Associate Attorney Who Just Wants to Feel Secure

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Young Money

Tanya works at a small law firm in Minneapolis. After 4.5 years working as a judicial clerk, she recently became an associate attorney. She values security, learning, and hopes to retire early. While we weren’t able to follow-up with her for a full interview, we enjoyed hearing about her story and her advice on negotiating and college.

*Name is altered to protect identity.

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Interview with Tanya:

What are your money goals and what motivates you?

I just want to feel secure. And maybe by an electric vehicle in cash in the next few years!! I think my savings rate is anywhere from 25-50%, depending on the month. I grew up low-ish middle class, which is likely why security is so important to me. I’m not sure about retirement yet. Maybe early, in my 50s? It depends on whether I end up with a partner. I think early retirement on two incomes is more realistic, especially because I want to stay childfree. Professionally, I want to keep learning and get better at what I do. And not get fired or laid off, lol.

How did you end up in your current role?

In 2019, I was 29 and still clerking, but I was interviewing and offered a new job at $60k. I tried to negotiate but was initially unsuccessful, so I turned down the job. I liked my current job and saved a lot/living below my means, so I had the luxury of turning down what I felt was a mediocre offer. A few weeks later, they offered me the job again at $67k, and I took it. I changed roles because clerking is not a “forever” job. There is no promotion potential,  little to no raises, and no bonuses either. It’s the kind of thing lawyers do for 1-3 years before they move on.

What advice do you have for negotiating?

Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t get to the number you believe you’re worth. And if possible, don’t leave your current job until you have another offer. It’s harder to negotiate and then down bad offers when you’re more in need.  

More money might not be worth your time if the job will be exponentially more work or stress. I know people who make 2-3x as much as me as attorneys but work so much more than I do. Many of them are miserable and don’t have good relationships. Some even have substance use issues. Good money management and good habits can be even more valuable than more money.

What advice do you have people considering post-grad?

Seriously consider community colleges, public universities, commuter schools, and the ones that maybe are less prestigious but give out bigger scholarships to good students. The debt really might not be worth it, and once you’re stuck with it, you’re stuck with it. It’s not glamorous going to a local, cheaper college or found to a grad school that’s ranked a bit lower, but in five years, when you have minimal or no loans, you’ll thank yourself.


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