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The Lawyer's Financial Stages - Stage 2: The Associate, On and Up

Senior Associate: Work is familiar but not easier. The hours don't let up and you now know the pressures of keeping clients happy, the price pressures and workloads. You may have looked at moving to the corporate world. But maybe a corporate legal department is not for you. Not enough variety.

You like your firm. It’s big enough to attract corporate clients and interesting litigation. You’re now known in your specialty and you’re starting to be cited and published. You may even start helping on the recruitment drive, which is a good way to keep in touch with your school and alumni friends. You know some senior partners who you respect and start to work with more. You like your team and the cut and thrust of big law.

You should now be on your way to financing your first house, apartment or condo. Try to pay at least 20% as a down payment so that your mortgage runs to an 80% loan to value. Do not borrow from your 401(k). You're not paying yourself back. You're stealing from your future retirement. That might be a pipe dream in the Bay Area or metro New York but at least try. Don't fall for ARMs unless you really intend to sell inside of four years (or inside the adjustment period). Also try not to use interest-only repayment periods. It just takes longer to pay it all off.

Now is the time to start a basic financial plan. What you spend and what you save. You're already maxed out on the 401(k) because, well, we covered that in Stage 1 and if you're not, then stop reading now. Remember this is a financial plan. Not a document that you prepare once and stick in a drawer. Just like a business plan, you need to check that you’re on track. Are your assets growing? Do you have the right allocation? Is your credit score strong? Grade yourself. This is a test.  

By now, you should have a low-cost index fund investments strategy well under way. By your mid 30s try to have your savings amount to around 100% of your annual earnings. You can include your 401(k). Buy your life insurance at work. It’s a group rate and cheap. Check to see if it’s portable. Still sweating the small stuff? Good. Because you're about to enter your peak earnings years.

If you have any questions on these, or would like to discuss further, please feel free to e-mail us or call 415 435 8330.

Please note that this discussion of our investments and investment strategy (including our research and investment process) represents our investments and investment strategy at the date of this commentary, and is subject to change without notice. We cannot assure that the type of investments discussed in this commentary will outperform any other investment strategy in the future, nor can we guarantee that such investments will present the best or an attractive risk-adjusted investment in the future. This is for general informational purposes only; references to an individual security should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell that security. The securities mentioned in this commentary are only several of the successful as well as unsuccessful investments by us, and do not represent all of the securities we have purchased, sold or recommended. Although we deem reliable the sources of the statistical and other information referred to in this commentary, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or numerical data. Past performance is no indication of future results.