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OFF-TOPIC How Fastlane Is Lawyering?

WheelsRCool

Contributor
Aug 12, 2007
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Okay, first off, I don't have any real interest in becoming a lawyer, nothing against the profession, this is from a pure curiousity standpoint. I was reading that some lawyers, the highest paid ones, take home around $90 million a year.

This would naturally lead one to presume lawyers are like corporate executives I suppose, some take home like $90 million/yr, others $20 million, other are very well-paid but not rich, some struggle to get by, etc...

I was wondering is lawyering a fastlane thing or do such lawyers like that have to work their way up for many many years before reaching the high amounts of wealth...?
 

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JesseO

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Jul 25, 2007
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I think a normal lawyer takes home more like 150k per year when they start out. High end "normal" lawyers would probably be in the 500k range? If you made that much and lived in a rental home for a couple years, you'd be set for life. The key that they don't seem to understand in the guidelines that you've shown is the passive income.....they have none. In any case, there are many successful lawyers who invest in income-producing assets. It's just another job until you get to retire, although it is a very high income one and so you should be able to retire faster. Doctors fall into this same category, as do many other professions. It takes a lot of time and effort just to get into such groups though. Aside from the ramblings, I would say my short answer is no. There is no "job" that is fastlane, even if it's a CEO who makes 1 billion per year. What makes something fastlane is to have it make money for you without requiring much (if any) effort from you.
 

JesseO

Contributor
Jul 25, 2007
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Phoenix, AZ
Wow either that scale includes pro bono lawyers or else I've been in the dark as to what they make my whole life :p
 

SteveO

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Since I am in close proximity to an attorney that works at a firm, I may have some inside information here.

There are a couple of levels. Most firms have associates and partners. It is usually a goal to become a partner. This is accomplished be making the company enough money and showing your long term value.

As an associate, you will draw a salary with incentives for making yearly minimum billable hours. The partners on the other hand will draw a minimum salary. Then a large chunk of money from their ownership of the business. This is based on many factors but the biggest is from the success of the firm. The more the firm makes, the larger the payout.

There is a lot of pay that does not come from salary.

I played golf, bowled, and hung out at bars and parties with many lawyers. I have heard some of them complain that other professions can make much more than they can.

On the flip side. Lawyers can see a lot of deals coming through the pipeline. Many of them invest in businesses and partnerships with some of the successful clients. They are also well equipped to start businesses with the knowledge they possess.
 

Diane Kennedy

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Aug 31, 2007
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I think the big pay lawyers are the guys that are plaintiff's attorneys - ie, sue people for a living and take 30-40% of the win.

In general, I like lawyers (exception might be some of the plaintiff's attorneys). SteveO's wife is a great example of a smart lady who knows her stuff and operates with integrity. That's typical of most of the "transactional" attorneys that I've met. And those are the people that will have lower salaries, but see deals.

I've known a lot of lawyers who make more money off of the businesses that they take a small piece of (in exchange for legal fees) at the beginning..that then grow into something huge.
 

Sid23

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Aug 9, 2007
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I was very close to becoming a lawyer and didn't. My best friend is an attorney at a high powered firm in NYC but is looking to leave the profession. He works 85 hours a week on average and is always "on call" if one of the partners needs him. He has had to cancel many trips and other things at the last minute because he finds out Friday at 5pm he needs to work all weekend. Granted, he makes $250k/yr (he's 29).

I decided not to become a lawyer because the day before I was to begin law school, I had lunch with a family friend who is the Chairman of a big firm. He explained the "billable hours" situation at big law firms. (I also had just finished RDPD the day before).

I asked, "So even if I'm the smartest one in the room and can do in 40 hours what it takes other people 60-80 hours to do, they will get promoted faster than me because they worked longer?"

His answer: "Exactly right."

Didn't seem like a good use of my time to me.

In retrospect, the 2nd best decision I've ever made. It's nice to be 29 and have lawyers working FOR you.
 
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WheelsRCool

Contributor
Aug 12, 2007
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I think the big pay lawyers are the guys that are plaintiff's attorneys - ie, sue people for a living and take 30-40% of the win.
Yep, those are the ones I was reading about, they are experts in the art of suing companies it seems.
 

Reisteve

New Contributor
Dec 6, 2007
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The money in lawyering is between the large insurance defense firms along with a few high powered plaintiff attorneys that do either personal injury and/or class action stuff...

Yes there is the securities end of it, but that is really nothing more that a "insurance" type firm that Is somehow tied to a deep pocket company... So that is $$$$

Honestly, like many professions, there are good and bad attorneys.

The assesment that it is an 80 hour a week job is one thing, the fact that the senior partner is billing most of that for himself as well is another thing that is not mentioned.

The only fast lane is where there is some sort of nepotism or favorite son sort of thing going on...

If you want to see what really goes on sometime... Watch the movie "A civil Action" with Trivolta and Duvall... my favorite part is where Robert Duvall is down in the library section of his firm, a firm of about 500 attorneys and Trivolta goe sthere to talk to him about the case... Duvall at one point looks up and basically tells Trivolta that he will "paper him to death".... and he does bascially... Duvall takes his firm and beats the hell out of Trivolta... by papering him to death... Interrogatories, Admissions, Special Rogs, Production, Depositions.. All the while Trivolta is not bringing in anything because this one case is burrying him so he has no other income....

This is what real court work is, what real civil stuff is...(Ask me how I know... )

You want to do jsutice in life... do not become a lawyer..

There is no such thing as "justice" in the court...it is about $$$$

So if that is what you want.. go for it... and good luck..

Just remember.. there are other things to do with a law degree that to make a living suing people...

There is a better way to do justice in other people's lives...

Just my thoughts...


Steve
 

Rawr

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Being a lawyer sucks. Don't buy into the hype. 1st year associates out of top schools make 120k and they are underpaid. The hours suck, it is for the most part a paper pushing job - nothing what you see on tv. you don't go and argue all day long.. Sure some people might like it - I know a few but 99.9% of the rest are regretting getting 150k in debt and having to toil in misery to pay it off.

If you think courts are fair you obviously never been in court.. its is all $$$ like the fella above me said - i've seen judges literally abuse people's $$ over stupid stuff, been there myself - the younger you are the worse. Was my own lawyer for a speeding ticket trial last month and did well - don't take public defenders they are worthless.
 

yveskleinsky

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Jul 26, 2007
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You guys are equating salary to fastlane and they have nothing to do with one another! Who cares how much a person makes in wages- anyway you slice it it isn't fastlane. A typical lawyer is generally either an "E" or an "S", even though they may be high paid it is not fastlane to be earning a wage- fastlane money is generated exponentially (creating a viral system of some sort) not laterally (working your way up to partner). ...Any profession can be made fastlane- look at legalzoom.com I would consider the founder to be fastlane. Look at Diane Kennedy- she is a CPA and turned that fastlane (Hope you don't mind the reference there Diane!). Look at Subway- that guy turned sandwiches fastlane. Any concept can become fastlane- it all depends on the driver!
 

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