Lots of stuff has happened since I updated last. Those of you who are Facebook friends, or friends in the non-cyber world, know most of this, but here's what's up:
1. I passed the Phase I exam for super-awesome government agency that investigates stuff. Now I just have to let them know when I can pass the fitness test, then I'll qualify for an interview. However, if I get invited for an interview, I have to be 100% sure I want to be a kick-ass government agent investigating stuff, because they pay all the expenses to get me out there to interview and such. It'll take some soul-searching, because I wouldn't be returning to home state after government agent training camp. Big commitment. Soul searching. Moot if I don't get my fat ass to the gym and manage to get my 1.5 mile run in under 14 minutes, and do 14 proper pushups.
2. I am currently helping out the solo practitioner I discussed in my last post. In exchange for a few hours of office work a week, she is letting me use her office to meet with my own clients, giving me referrals of stuff she doesn't want/have time for, and is teaching me stuff. She does a lot of federal criminal defense work, which is awesome, particularly considering the above-referenced potential career path. While I'm assisting on those cases in a pro bono capacity, there's a possibility she can actually get me some money and bill me out as a paralegal. I'm not holding my breath, but that would be cool. Of course, then I'd just have to pay back the unemployment people, so it's probably not worth the hassle. Since I found absolutely nothing saying so, I am assuming that the exchange of services does not count as earning wages, since I'm not being paid.
3. I've got two paying clients signed up! One a referral from my new office-mate, and the other a referral from an acquaintance. Since I've now got escrow checks for retainers from two different clients, I have to submit my IOLTA form and withdraw the money I had to put into that account to open it up. I'm very excited about my clients. First, neither is domestic relations. Both clients are defendants, in matters that manage to combine business, torts, property, administrative law and civil rights. The matters are complex enough to be interesting, but simple enough to not scare the hell outta the baby lawyer. It's nice to look at a case and while, not entirely knowing everything about the area of law, knowing enough to make an educated guess as to the issues, and then doing the research and finding out you're right. Yay. And I really just like dealing with areas of law that involve money and not, you know, the welfare of children. It is 10,000 times less stressful and doesn't keep me awake at night. Second, once I start working on their cases next week, I only have to bill 3 hours of work to not claim anything for unemployment. So they can go get stuffed.
4. Why Unemployment can go get stuffed: I had to sit through an entire afternoon of complete waste-my-time-bullshit on "How to Find a Job." There was an audio-visual presentation. Then the guy made us copy all of our "job hunting" information onto the form and then made me write down phone numbers for all the places I've applied. Excuse me? If they actually call any of those attorneys, I definitely won't get the job. In fact, I might never work again. Assholes. Yeah, because I love going from earning $1250/week with paid health insurance to only getting $290/week and having no health insurance (oh, and never got my COBRA forms either) so CLEARLY I must not be looking for a job. Fuckers.
5. Also on my shit list are jackasses I have the misfortune of knowing who sitting around with nothing better to do than bitch that people on unemployment are lazy and could find a job if they really wanted one, and posting about it on Facebook, knowing full well that I just got laid off and my mother had just lost her benefits, and the job she thought she just got, fell through. I've unfriended people over it. Particularly one law school classmate who is a complete douche. Fortunately, Congress stopped dicking around and passed the additional extension so we aren't bankrupt yet. Yes, I'm sure there are people who aren't really looking for jobs and enjoying the paid vacation because they're getting enough to survive. That's not me. I really would like to have enough money to pay my student loans, and to put the money back into savings I had for Cora.
6. The car fiasco. I got a fair settlement for my car, but not really enough to buy a new one. My car was a 99 Corolla LE with 119,000 miles on it. It was fully loaded; sunroof and all that jazz. The most comparable thing I could find was a 2002 Corolla LE with 90,000 miles on it, no sunroof. It's also missing the keyless entry thingy, which is annoying and will cost a chunk of cash to replace. It's also an automatic instead of a standard, which I guess is good since I won't need to replace a clutch anytime soon, but I hate driving an automatic. I don't like the car as much. I liked my old car. This one smells odd and it's louder. But whatever. I paid $600 more for it than what the insurance company valued for my car. Which meant $1600 (since I had a $1000 deductible). Plus tax title and shit. So, $2400 more. Which drained my savings, which wasn't even my money, it was Cora's money. But what can you do. I needed a reliable car, husband's working odd hours. And of course, there was the annoyance of dealing with used car salesmen, which I'm still dealing with. They continuously lied to my face. Even about things that didn't matter. Even about stuff that I could verify. After repeatedly calling them on their bullshit, the guy asked me what I did. I told him I'm a lawyer. You think that'd stop the bullshit. Nope.
The brakes were clearly bad on the car, and I told them I wasn't buying the car unless they fix the brakes, even though they swore the first thing they did when they got the car was do an inspection and they fixed the brakes. So they were supposed to be fixing the brakes while we're signing the papers. Turns out the shop's closed. So, they say they'll fix the brakes on Monday. I go to the shop on Monday, it isn't done. I wait for an hour, the mechanic guy says there's nothing wrong with the brakes, they had put on all new brake pads, and it's just the type of brake pads. You just have to brake so much harder with the type of pads we put on. WTF? I mean, seriously. Do I have STUPID stamped across my forehead?
At that point, I'm like, fuck it. I don't want them touching my car again, I want the brakes fixed and I want it done right. I have it in writing they were going to fix the brakes. They told me they put new brake pads on. I also have it in writing the sale is subject to inspection by my mechanic. So, I take it to my mechanic and tell him what they told me about the brakes. He starts laughing. Yeah, there are no new brake pads on the car. The rear ones are still fine, but needed all that cleaning/rotating stuff, and the front brake pads have less than 20% left on them. I pay for new brake pads and install, etc. and he gives me the "new" brake pads the dealership put on the car. (They apparently meant "new" as in "never been on this car before" as opposed to "new" as in "never been used before." Assholes.) Anyway, the car now safely comes to a stop without having to slam on the brakes and just hoping for the best.
I plan to write an extremely nasty letter to the dealership, asking for a check in the amount of the brake service, and then plan to sue them in district court when they ignore me. I know it's not enough money to really be worth it, but since they will have to hire an attorney in order to defend the case, because they can't just send a representative as that would be the unauthorized practice of law, it will cost them more to go to court than it will to just pay me for my brake pads. Even if I lose for some reason, (maybe some boiler plate language on the back of some page that negates the agreement about the brakes), it's still satisfaction there. I will also be giving them as much negative publicity as possible on every rating available.
I mean, seriously. Brake pads are like $70. They couldn't just say, hey, the car needs new brake pads. Needs new wiper blades too. The car is sold as is. The brakes need work, but brake work is cheap. That's as low as we can go on the price. It's $70! Why lie about it? Why stand there and lie to my face? Because they're used car salesmen. I don't think they'd know the truth, if it actually came out of their mouths.
7. Why lawyers are better than used car salesmen: I've been doing pro bono work for a local non-profit that is affiliated with my University's children's hospital. It is set up to provide free legal services for those who have children being treated at the hospital and need assistance. It is remotely possible that they will be actually hiring an attorney in the near future; they are applying for a big grant, and if they get one, they'll have enough to get an attorney and a social worker. I told the lady I was super interested, even if it's part time, because I would love to do public interest work (and actually pay my bills).
Most of what I'm doing is landlord-tenant. Here's a funny thing: I LOVE Landlord-Tenant, and I'm really good at it. I nailed my own landlord a few years ago before I even went to law school (from a past apartment complex where we lived before we bought our house), and this past winter I helped a friend get out of her lease and get her deposit back from her slumlord. The laws aren't really crafted to protect the tenant, but because of that landlords tend to do some really outrageous stuff because they think they don't have any responsibility to their tenants. And it affords me the opportunity to write nasty letters to slumlords, quoting them the law, and telling them what they're gonna be doing and how if they don't, they'll be getting the smack laid down on 'em, bitches! Only a little more polished and professional. I'm hoping to get some cases involving denying insurance benefits, because I'd love to get into with some insurance companies. I hate dealing with that stuff when it's mine, but on behalf of other people, the fangs come out.
8. Speaking of fangs: True Blood is awesome this season. That is all.
9. Interviews: I've had two interviews so far. One with my own car insurance agency for an adjuster position. They'll be adding another adjuster in January/February. Dunno if I'm ready to give up the practice of law to take a job I didn't need a law degree to even get. It would be one thing if it was a litigation adjuster position, but once the claims end up in court, an office in the midwest handles those claims. But at least it's a fall-back option. Otherwise, great pay, great benefits, not a lot of working hours.
And (literally) across the street, is the law firm I had my other interview with. I know half the attorneys there, I used to work with them. Most were from Crappy Midsize Firm that pushed me out during my maternity leave. At least part of the reason I got pushed out was because one of those attorneys (now working at this new firm) had left with a few associates and staff and took all their clients with them, so, hurting for money, the partners cleaned house to get rid of anyone making too much money (i.e. me, the guy whose name was first on the door, etc.) and who they felt wasn't contributing enough to making them rich and paying for their multi-million dollar houses, because they're greedy bastards. (Former Named Partner was in a better position than I was, told them to screw off, took all of his clients with him that, for some reason, the others thought would stay with their firm, and took two attorneys with him as well. They miscalculated, thinking he would take a huge pay cut to go "of counsel" and let them milk his clients dry. Oops. A few other associates left during that time as well, taking their own clients and even some of the partners' clients too. It was quite nasty to say the least.)
Anyway, so it's insurance defense. But it doesn't sound like sweatshop insurance defense. The billable hour requirement is 1800/year, but I was assured I wouldn't be held to that in my first few years, because they know how difficult it is when you're a new associate to bill that much. I can bring in my own clients and keep 50%. Vacation time isn't really set. They say two weeks, but if you've got your billable hours in, they aren't monitoring when you work/your every move. It's a casual office. Everyone's wearing khakis and jeans and flipflops. You are expected to keep a suit in your office in case something comes up. There's lots of travel, but I expected that. All insurance defense firms in the city travel to smaller counties across the state. As long as I'm not on the Bluegrass Parkway at night, don't think I'll have a problem with that. I like that the firm's not downtown; it's literally five minutes away from my house, and five minutes away from Cora's daycare. No stupid parking issues, no traffic jams, no construction, and I could even go to the gym (which is in the same center) before, after or during work.
I think the interview went well, but I'm always afraid to get my hopes up. I've had great interviews and not gotten the job, and interviews where I just sit there and think, "Wow, this person is soooo not into me," and then get a job offer. I think the firm would be a good fit, and I'd enjoy the work. It's insurance defense, but it's... interesting. If I get the job, I'll extrapolate a bit more on the type of litigation.
10. Readjusting. I've called an emergency girls' night for this evening because it was either I hang with my girlfriends and drink heavily, or I have to call upon my friend who's a pathologist to convince a jury that Husband hit himself repeatedly over the head with a shovel, and there was no foul play involved in his untimely demise.
Friday I completely lost my shit. Husband is driving me crazy. He hasn't started working nights yet, which will help considerably, because then, I won't see him as much. It's getting as bad as it was last summer. We cannot spend that much time together, and he cannot be home that much with nothing to do. He is driving me crazy. CRAZY. I've been really really busy, with juggling a lot of stuff. Job-hunting, interviewing, law firm development, networking, meeting with clients, doing research, being at the office helping my office mate, doing the pro bono work, dealing with the car issues, dealing with the unemployment bullshit, dealing with my mother, my great aunt died (who was like a grandmother to me) and I couldn't go to her funeral in New York because we just didn't have the money for both me and my mom to go, plus we'd have had to take Cora, so we gave Mom money to go by herself instead, and of course, I'm home with Cora on Mondays and Tuesdays, and had her most of the evenings this week, because Husband was working and then he was hanging out with the guys Thursday night. It's been crazy. I was up until 1am on Thursday night getting work done, because I just haven't had the time otherwise. I have a half-written article for Ms. JD that is overdue, and I need to find the energy to finish. I just haven't had any time, nor have I had any time for myself. I hadn't watched any television all week. I'd been in the middle of S3E3 of True Blood for two weeks, and hadn't finished watching it (even knowing there was the totally effed up neck-twisting vampire sex scene at the end of the episode to look forward to). I haven't been to the gym in two weeks. This is literally the first afternoon I've had to myself in two weeks.
And I've spent it blogging! But I needed to. I needed to clear my head and figure out what the hell happened the last two weeks, because it's truly all a blur. Now I can move forward. Hopefully I'll know something soon about the job. And if I don't get the job, I continue moving forward with my law firm, and I'll just need to get the website launched. Hopefully I won't have to draw anymore from unemployment either way, and can be rid of that hassle after next week.