How to be an obscenely rich lawyer

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Every time someone tells me how much I would have in the bank by now if I had put aside $20 each week since I was 12, I want to staple one of my credit cards to their tongue.

Not that I have ever really understood money. Although I do know a number of important things about it. Money doesn’t grow on trees, especially wax trees, umbrella trees and flame trees for obvious reasons. Compound interest is a powerful force in the universe, more powerful than Google. The GFC was very bad, even worse than KFC. You shouldn’t overcapitalise but undercapitalising could be dangerous as well. A sensible and well-balanced proportion of capitalisation is the best way to go, especially on a Friday. Buy low and sell high, especially if it gives you passive income, preferably negatively geared. Above all, get rich; obscenely rich if possible. This is the only time that people use the word obscene to mean something laudable.
Some people are scared of money, so scared that they fling it away as soon as they get it. Others are so scared of not having it that they squirrel it away and hardly touch it, surviving on teaspoons of lard and wearing second-hand underwear. Some people get up early to work on their money. Others get up late and work on spending it.

I don’t care about money even though people tell me I should. The main reason I became a lawyer is because I don’t like numbers. I hate maths and accounting. Ulysses is easier to understand than financial statements. Not that I can understand Ulysses.

The problem is that money is inescapable for a lawyer. No matter how much you try to avoid it, it always hunts you down. Usually it’s towards the end of each month when all that talk of doing the best job for the client and taking pride in your legal skills is replaced with questions about how many bills you’ve done so far and how many more will you do? And once you’ve done all you can, how many more can you do?

The last day of the month in a law firm is like dusk in the jungle when all the animals are ravenous and will eat anything they can catch and kill, even a purple pignose frog. On the last day of the month, I sit behind my partition shivering and asking life and death questions. Have I recorded enough billable time? How much of it will they write off? Have I even got close to my budget? How much more than me has everyone else billed? Why is the pignose frog purple and is one of its parents a pig?

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  • Marcus McCarthy on 9/11/2015 3:42:54 PM

    I think this sad reality is an outcome of how we have organised ourselves as a profession. There is a much better way to practice law but the profession as a whole is still clinging out to outmoded practice structures that deliver no value to clients or themselves. Our regulators need to wake up and foster some of the positive developments in the NewLaw space that hold the promise of better outcomes for lawyers - and by that I do not mean the virtual law firms, the secondment agencies or the online document shops...

  • Ana Percic on 9/11/2015 11:15:13 AM

    That's exactly what I needed to start my Monday LOL

  • LindG on 9/11/2015 9:51:53 AM

    I absolutely agree Marcus and I think your take on this is spot on - if we calculated all the study time we have put in and then working for someone else to either be partner or setting up our own business from scratch when other kids left school at the age of 16 in Year 10 and started earning an income and saving real money 10 years before we did - we are definitely in the wrong game - if I had my life over I would leave school at 16 get a trade apprenticeship, live with my parents until I had a deposit on a house and in 10 years I would be saving money and not paying off student loans and then start-up business costs ! I think my plumber earns more than I do.

  • Terry McMaster on 7/11/2015 10:13:21 AM

    What is the point of this article?

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