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Messages - T. Durden

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i'm a first year associate in NYC (160 base) and am on pace to pay 39.9% of my income out in taxes. a couple of things to remember:

1) 39.9% is a slight inflated figure. under the current tax paradigm, an earner of 160k (who pays the mandated 6.2% in social security every pay period) caps out on his/her social security contributions in august. This means that you (only) contribute a total of 4.0% from your aggregate income to social security. thus, in practice, (taking my #ers as an example), you only pay 39.9-2.2, or 37.7% in taxes. i've heard some talk from some of our attnys that the continued application of the social sec cap is dependent upon the election (so there might be a 2.2% swing; i don't know).

2) 3.6% of your aggregate income is paid out in the form of a city tax. you can easily avoid this by moving across the river. if you do this, you now have: 37.7-3.6, or 34.1%.

so say, hypothetically speaking, that barack/mccain decides against / is incapable of rejecting the soc sec cap and i move to hoboken (or jersey city, etc.), i can still work in NYC and only pay out 34% of my income in taxes. not too bad.

anyone know how bonuses are taxed in NYC? i heard that bonuses are taxed at 50%. seems egregious. rumor? fact?

Current Law Students / Re: Who else is STILL waiting on bar results?
« on: October 09, 2008, 12:01:03 PM »
NY is mid-late november now? i thought that the scores were slated for release during the first week of nov (?)

Job Search / Re: Are NY firms going to $190K
« on: October 02, 2008, 05:14:26 PM »
Sorry, but raising salaries right now would be absolutely crazy. One major firm just fell apart and another is in serious danger of it, there are layoffs at many firms, and who knows what big client could fall apart next. At this point I am just hoping for a bonus. T. Durden, you pay 2700 a month for a studio in Manhattan? You are getting ripped off.

i dunno. seems pretty average to me. in our first year class, people are paying anywhere from 2200/month to 3500/month.

when i didn't account for was the ridiculous tax rate. i can expect to pay over 40% of my income out in the form of taxes this year. that's ~$64,000 for those of you who are counting. it's obscene ...

i will most likely be taking a 2nd bar exam in feb. NY is just too expensive (from its tax structure to its CoL). i haven't decided on the market yet.

Job Search / Re: Are NY firms going to $190K
« on: September 29, 2008, 06:05:46 PM »
I have been hearing/reading this rumor for a while, and I just do not see how it is possible. I understand that NYC is more expensive than Dallas (where many firms are paying $160K). However, using the starting market in Dallas (or say Atlanta which is 145K) to say that lawyers in NYC should get a raise is slightly erroneous at best. Market dictates salary. If NYC can "only" pay 160K, and students take it, why would they raise. What is their incentive to do so? Fairness? I doubt fairness is considered. Frankly, we are all going to make too much money for what we can do coming out. While I'm not certain, partners most likely think we get paid too much.

Also, where is this money coming from? I doubt it would come out of the pockets of partners. So, you might make more, but you will have to bill more, or they will hire less first years. Either way, you are going to be working harder and you life as a result will be less fulfilling (unless the only way you can define yourself is by being a BigLaw Hotshot Lawyer with a six figure salary and if that is the case I'm not sure "fulfilling" is really an accurate description of your life). Is $30K more a year really worth it?

One poster mentioned he/she wasn't sure what NYC firms have to offer since you are basically getting paid less once you factor in cost of living. That is a fair statement, and one I thought at the start of the job search. However, NYC firms can offer jobs where as some of the smaller markets cannot. Right now, the job market SUCKS. Many, many people with great grades and good personalities cannot get a job here in Atlanta (I go to Emory). However, we can find jobs in NYC and CA. So while Atlanta may offer a better COL/pay ratio at least at first), there are less jobs to go around, so it really isn't an option. I think the big firms here got caught up in the salary raises and now it is starting to hurt them.

well yeah that's another aspect of it. nyc attnys generally work harder than attnys in other markets. so not only do we (i.e. nyc associates) have to deal with the obscene CoL, we also have to deal with the fact that our supervising partners are generally going to demand more. from a career point of view, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, esp if you plan to lateral into something a little more functional after several years of hard on the job training. still, the fact remains that you expect some form of compensation commensurate with the level of effort you're putting into your job. yeah, bonus serves this function but a lot new attnys expect still expect that representative wage... which, depending upon how you look at it, doesn't exist in nyc anymore.

a couple of things that i attempt to remind myself of:
-when i applied to law school in '05, the biglaw wage was 125 and that seemed amazing to me. the fact that i'm now complaining about 160k is (at least on some level) semi-absurd.
-though i have to pay ~6k in city taxes, i don't have to 1) get a car, 2) pay for insurance, 3) spend hours in rush hour per week, and 4) worry about paying for egregious gas fees [i.e. these things have a way of balancing themselves out]
-yeah ok you don't need a car in DC either and you're still getting 160 - ok, fine, but i personally believe that the 6k is more than worth the price paid for living in DC ;)
-if and when 190k actually does happen, it'll happen in nyc first! haha, at least i, uh, have that ..

so what's up with hoboken? i heard that it's semi-quiet / boring and more or less reserved for 30 somethings. is this an unfair mischaracterization? fun place to live? it sounds like it might be a viable alternative to living in the city [my studio apt is 2700 a month ... ridiculous]

Job Search / Re: Are NY firms going to $190K
« on: September 27, 2008, 06:30:36 AM »
it'd be nice to see some sort raise in NY (at least in NYC) as living in NYC is not cheap. for example, only in NYC do you have to pay a "city tax." city tax, at the 160k base pay rate, comes to some 6-7k per year in additional tax revenue taken out of your pay check. this is not a modest sum. true, you can avoid this tax by living in new jersey, but then you're commuting a semi significant distance and, uh, living in new jersey (which, imho, sort of defeats te purpose of being in NYC in the first place).

anyway, the point is the NYC is an incredibly expensive place to live - much more expensive than say DC, TX, TL, and CA (excluding a few select areas in SF). traditioanlly, NYC paid the top market rate for this precise reason. if you wanted to attract the top people, you had to pay the top rate (which, when coupled with the allure of nyc itself and th prestige of the whole "nyc biglaw" thing, made for an attractive package). now, many markets pay the same rate. in a lot of ways, those of us who are earning market in NYC (an turned down other markets which pay at the same wage) are paying a not insignificant sum to be surrounded by the big buildings and the pretty lights. with student loans payments and the like pending, you have to wonder if its really worth it.

i think that a lot of people are saying "no" these days and going elsewhere. unfortunately, as thorc accurately pointed out, most NYC firms are incapable of making bonus this year, let alone raising to some ridiculous first year wage. the reality (and i've heard it form the managing partner of our associates' committee) is that 1) clients are unwilling to subsidize 190 for first years and are grumpy about paying 160 as is, 2) 98% of NYC firms jsut don't have the available capital to legitimize such a move without either firing support staff or lowering your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year pay scales, and 3) the 190k myth is more of a law student driven myth than anything else; very few firms have discussed it in a serious context.

you might it see it at a small handful of NYC firms (i.e. the 2500+ mandatory billables sweat shops) make the move sometime within the next year or two, but generally speaking it isn't happening.

Transferring / Re: GW Transfer Registration
« on: September 22, 2008, 06:53:52 AM »
nah i graduated. in nyc now. work is nice though i'd be lying if i said that i have done more than just doc review at this point. all the same, it's nice to collect that paycheck.

Transferring / Re: GW Transfer Registration
« on: September 20, 2008, 02:51:02 PM »
Banzaf does that closed book multiple choice exam which is crazy difficult.  Just make sure you get a copy of the "rock" early and start going over it.  I didnt have him, but I heard horror stories.

Ill add some to the list of must takes:

1) Peterson (he does civ pro, but he does some upper level class to)
2) Suter (amazing prof, teaches toxic torts classes)
3) Kerr (if you can get him for computer crime, even better)
4) Saltzburg (for any of his classes... easiest prof ive ever had.  Reading is pretty much optional and he teaches straight from power points that he posts online anyway).

Thanks for the tips :)  I have Peterson all year for civpro thank god - he's awesome :)

todd "silver fox" peterson - hands down my best 1L prof (esp entertaining while flirting with the various women in the class)

Transferring / Re: GW Transfer Registration
« on: September 20, 2008, 02:50:32 PM »
4) Saltzburg (for any of his classes... easiest prof ive ever had.  Reading is pretty much optional and he teaches straight from power points that he posts online anyway).

how'd you end up doing in that class? i still haven't checked my 2nd sem 3L grades haha ;)

Job Search / Re: Job Prospects for Tier 2 Schools
« on: September 03, 2008, 12:51:31 PM »
Do you like Phil Collins?

Job Search / Re: Does anyone know anything about Howrey?
« on: September 03, 2008, 11:48:55 AM »
lit-only sweat shop

if that's ok with you, it's a good firm

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