Imagine yourself on the day you graduated law school. Was it warm outside? Were you indoors? Do you remember how you felt with your friends, family and colleagues as you moved from law student to lawyer (and how you weren’t comfortable calling yourself a lawyer until you passed the bar exam)?
In addition to your excitement, did you also start your post–law school life with massive student loan debt and a vague sense that this could all be a mistake? How did law school get so expensive? How did the generation before me manage their money? And, why are lawyer salaries radically divergent?
Whether you had a cushy job lined up or not, you knew that figuring out money would be an essential part of your life going forward and that if you didn’t, you could be in a world of hurt.
This wasn’t how was supposed to be. You get good grades, master the LSAT and find a job as a lawyer. If you can do that, you’re guaranteed a shot at the Good Life. Maybe you’re not vacationing with the Kardashians but owning a house, access to good schools, a nice retirement and financial security? Yes, please.
Each year thousands of newly-minted JDs graduate with similar questions. The most important: How do I go from Straight “A” Student to living the Good Life?
Meandering Down the Path
When I started in Biglaw, I thought I’d pay off my loans in 2-3 years and then jump to a cushier in-house gig (or move to a different state) and really begin my life.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you planned on doing something similar, whether your path began in Biglaw, GovernmentLaw, SmallLaw or something else. I’ve spoken with thousands of lawyers and the majority took whatever opportunity presented itself.
Regardless, we all know how the story ends. In 2-3 years, the financial situation is much the same. Student loans still seem daunting, and the junior lawyer has fractured his money across a variety of things, most of which have zero impact on long-term happiness.
If money wasn’t previously a source of anxiety, now the junior lawyer is starting to get worried. Suddenly life is harder than he thought and the options seem limited.
Maybe the lawyer ends up at a second job, but by this point in life he’s picked up a few new obligations, like a mortgage, a new car and maybe a couple of kids. After 5-10 years the financial situation starts to stabilize and, assuming nothing goes wrong, the lawyer begins saving for retirement and is on track to have over a million dollars in the bank by the time he turns 65. Is a million enough? He has no idea.
Everyone is walking around talking about finding your “number”. Some people think they need $10 million, while others say that $700,000 is plenty. You go searching for answers but everything seems so complicated. Maybe the best solution is to hire a financial advisor, but you’re about as excited to find one as you are to negotiate with a car salesman.
Meanwhile–as if learning how to handle your finances wasn’t hard enough–you’re kinda busy with your day job too, which happens to be taking up most of your waking hours.
Getting on the Road to Rome
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
That’s great and all. I hear The Biglaw Investor has tons of articles about retirement, investing and student loans, but you missed the part where I’m a busy lawyer. I don’t have time to read all that. How can I Get Rich Now?
Great question. Let’s begin.
The work-and-save-for-30-years-advice is nonsense: You are swimming in an ocean of money.
The median lawyer’s salary is $144,230.
It’s time to learn how to make that money work for you. If you choose to cut the bloated American Consumerism from your life, you can reach financial independence in less than 17 years if you want it. Sound like a fantasy? Keep reading.
First, let’s focus on maximizing your earnings. We’re not oblivious to the fact that it’s easier to Get Rich Now if you have a bigger salary.
Second, spend less than you earn. Spending less than you earn is the way to get rich. It’s work for everyone who has tried it. It will work for you too.
Third, invest the difference. Put your money to work. Idle cash is eaten up by inflation. Your money can work harder than you, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
And yes, I know you already know this. But you wanted some magical advice. You thought maybe the secret would be building a rental housing empire or riding a cryptocurrency rollercoaster.
There are many roads to Rome. Why are you ignoring the obvious one right in front of you?
Once you become financially independent, what will you do with your freedom? It’s entirely up to you. Keep working. Travel the world. Stop working. Become a managing partner. The point is that money won’t be a concern. All you have to do is the hard work.
Will you join us and become a Biglaw Investor too?