Friday, July 27, 2007

TGIF - in Lawyer's terms

Man, Friday just couldn't come sooner this week! It's been really busy. Lots of new clients, a new Associate started at our firm, some really challenging files. I loved it a lot, but now I am really feeling it.

I have been working really hard on my running this summer. On June 29, I was in a 5K race. I did pretty good (28min:14sec). I came in 3rd in my age category, which made me feel kind of good. I had to stop a couple times to walk because I was overheating.

Today, I ran the same course, as if it were a race. I beat my previous time by a minute and 18 seconds. It felt great. My time was 26min:56sec. That's an 8:40/mile pace. Pretty good considering that in January of this year, I could not run faster than 13:00/mile, even if I was only going 0.5K. That's a pretty good improvement over 7 months.

I am training pretty hard for a 22K in September. I really am determined to finish it. I found out I have ITB Syndrome, which I have alleviated greatly through physiotherapy and with some straps that I put above my knees. I think this will be the trick towards finishing. The fitness is coming right along - I just have to remain pain free.

All of this has helped my practice greatly. Being in cardiovascular shape really does help with my office-endurance. I have lifted weights for years, and considered myself in shape, but not like I am now.

I am trying to lose about 5 lbs (I call them my articling year 5 lbs) and think this will allow me to tackle those hills in the Banff 22K in September.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How to get $100,000.00 in debt

Go to law school. Actually, first graduate high school. Enroll in a university and take general studies. Rack up some debt by getting a student loan, signing up for a few first-time credit cards, and make sure that you have all the good things in life - bikes, holidays, weekend trips, climbing gear, cool duds, some coyboy boots for the Calgary Stampede. You know, all the essentials. Limit summer working so that you can go on language exchange programs and such. Graduate with a B.A. or B.Sc. Spend a bunch of time and money preparing to take the LSAT. Spend a bunch of time and money preparing your law school applications. Get accepted.

Next, show up on your first day, and start shelling out dough for textbooks and tuition. Don't forget that differential fee. Plead for a bursary. Get turned down.

Spend umpteen hours reading for 100% exams during your first year. Forget about part-time work. You don't have time.

Spend umpteen hours writing essays and preparing for more 100% exams in your 2L and 3L years. Forget summer jobs - you are too busy applying for articling positions.

Buy some good suits for your articling interviews. You'll need more than one - you don't want to wear the same one to a second or third interview!

Spend most of your hard earned dough during your articling year on more suits, sushi and steak lunches with senior associates and partners, and bribes.

There you have it. At least $100,000.00 in debt.

My experience wasn't exactly as described above. But, it was definitely along the same pathway. Be careful out there. Debt can enslave you. It doesn't have to be this way.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Law School Debt

Ok - time to fess up. Debt is killing me! I think I have posted here about student debt before, and I know that I talk about it a bit in my book. But, I think it is time for a dose of reality - both for myself and for my readers.

I have racked up about $95,000.00 in debt because of my choice to become a lawyer. How? Well, I carried about $24K of student loans into law school. I then racked up about another $18K of student loans during law school, and about $17K of a student line of credit. Of course, we also racked up some credit card debt during law school, and during my article, and during my first year of practice.

Luckily, I was able to receive a number of grants, bursaries and scholarships to pay for my expenses during law school.

A debt like mine is not unusual for law graduates. Many will build up debts in excess of $100K before entering their articling year. Some will add to that debt during their articling year because of a low salary.

I have been living in semi-denial for about a year now. Suffice it to say, starting up a law practice cannot be done for free. And suffice it to say, the money does not start rolling in on day one.

But, now is the time to face reality head on.

Here's the deal: I have started a blog called The Debt Elimination Game. It is an open door look at my personal debt. It is a confession of sorts. It is an opportunity to make myself accountable and to face the problem head on. The truth is that it is a problem - a big one.

The reason I have been able to face this problem is that for the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am in a place where I can actually service my student debt. I am finally making a decent salary.

Many people in my position might want to extend the period over which they service their debt. But, when I had a close look at the situation, I realized that I am paying about $1,000 per month to pay minimum payments on all of my debts. I am paying almost half of that $1000 in interest. It's killing me. And that is with interest relief on my Canada student loans.

Like everything in my life, I am taking on a really big bite. I have made a personal goal (in conjunction with my spouse) to pay off all of my debts, save my mortgage, in 18 months. That's $95K in 18 months. Ludicrous? I don't know. I really think that I can do it.

I am hoping that as the story unfolds, I can learn a lot, and perhaps pass it along to current and graduated law students - to help them avoid the debt, and then to tackle it.

Debt is a major problem for many graduating students. Debt can be crippling. It can be depressing. It can be debilitating and limiting. It can limit your options dramatically. It can trap you into a lifestyle that you don't enjoy, with little hope of escape.

Join me as I take on the next chapter in my quest to become the best lawyer that I can be, the best person that I can be. Join me in the Debt Elimination Game.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Next LSAT test

The next LSAT test will be September 29. Registration must be completed by August 28. Late registration goes until September 4. Don't miss it!

Lawyer marks 50th year in profession

Half-a-century ago, fresh out of law school and uncertain of his future, Nick Pustina took his friend Bob Zelinski up on an offer to come visit his hometown.

While here he witnessed a most unusual event: as a funeral procession made its way down the street, motorists pulled over and men stopped to remove their hats, standing respectfully silent.
It made a lasting impression on the 23-year-old.

“A community that paid attention to its citizens that way would be a nice place to live and practise,” Pustina recalled in an interview Monday.

Today, Pustina still lives in Thunder Bay and continues to practise law. Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of his being called to the bar.

Read the rest of this inspiring article here.

Law medalist heading to Supreme Court

Last March, after a day of back-to-back interviews with six Canadian Supreme Court Justices and a flight home from Ottawa, UVic law student Christine Joseph was looking forward to sleeping late the next day. Instead, her ringing phone woke her up early.

“It was good news,” says Joseph in an interview from Vancouver.

On the other end of the line was Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin offering this year’s UVic Law Society Gold Medal winner a position as her clerk.

Very inspiring - read the rest of the article.