Biglaw, Career Alternatives, Money, Public Interest, Student Loans, Travel / Vacation, Weirdness

The Skadden Associate Who Picked Up and Moved to Nepal: An Update

A view of Kathmandu (via The Kathmanduo).

On Wednesday we wrote about the great departure email sent out by Brian Emeott, a former corporate associate at Skadden in Chicago. Emeott, a 2004 graduate of Harvard College and 2008 graduate of Harvard Law School, picked up and moved to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Brian’s wife, Claudine Emeott, resigned from her own job in December and moved to Kathmandu in January. She’s in Nepal to advance a worthy cause: as a Kiva Fellow, Claudine is working with a local microfinance institution for three months.

In our original post, we applauded the Emeotts for their sense of adventure. You can follow them at their (excellent) blog, The Kathmanduo, as they “work, write, and photograph [their] way through beloved Nepal.”

Some of our commenters, however, were more skeptical. They wondered (and so did we): How are the Emeotts making this work, in financial terms? Are they trust fund babies?

It’s a fair question (even if it might be motivated by envy of Brian and his newfound freedom). And it’s one that Brian Emeott addresses, in a recent post on The Kathmanduo:

We are humbled by the generally favorable response this blog received from Above the Law’s editor, David Lat. Regarding the question of whether we have educational debt and the speculation from some commenters that we must be trust fund babies, we are here to report that, unfortunately, we are still making payments on our existing educational loans and neither of us is sitting on a trust fund (unless some long-lost great aunt comes bounding out of the woodwork). A combination of sacrificial saving and debt payment while in Chicago coupled with the cost of living in Nepal have made this adventure financially feasible at the moment.

We weren’t satisfied with where we were in our lives and after much deliberation and planning decided to make changes. Our changes may have been more risky and drastic than others’, but what could be more risky and drastic than knowingly continuing down the wrong path? I wasn’t aware that it was a prerequisite to have a trust fund to quit your job, but it’s my opinion that if you’re waiting for the “perfect time” and situation to make a large and at times uncomfortable or, hell, scary change in your life, then you may be waiting a long time indeed.

Well said, Mr. Emeott. There are countless Biglaw attorneys out there, associates and counsel and partners alike, who are unhappy with their lives but unwilling to do anything about their predicament. They tell themselves they’ll leave — after the next year-end bonus (or spring bonus), or after they pay off all their student loans, or after they have enough for a down payment on a house, or after the kids are out of school.

These points are certainly valid — up to a point. You don’t want to be stupid or reckless, of course, but there comes a time when you need to just do it. Maybe you don’t want to move to Nepal — a number of commenters mentioned the air pollution in Kathmandu and the unstable Nepalese political situation — but surely you have some dream you want to pursue, right?

Back to Brian:

So thank you, Above the Law, for the mention and definitely for the shout out to Claudine’s work with the wonderful organization Kiva, which we can’t plug enough. And thank you, Skadden Arps, for all the valuable lessons I learned there, some of which led me to Kathmandu. The view from my Chicago office was awesome, but I wouldn’t trade it for my view during lunch just the other day.

You can compare the two photos, one from Brian’s Skadden office and one from Kathmandu, over at The Kathmanduo. While you’re there, be sure to check out the latest post, a photo essay about monkeys that is simply too cute for words.

We wish Brian and Claudine Emeott the best of luck with their adventures in Nepal. They’re doing great work, and they’re having a great time while doing it. We should all be so lucky.

P.S. The Emeotts don’t have a trust fund, but if they did, what would be wrong with that? A trust fund usually means that someone in your family was (1) financially successful (read: very very good at something), and (2) generous. Since when are success and generosity bad things?

When it comes to the financial good fortune of others, don’t hate — appreciate.

Above the Law [The Kathmanduo]
Monkey Business at Swayambu [The Kathmanduo]
The Kathmanduo: Brian and Claudine [Twitter]

Earlier: Another Great Departure Memo: Skadden Associate Trades Chicago for… Nepal?

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