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Litigation is expensive -- really expensive. The cost of going to trial is one of the great motivators for settling, behind only the unpredictability of a jury.

Just how expensive a trial can be is easy for lawyers to forget. But, as Above the Law recently pointed out, normal people can still be shocked. A prime example is Peter Sterne, a writer for Politico's Capital New York, who amusingly found the cost of expert witnesses to be newsworthy.

When I first started working in law, several people told me that if I wanted to impress, I should make sure I was the first person partners saw when they came in and the last person they saw when they left. I never considered that could mean actually moving in to the office.

But that's just what one young California lawyer did -- after graduation, he gave up his long commutes and high rent in order to live out of his office, unbeknownst to any of his colleagues.

Want to be a happy lawyer? Even just a sober lawyer? Stop going after that BigLaw paycheck or partner track position and take up a low-in-pay public interest job.

No, really.

According to researchers who surveyed over 6,000 attorneys, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money reported the most happiness -- and less drunkenness. The results of that survey, published in the George Washington Law Review, show that markers of prestige such as making partner don't pay off with greater happiness or well-being, even though they might help you get rid of your loans a bit faster.

If you're contacted by a recruiter, or out searching for jobs on your own, at some point you will probably be asked about your salary history. If you've been raking it in -- well, horray! Whipping out your big paycheck can let potential employers know that you're worth it, at least in the minds of past bosses.

But if you're not making much, or feel like you're underpaid, revealing your salary history can put you at a significant disadvantage when it comes time to negotiate compensation later.

What's a lateral to do?

Law school enrollment is down, but the price of a law degree keeps going up. How do the (fewer) aspiring law students plan on paying for their degree? A recent survey by Kaplan, the test prep company, of over 900 potential law students, asked exactly that.

More than a third of potential students, 36 percent of those surveyed, plan on paying their own way, while another 22 percent will foot at least half the bill. Where's the rest of the money coming from? Mom, Dad and Uncle Sam.

Huge BigLaw Bonuses Are Back -- If You're a Senior Associate

We're back, baby! After learning in September that legal salaries were on the rise, The New York Times' Dealbook blog reported Tuesday that BigLaw bonuses were on the rise.

The law profession if profitable! We'll be respected again!

So does this mean that it's time to get into the BigLaw business? Is law school suddenly a good idea for the disenchanted liberal arts major?

Student Loans 103: Prioritizing Payments (or Which to Pay First)

OK, you've finally started getting your loans in order. You used the National Student Loan Database System to see what you've borrowed from the feds. You've consolidated, if appropriate, and picked an income-based repayment plan so that your payments are manageable. You're also up-to-date on your monthly payments on any private loans.

But now your career is taking off and you have a bit of surplus cash. And instead of letting the interest build on those loans, you're ready to start dumping your excess cash on one or more of them.

Which one do you pick first? That depends on a few considerations.

NYC Criminal Defense Bribery Scandal: A Reminder About Referrals

Last month, three criminal defense lawyers and a paralegal were in need of one of their own after they were indicted for allegedly bribing court staff to pass along wealthy clients. Lawyers Dwane Smith, 56; Benjamin Yu, 36; and Jae Lee, 41; along with paralegal Jose Nunez, 47, were charged after the court staffer became a cooperating witness, reports the New York Daily News.

That probe expanded this week, when investigators' eyes turned to Yu's former mentor, 70-year-old attorney Paul Liber. Though Liber and his lawyer both point out that he has not been charged, his name came up repeatedly during the investigation, reports the New York Post.

Student Loans 102: Making Monthly Payments Affordable (IBR, PAYE)

Raise your hand if, at some point, you got slapped with a student loan bill for more than $1,000 per month.

If you haven't yet, and took out loans for law school, it's only a matter of time before some idiot loan servicer sends you a bill requesting more than half of your take-home pay. And for many people, their response will be to utter a few choice profanities and then to ignore the letter.

Don't. Default is bad, at least if you ever want to have a respectable credit score, own a home, or get out of debt. Instead, take a look at the available income-driven repayment plans. If you're working in public interest, your debt will disappear in 10 to 15 years. If not, you're looking at reduced payments until right around the time your child goes to college. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Last week, we talked about consolidating your loans to make them more manageable. Today, we'll look at reducing your monthly payments on your federal loans:

NOLA Judges' Pricey CLE Trips on Court's Dime: Greedy or All Good?

Few would argue that Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements are important for judges and attorneys alike. And even if they're not, if those of us who are members of the bar (but not on the bench) have to do them, well, everyone should suffer the misery.

Except, not all CLEs are miserable. Conferences can be fun. Really, really fun if the descriptions of these extravagant CLE trips that New Orleans judges frequent are any indication: a Panama City (Panama, not Florida) resort, trips to the Big Apple, a Montana resort, and more.

Of course, they need their CLEs. So are they taking this little employee perk a little too far?