I’m $100,000 in Debt and Want to Move to Greece


QI’m a 2007 grad from a top 50 law school, live in Boston, and am licensed in New York and Massachusetts. I’m also unemployed. Or barely employed, actually, because most of the time I exist by slogging through miserable hell-hole document reviews or taking the T to downtown Boston to work in a back room as some Dockers-wearing no-name temp at a big name law firm. I graduated with a little more than $120,000 in debt and have managed to knock it down to just under $118K. Woo Hoo. Now I just want to say fuck it all, default, and move to Greece. Why the hell not? I didn’t go to law school to spend my days in a warehouse tapping away at a computer screen as I look over documents. Or being a fly on the wall somewhere else. What gives? Any advice?

AWhy did you go to law school? Seriously. I’d answer that first. Look up, see if you can fulfill your initial promise and, if you can’t, then say fuck it all and consider getting out of the law. If you haven’t already, start looking at what else you can do with your JD besides practicing or reviewing documents.

That’s my touchy-feely answer. Here’s my brutally honest answer: you’re screwed. You had the misfortune of going to law school at the wrong time, maybe in the wrong city. And, despite my generally bitter veneer, I honestly feel sorry for many recent law school grads. Not wholly and completely sorry, as I cannot get rid of a nasty Ayn Rand streak of mine that occasionally wants to yell “why the fuck did you take out so much debt?” But then I look back and consider why thousands of my own comrades went to law school: the promise, the prestige, the BMW 5 Series. The whole living the dream thing.

So, while I do feel for you, I ultimately don’t have a good solution. Other than this: don’t default, as it makes things much worse and you become enslaved to the debt collectors as well as to the loans. Slog through your temp work, keep networking with as many people as you can, ask for advice or leads, and pay what you can on the student loans. Hell, hang out with the Occupy Wall St. crowd, which has taken on student loans as an issue. Go political, just don’t go postal, and maybe your loan will be forgiven or knocked down or made dischargeable in bankruptcy. But my guess is that, anything offered to people like you will only be offered if you are not already in default.

But Greece? Seriously? Is that where the hip loan defaulters go now, sort of like the draft dodgers going to Canada in the sixties and seventies? I mean, I’m all for life on the Greek Isles, but maybe you should get look up from the travel magazines you are reading from the early 1990′s. What would you do in Greece? Join the Occupy Parthenon protests? Live off the land? Raise sheep?

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdine/5521163719/)

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

6 Comments

  1. Alan T.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I’d pick herding sheep in Greece over busting your ass for nothing in Boston. Just sayin.

  2. Ellen

    October 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I AGREE that Timeing is everything.

    When I gradueated from law school, I had my pick of 3 jobs, 2 of wich were in the Government (USA).

    Because I had some college debt from my CREDIT card, I deceided to go to the private sector and took associate’s position b/c I get more moneys.

    Now I wish that I took the civil service job b/c I work to hard and really don’t need the extra $. I would perfer just work 37 1/2 hours a week and have my weekend’s free. My job is at risk b/c the manageing partner wants more revenue out of me and I do not have new cleints for him

    FOOEY on me for being so short-sided.

  3. Jack P

    November 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Good lord, Ellen. You’re an attorney and don’t know how to properly write out “short-sighted,” nor spell “timing” “decided” “which” “managing” “clients” or “prefer”? I see no reason to be surprised that clients don’t want to put their faith, and money, in your hands.

    • Ellen

      November 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      I hope your not trying to flert with me. I already HAVE a boyfreind, and he is a CPA.

  4. Mean Partner

    November 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Well, Ellen, your choices are clear now aren’t they?

    THE SAFE CHOICE: Marry an older, flabbier, early to bed partner with money, and be relieved of the constant worry over where money comes from or how to spell. For the small price of giving yourself to this man on a regular Cialis-fueled basis, you needn’t worry about money anymore. Your friends might snicker as the geezer caresses your thigh at lunch, but you’ve got the tennis club baby.
    THE YOUNG CHOICE: opt for a younger man, who still slaves away, might be laid off or leave you.
    THE INERTIA CHOICE: grow old in the same place. 20 years from now you’ll still need money, your looks will be gone and you’ll still be working (hopefully with auto-spell check).

    What’ll it be?

  5. Chris r.

    December 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Most careers as a lawyer are thankless, grim, drudgery that amount to nothing and serve no purpose whatsoever. My first client out of law school was a “master servicer” a non existent entity born in the deepest pits of hell and memorialized in some of the most evil documents known to man. The only way I’ve made it as a lawyer is to steer my own litigious pirate ship where I don’t ask but take, on behalf of clients of course. Accept the miserable nature of your career and come out guns blazing after a deep pocket. That or go to Greece because contrary to te assertions here, those in default will be eligible to have their loans discharged in the event the bankruptcy laws are changed.

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