family. So far things are going rather well and I'm sticking to my guns giving it my all. If it works it works and if it doesn't at least I know that I gave it everything I had. I know many associates and they live miserable lives. I know what its like working for other attorneys and the vast majority of them are major assholes. Even the lawyers that moved from midlaw to biglaw are finding themselves working til 9 to 10pm at night. For what, that 175k salary? No thanks, life is to short to go around saying you work for a firm that no one recognized or cares about it.
I follow up with my classmates and the results are equally brutal. Some work for small firms (60 hr work weeks), others are solos (some have done well) while the other half is unemployed or doing contract work. Definitely not what they were expecting when we were at orientation dreaming of the big bucks and the prestigious life style. Reality is a bitch and will smack you right in the face. I wish everyone the best of luck in their journey as our generation got monkey hammered. Millions across all generations got hit hard in the past few years as many of the rules have changed. Job security simply doesn't exist the way it used to.
Applications to law schools have plummeted as many of my fellow scam bloggers have predicted. The law school collapse is here and its only a matter of time until the weakest links start to implode due to collapsing revenue. And yet I still meet young people getting ready for the October 5th LSAT. It makes sense as it is a buyers market with plunging admission standards. I mean with my stats I would have gotten into many 2nd tier schools now, not that it makes much of a difference as the tuition has skyrocketed while employment stats are in the hole.
For those that have been able to stick it out in the trenches I do see light at the end of the tunnel. The boomers will inevitably begin to croak alongside them many older attorneys. For the young solos and associates that remain in the game this could be an opportunity to take advantage of the reduction of supply of experienced attorneys. I have had to take big risks to get where I am today. With no real training I have taught myself procedure, family and employment litigation. Take on enough cases with associate counsel and things begin to make sense. As I said there is no looking back now and I'm plunging forward with everything I got. I will keep this blog updated from time to time as to my progress.
Am I where I thought I would be the age of 31? No way. Not even close. Most of my counterparts are doing much better than me (financially) but some years ago I stopped giving a shit. This is my lot in life. I've learned to accept certain things and this, I believe, is the biggest step from moving forward from the law school scam. I have watched many of my friends get married, have kids, buy homes, buy new cars, etc. None of this affects me in a negative manner anymore. I live with a roommate and sometimes get the heat (oh why don't you buy a place) which I now think to myself "lol yea let me get stuck with a mortgage and more problems." I flip things around in my mind now and look at the positive outcome. Sure, I don't have a home but my rent is $800 per month giving me plenty of financial freedom. If I have a big month more savings a small month I'm not really stressing because I've put away some dollars during the good times and live frugally. I don't have a wife but I have freedom to go and do what I want when I want with whom I want. Getting involved with family law has opened my eyes to many things. One thing that is DAMN SURE is that I will not be getting married unless I am absolutely certain that she is wife material. The same rule should apply to the women out there. So many people in my social circle getting married for the wrong reasons. Who knows, if I would have been more career tracked I'd probably be in a similar situation.
I can easily say that maintaining a positive attitude has not only kept me from being utterly depressed but has assisted me with all the accomplishments I have done. It is surprising how many clients I have signed up by simply talking to people. If you keep a positive and good vibe people will like you and if they like you they will be more apt to hire you. If you are a natural introvert than you either (a) need to get the fuck out of law or work as an associate or (b) push your limits. If you find yourself not being able to find any employment years after graduating law school, throwing in the towel is probably a good idea. Sure, you can be miserable and depressed about it. Or, you can see it as an opportunity to start something else. Go into a new career, start your own business, become a minimalist, who knows, whatever the fuck you want to do. There's a big oil boom in the middle of the country go get some training and work in the wild. It's an opportunity and an experience that the office drones stuck in traffic driving overpriced cars can only dream of doing lol.
I probably make a third of the amount of money that my friends make but I can tell you that I am much happier than they are. I have the freedom to go to the gym whenever I want, hang out with a bunch of people, get to enjoy new hobbies and new ventures. I take on my own clients, clients that I CHOOSE to work with. I work anywhere from 10 to 30 hours per week, depending on the calendar. I actually have the ability to expand operations to double or even triple the level I am currently at but I reason to myself, why? So I could chase the mighty dollar to buy a nicer car or a nicer suit or a nicer watch? Bitch, please. My car is a toyota paid off I own no watch and my suits are reasonably priced. Fuck the rat race and if that is the reason why you got into law then let me tell you that is one terrible reason to become a lawyer. Sure, its POSSIBLE you will make money but the sacrifice required to maintain the facade is not worth it. I personally know several biglaw lawyers that got hit with divorce petitions. Primary reason is because of the hours. Too many hours in the office cause resentment and stress which leads to bad sex life which leads to fighting which leads to divorce. Yet these fools continue working in this hostile environment to maintain the facade and prestigious image. I told one of these guys, why the fuck are you still working there? Go solo, go partner up, you are smart you have experience who cares about the pay cut things change the Porsche will not make you happy. I get the look like "WTF dude" they won't get it that is their problem.
At the end of the day we are on this planet for a limited time. Every day we spend stressing, worrying, fretting, being bitter, being envious DOES NOT HELP OUR LOT IN LIFE. Whether you are happy or mad or sad at the end of the day the day will still end. The world will turn regardless of how you feel. So in the end it is up to YOU to be happy. And this is what I believe life is about, it is about being happy. What happiness is depends on how you define it and how you experience it. Life does not owe you a fucking thing. You think life asked the millions that were wiped out during the Spanish Influenza of 1918 or World war I or World war II? It did not. Life happens and in this life the one thing that I do know is that anything can happen. What you envision for your life may not pan out and if it doesn't then you have two choices: be pissed off and miserable or make adjustments and be happy.
It is understandable that one would be angry and bitter about having gone to law school, incurred a shit ton of debt, and then found themselves unemployable with no spouse, no kids, no house, no nice car, nothing material at all. But they cannot kill your soul. Can't pay the debt? IBR that shit to zero they can collect it when you are dead. Even though you don't ever have to forgive the law school for the fraud they perpetrated on you, you MUST forgive yourself. This is a big part of the healing process. I was incredibly hard on myself for the choices I made but all that did was create bitterness and resentment, sadness and depression. I said no more. I was a young man who didn't know better. And even if a part of me did it is what it is. There is no perfect person. Sure, some choose better for their lives than others do but that is life. We cannot all make the "right" decisions. But I can tell you this was a tremendous learning experience as I now HATE HATE HATE debt with a passion. It is funny how so many more successful attorneys are broke as shit as they spend more than they make trying to gain external validation through material items because they aren't happy with their internal core. And when you see an attorney that is kicking ass and taking names you should be geniunely happy for that person as he is succeeding in his endeavor. Instead of envy, try to learn from their success. After all, that is how we all learn, right? From others success which we then take and modify into our own.
Realizing this is the best thing you can do for your life :)
That's all for now. To all those who are struggling just know that you are in control of your happiness. What this life will bring no one knows we just have to adjust and move forward.