Law: Case of the Bench vs. the Buck

Pinched by inflation, federal judges look for a raise

Six years ago, Sidney Smith, then 50, seemed to be living out an American dream. He had been serving for nine years as a federal district judge in Atlanta. The job offered challenge, prestige, a $40,000 salary and lifetime tenure followed by retirement at full pay. Yet that year Smith walked away from the bench to return to the private practice of law. The main reason: money. "I had one child in prep school and two in college, and I was borrowing all the time," recalls Smith, who now earns far more than...

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