Do not take my word for it. Check out the article on American Lawyer entitled Not That Into You. It reports on a study entitled After the JD, which tracked 5000 lawyers who began practicing in 2000. In short, what is life like eight or nine years out of graduating from law school? How well were these lawyers expectations of the future met? The results, to some, might be amazing. To us Third Wavers, carpet commuters, connected lawyers, future lawyers, untethered lawyers, solos, small firmers, home office lawyers, virtual lawyers and the like, we have known the results in our hearts for a long, long time.
Here is what the study found. It is not all about prestige and money. As stated,
“new lawyers working for firms of more than 250 lawyers are less satisfied with their jobs than their counterparts in smaller firms,” and that “[g]raduates of the most selective schools are the least satisfied with their jobs at large firms, while graduates of less selective schools are relatively more satisfied.”
The article has some notions of why this is so, including graduates of elite schools are “groomed to expect success” whereas lower-tier graduates are more likely to view a job at a large firm as “a coveted reward for hard work . . . not to be squandered.”
From my position and observations, the issue is not as much about money made as debt incurred, the life style that must be maintained, the image that must be presented, the hours that must be worked, the time for friends and family that must be squandered, and the satisfactions, as a result, that is lost.
Sometimes, when you as a solo or small firm attorney find yourself in a pity party about how you avoided these so-called riches, or did not apply yourself better to get into a "better" law school, or achieve a level where Big Law might be interest, you might count your lucky stars that you are a more humble and contented person.