Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

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TiredLawyer
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by TiredLawyer »

anon_investor wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:18 pm Is DH able to change divisions within his company or has has DH considered another in house position at another company? The change of scenery might help. I know at my company, the "culture" between the various divisions can be a bit different.
Yes, there is a possibility of changing scenery, either with a new area of law or at a new company. The idea of a change is actually quite exciting. But I also recognize the hard work and investment that comes with any change like that, either to learn a new area of law or to build some equity at a new company. And frankly, I just don't want to add more stress to my family right now if I don't have to. The timing now gets a little tricky since we had our child later in life, and I will be closer to 50 by the time my child needs less of me.
Miriam2
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Miriam2 »

hoffse wrote: . . . I can tell you what we have done to cope with this during the short term: . . .

(1) Lots of outside time for the whole family. . . .
(2) We work at odd hours and swap off constantly throughout the day. . . .
(3) We talk about our frustrations and have a no-blame policy if one of us is on edge with stress during this whole thing. . . .
(4) We have locked our liquor cabinet and only unlock it on the weekends. . . .
(5) We have committed to making no major life decisions until COVID passes and we can resume a sense of "normal" again.
Great post, good ideas for this Covid nightmare and any family stress periods.
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fredflinstone
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years. If he arranges his assets properly he can almost certainly qualify for inexpensive health insurance.

I like the ideas of taking a sanctioned sabbatical or dropping down to part time work. But if those aren't options, DH can definitely FIRE--either now or in a few years. But only if he wants to.

How many times a week, I wonder, does DH exercise? Would DH like to exercise every day? Can DH do a pull-up with good form? Can DH do a barbell squat with proper form? Can DH run a mile without stopping? Does DH eat a healthy diet?

Does DH have any hobbies? When is the last time DH read a book just for fun?

If money were not an issue, would DH like to spend much more time at home with family? Or maybe not so much?

Is it possible, just maybe, that DH likes being chained to his desk?

At bottom, I suspect this is not mainly a financial issue.
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galawdawg
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by galawdawg »

Retired lawyer here. I understand that aspects of the profession can be taxing and difficult. When I felt stress, what I found helpful was to step back, look at my life and career with perspective, and count my blessings.

You have a supportive wife who is able to stay at home, a young child, a highly-compensated job with very reasonable work hours, a mortgage-free house, financial security sufficient to retire today in most areas of the nation, someone to clean your house, someone to mow your lawn and daycare for your child during the day. You have much to be thankful for. Take a deep breath, take a vacation, take a moment to reflect on the wonderful qualities of your life. This too shall pass.

Good luck! :happy
Last edited by galawdawg on Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by LilyFleur »

fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years. If he arranges his assets properly he can almost certainly qualify for inexpensive health insurance.

I like the ideas of taking a sanctioned sabbatical or dropping down to part time work. But if those aren't options, DH can definitely FIRE--either now or in a few years. But only if he wants to.

How many times a week, I wonder, does DH exercise? Would DH like to exercise every day? Can DH do a pull-up with good form? Can DH do a barbell squat with proper form? Can DH run a mile without stopping? Does DH eat a healthy diet?

Does DH have any hobbies? When is the last time DH read a book just for fun?

If money were not an issue, would DH like to spend much more time at home with family? Or maybe not so much?

Is it possible, just maybe, that DH likes being chained to his desk?

At bottom, I suspect this is not mainly a financial issue.
The Supreme Court will be deciding if the ACA will go forward or not. I would wait to make decisions based on arranging assets to get low-coast medical care until this case is decided. If DW needs extra care, $75,000 will not go very far.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Watty »

I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job as a corporate lawyer compared to some other corporate job like a senior accountant.

It seems like with either type of job there would be responsibility and deadlines but a lot the posts seemed to be sympathetic with why being a corporate lawyer might be stressful. Is there something unique about being a lawyer that I don't know about?
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by anon_investor »

TiredLawyer wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:06 am
anon_investor wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:18 pm Is DH able to change divisions within his company or has has DH considered another in house position at another company? The change of scenery might help. I know at my company, the "culture" between the various divisions can be a bit different.
Yes, there is a possibility of changing scenery, either with a new area of law or at a new company. The idea of a change is actually quite exciting. But I also recognize the hard work and investment that comes with any change like that, either to learn a new area of law or to build some equity at a new company. And frankly, I just don't want to add more stress to my family right now if I don't have to. The timing now gets a little tricky since we had our child later in life, and I will be closer to 50 by the time my child needs less of me.
What about the opportunity to work with different internal clients or on different projects? I have found that working with some some internal clients is more stressful than others. Also, sometimes I have found that geting attached to certain projects just to change things up can sometimes be a nice change of scenery.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

LilyFleur wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:37 pm
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years. If he arranges his assets properly he can almost certainly qualify for inexpensive health insurance.

I like the ideas of taking a sanctioned sabbatical or dropping down to part time work. But if those aren't options, DH can definitely FIRE--either now or in a few years. But only if he wants to.

How many times a week, I wonder, does DH exercise? Would DH like to exercise every day? Can DH do a pull-up with good form? Can DH do a barbell squat with proper form? Can DH run a mile without stopping? Does DH eat a healthy diet?

Does DH have any hobbies? When is the last time DH read a book just for fun?

If money were not an issue, would DH like to spend much more time at home with family? Or maybe not so much?

Is it possible, just maybe, that DH likes being chained to his desk?

At bottom, I suspect this is not mainly a financial issue.
The Supreme Court will be deciding if the ACA will go forward or not. I would wait to make decisions based on arranging assets to get low-coast medical care until this case is decided. If DW needs extra care, $75,000 will not go very far.
1) ACA has been the law of the land for years and there seems to be little interest in either major political party in repealing it. While all laws can change, it's very reasonable to plan based on the assumption that the law will not change dramatically going forward.
2) Believe it or not, many families in the USA earn less than $75,000 and do just fine.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by EddyB »

fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:37 pm
Watty wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:55 pm I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job as a corporate lawyer compared to some other corporate job like a senior accountant.

It seems like with either type of job there would be responsibility and deadlines but a lot the posts seemed to be sympathetic with why being a corporate lawyer might be stressful. Is there something unique about being a lawyer that I don't know about?
I think this probably has more to do with DH's personality than the inherent responsibilities of the job.
It could be, and it could be that people who want to be lawyers are more likely to have whatever personality you think causes this reaction, but lawyers suffer from depression at about 3.5 times the rates of the population generally, and the rate of problematic alcohol consumption among lawyers is about twice that of the highly-educated workforce as a whole. Not dispositive, but makes me think there may be something to the claim that many lawyers have stressful jobs. Although I've worked with many accountants, I'm not able to directly compare the two.

I don't know what the DH in the OP finds stressful about his own job (although I think he should focus very closely on that question!), and I admit that it's very hard to compare the job an experienced member of one profession does to an experienced member of another profession (how many people can you find who can contrast their 20 years in law to their 20 years in some other profession?), but if I had to generalize for senior corporate lawyers, whether at law firms or in-house counsel, I'd guess it mostly comes down to the fact that the repeated exercise of high-stakes judgment is stressful, especially without adequate time. Many lawyers primarily take on and solve other people's problems (immediately, prioritizing each and every one above all the other other peoples' problems on the lawyer's plate), where the demand is often for a simple answer to a very nuanced question for which either no definitive answer exists or for which some definitive answer may exist, but where there is no viable way to determine it (or satisfy oneself that it doesn't exist) in the time available. The people asking the question will often have a very strong preference for a particular answer, although they will have no understanding whatsoever of the considerations relevant to reaching a conclusion, and they will be incredulous when the lawyer is reluctant to give the answer they prefer. Oh, and in almost every case the individuals asking the question won't recognize that they are not the lawyer's client, but rather that the lawyer owes his or her duties to the corporation or other entity; any lawyer who insists on that fundamental principle in the uncomfortable (but common) situation where the interests of the corporation are not aligned with those of the individuals asking the question will be labelled "not a team player," "not business minded," or something that we don't write on Bogleheads. Much of this takes place in the context of after-the-fact cleanup of problems that the earlier involvement of the lawyer may well have avoided in the first place, and a surprising (perhaps not?) number of these are issues where greed is a major component. All nestled in the certainty that some clients (internal or external) will reject the lawyer's advice, but later blame the lawyer for whatever further problems arise, either misportraying the earlier advice or claiming the lawyer wasn't strident enough in delivering it (sometimes both!), plus, of course, something similar to what doctors suffer from in giving "best" advice that still may not be "correct" in each instance. The more expert and specialized the lawyer, the greater the proportion of his or her work that will look like this (because experienced lawyers are selling judgment).

I know every job has its stresses and I'm not claiming that lawyering is inherently more stressful than anything else, just trying to describe some of what I've seen as common stress in one slice of a profession. I do think that a true 40 hour week for an in-house position has some serious advantages over being on-call constantly for dozens, scores, or hundreds of clients who all expect priority and some memory of their facts and circumstances, but for all I know it has corresponding disadvantages, too.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by make_FIRE_work »

I very much relate to this post except I would love to go back to a ~40 hr a week position and away from the 60-75 hr week gig while also still being under-valued and a generally unappreciated in house legal department. People are leaving and with nothing even really lined up even in all that’s going on due to poor culture. OP’s position might not be a fit in every way but it could definitely be worse and I’d switch places probably right now.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by absolute zero »

Is the question whether you have enough to quit working? If so, the answer is yes. With a $3.5MM net worth, this isn’t a “maybe” situation. It’s easy - do whatever you want. Money is not a concern.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by klondike »

Watty wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:55 pm I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job
I'm very curious too. I make more than he does but I work much more hours and live in HCOL high tax state. I can't sleep and literally don't want to eat if I have a dangling problem that I couldn't figure out. I feel panic before opening up my email in the morning. I am debugging my problem in a dream. I feel so helpless and hopeless when there is technical problem that seems no way to solve .... If someone pay me $300k for 40hrs a week, I will be happily say bye to my boss.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by khram »

Stress and hours are not the same thing. Don't be a countdown worker. Look for a job that's reasonably fulfilling. The people who do nothing but go through life counting down the hours until they go home, the days until the weekend, the weeks until their vacation, the years until retirement. I wish people could enjoy life, and work, along the way.

I've worked 60 hour weeks before. They were stressful, but not really any more stressful than some phases of working 40 hours a week. If you're constantly being pulled into meetings, getting distracted from your actual work, whatever, that's stressful. For me personally I prefer to have meetings on a set day or two so I can be productive on the other days. When I go through phases at work of non-stop meetings, I can't focus very much the other days, and it does get stressful. I haven't worked a 60 hour week in over a year now.

It's not just meetings, it could be micromanagement or anything else. Maybe I can liken it to a baseball analogy. Going through those 2 innings with the bases loaded and nobody out, the innings that take 30-40 pitches each, is very stressful on a pitcher. But those 115-pitch games where the pitcher wins the game 6-0 and only gave up 4 hits -- lots of pitches, but not much stress. (Still more fun than sitting at a desk at a boring job counting down the hours, I imagine.)
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

EddyB wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:01 pm
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:37 pm
Watty wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:55 pm I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job as a corporate lawyer compared to some other corporate job like a senior accountant.

It seems like with either type of job there would be responsibility and deadlines but a lot the posts seemed to be sympathetic with why being a corporate lawyer might be stressful. Is there something unique about being a lawyer that I don't know about?
I think this probably has more to do with DH's personality than the inherent responsibilities of the job.
It could be, and it could be that people who want to be lawyers are more likely to have whatever personality you think causes this reaction, but lawyers suffer from depression at about 3.5 times the rates of the population generally, and the rate of problematic alcohol consumption among lawyers is about twice that of the highly-educated workforce as a whole. Not dispositive, but makes me think there may be something to the claim that many lawyers have stressful jobs. Although I've worked with many accountants, I'm not able to directly compare the two.

I don't know what the DH in the OP finds stressful about his own job (although I think he should focus very closely on that question!), and I admit that it's very hard to compare the job an experienced member of one profession does to an experienced member of another profession (how many people can you find who can contrast their 20 years in law to their 20 years in some other profession?), but if I had to generalize for senior corporate lawyers, whether at law firms or in-house counsel, I'd guess it mostly comes down to the fact that the repeated exercise of high-stakes judgment is stressful, especially without adequate time. Many lawyers primarily take on and solve other people's problems (immediately, prioritizing each and every one above all the other other peoples' problems on the lawyer's plate), where the demand is often for a simple answer to a very nuanced question for which either no definitive answer exists or for which some definitive answer may exist, but where there is no viable way to determine it (or satisfy oneself that it doesn't exist) in the time available. The people asking the question will often have a very strong preference for a particular answer, although they will have no understanding whatsoever of the considerations relevant to reaching a conclusion, and they will be incredulous when the lawyer is reluctant to give the answer they prefer. Oh, and in almost every case the individuals asking the question won't recognize that they are not the lawyer's client, but rather that the lawyer owes his or her duties to the corporation or other entity; any lawyer who insists on that fundamental principle in the uncomfortable (but common) situation where the interests of the corporation are not aligned with those of the individuals asking the question will be labelled "not a team player," "not business minded," or something that we don't write on Bogleheads. Much of this takes place in the context of after-the-fact cleanup of problems that the earlier involvement of the lawyer may well have avoided in the first place, and a surprising (perhaps not?) number of these are issues where greed is a major component. All nestled in the certainty that some clients (internal or external) will reject the lawyer's advice, but later blame the lawyer for whatever further problems arise, either misportraying the earlier advice or claiming the lawyer wasn't strident enough in delivering it (sometimes both!), plus, of course, something similar to what doctors suffer from in giving "best" advice that still may not be "correct" in each instance. The more expert and specialized the lawyer, the greater the proportion of his or her work that will look like this (because experienced lawyers are selling judgment).

I know every job has its stresses and I'm not claiming that lawyering is inherently more stressful than anything else, just trying to describe some of what I've seen as common stress in one slice of a profession. I do think that a true 40 hour week for an in-house position has some serious advantages over being on-call constantly for dozens, scores, or hundreds of clients who all expect priority and some memory of their facts and circumstances, but for all I know it has corresponding disadvantages, too.
Interesting. I would think that criminal defense attorney would be a particularly stressful job due to the high stakes. I don't know if I could live with myself if an innocent client went to prison due to my incompetence.
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fredflinstone
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

klondike wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:07 am
Watty wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:55 pm I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job
I'm very curious too. I make more than he does but I work much more hours and live in HCOL high tax state. I can't sleep and literally don't want to eat if I have a dangling problem that I couldn't figure out. I feel panic before opening up my email in the morning. I am debugging my problem in a dream. I feel so helpless and hopeless when there is technical problem that seems no way to solve .... If someone pay me $300k for 40hrs a week, I will be happily say bye to my boss.
I remember working in a big corporation. I felt exactly the same way. The OP has plenty of money and can retire today if he wishes. For whatever reason, he prefers his current job to the alternatives (revealed preference).
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

absolute zero wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:49 pm Is the question whether you have enough to quit working? If so, the answer is yes. With a $3.5MM net worth, this isn’t a “maybe” situation. It’s easy - do whatever you want. Money is not a concern.
I agree. I think the really interesting question is why the OP doesn't retire even though he clearly has the means to do so.
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e5116
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by e5116 »

fredflinstone wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:35 am
absolute zero wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:49 pm Is the question whether you have enough to quit working? If so, the answer is yes. With a $3.5MM net worth, this isn’t a “maybe” situation. It’s easy - do whatever you want. Money is not a concern.
I agree. I think the really interesting question is why the OP doesn't retire even though he clearly has the means to do so.
My guess it's the discomfort level of not having a company-sponsored health plan when he has a wife with a chronic health condition.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by bayview »

I think hoffse supplied the best response yet.

ALL jobs are going to be tedious, annoying, exhausting, frustrating, soul-sucking at some point. You have to mentally clock out at the end of the day, leave it behind, and shift focus to family and self. Get outside, do stuff that allows the kiddo to burn off some of that energy while the parents can visit together. Set a limit for how much time you can discuss work - ten or fifteen minutes, and then move on to the real world. Do enough aerobic exercise (long walks etc) to get some natural endorphins going to make the brain happier. Set up date nights that last until kiddo is in bed. Maybe hire a live-in nanny if it’s so disruptive to sleep and battery recharging time. Consider the job the equivalent of a diaper change - smelly and generally unpleasant, but when it’s over, it’s over, until the next time.

You’re in the fantastic position of being able to make it if you lose you job in a lay-off, assuming that ACA or some equivalent exists, so you have your (please excuse the crudity) FU money. When I realized that I could retire at any time, I found that I was much less annoyed and frustrated by my manager and work in general, and amused instead, in a roll-my-eyes kind of way. You’re not trapped there forever. In the meantime, your kiddo WILL become more independent - really!

Best wishes to all three of you.
hoffse wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:38 pm OP, hang in there.

I'm a corporate/tax attorney, also with a 2-year old, working from home without childcare since mid-March.

It's been.... interesting.

We had plans for kid #2 that we have put on ice because the work/life blend (not a balance - a total blending I could never have foreseen) is totally exhausting.

My husband does not have chronic health issues, but he's another lawyer probably going up for partner this year. That's another level of stress.

I can tell you what we have done to cope with this during the short term:

(1) Lots of outside time for the whole family. We get an early start and take the toddler to an empty church parking lot to ride his bike every day that it's not raining (and hell we have even done it in the rain if I'm being honest). Then we go for a 4-5 mile family walk so that we can get some exercise, get some fresh air, and see each other/talk. That's the only quality time my husband and I get right now, so we make a point to try to do it every day that we can.

(2) We work at odd hours and swap off constantly throughout the day. That might mean we are working at 4 AM and not able to take a 10 AM call because the other has an actual hearing at that time. It just is what it is.

(3) We talk about our frustrations and have a no-blame policy if one of us is on edge with stress during this whole thing. We have to be each other's safety valve to let off steam. We are also trying to cut ourselves some slack for not being "perfect" at everything right now. That is hard to do, but we try.

(4) We have locked our liquor cabinet and only unlock it on the weekends. The key is in a really inconvenient place. We are drinking less now than we were pre-COVID. Similarly, we have limits to how much coffee we consume each day.

(5) We have committed to making no major life decisions until COVID passes and we can resume a sense of "normal" again.

It's entirely possible - maybe even likely - that your job is the primary source of stress and dissatisfaction for you right now. But I would submit to you that we are dealing with some very strange world events right now that are probably exacerbating it. Having a 2-year-old is the icing on the cake (thank God for Daniel Tiger). I would encourage you to at least adopt #5 above and not make any major life decisions until you are through this rough patch. At a certain point the COVID weirdness will be largely past us - probably within the next year. You can survive anything for a year.

Make a note on your calendar for July 2021 and reassess.
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by oldfort »

fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years.
No, expenses are $75k now, but they plan to start paying $30k/year in private tuition in the next fews bringing their total expenses up to $105k.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by LeftCoast »

galawdawg wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:03 am Retired lawyer here. I understand that aspects of the profession can be taxing and difficult. When I felt stress, what I found helpful was to step back, look at my life and career with perspective, and count my blessings.

You have a supportive wife who is able to stay at home, a young child, a highly-compensated job with very reasonable work hours, a mortgage-free house, financial security sufficient to retire today in most areas of the nation, someone to clean your house, someone to mow your lawn and daycare for your child during the day. You have much to be thankful for. Take a deep breath, take a vacation, take a moment to reflect on the wonderful qualities of your life. This too shall pass.

Good luck! :happy
Another retired lawyer here. Worked in law firms for 8 years, then went in-house at a mid-sized bank, which got acquired by a regional bank, which got acquired by a national bank, which almost went bust in 2008. Yes, I was stressed by the work, by the office politics, and by our two-year-old. I hung in there, became a subject matter expert, exercised, took vacations, saved a good amount of my pay, and retired comfortably at 58. Over the years I saw many other lawyers leave for other in-house jobs, for law firm jobs and for non-legal jobs. Some moves were upwards, some were lateral, and some were steps down. Some of these new jobs worked out, but many did not. Some people never got back to the income and conditions they enjoyed at the bank. Personally, I am glad that I rode the bike until the wheels came off.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by ThankYouJack »

I also like the idea of part-time work. If that's an option, that could be ideal especially if he can get the same hourly rate and benefits.
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:04 am
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years.
No, expenses are $75k now, but they plan to start paying $30k/year in private tuition in the next fews bringing their total expenses up to $105k.
Plus health insurance premiums and taxes. It could bring the total expenses up quite a bit.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by srt7 »

EFF_fan81 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:47 am Going to post again with a more thorough set of thoughts since you and I are in pretty similar circumstances.

I think you are depressed and ground down from your legal career (including probably quasi-PTSD from law firm life) and struggling to adapt to a new job and new stage of life. I was going through the same thing for a while but have mostly gotten over it.

What you are going through has very little to do with money. For a long time, your career was your life and as difficult as it was the challenge and advancement up the firm ladder and building of a financial base was what made you tick. Now it is not and you are struggling to adapt and also dealing with the challenges of little kids. (It can be a challenge, but know that it will pass, and you might miss these days when it does -- for better or worse, they grow up quick). That's TOTALLY OK. That doesn't make you a bad person or lazy or unambitious.

I am a believer in stages of life. At this stage in your life, you are just stacking some easy cash and dealing with babies. That's fine. You can still learn from your job. You are just learning at a pace that's less rapid than before, and detaching yourself. I know you might be wondering "what if I stayed and was making a million dollars at the ol' firm" but you also know objectively that that life is not worth it and the price on your health and your family is too high. There is more to you than a resume or a deal sheet and you know it. Fundamentally, you need to work on detaching your self worth from your career. The goal is to become intrinsically motivated not extrinsically motivated and to seek self-actualization and not status markers or money. The primary purpose of FIRE is that it is a a method that when done correctly allows great freedom to permit that. YOU ARE ALREADY FREE, YOU JUST DON'T REALIZE THAT YOU ARE.

You have many options that you think you do not have. For example, you could move to the suburbs and work from home (or if that's not allowed, get a new job where it is). You could stay put and use private schools (and switch if you decide to change your life). You can practice a different type of law. You can start a company, or start a new firm. You can take a sabbatical and then go back to work. You can move somewhere cheaper. Heck, you can move somewhere more expensive that's more exciting. You don't need to buy a million dollar house and then commute an hour a day to a job you don't like. So don't! If you don't want that life, all you need to do is have the courage to reject it. 99.99% of the world would kill to be in your position.

I disagree that "lawyers are a dime a dozen." Some lawyers. Not lawyers with fancy firm experience, big corporate experience, who are smart and conscientious enough to save $3.5 million by middle age. Don't let a naysayer box you into being less than you could be. Don't let your concerns with status anxiety cause you to chase things you don't want to chase.

I would not actually make sudden moves right now. I would try to work hard on mentally detaching from your job. My motto now is "I'm going to do my employer a solid during working hours and then live my life with ZFG with my family and three little kids outside of working hours and vacations. I'll always be competent at what I do because that's my ethic, but if someone doesn't like me or my work there are a million other things I can do with my time and I will." I actually enjoy my job a lot more now, and am fine to stick with it even though I know I could FIRE by restructuring my life (moving out of HCOL, mainly) tomorrow, with less money and more kids than you. Maybe in a few years I will get fire back in my belly and try to climb the ladder. Or maybe not. It's my choice, not anyone else's, and if nobody gives me a job I want I'll just create my own.

I have a journal on the MMM forum that I use to organize my thoughts. I'd recommend you do that for a year while living your normal life. You'll feel better, and develop clearer plans for what you want out of your life. (You can PM me and I'll give you my screen name over there and we can sort this out in more detail together.)
This is such an awesome post!! I don't know about the OP but it is very motivating for me so Thank you!
I can't think of anything more luxurious than owning my time. - remomnyc
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by absolute zero »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:04 am
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years.
No, expenses are $75k now, but they plan to start paying $30k/year in private tuition in the next fews bringing their total expenses up to $105k.
The $75k current expenses include daycare. Daycare would go away if the OP quit working, bringing expenses down to nearly $50k.

The private school tuition is a choice that is not necessary. Given that neither parent would be working, they could move anywhere in the city/state/country to a place with decent public schools.

That being said, the OP’s portfolio could easily support $105k in expenses if for some reason he needed it to.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by oldfort »

absolute zero wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 3:24 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:04 am
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years.
No, expenses are $75k now, but they plan to start paying $30k/year in private tuition in the next fews bringing their total expenses up to $105k.
The $75k current expenses include daycare. Daycare would go away if the OP quit working, bringing expenses down to nearly $50k.

The private school tuition is a choice that is not necessary. Given that neither parent would be working, they could move anywhere in the city/state/country to a place with decent public schools.

That being said, the OP’s portfolio could easily support $105k in expenses if for some reason he needed it to.
I didn't view the OP as asking whether they should pay for private school, only whether they can FIRE with private school taken as a given.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by onthecusp »

You could retire, with some tradeoffs/cutbacks. I suggest continuing in "one more year" mode which can relieve much of the stress. While still fully employed look for and find part time lawyering for a similar rate. $180 an hour is cheap for a lawyer with corporate experience, 1500 hours gets you $270,000/yr.

You don't really need to save any more, but paying living costs allows you to let the investments grow. 1500 hours leaves over 14 weeks off a year. $270,000 covers a lot of living including health care premiums.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by anon_investor »

onthecusp wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:48 pm You could retire, with some tradeoffs/cutbacks. I suggest continuing in "one more year" mode which can relieve much of the stress. While still fully employed look for and find part time lawyering for a similar rate. $180 an hour is cheap for a lawyer with corporate experience, 1500 hours gets you $270,000/yr.

You don't really need to save any more, but paying living costs allows you to let the investments grow. 1500 hours leaves over 14 weeks off a year. $270,000 covers a lot of living including health care premiums.
FYI 1500 billable hours sounds pretty horrible for someone in house only working 40 hours a week. A lawyer generally is not going to be able to bill every hour they work.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by bltn »

TiredLawyer wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:06 am
anon_investor wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:18 pm Is DH able to change divisions within his company or has has DH considered another in house position at another company? The change of scenery might help. I know at my company, the "culture" between the various divisions can be a bit different.
Yes, there is a possibility of changing scenery, either with a new area of law or at a new company. The idea of a change is actually quite exciting. But I also recognize the hard work and investment that comes with any change like that, either to learn a new area of law or to build some equity at a new company. And frankly, I just don't want to add more stress to my family right now if I don't have to. The timing now gets a little tricky since we had our child later in life, and I will be closer to 50 by the time my child needs less of me.
I agree with galawdawg that you are blessed in a number of ways. And now one of your greatest blessings is your child. We had our last child when I was your age. And I realized how little time I spent with my first child working 80 hours a week, or more. I made a point of spending more time with my second child. And believe me the years will fly by and he ll reach an age too quickly where he doesn t want to spend as much time with you as he does his friends. And you ll miss your time together.
I wish I could go back to those days when my children were young.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by TxAg »

I'd quit, sell the house, buy an RV and tour the US for a coulle years before the kiddo starts school. Then get any job you want that pays for health insurance.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:04 am
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:34 am I still don't understand why DH needs to work. His job is stressful. Finding and switching to some other job would be stressful. He has $3mm. A withdrawal rate of 2.5 percent, which is conservative, would be more than sufficient to cover his family's expenses for the next 50 years.
No, expenses are $75k now, but they plan to start paying $30k/year in private tuition in the next fews bringing their total expenses up to $105k.
He can move to a better school district if he wants to; the private school tuition is optional. If DH chooses to be chained to a desk working in a stressful job for the rest of his life in order to pay for exoribitant tuition, that's his choice. Also, as soon as DH retires, there will no longer be any need for daycare, so his expenses will drop.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

Some are citing the need for group health insurance as a reason why the OP should continue working, but this is a red herring. The reality is that heavily subsidized health insurance can be purchased by low- and middle-income families at reasonable rates through the Affordable Care Act.

Go to the Kaiser Family Foundation ACA health insurance cost calculator and look for yourself:
https://www.kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

You will see that a family of 3 nonsmokers earning $35,000 - $85,000 per year can buy a silver plan for a fraction of what the OP is currently spending on daycare.

If the OP can currently spend $1,800 per month on daycare -- expenses that presumably would go away once the OP retires -- he can easily afford $200 - $600 per month for health insurance.

Keep in mind that once the OP retires, he can easily manipulate the locations of his assets in such a way as to minimize his taxable/countable income. For example, if his taxable account were split 50-50 between intermediate treasuries and a NASDAQ ETF [ticker: QQQ], his taxable account would produce dividends of about 0.5% per year, or just $5,000 per $1 million in assets. If he wishes, he can put higher-yielding assets in retirement accounts where the dividends won't count toward the ACA income limits.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by bltn »

This is such an interesting topic concerning the feelings of career burnout in a highly paid job that I keep revisiting it. Many of us have had feelings of burnout from time to time in a demanding job. Part of the reason the compensation is so good.

One thing I keep noticing in this thread that might be errant. Many have stated that the op has the assets to quit work whenever he wishes. Maybe not. He has around 2 million in investment assets , including the rental property, outside of his tax deferred assets. The pension money isn t touchable until 59 1/2 without paying penalties and high taxes. The house is mire of an expense liability than an asset, unless one plans a reverse mortgage. Retiring in one s early 40 s means a withdrawal rate of 3.5% would be considered safe by many of us. 70,000 dollars a year. Raising a child , saving for college and trying to live a solid middle class life. I think that s tight. Particularly for a guy gifted enough to get a job practicing law paying over 300,000 a year for working 40 hours a week. Only a FIRE fanatic would settle for retiring with his assets now.

Maybe I m a fringe boglehead who thinks the op has achieved an admirable position in life and needs to keep working, realizing that most high responsibility jobs are intermittently stressful.

Best of luck.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by catchup »

Looks like you have received a lot of good advice.

I agree with not doing anything rash.

If counseling was helpful, would try to resume even if online.

With a young kid, your wife's chronic health conditions, stressors at work, and burnout, may I suggest working especially hard to take care of yourself? Do you exercise? Have you been active in sports?

Training for a marathon, triathlon, joining a running group, soccer club, outdoor yoga class, or taking up some other hobby or passion outside of work, may go a long way toward clearing your head and attaining a sense of well-being.
Sometimes it's not that easy, I get that, but it's just a thought. Exercise has helped me tremendously through difficult
circumstances, even if it is not a cure-all.

Also, you may not have a lot of time on your hands, but now may be a good time to think about preparing for a career transition, on your own terms. Look into online degree programs or volunteer opportunities in a potential field of interest. You have the luxury of doing so at your own pace, being financially secure.

Even with assets and a good income, it can be stressful trying to meet the financial goals and realities of your current situation. Having said that, although I don't know where you live, most of us can get by without buying a million dollar home. Take some pressure off yourself financially by reframing your financial needs, and you may find yourself
less pressured as you consider your options.

Hope these thoughts were helpful. Good luck.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Valuethinker »

toocold wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:17 pm When reading this post, did anybody else find it odd that the author referred to people as DH and DW? Usually dear or darling husband (DH) or dear or darling wife (DW) refers to how a person is related to the author, so I was confused. I think the author is the husband, and if that is the case, it would be odd to refer to oneself as DH, whether they truly are dear or darling.

Sorry to detract from the conversation. :happy
Lawyers by nature are habitually careful about disclosing personal information.

And they are quite capable of referring to themselves in the third person.

FWIW the husband has a job most lawyers dream about. 300k pa in a city that is not New York London San Francisco Washington DC? For 40 hours a week? Most lawyers I know work at least 60 hours a week and many many more hours than 60.

That does not help if one is burned out, unfortunately.

Setting that aside my practical advice would be to cling to that job for dear life and plan to have no income from say age 55 ie early retired. And fully expect that the corporate grim reaper will come after you long before that.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Bobby206 »

I am in law and did a short sabbatical or long vacation, whatever you want to call it, a few years. Maybe something like that is an option. For me it was eye opening, refreshing and invigorating. Doesn't need to be long. Take a month or two or three... after things are opened back up around the world.

I would not give up the kush job though.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by EddyB »

bltn wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:25 am
One thing I keep noticing in this thread that might be errant. Many have stated that the op has the assets to quit work whenever he wishes. Maybe not. He has around 2 million in investment assets , including the rental property, outside of his tax deferred assets. The pension money isn t touchable until 59 1/2 without paying penalties and high taxes. The house is mire of an expense liability than an asset, unless one plans a reverse mortgage. Retiring in one s early 40 s means a withdrawal rate of 3.5% would be considered safe by many of us. 70,000 dollars a year. Raising a child , saving for college and trying to live a solid middle class life. I think that s tight. Particularly for a guy gifted enough to get a job practicing law paying over 300,000 a year for working 40 hours a week. Only a FIRE fanatic would settle for retiring with his assets now.

Maybe I m a fringe boglehead who thinks the op has achieved an admirable position in life and needs to keep working, realizing that most high responsibility jobs are intermittently stressful.
I may have missed it, but I don’t think the OP said “pension” assets, but rather “retirement account” assets. Not knowing exactly what that means, there’s some conjecture, but even 401(k) accounts are accessible without penalty before 59.5, through substantially equal periodic payments permitted by IRC sec. 72(t), and the taxes are no different than for other ordinary income. Of course, the “retirement account” assets could be even easier to access, such as contributions to Roth IRA accounts. Regardless of whether they are immediately accessible (or whether accessing them is desirable, taking into account tax-minimization goals), ignoring their existence to conclude that a “3.5%” withdrawal rate means 3.5% of a subset of the investment assets is a very odd choice that obviously is far more conservative than it tries appear. As for the rental property, I don’t think they said what its income production is, but I’d be much more comfortable looking at actual income and expense history to make a net income projection from rental property than to apply the investment-portfolio-derived “SWR” concept to the property’s value.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by just1question »

Another tired lawyer here, about 10 years older than your DH. Similar NW. Still working.

ANXIETY: You say your DH has "a feeling of burnout, underappreciation, and anxiety." The first two you will get at most jobs, and IMO are solvable problems. Indeed, there are very few attorneys I have met who aren't burned out or under appreciated. The main issue is anxiety. Anxiety, especially in the legal profession, can be very damaging if left unchecked. I'd quote you the figures on alcoholism and depression, but that's already been covered above. If the anxiety is serious, this is your main concern. Seek professional help if necessary. Most websites discussing anxiety treatment recommend, inter alia (Latin = proof I'm an attorney), exercise. It's not a panacea, but it helps.

FIRE: I'm likely going to be in the minority here, but I just don't see FIRE as an option, yet. The reasons are DW's chronic health condition and the 2-year old. The chronic health condition can be devastating on your finances. As for the 2-year old, your expenses don't include 529 plan contributions. College is expensive now, imagine what it will be in 16 years. Plus, you may chose to have more children. Also, there is no allocation in your monthly expenses for recurring costs, like purchasing a new car, house (and rental) renovations, and the like. I know, it's an insane world in which a 3.5M net worth isn't enough to retire on. But there are special circumstances here. (Plus, the nightly news pretty much confirms that yes, it is an insane world out there.)

QUITTING: You will find people who know people who quit then returned to work years later. That's a dangerous gamble. I've been involved in hiring discussions in several law firms, and a gap in employment never, and I mean never, goes unnoticed. A sabbatical, on the other hand, is a great idea, assuming it is an option. Most law firms and businesses employing lawyers have seen the damage long hours and stress can do to its attorneys, and expect these problems to arise. If your DW is worth what he is being paid, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, his firm/business will make accommodations to protect his health (and protect itself).

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: $3.5 million NW in your 40s is something to be proud of, to say the least. If you and DH want to FIRE, I think you are close. Going from 3 million in invested assets to 4 million is a lot easier than accumulating your first million. At least I hope that is the case. But I would wait. How long? That depends on DW's health, but that is not an appropriate topic for this forum. More likely, a topic of discussion to have with your medical provider/doctor.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Bobby206 »

just1question wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:41 am Another tired lawyer here, about 10 years older than your DH. Similar NW. Still working.

ANXIETY: You say your DH has "a feeling of burnout, underappreciation, and anxiety." The first two you will get at most jobs, and IMO are solvable problems. Indeed, there are very few attorneys I have met who aren't burned out or under appreciated. The main issue is anxiety. Anxiety, especially in the legal profession, can be very damaging if left unchecked. I'd quote you the figures on alcoholism and depression, but that's already been covered above. If the anxiety is serious, this is your main concern. Seek professional help if necessary. Most websites discussing anxiety treatment recommend, inter alia (Latin = proof I'm an attorney), exercise. It's not a panacea, but it helps.
....
Amen! The anxiety of being a lawyer, at least in private practice, is really overwhelming at times. The moment you think you might have made a multi-million dollar mistake which you are personally liable for above your malpractice limits sends a wave over one's body that is hard to describe. Had that happen a couple times. In one case it was a week before I worked out that everything was fine and for a week I popped xanax and hated life. I could write a book after almost 30 years in the biz.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Freetime76 »

fredflinstone wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:35 am
absolute zero wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:49 pm Is the question whether you have enough to quit working? If so, the answer is yes. With a $3.5MM net worth, this isn’t a “maybe” situation. It’s easy - do whatever you want. Money is not a concern.
I agree. I think the really interesting question is why the OP doesn't retire even though he clearly has the means to do so.
Um...maybe because...Some people like to work? Work provides structure, a social network, status, purpose, benefits (!!! Not planning one’s life around the wonders of the ACA seems prudent, to me), personal challenge...
Some people like to feel useful, and well-compensated employment is a means to that end?
Some people like the nice things extra income can do for their immediate and extended families and community and church?
Just a few ideas...

Fred, you are obviously pro-FIRE the minute it is possible, so that you can hit the gym :D and do those perfect-form squats and pull-ups, sorry if I got those details wrong. Others have different value systems and priorities, not to mention levels of risk tolerance and planning.

Anytime someone says, “oh, just do this... it’s totally simple!” I note the use of the word “just”, and I recognize that it is Not That Simple. :sharebeer

ETA: I am pretty sure that Bogleheads’ patron saint worked well beyond when he needed to, thankfully for us.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Freetime76 »

EddyB wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:01 pm
fredflinstone wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:37 pm
Watty wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:55 pm I am not a lawyer but I am curious to know what is so stressful about a 40 hour a week job as a corporate lawyer compared to some other corporate job like a senior accountant.

It seems like with either type of job there would be responsibility and deadlines but a lot the posts seemed to be sympathetic with why being a corporate lawyer might be stressful. Is there something unique about being a lawyer that I don't know about?
I think this probably has more to do with DH's personality than the inherent responsibilities of the job.
It could be, and it could be that people who want to be lawyers are more likely to have whatever personality you think causes this reaction, but lawyers suffer from depression at about 3.5 times the rates of the population generally, and the rate of problematic alcohol consumption among lawyers is about twice that of the highly-educated workforce as a whole. Not dispositive, but makes me think there may be something to the claim that many lawyers have stressful jobs. Although I've worked with many accountants, I'm not able to directly compare the two.

I don't know what the DH in the OP finds stressful about his own job (although I think he should focus very closely on that question!), and I admit that it's very hard to compare the job an experienced member of one profession does to an experienced member of another profession (how many people can you find who can contrast their 20 years in law to their 20 years in some other profession?), but if I had to generalize for senior corporate lawyers, whether at law firms or in-house counsel, I'd guess it mostly comes down to the fact that the repeated exercise of high-stakes judgment is stressful, especially without adequate time. Many lawyers primarily take on and solve other people's problems (immediately, prioritizing each and every one above all the other other peoples' problems on the lawyer's plate), where the demand is often for a simple answer to a very nuanced question for which either no definitive answer exists or for which some definitive answer may exist, but where there is no viable way to determine it (or satisfy oneself that it doesn't exist) in the time available. The people asking the question will often have a very strong preference for a particular answer, although they will have no understanding whatsoever of the considerations relevant to reaching a conclusion, and they will be incredulous when the lawyer is reluctant to give the answer they prefer. Oh, and in almost every case the individuals asking the question won't recognize that they are not the lawyer's client, but rather that the lawyer owes his or her duties to the corporation or other entity; any lawyer who insists on that fundamental principle in the uncomfortable (but common) situation where the interests of the corporation are not aligned with those of the individuals asking the question will be labelled "not a team player," "not business minded," or something that we don't write on Bogleheads. Much of this takes place in the context of after-the-fact cleanup of problems that the earlier involvement of the lawyer may well have avoided in the first place, and a surprising (perhaps not?) number of these are issues where greed is a major component. All nestled in the certainty that some clients (internal or external) will reject the lawyer's advice, but later blame the lawyer for whatever further problems arise, either misportraying the earlier advice or claiming the lawyer wasn't strident enough in delivering it (sometimes both!), plus, of course, something similar to what doctors suffer from in giving "best" advice that still may not be "correct" in each instance. The more expert and specialized the lawyer, the greater the proportion of his or her work that will look like this (because experienced lawyers are selling judgment).

I know every job has its stresses and I'm not claiming that lawyering is inherently more stressful than anything else, just trying to describe some of what I've seen as common stress in one slice of a profession. I do think that a true 40 hour week for an in-house position has some serious advantages over being on-call constantly for dozens, scores, or hundreds of clients who all expect priority and some memory of their facts and circumstances, but for all I know it has corresponding disadvantages, too.
I very much enjoyed this post. Especially the part about condemning the lawyer for situations that would not have arisen if s/he had been consulted in the first place!
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by fredflinstone »

Freetime76 wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:56 am
fredflinstone wrote: Sat Jul 18, 2020 6:35 am
absolute zero wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:49 pm Is the question whether you have enough to quit working? If so, the answer is yes. With a $3.5MM net worth, this isn’t a “maybe” situation. It’s easy - do whatever you want. Money is not a concern.
I agree. I think the really interesting question is why the OP doesn't retire even though he clearly has the means to do so.
Um...maybe because...Some people like to work? Work provides structure, a social network, status, purpose, benefits (!!! Not planning one’s life around the wonders of the ACA seems prudent, to me), personal challenge...
Some people like to feel useful, and well-compensated employment is a means to that end?
Some people like the nice things extra income can do for their immediate and extended families and community and church?
Just a few ideas...

Fred, you are obviously pro-FIRE the minute it is possible, so that you can hit the gym :D and do those perfect-form squats and pull-ups, sorry if I got those details wrong. Others have different value systems and priorities, not to mention levels of risk tolerance and planning.
The OP doesn't like his job. Read his posts.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Watty »

bltn wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:25 am The pension money isn t touchable until 59 1/2 without paying penalties and high taxes.
There are ways to get at 401k and IRA money before the age of 59.5 without paying a penalty.

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Substan ... c_payments

You can also do Roth conversions then withdraw the money after five years, at least as I recall.

A couple can also have over $100K in taxable income and still be in the 12% federal tax bracket so high taxes are not likely to be a problem.
'
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by SouthernFIRE »

You’ve gotten some good advice. Given your financial position, you don’t really need to kill yourself at work. I would take a couple extra weeks of vacation a year and/or a couple month sabbatical. Then reevaluate. I’m in a roughly similar situation to you in terms of career, age, and net worth. Experiencing similar feelings of monotony and questioning whether I want to keep doing this but slowing down a bit has done wonders.
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Boglegrappler »

Even established lawyer with good careers can have problems down the line. Lawyers who downshift their career, or leave practice, can have problems if they want to gear up again later.
Agree completely.

One of my first rules of career sustainment is "Never fire yourself". What you're considering is a lot like that.

Good luck balancing the alternatives.
Want.Need.Plan
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:56 pm

Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Want.Need.Plan »

As a CPA, who also feels that the walls are closing in as one wrong decision could mean the difference of someone going to jail or the company getting sued. After working countless late nights worrying about if I made the right choice or if I should walk out the front door... I came to realize that NO ONE PHYSICALLY DIED. We are not surgeons who has a persons opened up on a table. Our work is important but any important decision should not be made alone. Start saying no to unrealistic or unreasonable requests. Take your lunch hour to go to the gym vs eating / working through lunch... spread out your vacations and use sick days for long weekends.... heck take mental breaks during the day and listen to a pod cast while “reviewing those documents”. Overall do anything to take your mind off work to continue to build up that nest egg so that one day you can wake up and have 20x your take home. Then the sky’s the limit...Maybe that’s opening up your own practice or teaching or whatever.

You can do it.
Stick5vw
Posts: 153
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:46 am

Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Stick5vw »

Great thread with lots of advice. Wish I had seen this 2 years ago!

OP, have you made any decisions?

I took a career break a year ago following a long period of feeling exactly like you. Still on this break (job search taking longer thanks to COVID), so would echo the posts about being really sure you want to walk away from such a well paid gig. One never knows what will happen and it could become very difficult to just “come back in” when you’ve stepped off the treadmill.

But equally life is too short to be in a job you hate. A break may be what you need and See if your employer will let you take a sabbatical (unfortunately mine did not so I left). Trust your gut and have confidence that things will all work out for the best. They usually do.
Topic Author
TiredLawyer
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:41 pm

Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by TiredLawyer »

Stick5vw wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:57 pm Great thread with lots of advice. Wish I had seen this 2 years ago!

OP, have you made any decisions?

I took a career break a year ago following a long period of feeling exactly like you. Still on this break (job search taking longer thanks to COVID), so would echo the posts about being really sure you want to walk away from such a well paid gig. One never knows what will happen and it could become very difficult to just “come back in” when you’ve stepped off the treadmill.

But equally life is too short to be in a job you hate. A break may be what you need and See if your employer will let you take a sabbatical (unfortunately mine did not so I left). Trust your gut and have confidence that things will all work out for the best. They usually do.
I was hoping to come back in 5 years to post an update, but now is as good of a time as any. I have decided to carry on for another 5 years at work and then decide what to do then. I heard a lot of good advice here and processed it as follows:

1. Don't make any big decisions during COVID. The impact on mental health should not be underestimated.
2. The comments from other lawyers who have stuck it out and were thankful they did were uplifting. Looking over the course of their career, they felt that they had made the right decision to stick it through.
3. Everyone will probably feel some level of underappreciation in their job at some point in their career. I am hoping this feeling passes for me too.
4. In deciding to have a child, I have given up some options I could have taken if childless. I also know that child will become a lot more independent from age 2 to 4 although I'm sure it will become more challenging in other ways.
5. Take some time off with PTO and vacations. Get help with tasks you can outsource if needed.
6. There are too many things not worked out to stop now. For example, DW's recent hospital stay resulted in several thousand $$ in medical bills. As unpleasant as it was, it probably would feel a lot worse without regular income. Also, there was a post in "What happens if you run out of money in retirement" viewtopic.php?f=10&t=321989&newpost=5416178 that really scared me-- about a C-level executive who retired early in her 50s only to become disabled in a car accident and divorced in a span of 10 years and to basically lose everything.
quantAndHold wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:30 pm A separate story. A good friend of mine back in the 90’s. Had been a C-level exec at Random House. Semi-retired in her 50’s with plenty of money. Over the course of about ten years, went from being quite wealthy to losing everything in a snowball of horrendous luck. Divorce, car accident (hit by a drunk driver) that left her disabled, unable to work and unable to get health insurance in pre-ACA America, in the middle of a housing market crash, so the house was foreclosed. She literally lost every last cent. She went from a big house on the cliff in La Jolla to living on her Social Security in a subsidized one bedroom apartment. Her story is my nightmare scenario. She handled it by adjusting her lifestyle to be able to live entirely on Social Security. It was ugly, but she did it.

So no big decisions right now. Just a lot of gratitude for those who helped me figure some things out for the time being.
jodydavis
Posts: 219
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 9:50 am

Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by jodydavis »

Former lawyer here, and my second time through with a small kid right now.

My one piece of advice: hire help, i.e. a nanny, home helper, babysitter, right now. Your comment makes it sound like it's too late, but it's not. And this will make a huuuuuge difference in your quality of life. It sounds like you are exhausted, not just by the job, but by the additional burden of taking care of a 2 year old while your spouse is dealing with medical issues. No wonder you are feeling down! That's exhausting! And your perfectionistic inclinations are probably making this worse, trying to do everything yourself. You are not alone - having a 2 year old is absolutely exhausting, and survey after survey indicates that parents of young children are often sleep deprived, depressed, and unhappy (don't worry, it does get better). So this is totally normal (and probably exacerbated by the pandemic).

You may be reluctant to hire help. It doesn't seem frugal or boglehead approved, and your wife already has quit her job to be a stay at home mom. But her medical issues mean that she isn't really a full-time stay at home mom, as she is busy dealing with those issues. Also, as a perfectionist, you may be reluctant to have someone help out with the kid, because you prefer to do things "just right." My advice: get over all of this. Hiring someone to help will let you sleep more/better and give you more time and resources to deal with work, health issues, etc. If it helps, you can think about this as a temporary solution, to help you through the next year or two. And at that point, you can reevaluate. By then, your kid will be older and easier to parent, and hopefully the pandemic will be over/controlled. That will be a better time to make long-term decisions.

Good luck!





TiredLawyer wrote: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:52 am
qwertyjazz wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:05 pm Why not hire some live in help? Would still be netting more money than quitting and can take off some of the extra work - sleep more. Sleep is often a big driver of feeling of stress
We should have hired a nanny or night nurse for at least a year when our child was first born. But being first-time parents, we didn't realize how hard it would be. Perhaps naively, we had high hopes that our child would start sleeping through the night after a few months. And frankly, I felt fine the first few months with the adrenaline and excitement that comes with having a new baby. But the waking up 2-3 times a night continued until closer to the second birthday, and now it's hard to climb out of the sleep deficit. Things are getting better slowly but it is taking time.
alfaspider
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Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by alfaspider »

X528 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:49 pm
Big Dog wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:43 am
Random Poster wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:34 am
Big Dog wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:59 am Lawyers are a dime-a-dozen.
Good lawyers aren’t.

And those who earn $300k+ are generally pretty good lawyers.
Sorry, but yes good lawyers are plentiful. The US graduates 2x the number of lawyers actually needed every year. The T14 keeps cranking out really smart attorneys every year. Plenty of Big Law Associates making bank, but quality of life sux. It definitely is a rarity to be making $300k and only working 40 hours a week (in any field). Congrats to him. Keep it going and look for a hobby (golf?) to do in his spare time. Personally, I'd be thinking about Plan B since this is not likely to last.
There are way, way too many lawyers:

https://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com

Even established lawyer with good careers can have problems down the line. Lawyers who downshift their career, or leave practice, can have problems if they want to gear up again later.
Keep in mind that "lawyers" are not fungible. A personal injury attorney couldn't just step in and do a corporate tax gig just as an pediatrician couldn't step in as a radiologist. Granted, the $300k in-house gig is a good place to be within the profession, but most of the people with those gigs could have made at least double that in private practice as partners.

But there is a good point that once you get off the wagon, it's tough to get back on. A legal career is not one where it's easy to leave and come back.
Mofire
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:28 am

Re: Tired Lawyer, Need career and life advice

Post by Mofire »

Went through a similar burnout mini-phase, and taking a decent vacation (2 weeks or longer) really helped me to decompress and regain perspective.

Also, make sure to keep up with a core group of friends/social contacts. Community is a great way to manage stress.
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