Mark J. (NDD#102) (33 Posts)

Mark was born and raised in Fayetteville, WV. He first visited Disney World back in 1975 and was instantly hooked. He returned several times as a child and now brings his own family as often as possible. Being a new lawyer, however, that isn't as often as he'd like. Mark is married to Sherri, NDM#237.


In 2008, I retired from a 22-year career in the military and started law school. My wife and I were worried about losing all that income and living on only her paycheck, my student loans, and the savings we had built up in anticipation of the break. But a line from “The Bare Necessities” kept me in the right frame of mind for our new lifestyle: “When you find out you can live without it and go along not thinking about it, I tell you something true—the bare necessities of life will come to you.” And they did.

We adjusted to a minimalist lifestyle, learning to spend our money on things that were truly important to us. These included our trips to Disney World and trips to see the latest Disney movies in the theaters. We got along better than we’d dared hope.

Now that I’ve recently graduated, it’s time to look ahead. What impact will my new career have on my family’s Disney Driven Life?

I’m fortunate to have a job lined up for after graduation. Not just any job, but one in the division I requested of a large firm that pays well. More importantly to me is the firm’s culture. I’ve worked there the past two summers and found it to be staffed by a great bunch of people. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to work there (besides the fact that they offered me a job) is because of the number of “Disney people” in the ranks. Walking through the halls and speaking to others in their offices, I noticed the number of people who vacation at Disney World, the pictures of families in front of Cinderella’s castle, and coffee mugs from Disney resorts. I remember coming home from my second interview and my wife asking how the interview went. “We talked about Disney World for 45 minutes, so I guess it went pretty well,” was my reply.

Being an attorney, I suppose I won’t be able to stay like Peter Pan. I’ll have to grow up and maintain a “professional” appearance, not be Goofy. And in all honesty, I’m not sure that I would want someone who wore Mickey ears representing me in an important matter. Jacket and tie are the order of the day. But I still plan on subtly incorporating Disney into my wardrobe. It serves as a reminder of what I’m working for—the fun times with my family—and that work is not an end unto itself. It always cheers me up just a little when I wear one of the Mickey ties I’ve picked up over the last two years at Disney World. In fact, I wore one to my graduation. These ties incorporate subtle hidden Mickey designs. You can easily see them if you’re up close and know what you’re looking for, but a judge on the bench or a partner in a meeting isn’t going to see it and think, “What’s this clown doing wearing a Mickey Mouse tie here?”

The biggest change is that now I’ll have enough money to go to Disney World every year without having to worry so much about how to finance the trip. But paradoxically, I’ll probably not have as much time as I’d like. It’s hard to meet your yearly billable hours goal if you spend three or four weeks a year on vacation. Instead, I foresee that I’ll trade money for time, spending more money on shorter, but more frequent, trips—maybe a couple of long weekends through the year instead of a single, longer vacation.

It’s been a tough three years, but they’ve gone by quickly. I still have the hurdle of taking the bar exam in late July and will spend many hours this summer studying for that. Afterward, though, we’re celebrating by taking a two-week long trip before I start working again. We hope that this will be enough time to blow off the stress of the past three years and get our fix of Disney before starting my new career.

Of course, at this time of year I’m not alone in ending one chapter in my life and beginning another. Many of you are facing graduations, either your own or your children’s. If you haven’t already, try to take a minute to contemplate this transition. How will it affect your own Disney Driven Life?

Contributed by: Mark Jeffries (NDD#102) Mark is the DDL Finance Blogger.

6 thoughts on “NEW BEGINNINGS

  1. I enjoyed your blog. My husband is a lawyer who is now driving a Friendship Boat at Epcot. We’re not sure yet how we’re going to manage, but we’ll figure it out. Good luck to you and your family.

  2. Welcome to the bar, Mark and congratulations on your success. There is more than enough room for Disney in a busy attorney’s life. Best of luck to you.

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed it!  I’m sure everything will work out–after my experiences, I’m 100% positive that money’s not the most important aspect of a job.  Quality of life is as least as important, and I can’t imagine much more of a quality life than driving a boat at Disney World.  Just keep in mind the “Bare Necessities.”

  4. Thanks, John!  You know, I always keep the idea of being in-house counsel for the Mouse in the back of my mind, especially when I read about their legal issues in the news.

  5. Mark,

    I so enjoyed your post! also congrats! You post had a thought come to mind and that was at times are we willing to sacrfice what we love so in the long term we can enjoy it more.

  6. Thanks, Shelley!  You’re exactly right.  But most of the sacrifices have come from my wife and kids.  They’ve had to give up a lot over the last three years.  Hopefully, things will get back to normal once I start working again!

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