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   Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
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   Author  Topic: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer  (Read 3316 times)
Examiner
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Re: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
« Reply #5 on: Jun 14th, 2007, 10:43am »
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I wouldn’t say that my only priority is working 9-5.  But, law school is costly and time consuming.  Thus, for it to be worth it I think there needs to be a significant payoff.  I would define significant payoff as making significantly more money on an hourly basis.
 
What you’re saying is that SPEs effectively make more (170k) than first-year associates (145-160k).
 
Most SPEs get 392 hrs of leave per year and thus “bill” (loosely used) about 1688 hrs.  Whereas, my understanding is that associates need to bill 1800-2000 hrs.  And, surely, associates work much harder per billable hour.  Let’s assume that associates work 1.25 hours for each hour billed…that’s 2250-2500 hours.
 
So, to be worth the money on an hourly basis, I would need to average at least (2250/1688 ) * $170,000 ~= $226,000 per year every year.  This is not even including the cost of attending law school (about 36k because tuition is mostly taxable), not to mention the time.  
 
Thus, I suppose my question boils down to what is the likelihood that I would make significantly more than 226k every year if I go through law school?
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pentazole
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Re: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
« Reply #6 on: Jun 14th, 2007, 1:56pm »
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on Jun 14th, 2007, 10:43am, Examiner wrote:

Thus, I suppose my question boils down to what is the likelihood that I would make significantly more than 226k every year if I go through law school?

 
I think you will be lucky to make 150 K in your first 2-3 years, unless your base salary is such, and that kind of first year salary is only available at select firms in select markets.  In the rest of the nation, a first year associate makes about 100-120 K per year, based on anywhere from 1800-2000 billable hours.  WIth bonus options, if you can meet your billable hours and then some, you can make up to about 35% of your salary as bonus.  It would be unrealistic to think you will break into the 200's unless you are a superstar, or unless you have a large portfolio of your own clients you are bringing with you.
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Examiner
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Re: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
« Reply #7 on: Jun 17th, 2007, 9:03pm »
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on Jun 14th, 2007, 1:56pm, pentazole wrote:

 
I think you will be lucky to make 150 K in your first 2-3 years, unless your base salary is such, and that kind of first year salary is only available at select firms in select markets.  In the rest of the nation, a first year associate makes about 100-120 K per year, based on anywhere from 1800-2000 billable hours.  WIth bonus options, if you can meet your billable hours and then some, you can make up to about 35% of your salary as bonus.  It would be unrealistic to think you will break into the 200's unless you are a superstar, or unless you have a large portfolio of your own clients you are bringing with you.

 
It's highly likely I could get on the BPAI if I go through with LS.  Would firms really pay a former judge only 150k?
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PA
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Re: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
« Reply #8 on: Jun 17th, 2007, 10:35pm »
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on Jun 17th, 2007, 9:03pm, Examiner wrote:
It's highly likely I could get on the BPAI if I go through with LS.  Would firms really pay a former judge only 150k?

You seem to be implying that working as a BPAI judge would entitle you to higher salary.  That may not necessarily be the case.  Especially with the smaller firms, income is generally tied to the profitability of the associate.  From a business standpoint this makes sense, right?  If you bring in more money to the firm, then you should get paid more.  For lawyers, profitability is usually tied to billable hours and rainmaking.
 
I think a better question to ask yourself is how your background as a BPAI judge or anything else provides the firm with increased profitability to justify paying you more than "only" 150K.
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Isaac
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Re: Being a happy, healthy, and ethical lawyer
« Reply #9 on: Jun 18th, 2007, 7:57am »
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on Jun 14th, 2007, 1:56pm, pentazole wrote:
I think you will be lucky to make 150 K in your first 2-3 years, unless your base salary is such, and that kind of first year salary is only available at select firms in select markets.

 
Valid point.  However some firms in the DC market will pay 145-160 to start, and a successful Georgetown, GW or even Geo Mason grad with PTO experience would be a viable candidate for such a job.   I think it's legitimate to consider the DC market for an examiner who already lives in the DC area.
 
But there is of course no assurance that a given law school grad will get one of those jobs.    Unfortunately, people have to make the decision to attend law school without being fully able to evaluate their employment prospects.   Also, not eveyone enjoys law school.
 
The question about becoming a BPAI judge does point out another consideration.   A law school education is not simply an expense for getting an associates position, but is itself a valuable consideration.   A law school degree might well have value at the PTO.   I've never quite understood the complaints about having to pay taxes on the money the PTO gives you to pay for law school, but I'm probably just "old school".   Many people struggle to pay off debt they get paying for law school.
 
However, for an examiner who has the option to become a SPE it doesn't appear that there is a huge payoff if dollars/hour is a consideration.   As an attorney, you probably will work harder per dollar than a SPE if the life is as "kick back" as described here.   Certainly law school itself won't be easy if you are serious about doing well there (as you should be)  You can easily make more money as an associate than as a SPE even without making partner, (do some googling for the pay scale for mid level associates) but depending on your current age, family situation, and time in at the PTO, you might understandably not want to work so hard to do so.    
 
I hope my comments don't seem to be derisive of Examiner's position.  While, I would view the prospects of becoming a SPE less attractively than does the Examiner,  that's partly because I find the work as an attorney enjoyable and because I wouldn't enjoy being an examiner or SPE nearly as much, and I did examine for a while.   There's a lot to be said for a job that allows you to spend more time with your family than I can, but still allows you to live comfortably in the DC area.
« Last Edit: Jun 18th, 2007, 7:58am by Isaac » IP Logged

Isaac
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