Monday, April 18, 2011

Midlaw hell

I have a close friend of mine that works as a 5th year associate at a midlaw firm. For those that don't know, midlaw is the world between biglaw (massive firms) and small law aka shitlaw (firms with only a few lawyers. Midlaw firms have anywhere between 1 to 4 offices, give or take. These firms typically average 12-30 attorneys per office.

So this buddy of mine does business litigation (mostly defense) but also plaintiffs work. I get a call from him roughly every week that goes something like this;


I respond with, "whoa whoa calm down man what happened?"

The usual response is that some scum bag lawyer pulled some super shady move saying he would do something and then pulled a bait and switch at the hearing. Or his supervising partner is in a bad mood and is abusing him verbally because his wife is a cheating hooker that is taking him to the cleaners in the divorce. This buddy of mine makes a good 100k, but works ungodly hours. Not that I have a problem with hard work, but legal work while holed up in an office will drive you crazy. Sometimes he bills 2400 hours in a month, working until 11pm. Lately he seems worn out and is hating his life more and more. The other day he told me that he enjoys his work "maybe 10 percent of the time." I've told him and I will tell you all the same thing that there is no way in hell I would last as long as he has. Problem is that the economy and the legal job market in particular is so fucked up that he is too scared to leave. I'm confident that thousands of other attorneys are in a similar position as they absolutely hate their jobs but have no choice as options are extremely limited. So much for a law degree being so versatile and opening so many doors.

This is the first tier reality for many grads out there. You may attend a tier 1 school but don't be surprised if you end up doing insurance defense work which absolutely sucks. Partners want you to bill bill bill while the insurance carrier wants to pay nothing nothing nothing.

While many will say that "he should shut the fuck up and be thankful he even has a job making 100k" the reality is that there is only so much of a beating the soul can take in exchange for currency units. Hearing him so miserable on a near weekly basis only makes me think about all the other poor saps stuck in these midlaw jobs where they work like machines with incredibly high levels of stress.

The bottom line is that there are other ways to make 100k without all the attendant bullshit and stress that midlaw lawyers have to deal with.


  1. So, I'm not a hater, but what are these other ways to make 100k?

  2. To the troll known as Living Well in California,

    You could probably sell your ass along Santa Monica Boulevard and crack $100K.

    By the way, great use of the phrase "first tier reality," Subprime.

  3. other ways to make 100k per year

    sales (auto, insurance)
    Small business owners
    Information technology support
    mid level banker
    limo driver
    fitness center operator

    In fact, many of the above listed jobs do not require 7 years of school, with many of them not even requiring a 4 year degree.


    Always a pleasure working with you

  4. Hi Nando,

    Why are you so hateful towards me? I went to a lower tiered law school, had a very difficult time carving out my career, yet managed to do fine.

    I had people constantly putting me down for going to a lowered tiered school, and I am so thankful that I ignored them.

    My last two companies have been in the Fortune 500, so I do not appreciate the crack whore comment.

    -- LWIC

  5. Hi Subprime,

    So, if someone wants to be a nurse, he/she should be a nurse. I personally could not do that job.

    It takes years to make 100k as an engineer, plumber or electrician. But, you are right, if one wants to perform those functions, they should pursue that.

    And I could comment on the other jobs -- I know limo drivers who had crazy experiences and quit.

    Why are you so angry? I think you should be more appreciative.

    -- LWIC

  6. Why am I angry?

    Here's one good reason:

    From Third Tier Reality,

    Dean and “Professor of Law” Nora Demleitner made $402,719 in TOTAL COMPENSATION - for 2008. Yes, Nora made $201,201 in base compensation; $165,401 in other compensation; $26,710 in deferred compensation; and $9,407 in nontaxable benefits.

    It's a shame when "educators" turn into thieving charlatans.

  7. I'm an engineer 5 years out of college and I make $105k a year. I only have a bachelors from from an average state school. Heck, my degree wasn't even in engineering! My cousin is making 120k a year as a software developer. He has 8 years of experience, absolutely loves what he does, and does not even have a college degree (he wrote software in high school and dropped out of college). If he wasn't such a lazy ass with no motivation, he could easily make BANK.

    Trust me, there are many ways to make money. As of this moment, I am planning on starting a business on the side, partnering with trustworthy friends and relatives to export Californian goods to international emerging markets.

    SubPrime, I had the law school bug two years ago, mainly because I was heavily pressured by my parents, my wife's parents, and relatives to get a JD or MD. Seriously, I think I would get more respect from relatives as a paper pusher from T14 than I would as a successful engineer and millionaire businessman.

  8. You can cross pilot off that list

  9. To anon @ 7:57 am

    From the WSJ,

    On average, starting pay at major airlines is $36,283 –- about double where many regional airlines start pilots, but darn low for mid-career professionals who likely take a pay cut from regional airlines to latch on to a major carrier.

    And how big is that big payout they hope to get someday? FltOps said on average, captains top out at minimum salaries of $165,278.

    The lowest top-scale captain’s salary was $123,480 at JetBlue Airways, and the highest among passenger airlines was again at Southwest: $181,270 a year. Many Southwest pilots pick up more trips than the minimum scheduled -– some fly right up to the federal limit of 1,000 hours of flying a year -– so their actual paychecks are higher.

    The only airlines offering higher pay right now: UPS and FedEx. Their captains max out at a minimum of more than $200,000 a year.

    At Delta, American, United and Continental, the top minimum for captains is between $156,000 and $167,000 per year.

    The question then is how long does it take to hit the 100k salary and how many pilots actually make it to that level.

  10. I agree with 7:57AM. You can cross pilots off that list. The number of pilots who make those positions and obtain those salary numbers are far and few in between. It is just like the number of people who go to LS and make Partnership at Big Law are almost always the rare exception than the rule (granted pilots don't usually have to incur 100k+ student loans).

  11. Also, I think it is worth noting the troll, LWIC, graduated from law school back in 2000.

    During those times, it WAS possible to go to a shit tier law school and at least get a decent starting position which CAN be leveraged into a better position within 2-3 years. This doesn't even begin to broach the topic that tuition at those times were MUCH cheaper and even rejects from a TTT (my cousin for example) could end up with a shoddy job to at least finance the student loans.

    As anyone with even half a pulse knows, such factors are no longer viable in 90%+ of the cases.

    As egregious and disconnected as the boomers are when it comes to law school, I have also realized a number of Gen X (like LWIC) who lived their schooling and roaring 20s years during the prosperous 90s/ .com bubble are just as misinformed about the waning state of higher education as many boomers out there are.

    For the last time, it is important for 0L students to be FORWARD looking. Just because a particular element (in this, JD) was great 10 years (maybe even 5 years) ago, does NOT mean it is bullish going forward.

  12. LWIC: Glad it has worked out for you with the TTT background; that said, your actual law school experience is too far in the rear-view mirror to be relevant to the kids considering going to a TTT now. It's not about "hating", just a matter of relevance.

    That is all.

  13. Absolutely agree with this phrase 'The bottom line is that there are other ways to make 100k without all the attendant bullshit and stress that midlaw lawyers have to deal with.' Really, very stressful work!

  14. I was faced with this choice this week. Jump from a high paying law job that I just like so so to an okay paying non-law job that I was really excited about, and I decided to stay in law. It sounds easy enough to jump ship, but when forced with the actual choice and a possibility of taking a serious pay cut (I would have to forgo my stock options, my gym membership, and some security) the choice was not so clear cut.

  15. I recently got turned down for a job because I was a "flight risk" for being a paralegal who did an internships at the Santa Ana courthouse and 2 law firms in LA. It was Manufacturing Sales like my last position. The job paid $76,000 a year, but they thought I would leave the job and find a better job as a paralegal elsewhere! The recruiter even told me that the firm was scared I would quit the job and go to law school if I got hired. Trust me, I don't have the "law school bug"

    Even your friend who is making 100k working 80+ hrs a week is only making the equivalent of 15-20 bucks an hour if you average his hours together. There are easier ways to make 100k other than being an attorney.

    I hear most of these biglaw/midlaw firms will lose 80-90% of their new associates within 5 years of getting hired. The burnout rate is brutal!

  16. Over the weekend, I finished reading John Perkins' book, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", an excellent book.

    In the book, Perkins recounts his life experiences leading up to his recruitment in the 1960s to work for an ostensibly private consulting company called "Chas. T. Main, Inc." ("MAIN"). With only an MBA from Boston University and a lack lustre background in statistics, Perkins is recruited to to be MAIN's Chief Economist and to produce bogus econometric models for various countries which U.S governmental, financial and corporate interests target. Perkins' task is to produce fake economic forecasts for target countries to justify huge loans which these target countries can never hope to repay. Once they default, the U.S. "Corporatocracy" (Perkins' term) then demands its "pound of flesh" from these countries in the form of political subservience and/or resource grabs, usually oil concessions.

    Perkins claims that he was originally recruited by a mysterious blonde female American case officer who frankly described his future job as an "Economic Hit Man" whose job was to dupe third world countries into taking out huge loans that they can never hope to repay. Upon default, they, in effect, become client states in the U.S. global empire. The loan proceeds usually go to U.S. corporations (typically construction companies like Bechtel and Halliburton, etc.).

    The crown jewel of Perkins' career was Saudi Arabia. According to Perkins, Kissinger reached a deal with the House of Saud whereby the U.S. agreed to develop Saudi Arabia economically (no more using goats for garbage collection) and to protect it militarily in exchange for an agreement from Saudi Arabia to boost oil production every time other OPEC countries cut back oil output. (In effect, breaking OPEC.) According to Perkins, Sadaam Hussein's downfall was due to Sadaam's unwillingness to agree to a similar arrangement with the U.S.

    Perkins characterizes the U.S. political system as a "Corporatocracy", in which U.S. government, U.S. colleges and universities, banking, and corporate interests are intertwined. Perkins describes a 3-pronged strategy of U.S. foreign policy: First, bring in the Economic Hit Men to create economic and political dependence in the form of debt which the client states can never repay; If this doesn't work, then bring in the "Jackels", i.e. assassins; If the Jackels can't do the job, then invade militarily.

    Perkins says that the U.S. Corporatocracy no longer recruits Economic Hit Men, rather the Economic Hit Men are now part of the system, an organic part of the Corporatacracy. In fact, I think that Perkins might argue that we are all economically, and culturally part of the Corporatocracy.

  17. All good points about The Corporatocracy, I look forward to reading the book. I'm watching the mini-series "Carlos" on Netflix - I recommend if you're interested in a fictionalized version of the OPEC story.

    Regarding other ways to make $100k, it certainly depends on where you live, job security, etc. I think the point is that the cost/benefit should be realistic for the times we're living in. One can attend community college for many of the jobs you mentioned, certainly a sound financial decision.

    sales (auto, insurance) - perhaps
    Engineers - subject to age discrimination & outsourcing, if not Civil or Nuclear
    Nurse - best bet. Can work anywhere, be self-employed or work for any number of employers.
    Gardener - huh? Do you mean owning a landscaping co.?
    Plumber - good potential & no outsourcing.
    Electrician - same as Plumber, especially Industrial as opposed to residential.
    Small business owners - kind of like sales, it all depends.
    Information technology support - subject to outsourcing.
    mid level banker - I guess.
    pilot - as mentioned above, very unlikely.
    limo driver - umm...
    fitness center operator - see small business.

    I'd add Mechanic (esp. for Industry), Pharmacist & K-12 School Administration.


  18. Anon @ 7:36 am

    Great book. Have read it numerous times.

    @ J

    Mechanic for sure. Thanks for the tips

  19. 2400 hours a month is impressive

  20. eToro is the best forex broker for beginner and professional traders.


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