Unofficially Official

Lion Pair
African Lions — Botswana (May 2018)

When last we met, I had concluded with near certainty that my position with BigLaw was reaching the end. I’ve been wanting to leave for years. In fact, when I returned from Belize, a trip with which I rewarded myself after finishing the bar exam twenty-four years ago, I was fairly certain I was embarking on a mismatch career. It turns out, newly-licensed me was correct.

But then there were the student loans to pay, not to mention all the time I’d invested in law school. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the actual practice of law would be more interesting than the work I’d been doing during my clerkships. Maybe as I got deeper into the practice, I’d find it was indeed my calling. I appeared to have a talent for it, and over the years, would learn I am indeed quite good at it. I would also learn you can be good at something that is tedious, boring, contentious, and often, more stressful than the paycheck is worth. Not to mention, it was, for long stretches, not conducive toward having a life outside of work.

Since I had no idea what I wanted in my next life, I stayed put. Also, I enjoyed the security of a steady paycheck. And, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the prestige (deserved, or not) alluring. So here I am, nearly twenty-five years later, still at it. 

But not for long. In 291 days, I’ll be done with the practice of law.

Two days ago (on Tuesday), the guy second from the top of the 1000-plus lawyer pyramid, called my boss and informed him they would not be extending his contract, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Mister second-in-command also told my boss that my tenure with the firm would conclude at year-end. This information was verbally passed on to me, but I’ve received nothing in writing: which is why I have termed the word of my exit “unofficially official.” It’s a law firm. I’m a lawyer. Until I get it in writing, it’s not official. My contract says as much. This is important, because under my contract, the firm has to give me ninety days written notice. Once they give written notice, they have to pay me for ninety more days, whether they throw me out the door, or not. Since it is a law firm, I expect they’re at the top of their game when it comes to things like abiding by contract terms. Assuming I’m correct, I’ll likely receive written notice in the coming days that my talents no longer are welcome beyond December 31, 2019, thus fulfilling the ninety-day notice requirement. I would be quite tickled if BigLaw management screwed up, and had to pay me an additional ninety days of salary beyond the end of the year.

Irrespective of the lack of officiality of notice, after December 31, 2019, I’ll no longer be a practicing lawyer. I’m thrilled with that prospect. Friends and colleagues have inquired whether I’ve contacted a head hunter, whether my resume is up to date, whether I have any leads for my next law job. These are the same people I have been telling for years I want out. And yet, they are nudging me toward staying in. I find this odd. I’ve made no secret of the fact I am ready to call it quits for good. But yet, these people are finding it difficult to fathom that I’d actually walk away from the practice (and the money, and the prestige) at age fifty-six. 

Receiving the unofficial word that we are out at the end of the year was a relief. I had been leaning toward sticking it out for another year to give myself a bit more money in my retirement account. I’m nervous about whether I have enough, despite the fact I’ve run all the scenarios over and over in numerous calculators, and they all tell me I’ll make it through retirement without running out of money. The first few years will be tricky. I’ll have to learn how best to make investment withdrawals for living expenses, how to calculate MAGI for purposes of obtaining insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and how to drive from Texas to Ontario, Canada with four cats to escape the summer heat. (Seeing the cats are house cats, and not lions, I should be able to figure out the logistics of the drive.)

If any of you are aware of any posts or other resources that might help with the transition, please let me know in the comments. So many retirement blogs talk about how to save for the big event, but not many discuss what happens once they pull the retirement trigger.  

 

21 comments

  • That’s a news! But you can find a new interesting job. Obviously in another area: maybe, consultant by some marketing societies, or associations, or syndacates). Or you can change a hobby in to a new work. Write a book, tell your life and experience 😁
    Ciao
    Sid

    Liked by 2 people

  • Congrats! This is very exciting! And I hope for your sake that the firm messes up the notification process; the irony would be delicious. As for posts discussing these issues, the best I’ve found are at Our Next Life. Tanja and Mark retired from high-paying, prestigious careers, and their blog is more touchy-feely than most FIRE blogs. Highly recommended.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Elise! Our Next Life is a great recommendation. I read them avidly before they were Tanja and Mark. They gave great info on the savings phase. I’ll pop over and see how they’ve handled the transition. Like them, I plan to no longer be anonymous when I stop working for BigLaw.

      Like

  • I was going to suggest Our Next Life also. Like you, I read them before they were Tanja and Mark. They have been retired now for about a year and Tanja even wrote a post on the first year of retirement… basically what was the same and what was different from what they expected.

    I retired almost a year and a half ago and haven’t regretted it for one second. Can’t imagine going to a job every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Donna. I’ve been catching up on ONL. They provide lots of good information. I might just have to post some details on my experiences these last few months of preparation for the great escape. The accumulation stage seems simple in comparison to actually making the leap. But then, accumulation wasn’t so simple before I researched the heck out of that.

      A year and a half of freedom. I bet that does feel great. I try to imagine being free of so much control of my life and time. How long did it take to relax?

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    • Thank you, Suzie! I think I’m going to need the assistance of my accountant to estimate MAGI. As for choosing a plan, I have my eye on one (the only one) that includes my doctor. Hopefully, it will still be available come December sign-up.

      Liked by 1 person

  • GO FOR IT WITH A BIG SMILE! The greatest things happen unexpectedly.
    Take time to rest and enjoy. Look around, volunteer someplace you find interesting, and find a way to try things you always wanted to do – you have skills (communication skills are in high demand everywhere. If you can write a decent sentence – well constructed logical argument…be analytical…see features and benefits other miss…) you may stumble over a slot in a totally unexpected field. Worked for me several times when companies folded or layoffs happened – (the trick was then not to let comfortable part time become full time once you’re discovered) You can do this! Hooray!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, my favorite Mouse. I’m quite thrilled the time is almost here. And relieved another year of work was taken off the table. People keep pushing me back toward the law and I am not having it. It’s so interesting they cannot fathom my moving on from that. I must have taken on way too much of that as part of my identity. My new identity will include lady who fosters tiny kittens and stays up all night bottle feeding them. As for my analytical side, I’m going to give that a rest and see how I feel. I’d like to give my creative side some room to reemerge. You’re right: Great unexpected adventures await!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just FYI, you can always substitute teach – pick school/district carefully, though…the ankle biters (who love animals) may be clingy but classroom management may be easier ( unless you are one of the ones who have a high noise level tolerance and enjoy the middle school insanity and personalities). One way to add to your SS account and in some cases get health insurance through district. Don’t expect it to be an easy job – but once you get known school can request you or you can get the plum slots. Libraries also are a great place to check for part time/volunteer work – you’d be surprised at opportunities that show up there – and most of the people are nice and creative and intelligent with a sense of humor.
        You need a place with a sense of humor! Onward through the fog ( and demanding meows)

        Liked by 1 person

        • It sounds like there are lots of opportunities out there. I’d definitely choose the ankle biters! Or the library. I recently was eyeing a part-time job at Barnes and Noble, in case I need to take the edge off of the boredom. I expect it will take me a bit of time to figure out what I want to do next. The world is my oyster!

          Liked by 1 person

      • If interested, the major medical centers, universities/college research divisions, and some museums offer an amazingly broad/number of jobs for all sorts of things you’d never expect they needed people for. Cruise their online employment listings. Sometimes 30 hrs/part time gets you insurance and time for yourself. The world is full of adventure

        Liked by 1 person

  • Ella, Congrats on your decision to retire. I too retired early ( at 58) from a stressful job in academia, and my (much younger!) husband retired at 50, law enforcement requirement, over 20 years ago. My advice: forget about trying to find new employment! You want to write. Do it. Alter your requirements to suit your finances. We moved to a cheaper state, a smaller house, and have been able to afford many cruises and state-side and foreign trips. More important, I have published many poems, articles. and (self-published) a novella and memoir: (type my name in Search at Amazon or Barnes and Noble). No best-seller, nor expectations of such, but the satisfaction of exercising my creative impulses, just as musicians or artists never aspire to a public concert or exhibition. Wishing you the future you deserve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Joan! Yes, I want to write. I plan to live the full-on writing life, complete with daily writing schedule. I want to free my brain of the analytical swamp, and see what happens when I set my creative mind free. I’ve had several years getting the hang of living frugally, so I may be OK without working. Healthcare is the wildcard.

      I’m off to take a peek at your work. Thank you for the inspiration!

      Like

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