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KingLouis

Are You Happy With Your Income?

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42 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I get that reasoning for a lot of poverty law work - which is problematic for obvious reasons. 

But most law jobs a student (especially one of the caliber to get into u of t) looks at eventually hitting six figures, and fairly early in their career (relative to other professions). To say you need to do big law to reasonably pay off law school debt (even u of t debt) is a stretch. To say you need to make managing partner of a bay street firm within 10 years is obviously just stupid.

You make it sound like getting into U of T guarantees you hitting a six figure salary. It does not.

There are unemployed U of T grads. The guy who finishes at the bottom of the class at U of T, has no better or worse chance of a six figure salary than any other law school grad at the bottom of their class. 

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3 minutes ago, OWH said:

You make it sound like getting into U of T guarantees you hitting a six figure salary. It does not.

There are unemployed U of T grads. The guy who finishes at the bottom of the class at U of T, has no better or worse chance of a six figure salary than any other law school grad at the bottom of their class. 

Meh, thats probably not true. If the debt wasn’t different, I’d rather be the straight LP guy from U of T than the straight C- guy from Windsor. 

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High 5 figures just below 6 figures.  Just below and Im three years in/

Own a house with minimal payments, vehicle is paid and no outstanding debts.

 The COL of living here is pretty cheap.  Im at the point where I dont need to look for things on sale and I can generally buy what I want when I want.  I take my three weeks a year (Plus stat holidays and two weeks at Christmas) and can travel with them or stick around.  I eat out a lot and buy groceries when need be.  I also put about 10% away.

Its hard not to be happy with that income but sure with more I could buy more thing that I dont really need, invest more, upgrade and reno the house etc... but that would come at a cost of my work life balance so it really isnt necessary.

I make much more than the average Canadian between 5-10%? Have more saved than the average and have less debt. 

Some people might not be happy with that and for others they would be ecstatic.  I guess its about perspective.  I wouldnt be happy with my salary and lifestyle trying to live in downtown Toronto but some people would.

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Before I started practicing, I worked in construction. I still remember working 11 hour days in 30 degree heat for $25 an hour. Compared to that, I consider myself to be fortunate to be able to drum up billables from the comfort of my air conditioned corner office while enjoying a cup of coffee.  

So, while law may not be the most remunerative profession, it does at least afford the opportunity to do meaningful and interesting work for an o.k. salary which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of other jobs out there. 

What I am upset about, however, is the cost of living, which is, I think, a different issue than assessing my happiness with my income. The rents to damn high and the student loans take to long to pay down. I think, ignoring these issues, which really transcend the legal profession's own problems, I would be more content. On a side note, Quebec has the lowest tuition and rational housing market. Quebecors are also the happiest. Coincidence?  

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1 hour ago, googs said:

Before I started practicing, I worked in construction. I still remember working 11 hour days in 30 degree heat for $25 an hour. Compared to that, I consider myself to be fortunate to be able to drum up billables from the comfort of my air conditioned corner office while enjoying a cup of coffee.  

It's pulling dead animals out of pool covers for 18 an hour I like to remind myself of. 

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26 minutes ago, whoknows said:

It's pulling dead animals out of pool covers for 18 an hour I like to remind myself of. 

Getting splashed with molten metal in a factory helps me get to the office every day.

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The thought of Dealing with people's figurative shit, and not literal shit, is what keeps me going in law school. I don't care if the plumber might make more than me hourly. Hell, I honestly think he (She?) Deserves it.

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5 hours ago, googs said:

Before I started practicing, I worked in construction. I still remember working 11 hour days in 30 degree heat for $25 an hour. Compared to that, I consider myself to be fortunate to be able to drum up billables from the comfort of my air conditioned corner office while enjoying a cup of coffee.  

So, while law may not be the most remunerative profession, it does at least afford the opportunity to do meaningful and interesting work for an o.k. salary which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of other jobs out there. 

 

Land surveyor  on and off for the majority of 15 years. Maxed out at 17 bucks an hour. Outdoors in all weathers. I've worked at 40 below on the 45th floor of a windowless building next to a lake, in february. I was on the 401 in the middle of August, it was 40ish degrees on the asphalt. 

Law's practiced indoors and there's a place to heat up your lunch, and it's pretty fun. I'd do this for 17 bucks an hour but they're paying me a fair amount of scratch too. 

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Working a shitty job definitely helps people cope with the rigours of law. I've noticed the lawyers in my office who are typically the least stressed out are the ones who had a terrible job before law school. For me, it was doing 12-hour days in a food-processing plant for $12/hour. On my walk to the office, I often find myself very thankful I'm not splattered in fish guts anymore.

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Working a deep fryer for $7.50/hr...not getting the smell out even after showering.

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I don't feel the same kind of gratitude as you guys. It's nice that I'm not working an entry-level job at a sawmill, but I don't think that's a healthy way of thinking. It almost means that anything better than something objectively bad is good--because it's better than that bad thing. If you're experiencing success for any reason other than blind luck, relativism just doesn't make sense.

 

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2 hours ago, KingLouis said:

I don't feel the same kind of gratitude as you guys. It's nice that I'm not working an entry-level job at a sawmill, but I don't think that's a healthy way of thinking. It almost means that anything better than something objectively bad is good--because it's better than that bad thing. If you're experiencing success for any reason other than blind luck, relativism just doesn't make sense.

 

I think being grateful for your successes is the healthy way of thinking. 

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2 hours ago, KingLouis said:

I don't feel the same kind of gratitude as you guys. It's nice that I'm not working an entry-level job at a sawmill, but I don't think that's a healthy way of thinking. It almost means that anything better than something objectively bad is good--because it's better than that bad thing. If you're experiencing success for any reason other than blind luck, relativism just doesn't make sense.

 

I wonder whether it has a lot to do with the market you're in too (by which I mainly mean criminal defense).

It's pretty easy for someone like me (a solicitor in a market with fairly well-established career projection) to say that I'm content now when I know very well that I'm getting a generous raise and bonus every year of practice until I'm either partner or strike out on my own, at which point I will continue to make good and ever growing sums of money. But my clients have money and I'm in a market that could certainly bear a few more solicitors so competition isn't all that fierce. It'd be a lot harder for me to say I'm satisfied if I didn't have at least some expectation of any of that. 

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imo you're not rich until you have enough money to get divorced without sweating child and spousal support.  

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3 hours ago, KingLouis said:

I don't feel the same kind of gratitude as you guys. It's nice that I'm not working an entry-level job at a sawmill, but I don't think that's a healthy way of thinking. It almost means that anything better than something objectively bad is good--because it's better than that bad thing. If you're experiencing success for any reason other than blind luck, relativism just doesn't make sense.

 

That's assuming working in a sawmill, or in my case, at a pool company, is objectively bad. I wouldn't ever say that. Tough? Yes. Underpaid? Debatable. Bad? Nope. I probably learned more in that job than anywhere else. 

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15 hours ago, setto said:

Getting splashed with molten metal in a factory helps me get to the office every day.

I was a dude grinding down the castings at the other end of the plant. 

On one of my shifts it got so hot a guy on the pouring deck had a minor heart attack. Good times.

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38 minutes ago, Mountebank said:

It's pretty easy for someone like me (a solicitor in a market with fairly well-established career projection) to say that I'm content now when I know very well that I'm getting a generous raise and bonus every year of practice until I'm either partner or strike out on my own, at which point I will continue to make good and ever growing sums of money. 

I made more money bartending than I do now in my articling position … growth potential is pretty much the only way I can justify this career choice :drinkers:

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23 hours ago, Mountebank said:

I wonder whether it has a lot to do with the market you're in too (by which I mainly mean criminal defense).

Yes, definitely. The 2nd part of your post summed it up perfectly. And Diplock said it well earlier. There's a chance in criminal law that you become the comic's comic--the guy all the comedians come into the room to watch, but who never "makes it." The judges might think you're great, the local CLA might think you're great, but it translates to nothing. I'm not saying it will happen, but there's a chance that it could happen.

If you can see a steady path to income growth and advancement just by doing your job well, that has to remove a ton of stress. And don't get me started on a bonus.

[I wouldn't want to work in a sawmill. If you're doing a job that lets you clear your mind with physical labour (and no homework), I'd rather it not be in a place I could be killed.]

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On 1/4/2019 at 7:01 AM, KingLouis said:

I don't feel the same kind of gratitude as you guys. It's nice that I'm not working an entry-level job at a sawmill, but I don't think that's a healthy way of thinking. It almost means that anything better than something objectively bad is good--because it's better than that bad thing. If you're experiencing success for any reason other than blind luck, relativism just doesn't make sense.

 

It really comes down to this. Aspiration is good. Ambition is good. Being able to identify what you are striving for, in the future, is motivating and positive. But if you're at the point, now, where not having the things that you want and believe you deserve is making you unhappy, and unable to enjoy the things that you do have, that isn't motivating and positive anymore. It's poisonous.

Do you even see how this conversation developed? You started out by asking people if they were happy with their incomes. That's an interesting and valid question. Lots of attitudes were floated. But it's quickly turned away from seeking strategies to be happy and now you're basically spending your energy trying to convince people who are happy already that they shouldn't be. How in the world is that a good use of your energy? How does it help you? Contrary to popular myth, misery doesn't really love company quite so much that convincing anyone else to be unhappy with you will do you any good.

Happiness is a state of mind. It doesn't need rational justification nearly as much as you believe. Unhappiness is often irrational. Happiness can be too. It isn't the absence of ambition or desire. It's simply being satisfied with what you have while you strive for whatever more you want.

I really do believe that the bigger part of your problem is not income, it's the inability to see a path forward. Which is why I'm relating this to sole practice and practice in criminal law. Associates can see the next raise coming, the next bonus, and a clear (if difficult and uncertain) path to potentially making partner. Lawyers in many other positions see a similarly clear line of advancement in their profession. A sole practitioner doesn't have that. That isn't to say there's no hope and no progress. You become more senior, more efficient, attract better clients, command more and higher private retainers. It does happen over time. Not at all guaranteed of course, but neither is anyone else's career path either. The real problem is, it's so abstract. In any given year you might even take a step back and earn less than the previous year. Every frustration and failure can seem like a sign it's never going to get better. It is genuinely quite hard to stay motivated in a practice like that. Like ours. And I think that's your real problem.

Relating this back to income, I could give you all a list of the strange shit I did to make money before I got into law. And yes, that's part of what keeps me appreciative of the work and the remuneration I enjoy now. At the risk of using the p-word again, understanding privilege isn't about apologizing for what you have (not when it's earned, anyway) or about being mindlessly satisfied and devoid of ambition (see above) but simply about keeping in mind, in at least some conscious way, what you have and enjoy relative to other people. Keeping this in mind isn't a burden. It's a gift. It's part of what makes me happy and keeps me happy. You know I visit clients in jail regularly. And every time I leave, I am fucking grateful I get to leave. Maybe this will finally make the point I'm striving for above. Surely no one here is so irrational as to imagine I mean to say "everyone who isn't incarcerated should just be glad they aren't in jail and shut up about everything else." That is not what I'm saying. I'm saying that seeing on a daily basis how bad it could get makes me glad for what I have.

I'm not trying to argue with your unhappiness. I'm not. But truly, I'm confident of two things. First, that I have the better side of the argument if we must have one. Because relative to the great mass of humanity, we are all doing incredibly well. Individual circumstances vary and you can always spot someone who has more and has it better - or at least seems to. But if you're only looking up you're missing the point. Think of all the damn people looking at you and wishing and praying they could have a fraction of what you have. Again, not an argument you should stop striving. Just that you should be grateful for where you are already at the same time. And second, I am confident that you would be better off if you saw things as I describe them, rather than letting some inflated sense of what you deserve undermine your ability to enjoy what you have. You'd feel better, and you'd likely be more successful in the end too. Content and motivated people do better than unhappy and frustrated people. Dissatisfaction is not an advantage in life. It's truly not the same thing as ambition, which I still have in spades.

In all events, best wishes in the New Year.

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