How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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Chris Laurel

Interesting story. I lived in Georgia and Texas and knew these guys and gals before I started law school in New York City.

I think a major problem we face right now, as a community, is how we educate aspiring attorneys. I am preparing a letter to the dean of my law school and the American Bar Association. It is the first entry on my blog:



Fascinating. You wouldn't happen to have contact info for this country lawyer, would you? I would love to talk w/someone like this to learn more about his career trajectory. How did he get to the apparently successful, relatively relaxed and happy place he seems to be in today? And how does someone manage a jack-of-all-trades law practice like that? Sounds to me like a pretty good way to go.


Well, being a lawyer in a small town myself, and having several good friends who have those practices, let me tell you that like everything it's a double edged sword. Town I work in has 3000 people, county 19,000.

You'll do domestic relations work to start out because it pays the bills, but you quickly want out because you run into those people whose kids you took away in Wal-Mart and such. You'll never hit it too big as you'll not do much personal injury because 1) you don't keep the staff because you don't want the overhead, 2) you don't advertise much, 3) because people think that the big money cases take big city lawyers. However, what constitutes a lot of money in a town that size is a lot different from what constitutes a lot of money in a city, so you'll certainly be comfortable.

Of course, even collecting on your other cases can be hard, because the people don't have much money, or it's a friend, or a family member, or a friend of a friend, and you'll sometimes feel bad about pushing for collections. But if you're smart, you'll pick up a part time job - city attorney, municipal judge, for some easy income and more importantly the health care coverage. Your real money will come in knowing the bankers, realtors, etc. - they will send real estate deals your way, or let you know when stuff can picked up cheap because a person is about to go under or really needs out from under property.

As far as the jack-of-all-trades thing goes, it doesn't bother you much until you talk to a specialist. Then you spend the next week or so stressed thinking of all the cases you've handled with similar implications to the one he/she was talking about and how you had no clue X, Y, or Z was important.

As for regrets, you'll have them, they are just the inverse of the city attorneys. You could make more money in the city, you would be anonymous, there would be more to do outside of work, etc. Everything is a tradeoff, but you better like small town life. Or get yourself a condo in a city to escape to.

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