TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How A Solo Tax Lawyer Paid Off $150,000 In Student Loans In 7 Years Without BigLaw

Above the Law, How A Solo Tax Lawyer Paid Off $150,000 In Student Loans In 7 Years Without Biglaw:

I want to share an interview I had with a solo tax attorney who was able to pay off his student loans from undergrad, law school, and a tax LL.M. degree within seven years even though he did not anticipate being a solo for long. This interview will be divided into two parts.

When did you finish school and how much did you owe then?

I finished school in 2008 and I think I owed about $150,000. My federal loans were consolidated at 2% while my private loans were on a variable interest rate which were between 4-7%.

Which schools did you attend?

I went to a relatively low-ranked law school. Then I got a Tax LL.M. at one of the schools on this list.

Where did you work when you first graduated?

I did very well academically at my Tax LL.M. program, so I thought I had a shot at a major law or accounting firm. But I graduated just at the start of the recession. And firms are still picky about where you went to undergrad and law school.

I ended up working for a solo practitioner where the primary clients were small businesses and individuals. The firm was focused on tax litigation and tax dispute resolution. It’s not the job I had in mind when I graduated, but I learned a lot of useful skills.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/12/how-a-solo-tax-lawyer-paid-off-150000-in-student-loans-in-7-years-without-biglaw.html

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Comments

"Thankfully, I didn’t have a lot of fixed costs other than a $500 per month car payment. I lived with my parents and didn’t go out often."

Not having a mortgage or rent or a spouse and children will free up some of your income.

Posted by: Nick D. | Dec 7, 2017 9:38:35 AM

$4500/month after taxes and health insurance is gonna be around the ballpark of $80,000 pretax. Or to put it another way, considerably higher than the NALP median starting salary of ~$65,000 for the Class of 2016. So he got lucky there. If you read the full interview you'll discover that he was living at home for years after law school. And then ended up making considerably more than the average solo practitioner does. The long and short of it is if you get lucky in the game of post-law school employment musical chairs, and if you then live as an ascetic while throwing most of your takehome at debt repayment, you too can bring your net worth from negative six figures to merely zero after only several years.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 7, 2017 10:10:10 AM