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LegalGround >> Newish lawyer, need advice

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9/14/08 10:31 PM
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Member Since: 6/6/03
Posts: 60
I have posted here a few times over the years (thinking of law school/took LSAT/going to UF/oh shit bar exam scary/yay passed bar and have a place to work) and I need some advice now.

As of September 21, 2008, I will have spent one year as a licensed Florida lawyer. For the past year, I have been working for the solo practice guy I did research and writing for during law school. I basically do a lot of shit. We focus on criminal defense and family law, but throw a spattering of basically anything else in there as well: contract writing and disputes/PI work/dependency/foreclosure defense(hah)/basically anything a small practice can handle (no huge civil suits, etc.).

I have done plenty of motion hearings on the criminal and civil side, final hearings on several family law issues (divorces and pure custody disputes). I haven't done a jury trial yet, but our office hasn't even had one since Fall of 2006. I took part in that but I wasn't even a lawyer yet. I have done tons of evidentiary hearings and do every bit of discovery including depositions on the criminal and civil side.

I do most of this without any input; the guy I work for has really thrown me in and I do a pretty good job. Currently we have a couple of DUIs that will probably go to trial and if they do I will be doing them (state atty just let me know on one of them that based on the info she will receive shortly from our medical expert she will give us a reckless so that will probably go away - probably still no trials for me).

We handle easy nonserious shit (on pre-paid legal list for traffic infractions which is great - easiest money ever) up through difficult serious stuff. I already have handled capital sexual battery (court appointed and guy admitted everything and said he didn't want to fight it), lots of various "lewd and lascivious" crimes - Florida's versions of statutory rape and its various flavors. I have deposed child victims, was appointed attorney ad litem for ward in guardianship proceeding that ended up being very difficult and unusual and that we only just resolved, and about a billion other things.

I am just rambling here to point out how varied my experience has been so far and that right off the bat the guy I work for has given me a ton of responsibility. I meet with consultations all afternoon and get them to hire us, collect money, quote fees, work out payment plans, call for collections, do my research, write my motions and memoranda of law and still go to court about 10 times per week all over northwest Florida. I have put about 35k miles on my car (my mom's old van she gave me) in the past year. I live in Niceville and go to Court in Crestview, Shalimar, Panama City, DeFuniak Springs, Milton, and Pensacola on a fairly regular basis. Monday for instance I have a foreclosure proceeding in Shalimar at 930 and a contempt hearing in a divorce at 130 in defuniak.

In many ways its been a great experience. Judges all know me on a first name basis, state attorneys and other private attorneys are all used to working with me on different types of cases. The guy I work for is an old-hat good old boy in the area and is friends with just about everyone around. He was state attorney with several of the judges "growing up" and just a well-liked, well-known criminal defense attorney. A huge portion of our business has nothing to do with advertising, just referrals. People know who I am now and I have a lot of hands on experience handling all different types of cases to resolution.

Anway, this is a lot of backstory so you know where I am coming from. I basically can't stand it anymore. I make 42,600 (800 per week) and I endure intense anxiety and responsibility for it. It isnt worth it at all. I don't know if any amount of money is worth it but 800 bucks per week certainly isnt.

My quality of life has disappeared. I can't do anything but think of work when I am not at work. I just know there are other places I can earn 40k a year without any stress. This feels like maximum stress. People paying 3-25 thousand dollars for me to figure out how to keep them from going to jail basically.

I feel like it is just a dead end, like I can't do anything else since I have 60,000 in debt for law school. I feel like I just have to keep doing law even if I hate it and even if I don't make much money. My parents always thought they didnt make much money. My dad made like 60k when I was growing up and my mom never had jobs making more than 25-30. Now my mom, no college degree, just getting into the workforce again at about 55 years old, makes over 50k a year at a bank. I know you shouldnt focus on money and I just sound like a bitter asshole, but I can't help it. I feel like I made a huge mistake.

Anyway. I am pretty good at the job. I don't bitch or whine at work - I just go and get things done/take care of business.

I feel like I need a way out, or a way to make a lot more money - maybe that would make it more bearable (at least for a while).

I just have been hating my life for a while and I think its the work. It doesnt help that I trained for 5 years in Gainesville with a bunch of great guys, got to fight a couple times, and now I have no place to train MMA and when I get home I feel too lousy to get energized and work out. Puttin on weight and hating where I am in life. Great combo.

This is just a vague whiney post, I know, but does anyone have any ideas? I gotta find a way to stay sane.
9/15/08 2:27 AM
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Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 7692
Kinda simple, but I find that most people in thesed types of situations deep down know what they need to do to fix their problems, it's the actually taking the initiative to do that's hard.

If you know you can get other jobs in the 40k+ range, then do it. If you're gaining weight, figure out what you're eating, start ordering the salad when you go to McDonalds. I know with a bad economy it's daunting to quit your job, but if you hate your life it is what it is.
9/15/08 11:14 AM
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Member Since: 5/11/02
Posts: 4635
Go out on your own. Don't screw your boss because he sounds well liked. Just go out on your own honorably and set up shop. The money is great and the quality of life is better.
9/15/08 2:59 PM
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Member Since: 8/6/08
Posts: 226
only read maybe 10 words in your entire post, but the answer I think is to go work for the government
9/15/08 11:29 PM
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Edited: 09/15/08 11:31 PM
Member Since: 6/6/03
Posts: 62
I am sorta lookin around for another job. More like keeping my eyes open than lookin. Probably won't find anything like that.

My younger brother is a state attorney in the same county. He just started there, graduated from law school one semester after me. If we can stick it out we want to start our own practice. The plan is next spring. The problem is that as it stands now, I don't even know that I can stick it out that long. Who knows if we'd get any business anyway - but that isnt why we wouldnt do it. We can go all out. Both grew up in this area and know a lot of people.

The trick is that me and my boss really get along. Its more like we are friends now. He talks about leaving the practice to me. I don't really want that at this point. I really wanna start a fresh new place with my brother if I stick with law. That is the big question right now based on how tough it is for me to handle.

Goku, in what capacity should I work for the government. My dad was in the airforce his whole life (still works for them civil service) and I have kinda entertained the idea of being an Airforce lawyer. Good way to build some retirement and work standard hours. Not sure how I feel about signing my life over to uncle sam though. If I could find work for a government contractor that could be good though.

I just dunno what to do. Thanks for all the advice so far, I guess some of it is just venting. Can't really sob about it most of the time.

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