Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A warning from a boomer attorney

Originally posted on JD Underground:

Ok- i am one of that loathed class, a boomer. I have been lurking for a while and my advice to you is that if you do not want to wind up like me, get out now while you can.

I am a partner in a law firm in a small formerly industrial city in the Northeast that now has no hospital (3 closed), no new car dealer,( 4 closed), all major industries closed, a main street with more vacant than open stores and no place to even buy a pair of shoes downtown. We exist to keep going because we can not afford to stop. We used to have 2 secretaries and a paralegal. Now there are none. We had a live answering service. Now their is voice mail. We used to be part of a respected profession. Now we are the subject of lawyer jokes and blame for the ills of the world.

The sad part is I loved what I did and worked hard to get there. I had name recognition and award from the bar. I should say there would be plenty of work if I wanted to only work for nothing. I can not and put food on the table and pay for health insurance at more than a grand a month.

Many of our peers have given up the ghost. Some have gone bankrupt. The economic model is no longer there.

When do we quit? Probably very soon since we are about to give up our office space and go virtual to save more money. We are both too old and without marketable skills to find another job. I tried. So, I hang on hoping for a miracle.

Our retirement plan included real estate heavily and you all know where that has gone. Too young for medicare but old enough for huge medical bills. The stress of our lives causes many of our physical problems. We are strokes waiting to happen. It was not worth it and I so wish I had done something else 20 years ago to prepare for this. I wish I could do something, anything else.

We are losing money each month despite cutting everything we can. We are bleeding. Many law firms have gone out in our state in the last decade. We are heading there.


Yet another example of the crumbling legal profession. Go to law school at your own risk. In fact, going to law school financed with student loans is financial suicide. Some will make it, most will not. Feeling lucky???


  1. "Feeling lucky???"

    [Scene from the movie "Dirty Harry"]

    "Do you feel lucky Punk? Well, do ya?"

  2. Dirty Harry and Clint Eastwood are my generation too. Nobody makes my day anymore.


  3. To boomeresq,

    Unlike some others from my generation I don't hate the boomers. True the boomer politicians fucked up but if the crisis wouldn't have started with the boomers I'm confident that the next one would have made a mess of things. It's human nature to ruin a good thing. I know many boomers that have worked their asses off and continue to work their asses off. My generation is/was soft as all hell but I'm confident with the changes coming to America that the majority of us will be forced to harden the fuck up. I for one am in the process of transforming from soft ass spoiled pampered millenial to hardended worker bee, waking up at 5:30 am, driving 3 hours in traffic, getting yelled at by clients, adjusters and judges, paying bills. Life.

    One thing that I really hate about the student loan scheme is how the loans essentially do not exist in the minds of the borrowers until the bill comes due. People borrow like crazy (for living expenses and other shit) and go on vacations, buy nice clothes, eat fancy dinners yet there is no payment that is due. I recall numerous class mates that spent the student loan money on retarded shit. If they had the bill due that month they would think hard and well about the next jack and coke they ordered at the bar. Moreover, the student loan scheme pushes adulthood back even further for many law and grad students. Hopefully this madness comes to an end soon.

    Thanks again for your story. Good luck with everything.

  4. What state are you in Boomer? Don't tell me the city, I just want to know if you're in some podunk in Maine or in a "city," albeit a dying one.

  5. I am in Massachusetts. I am also admitted in other New England states as well. My college was $1500 a year. Law school about $5000 a year. The debt burden you guys are carrying is sickening and the fact that for all purposes you can not discharge the debt is so unfair.

  6. I am in Massachusetts also and a 2010 law school grad not working in law (32 years old). I'm carrying about $250k in debt between undergrad (public) and law school (private). I realize, of course, that it was a HUGE (beyond huge, really) mistake to take out so many loans. I was the first in my family to go to college and bought the "it's an investment" and "a J.D. opens so many doors!" hook, line, and sinker. My parents, boomers, didn't go to college and always wanted it for us kids. Driving to my Property II exam after my second semester I came so close to turning around and dropping out. I wish I had! I don't have much point to this comment, I suppose it is just a vent. Love this blog.

  7. I'm the poster @ 5:14. I practice in NJ currently, but ironically studying for the MA bar. Looking forward to moving back to Mass., but from what many friends have told me, the legal market is just as saturated as NJ/NY, if not worse. Bottom line, I can't stand the inferior quality of life in the NYC metropolitan area any longer. If you're making $250,000+, that's one thing, but if not (which is my case), then there's no reason to stick around. I graduated in early 2000's and only after paying for nearly 10 years are my loans finally starting to not completely dominate my life. It's still bad, just not all encompassing. At its highest, tuition was $20,000. Kids today are 100% screwed paying upwards of $40K/yr . . . unless mummy/daddy are paying for school.

  8. I only dislike boomers to the extent that they underplay time and demographics as crucial factors in an individual's success. So many 50+ people are quick to put the blame on the the individual for failure rather than on a rigged system that allows one generation to reap wealth at the expense of another.

    and my most scathing ire is directed at the boomer political elite, who have proven to be the most inept, slavish (to banks and industry) politicians in American history.

  9. I know some kid who is currently attending a TTTT. His parents are both Boomers and are graduates from TTTT UGC's themselves. However due to timing in graduating during the 80's, both parents have faired very well despite graduating from low ranked toilets.

    My heart breaks for this kid. He was only able to be accepted to TTTT schools. I attempted to reason with this kid in recommending that he should return to school to obtain a Paralegal Certificate since he had his heart set in working in law, but the kid would not listen to me. A JD meant big time prestige. When I attempted to explain that school ranking means **everything** in today's legal market, this kid used his uncle who graduated from Pace U as an example of how one can excel in not graduating from a T50 (kid failed to make the connection that his uncle graduated from Pace U in 1978, and only paid $8K for his law degree back then). Where this kid is going, it's costing him $35K to go to a toilet law school, not including personal expenses, food, rent, and cost for books.

    Problem is that we are dealing with 50 years of brainwashing that academia is key to a better way of life, and having a piece of paper meant you were smart (of course that really is not the case). Till people wise up and stop buying into running off to college and graduating with just any degree from any random school, people will continued to get screwed. Colleges and universities certainly will not drop its prices (and certainly not go out of business) if people continue to enroll and take out loans.

  10. Subprime,

    I recently got a job working in the operations department of a boutique investment banking firm here in Orange County. Every time I read your blog, I keep reading about how much you hate the legal profession and your articles on the economy, gold/silver prices, and globalization.

    You really seem unhappy as an attorney, and my advice to you is to get out now. I couldn't get a paralegal job, but luckily I had a degree in business economics which helped me get to where I am today.

    I know you are Greek, but I am part Syrian and we are both similar in the sense that we think collectively and take care of our families. If your dad has a huge & successful family business, then take it over. I know it may not be as glamorous as working in white collar job, but if your dad makes good money in restaurants, then follow the money! Fuck the prestige, is it really worth it to be miserable? Every day on your blog or JDU you vent about how much it sucks to work in PI law.

    You seem to have a good understanding of economics, despite not having a business degree. You should try to find a job in investment banking, sales or trading. Even entry level jobs pay similar to the 50k a year you are making now.

    I am not trying to sound preachy or lecture you, but I just think you would be A LOT happier in a non legal job. Don't you think so?

  11. Boomers have largely squandered the wealth of this nation. I do not feel bad for the pigs who decided to sell their homes, and move into a McMansion later in life. How can anyone respect a generation of older people that eats its young?

  12. To poor paralegal: If I could work with my dad I would. However, there are issues that need to be resolved before that can happen. Also, the business can't afford to pay me what I'm earning at my current job. Though some days are terrible, most days are bearable with some being a breeze. On balance, I enjoy what I do. Now would I like to work with markets? Absolutely. However, due to my government approved "credentials" not being in finance, there is no way I could get hired in that field. Believe me I tried. Unless some fund manager sees this blog one day and becomes impressed with my insights, now that would be cool.

    Nando: The boomers fucked up royally and will reap what they have sown. I know many boomers that failed to save, are in their 50's and find themselves working every day just to keep their heads above water. For many boomers, there will be no retirement. That being said, many boomers are themselves victims of the kleptocrats in power. A boomer CEO that "contributes" to a boomer congressman that allows outsourcing of a factory's labor ends up screwing fellow boomers. For example, I know this court reporter whose husband has been unemployed for 2 years. He is in his late 50's and can't get a job for the life of him. They are burning through their savings as she doesn't earn enough to pay all the bills. This situation is playing out across the country.

    In the end, our generation will have the benefit of foresight. While the late 50's boomers with no savings are royally fucked, at least our generation has had a stark lesson in the importance of saving. So many of my friends that used to be spendthrift fucktards pre crisis have become penny pinchers. Although I always used to save this collapse has made me triple my efforts. Hopefully this lesson will stick with our generation.

  13. The time has come to shut down law schools across the nation.

    I don't understand why this cannot be done. It's becoming more obvious on a daily basis that you spend $150,000+ just for a piece of paper. There is no guarantee of a job. None. The odds of working as a full-time attorney are against you. . .even for low pay.

    The most outrageous thing is how the ABA wants foreign attorneys to be able to sit for the bar.

    I recently spoke to a dentist who sits on a dental board commission that audits foreign dental schools.

    In one particular country, they audited the dental school, and said it was absolutely not up to American standards, and did not extend its permit. As a result, any kids who went from the U.S. to attend dental school there because they could not get in here had to take tests to get into a two-year school over here.

    That's how strict other professions are about regulating the field. For ABA, it's almost a game, how many people can we possibly allow to get into a law school, open up law schools, and sit for the bar exam who do not live in the U.S.? And we can just say anti-trust concerns if anyone complains about over-saturation.

  14. "Feeling lucky???"


  15. I like the scene at the end of the movie "Dirty Harry" when Dirty Harry blows away that young Punk with his .44 magnum "BOOMER".

  16. Some members of every generation squander wealth My sons' friends included by driving BMWs, Audis and getting deeply in debt buying homes that are losing value.

    We hated the politicians of our parents generation too. The current crop are as bad or worse. Somethings never change. We cried against NAFTA and CAFTA and no one listened. We are losing our work and security too.

    I was taught thrift by parents and grandparents who survived the Great Depression. My big expenses were paying for my kids' college and grad school tuition. They have no loans.

    Our overhead is what is killing us plus healthcare costs. We can not keep up despite constant belt tightening.
    Our friends live frugally too. We entertain each other in our homes. We cook. I was taught to bake by my grandmother which is a good thing since all the bakeries in town have folded and it is the supermarket baked goods or nothing.

  17. [Scene from the movie "Boogie Nights"]

    Movie Director, Jack Horner, to Eddie Adams washing dishes in the disco kitchen:

    "So what do ya wanna be?"


    "I mean, you come all the way from Torrence to Wacita to do this job. Can't you get a job like this in Torrence?"

    "Yeah, but I don't wanna. So what's it gonna be? If you just wanna see it, it's only five, but if ya want to see me jack off, it's ten."

  18. "In the end, our generation will have the benefit of foresight. While the late 50's boomers with no savings are royally fucked, at least our generation has had a stark lesson in the importance of saving."

    Yes, but the boomers either received their higher education free of charge (GI Bill) or paid very little. We may understand the "importance" of saving, but in actuality we have none since all our money is going to pay expenses, including outrageous student loan debt. Just wait until interest rates go up - all those people who took out variable rate student loans are going to be totally screwed. I"m glad my rates are fixed.

  19. I'm a so-called X'er and the weird scapegoating of boomers on the scamblogs is nothing short of embarrassing. Most boomers are not CEOs, bankers or politicians. Blaming them because they were born after a world war into an expanding economy while we were born into a contracting one is bizarre. Certainly "boomer politicians" (and businessmen) are to blame to a great extent for this economic contraction; but how is that the entire generation from which they came implicated in that crime? If they saved, it was because everything was handed to them on a silver platter; if they squandered their money, they were wasteful pigs who took "our" resources and "forced" us to rack up massive student loans for our education. The hyperbole becomes sad at a certain point. If you expected more from your parents and grandparents, then expect something from yourself. It's past time to shit or get off the pot people.

  20. I want to set the record straight. The only thing that I have ever been CEO of was my kids' car pool, not even the PTA. I have never been a banker other than playing Monopoly with the kids and their friends. I must admit that I played a politician once when in Jr. High (all girls) I played Abe Lincoln in the school play. Mom still has the picture on her wall.

    Regan, a member of my parents' generation started this financial mess. Boomers helped it along as did those of your generation demanding cuts to the social welfare net. Remember every teacher, police officer or firefighter laid off means mortgages not paid, foreclosures, lower property values. A contracted economy.

  21. @Boomeresq, I enjoy a good game of Pin the Tail on Bonzo, too, but as much blame as Reagan bears (which is a lot) let's also not forget that Reagan was a herald for the ruthless ideology of unregulated capitalism, which the American people gave license to when they voted for him and again in 1994, and worse yet 10 years of Bush and this last Congressional election. It's astonishing that Jimmy Carter, just for the crime of recommending driving less and turn thermostats down, was judged a wimp. That's just stupid.

    To everyone else: There's a lot of factors in play as to how we got to this point, but I think using a scattershot method of blaming one President, one generation, or one profession is fundamentally disingenuous and counter-productive. The only way we're going to start to get out of this mess is with honesty and I'm seeing a lot of scape-goating or reducing of complex issues for comfort. Not to downplay the debt-burden Subprime has written about, that is very real and very dangerous.

    But let me toss this out for discussion: How can you condemn a borrowing culture when wages have slowly been flattening over forty years and the costs of necessities keeps rising? Even in the last three years, as Niall Ferguson pointed out in a recent Time article, the Consumer Price Index says costs of necessities (food, shelter) have only inflated by something like 3%, but Ferguson asserts that the formulae used to create the CPI is outdated and real inflation is actually more like 10%!

    There has clearly been a lot of destructive borrowing. But let's not forget some might be borrowing out of necessity, which should not be happening in this country. That bespeaks of the necessity of wealth redistribution if people are borrowing to keep the heat on or buy groceries, or what have you.


  22. I totally agree that Regan was only the start. I add in Bush. "Reagan was a herald for the ruthless ideology of unregulated capitalism". I loathe the neo cons and all they stand for. the contract for America in my opinion was the contract on America. I would love to see another New Deal. We need it badly. I also am a cash and carry type. I believe in living frugally and think debt is a monkey on the back. If law school cost what it does now when I went, I don't think I would have hocked my soul to go.

  23. Just be thankful that you're not one of the poor young bastards fighting in one of our forgotten wars in the Middle East or Central Asia.

  24. So BOOMERESQ, what suggestions do you have for solving this problem, i.e., attorney oversaturation, too many law schools, too few legal jobs, outsourcing, etc. etc.? Curious to see what your thoughts are based on your experience of seeing the legal profession take a shit over the past 20 years or so.

  25. @4:32 - bring back the bread riot, flashmob-style.

  26. I would shut down most is not all of the TTTs. I would offer free retraining to anyone who wants retraining and wants out.

    If there are no more law jobs what to do about it? There are no more buggy whip manufacturers and no more button hook manufacturers. Those jobs are gone forever and will never come back.
    I would offer incentives to open and keep open small businesses and offer perks to businesses which hire people.

    I would put tariffs back in place.

    I would give huge tax breaks to companies that un- outsource. Rebuild our industries from the ground up if needed. Employ people to make these programs work and tax money will flow in as people work and earn.

    I would put a windfall profit tax back in place.

    I would offer forgiveness of student loans and/or allow their discharge in bankruptcy.

  27. student loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    as for the pullulating law schools - wouldn't ending the federal loan guarantees solve this, bringing the whole shitheap down on itself?

  28. let them fall.

  29. @3:40 don't also forget Clinton who was responsible in forcing banks to offer homeowner loans to high risk borrowers so that people could live the American Dream. It would have also help enacting loan regulation to avoid banks taking advantage of the situation. The American Dream as my grandparents knew it had nothing to do with McMansion. It was all about having a family and being able to care for your family without the sacrifices people in Italy, Ireland, Germany, and Russia were facing pre WW1.

    I would also add to Clinton's big blunder list NAFTA and his trade agreement with China. Those two trade agreements alone helped hammer the nails into the US' coffin. Bush, Jr coming on board for eight years certainly helped push the US over the edge after Clinton's poor decision making. Obama's failed leadership so far has not helped either.

  30. I read somewhere that black Americans prospered most when their labor was needed and suffered most when their labor became economically superfluous. The Civil Rights Act, practically speaking, has been irrelevant.

    If all of these young people are now economically superfluous, then from the System's point of view, they might as well be ground up as Soylent Green.

  31. @6:17. Very true. I remember reading an article (in the New Yorker I think) in which African Americans suffered the most when call center work was off shored to Asia. We are now in a very unique situation that every race pretty much has equal footing in applying for jobs. I do fear that as far as the US has come with race relations, we may go backwards over resentment with EOE quotas that are still being used. Those quotas helped to an extent when there were jobs and the White candidate could have easily moved onto the next opportunity. That is simply not the case anymore.

  32. No one is blaming Boomers for when they were born, but a lot of people feel Boomers should recognize luck and the work of previous generations. Since they failed to appreciate that work, they failed to do it, and that leaves their problems as more work for me and the rest of my generation. As people, I'm sure they're fine, but their attitudes are generally annoying, short-sighted, and victim-blaming. They made a mess, and they don't want to admit it. That drives me crazy.

    But I feel terrible for anyone who's being screwed, and I'm not happy to see the Boomers hoisted, even if it is by their own petard of stupidly focusing on the individual rather than the system. And I feel really awful for this guy. He sounds pretty sharp, and no one deserves the kind of pain retirees will now face. It can't be easy to watch everything fall apart. He deserves so much credit for recognizing what's going on and I really, really hope that he's protected by some sort of social safety net.

    BTW - commodity prices today continue to be pretty interesting, for a liberal who predicted this a while ago. http://money.cnn.com/data/commodities/

  33. The only beneficiaries of law schools are law firms and corporate America. Don't forget the law school administration, as they also benefit from the tuition.

    In other words, the "adults" in the law business all benefit, while the "kids" i.e. the students pay the price.

    It's called capitalism: those in the know get the $$, the rest just scrape by.

  34. I'm 34 with a third-tier J.D. and a self-made $1m+ net worth. I got here by studying to graduate near the top of my class, marketing myself until I got that $125k offer, working my a** off, and of course being prudent with my money before, during, and after law school. I just wanted to rant that all this bs about complaining about how your law school fooled you as a reason to why you are so poor is downright funny. I and every other lawyer making $200k plus with a high net worth is laughing at this crap. So thanks for the entertainment.

    Law as practiced by firms is a business, the goal is to make money. Paying some winney jag-off who managed to graduate third tier or lower with a B/C average $100k+ wouldn't be good business now, would it? Not only would it be bad marketing, but the winners in the firm wouldn't feel comfortable being around losers. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's the way it is. The amount of financial incompetence among law students is astounding. Did you even try to do any basic math about how much you are spending vs how much you expect to be making? Did you just want the J.D. for the "prestige" without having a clue what your prospects may or may not be? Well you got it, so show your prestigeous JD to the hiring manager at Starbucks...ha. Yeah, the law school painted rosy numbers for employment and salary, so that absolved you of all responsibility to use any common sense whatsoever in choosing your career? Good argument. I noticed that in law school marketing materials the profs all look happy and engaging, the students are gorgeous, and the weather is always freakin perfect. I guess I should sue them for those misrepresentations too.

    The fact is your employment, income, and everything else will be determined by more than any other factor by your attitude. If you have a can do attitude and act accordingly you will be successful. This of course assumes some basic level of general competence, which you may or may not have. If you have a can't do attitude - well maybe you'll be successful at ranting about how much you suck. But I don't know if there is much money in that.

  35. People,

    Just because you've saved for retirement doesn't mean you'll get to KEEP your savings! Five, debt strapped European countries have already seized private retirement accounts; it's only a question of TIME before that happens here. Just something to think about...


  36. "We had a live answering service. Now their is voice mail."

    Their? Really? Way to uphold the profession wtih bad grammar.


  37. Thanks i like your blog very much , i come back most days to find new posts like this!Good effort.I learnt it


  38. Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. Lawyer


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