On Is There Anyone on Earth With As Much Debt As Me?

@Tuna Surprise I have so many thoughts on this (not really organized, though)!! I graduated in 2005 with about $70k in loans. I started out at a firm in a small city with low cost-of-living, but that paid nearly New York salaries. Seven years later, I'm in the same inexpensive city, but now work at a satellite office of a biglaw NY firm, and so make a NY salary, but my living expenses are not even close to what they would be in Manhattan. I'm not immune to lifestyle creep, but living in a cheap place (plus, working all the time and so not having time to shop or eat out) keeps it in check. I don't entirely agree that it's impossible to make a career change after your first few years of working. After seven years of experience in transactional work, it would be hard to switch to litigation or vice versa. But if you're a litigator, for example, the skills you develop (writing, research, argument, insane attention to detail) are transferable to other litigation specialties. Many of my colleagues have gone from commercial lit to become public defenders or prosecutors, or shifted from the narrow litigation specialty I practice in into a different area, or remained in our litigation specialty but moved to a lifestyle firm, even in this economy. Others have come to my city after a few years at prestige New York firms in search of a more affordable lifestyle and slightly better hours. And, a surprising number of my classmates from law school have gone from corporate law to opening their own shops and doing family law or DUI cases - one of my friends did this very early in his career and is doing splendidly, I believe he spends much of his time on the beach. So, what has worked for me financially and professionally (personal life is a mess, sadly) is: (1) giving up the opportunity to live in an awesome place with awesome people and awesome things to do in order to save money (and time - my commute is 5 minutes) by living in a not-very-fun place with not very much to do; (2) having non-lawyer friends, because I don't feel pressure to spend more money than I can afford, and they remind me of the world outside of the biglaw bubble; and (3) not spending money on clothes because nobody notices them anyway. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/fashion/22SIXERS.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 10:28 am 1