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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.
According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Mitchell" graduated from law school at U.C. Hastings in S.F. and was offered a job as a public defender in Silicon Valley. Public defenders are some of the happiest lawyers, but also some of the lowest paid. In a place like San Francisco, which has the highest rent in America, supporting yourself on a public service salary can be a challenge.
Cost wasn't the only reason Mitchell moved into his office, though. His job was also contingent on passing the bar, making him reluctant to sign a new lease. So instead, each night he waited until everyone had left, then slept upright in his chair. If colleagues were pulling an all-nighter, he'd pack up and sleep in his car. A shower at the gym in the morning, and his coworkers were none the wiser.
Mitchell isn't alone in forsaking traditional housing. Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris, for example, sets up camp in his Volkswagen microbus instead of a penthouse apartment. For Norris, living in a "van down by the river" isn't a sign of failure, but of freedom and pursuit of a simpler life.
Of course, not everyone volunteers to go without a home. While general homelessness is decreasing, some white collar professionals are finding it hard to find a place to live in increasingly gentrified cities. Call it the problem of the starving lawyer -- except, of course, it affects more than just low-wage, public interest attorneys. College students, artists and even Congress members -- lots of Congress members --have taken up living, usually secretly, at work.
At least, though, they're saving some money. One cubicle dweller reports saving over $20,000 over the almost two years living at work, while Mitchell saved $12,000 before he decided it was time to sign a lease.
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