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Moonlighting Lawyers Tackle Their School Debt

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.
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