By day, Dan Griffin conducts preliminary hearings, interviews police officers and prepares drug cases as a prosecutor for the Cook County State Attorney's Office in Chicago.At 6:30 p.m., he sheds his suit and tie, dons jeans and a hard hat and heads to his night job, doing construction for Great Lakes Heating and Plumbing, where he toils until about 1:30 a.m.
On weekends, you'll find Griffin bartending and refereeing children's basketball games.Griffin's schedule may be grueling, but the 27-year-old says it's necessary to pay off his $70,000 law school loan, save up for a house and simply make ends meet as the cost of living skyrockets. He is desperately hoping a law school student loan forgiveness bill he's been hearing about for years takes effect some time soon so he can quit one of his part-time jobs — and maybe have a social life.
"I never thought I'd be working this hard as a lawyer," said Griffin. "I love my job, but the guys I work with on construction, who are union, make more than I do as a lawyer. It's pretty ridiculous."
Griffin is part of a growing group of prosecutors and assistant public defenders who are moonlighting to make ends meet.Government lawyers have traditionally turned to teaching at their law school, tutoring or even doing a few wills or real estate closings on the side to supplement their income. That is, the ones who don't flee after a few years for lucrative private practices.
The article goes on to explain the condition I know too well: outrageous student loan debt and (relatively) low wages. Luckily I don't have it quite as bad as the folks profiled - living in Chicago on incomes of $35k - but I don't have it much better either. The proposed solution - student loan forgiveness - doesn't apply to my current position - believe me I looked into it - but I think it's a great idea. We need qualified people to serve as public defenders and public interest attorneys and if we can't pay people enough to stay in those positions then society is pretty much screwed.
I tend to take a more optimistic tone about the situation though - my glass is almost always half full people - and think of the emotional and intellectual fulfillment that my education gave me. Sure I could be working as a cashier with no debt but that's not the life I chose and I have few regrets.
Interestingly, the idea of moonlighting was also mentioned in CNN today, with a twist. This article talks about employees who work second jobs during the work hours of their primary job, daylighting they call it. I think as long as your employer is okay with it, why not? I let my work know when I was performing the real estate closing and they were cool with it. They've even paid for me to go to professional advancement courses. In reality I think they don't expect me to stay here for too long and are just glad for my underpaid talent. Sigh. If only my dream job would come a-knocking.