Letters to the Editor
On the Money, In the Hole
Posted Dec 1, 2008 10:30 PM CST
As a fairly recent law school grad with extreme private law school debt of more than $150,000, I think Susan Berson’s article, “About That First Check,” October, should be given to every graduating law student. It provides simple practical advice that no parent, professor or partner offers. Thank you. My copy is laminated!
Thank you so much for the recent article “About That First Check.” As a new attorney making $60,000 and saddled with more than $125,000 of debt and rising rent and food costs, let me assure you that I assumed money management articles didn’t apply to me.
Since Berson noted that her article applies the same for those earning $40,000 and those earning $160,000, I have decided to take her advice and not purchase a new luxury sports car or a house on the North Shore. I may have to wait before maxing out my retirement portfolio, since my student loan payments are currently more than half my monthly salary, and my small-firm employer’s health benefits carry a $1,200-a-month family premium. But I am confident because, according to Berson, not buying that sports car will help me pay off my student loans in five years, as opposed to the 45 years I’d expected, based on my old—obviously flawed—budget.
A couple of questions for her, though, if you could pass them on:
How do I get my groceries home without paying for them, since currently the only way I can afford to eat is with my credit card?
If, as seems likely right now, my firm collapses under the weight of struggling middle-market clients who are unable to pay, what is the best way of building my financial safety net?
After preparing my budget, it has come to my attention that I will have roughly -$400 in leftover income. I assume this means my “reward” is also negated, and I must volunteer or work for free. However, my firm currently requires 2,000 billable hours a year, and I am finding it difficult to find the time. What does she suggest?
Again, thank you so much for thinking of me and my generation’s true needs. I cannot tell you how much better I feel knowing that I have clearly been far too worried about my finances. This really frees me up to “be responsible for [my] own career satisfaction.”
Name witheld by request
A HIDDEN CONNECTION?
You ran a story in the October issue titled “Discovering Eldorado." About 20 women are pictured walking out of the courthouse. Two of the women appear to be lawyers, the remainder FLDS members. Some of the women are carrying manila envelopes.
Curiously, there is a man thrust smack-dab in the foreground who’s toting a box of Wheat Thins and a box of Ritz crackers. Huh?
I ask this because the Journal ran a story in the August issue (“How I Learned to Litigate at the Movies”) with several still photos from old legal movies, and it took me a while to notice that images of the living attorneys in the article were doctored into the movie stills.
Is Mr. Wheat Thins by chance the author of the “Eldorado” article?
ANOTHER NOD TO McELHANEY
As a professor at Stetson University College of Law, I too read and stockpile McElhaney on Litigation as reader Richard Lyding reported in the January issue. Even though I do not teach trial practice or evidence law, the clarity of writing and ease of storytelling—with substantive lessons—that each column conveys is educationally beautiful. I have learned, and that learning has found its way into my real property and land use courses.
Thank you for teaching the teacher.
James J. Brown
St. Petersburg, Fla.
In “The Lawyers Who May Run America,” November, the photo published on page 10 of the ABA Journal print edition with the profile of Judge Michael W. McConnell was that of John Michael McConnell, the current director of national intelligence.
In addition, should Robert M. Sussman be selected to head the Environmental Protection Agency, he will become the EPA administrator, not secretary.
The Journal regrets the errors.