Legal Quagmire: Should You Save Friendship to Keep a Professional Relationship Intact Later?

Dear Take Two:

I'm in law school, though my dilemma has high school flavor. A friend of mine was recently elected to an impressive position on a prestigious law publication here at the school. This is great, and my other friends and I are happy for him. However, it seems to have quickly gone to his head. Interactions with him are now cursory at best, and he acts like he can't be bothered with his friends that don't sit on that board. Should I wait and see if the newfound cockiness passes, bring it up, or ignore him right back?

—Legal Eaglet

Says Jill: Do you see being friends—personal or professional—in the long run? Will you even live or work in the same area in 10 months? If yes, go ahead and strong-arm him into the next lunch or happy hour and see if a spark of his old self is left and salvageable. If not? I'd just strike him from the friend list and be happy he showed his colors early on.

Says Jacki: I'd be tempted to ignore him, too, but while that might make you appear tough and stoic, it's not going to solve your problem with him. Perhaps what you're reading as cockiness is actually a symptom of his being oppressively busy, dealing with board politics, or feeling overwhelmed. You won't know for sure until you give him a chance to respond to your perspective. So, calmly tell him you've noticed that when he joined the law review's editorial board, you were surprised to see him almost snub some his old friends and even more surprised to hear some of his old friends talk about him acting "cocky." Then, ask him about how the new position is going.

Take Three:

Writes Legal Eaglet: I decided I really could picture him being a long-term friend, and it will never hurt to have an ally in these high-up places. But so far, I can't even manage to get more than a "no time" text back from him, so I'll just have to see how it goes.

Dear Take Two:

I am a young single mother and I don't have the greatest credit, just because I really don't have credit. I found a townhouse that I really want to purchase and it's a great price but I have been advised that I should wait and work on my credit score. I could get financed through other lenders but it would be best to wait. My problem is that we are outgrowing our apartment and I have the money for a down payment now, and may not still have that money later.

Says Jacki: If you feel like you have to spend your potential down payment money now or lose it later, you might not be ready to withstand years and years of monthly payments on a house. The housing market is a huge place, so while you might feel like this particular townhouse is perfect for you, remember that it's one of hundreds and even thousands of other townhouses, places that you can research and visit while you build up your savings and your credit score. Treat this like an educational opportunity! Talk with your kids about saving; spend time out of your cramped apartment visiting different houses around the city, and then talk honestly with them about what is affordable and what houses would be so expensive you wouldn't have enough money for other fun activities. Show your kids your new credit card, and talk about how you pay it off every month. It's more important for you and your family to be good at managing money than it is for you all to avoid another year in a small apartment.

Says Jill: I can't improve at all on Jacki's advice except to advise you to also call 211 and see what free credit counseling services are available in our area—they're for responsible beginners like yourself as well as folks who are already in trouble.

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