Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

A succesful non-trad lawyer without money or connections

People accuse this board, and folks like me, of always being wolfman03/18/18
Former military guy turned lawyer after 9 years service here wutwutwut03/18/18
I did six years military, wife medically retired from milita paul55403/18/18
Glad to see this here. I wasn’t military—did the police- nycop03/22/18
wolfman (Mar 18, 2018 - 6:21 pm)

People accuse this board, and folks like me, of always being negative, so here is a success story of someone I personally know and respect, and who seems to be doing well. Read the details to see why this is NOT a story to encourage regular people to go to LS:

This guy (a friend) went to my LS and graduated with me; he was around 40 when he started and obvioyusly three years older when we graduated. He came from very blue-collar roots, grew up in a hard-pressed family, and while his family had lived in the town where he ultimately moved back to for generations, they were not at all rich or prominent.

He did OK in LS (even won an award) but graduated without a BIgLaw job or anything like it; he thought law school profs were full of it, as were most people in the class, so he literally skipped out on graduation and started driving back home, where he, I believe, was able to join a small-firm part-time within a year; he quickly went solo, and after a few years building up a criminal defense and family practice seems to be doing well; last I heard, he was in the running for a judgeship in his hometown. Nice guy, but not a glad-handling salesman or some sort of a marketing geniius.

So what was his big secret? Haha LOL. He had enlisted in the Army at 18 and did 20 years, eventually becoming a sergeant or senior sergeant or whatnot, with much of that time with the rangers/spec ops guys (had a ranger tab, wings, whatever, the whoile kit and caboodle, though he'd apparently lost rank for getting drunk and raising hell as well, and I believe that having seem him drunk haha... but never bad enough to get kicked out).

At 38 he was able to retire with a full military pension - I think he quit the day after he hit 20, or however that works. He had been taking college classes for years, and so was able to get his BA right after, and went to LS fully on the GI Bill. So no student loans, AND (this is crucial) free money from his pension coming in every month.

As he said, he could just watch TV and drink, and while his pension wasn't much, he could live on it. So no student loans when starting law practice, no pressure to take bad cases to pay rent, not desperate for a job at all at graduation or after (I think he landed at a good small firm that treated him well - he just wanted to be on his own in a year or so).

He's clearly a telented guy, and I don't doubt the drive and discipline he acquired over 20 years of soldiering helped him quite a bit as well, but I really think it was having no debt at all and having financial stability with a sufficint monthly income that has allowed him to succeed - I know plenty other LS graduates who were vets, and they are NOT doing well...

If your situation is different... yeah, might want to think twice about putting down that 1L deposit.

TLDR version: guy with a miltary pension and no loans has done real well in small law in his hometown, despite being older and from a poor family. Have you got a military pension and a GI bill benefit that will fully pay for your LS?

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wutwutwut (Mar 18, 2018 - 7:44 pm)

Former military guy turned lawyer after 9 years service here. Have very strenuously told my kids not to go to LS.

Did/doing fine myself, but this was under almost unbelievable unicorn luck circumstances.

Kiddos, don't go to LS unless you're getting T14 free, or free at something less than T14 but know you've got a good paying job waiting for you.

There were damn few unicorn snowflakes like me even 10 years ago, and fewer to none today.

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paul554 (Mar 18, 2018 - 8:31 pm)

I did six years military, wife medically retired from military so most benefits were duplicative and saw no need for me to do 20. Her pension along with my VA disability is about $6k a month tax free. She also scored a GS job and makes about $100k. I did law school for free at a tier three that offered me a scholarship that they offered to cash out since my gi bill covered all expenses. Made probably $36k a year actually attending law school. Now work as a solo from home and put in twenty to thirty hours a week and make about $50-70k a year.

It sounds great on paper, but it’s not. Numerous deployments overseas and a ton of health issues as a result are not worth the money you get. If you can do 20 in a cush job with the air force or coast guard that’s the way to go, but the other branches will use and abuse you in exchange for that pension. Also, the amount of people I served with who got a good pension or VA rating and killed themselves a few months later is pretty high so that is kind of telling of the long term effects you deal with.

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nycop (Mar 22, 2018 - 7:22 am)

Glad to see this here. I wasn’t military—did the police-route instead. I started law school a few months after retiring and I’m finally graduating this May at age 46.
I plan on doing the same thing as your friend—solo, semi-part-time, close to home.
hopefully I’ll have a success story to share in a year or two:-)

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