Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Awkward!

My friend (we'll call her L), for whom I do part-time work, just hired a new temporary secretary for her office. When L told me who her candidates were, I told her I knew both of them. The first one I used to work with at a previous office. The second one I knew only by name -- I used to "date" her husband (we'll leave it at that). As far as I know, she doesn't know what my past relationship was with her husband. But still. Awkward! And of course, guess which one L picked? (I swear she picked her at least in part to amuse herself.)

Actually, she's great. She's bright and cheerful, and eager to do work and learn new stuff, which is exactly what L needed. (The regular secretary is incredibly old and currently out on medical leave, and L's hoping she'll just retire. She actually has pictures she snapped with her phone of the old lady sleeping at her desk. And that's apparently when she's being her most productive. But she's been there forever and L's dad won't get rid of her, much to her chagrin.)

Anyway, I had an awkward conversation with the new secretary today since L had mentioned that I know her husband and his siblings, as we went to school together. It was so awkward that I had been holding up a stack of papers I was reading in front of the monitor (I suspect I need bifocals, I was doing the old lady squinting thing), when the secretary walked in to give me something and was like, oh hey, I heard you grew up in Smallville, you know my husband... I realized half-way through the conversation (as I was stammering through, like, oh yeah, I was totally friends with his brother, I barely knew him, how's his family, haven't seen them in forever...) that I was weirdly still holding up the papers. Like, oh man, I'm such a dweeb. However, she asked if my maiden name was something different, belonging to another girl who I know also "dated" her husband (we have the same first name). So even if she thought I was that girl, I'd say she definitely thought I'd been cavorting with her husband. And possibly even during their marriage, which would definitely be super awkward, because I know they were separated for awhile, and that other girl was around him at that time, so who knows. (That ain't me. The last time I saw him was before they were together, back in 1999. I don't do married guys. Other than the one I married, and he's lucky if he's gettin' any these days. Heh.) Anyway, it's all kinds of awkward. I'm like, oh lord. I'm about a decade separated from this kind of silly drama, how does it still follow me around?

I don't know why it's so awkward though. Hell, my college roommate ended up marrying a guy I previously "dated," they've got three kids, and we're all friends. I'm good friends with two of Husband's exes. One was holding my hand when I was in labor (while Husband was off having bloody marys in a basement bar with his father and my mother), and the other was one of my attendants in our wedding. Husband is friends with both their husbands, one of which was one of his attendants. I guess it's just the uncertainty of whether this chick would care. I get the impression that a lot of women are incredibly jealous when it comes to other women having dated/slept with/getting anywhere near their men. That's not me, and I totally hate jealous guys (and girls). So, I'm always afraid other women are going to be all jealous and crazy about their men and I tend to proceed with caution. Like, it took a little while to be friends with Husband's most recent ex (they had just broken up a few months before we started dating). I think we were both feeling each other out. Like, do you hate me? No? Okay, I don't hate you, so that's cool. Hey, I like you, you're fun, let's be friends!

It's just funny. And awkward, very very awkward. Of course, L told the rest of the office too, so they're just all watching me squirm. Sigh. I'm such a dweeb. And if I've slept with any of your husbands, a decade ago, I do apologize. It was just a momentary thing, a fling, it meant nothing, I barely remember it, I was probably drunk, I bet I thought he was someone else, actually, maybe he was someone else. Yeah, we'll go with that...

Roundup #188

Is at PT-Lawmom. Back here next time.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My caseload

I've had a few inquiries wondering what the hell it is exactly I've been doing with myself.

Well, first, I work "20 hours" a week for the medical-legal partnership. I think at this point I'm owed a bit of comp time, but oh well. We'll consider the rest "volunteering." I spend two days at the clinic to be there for referrals and whatnot, and the rest of the time I'm available by email. I got three referrals by email this week during my "days off," that I've followed up on. One domestic, one housing and one SSI appeal. Our other part-time attorney was just admitted to the hospital while on vacation, and I think she'll be out for awhile. Busy busy. I've been to court a few times for them, and mediated twice. I have my first SSI disability appeal hearing next week, for a case I just got today. Nothing like having no time to prepare, awesome.

I also have been doing 2 1/2 days of contract work a week for my friend/her dad. That's going to court on occasion, but mostly preparing documents and doing research. They have a lot more interesting cases than I do, some of the stuff is actually really cool, and could make for TV drama. And of course sometimes I do silly stuff, like haul my fat ass onto a ladder to pull some property records from the county vault.


Mortgage Books 505 and 506, I hate you

I also occasionally pinch hit for a firm an hour away that does foreclosure all around the state, and hires local counsel to attend motion hours and master commissioners' sales. I don't have a problem taking people's houses away. Sucks you've fallen on hard times, but that's life. You lose your job, you can't pay your house, you have to get rid of the house. Nothing's free. My officemate can't understand how I can do that and be dedicated to poverty law at the same time. I don't see how there's a moral conflict.

My officemate and I have a few cases together, and I spend Friday afternoons at her office. There's a pro bono case that we're working, child support/custody. And there's a case where we're going to sue a local jail for letting our client get beat up by some rednecks, and then refusing him medical treatment for his head injury. I also did some paralegal work on a few federal criminal cases for my officemate and she's billing my time for it, so I'll get a little bit of money for that. We also have a weekly lunch date, which is fun. That's definitely something I missed being out east -- no lunch buddy. Lunch is my favorite time of day!

Anyway, I signed up on all the local warning order attorney lists, but have only gotten one appointment. Sucks. Those are quick, easy money, which is why everyone is on the lists. I try to find quick, easy jobs, but alas, I never seem to find them.

I have two low-value personal injury (rear-end whiplash) cases that will hopefully settle out without filing suit. I won't be taking any more of those, I don't personally care for auto accident Plaintiffs, and I don't have much money to front costs. I'm also too defense-oriented and I also think chiropractors are far worse than personal injury attorneys when it comes to ambulance chasing.

I'm representing a defendant in a civil suit for fraudulant inducement for investment in a corporation. It's in the jurisdiction I used to practice in. I tried to convince the guy to hire local counsel, but he was convinced (and he may be right) that he couldn't find local counsel that wouldn't be conflicted out. And for what I'm charging him, even when I have to make appearances in that jurisdiction, charging him for travel time is still cheaper for him than going with my old boss, who charges twice as much. (I've also been underbilling him for stuff to make his retainer last longer.)

I have one private child-custody and criminal defense client. The criminal matter resolved prior to trial, fortunately for my client because the matter is being dismissed (but unfortunately for me, totally bummed at not getting to first chair a trial I'd worked so hard at prepping). We've still got the custody issue to handle.

I withdrew from one client's domestic relations case because I foolishly took the sad sack's case (as a favor to a friend) without a retainer on the promise I would be paid within two months. When it was apparent he couldn't pay me, I just told the client to pay me when/what he could, but told him any costs I expended needed to be paid immediately, because I can't afford to pay to represent him. He was a hot mess, probably still is, and never paid the costs I fronted to represent him (like $50), not to mention the $1000 in attorney fees he racked up, and my cost of traveling to a surrounding county several times on his behalf. Lesson learned.

I have a homeowner's association as a client that far exceeds the drama level of most of my family law clients. Seriously, it is some crazy drama. I mediated, and later settled, a fair housing discrimination claim against them, and next I'm suing their former manager because they fired her, in part for refusing to disclose the financial records to the board, and she still refuses to return any of the financial records. (Gee, wonder why that could be.) I'll also be periodically foreclosing on people's condos when they fail to pay their HOA dues long enough. Again, refer back to not caring to take away people's houses.

Then, of course, I've got all of my lovely court appointments in dependency, neglect, abuse court a/k/a DNA court. Oddly named, I know. Actual DNA (as in, who's the baby daddy?) is known as paternity court here. I serve as both GAL and also take appointments as parents' attorney, which pays a max of $500 per case, making it quasi-pro bono by the time the case is done, which could be a year or so. I do have some interesting cases and it's been very good experience. I can only get appointments in two surrounding counties that have the same judge, because she keeps an open list. Unlike my own county, which I'm not sure who you have to bribe to get on the list, because it is closed and wait-listed. So, I've got about a half-dozen cases from those two counties. The judge is currently serving out a rather lengthy suspension, as there was apparently drama, but I like her well enough. She's nice to me, and hasn't tried to rip my head off and eat me for lunch. Can't say that about every judge I've been before, ugh.

I'd say when it's all said and done, I end up with a little over $2000 a month in my personal checking account ($1400 less than I took home as an associate at my previous job, and had the benefit of free health insurance... of course I get to live in my own house full time now, so it's a trade-off I guess). That's withholding for taxes, and of course, paying all the fun expenses that come with practicing law, from office supplies, to postage, to parking, etc. So, basically, I'm making a little bit less money than I did as a legal assistant, and I racked up about $80K more in student loans for the trouble, while working longer hours and having a lot more stress. Awesome.

I would really like to figure out how to develop a practice that doesn't require spending all my time in court (and by spending, I mean wasting). Like, non-contested divorce, estate planning, stuff like that.

Oh, but I've got some pro bono matters too. A pro bono divorce that I'm still waiting on the client to attend her parenting class since like September. Then a pro bono criminal matter where I'm trying to get my client out of jail since his probation was revoked and the judge has yet to rule on my motion and it's been nearly two weeks. And I do random stuff for friends and family. For instance, today I went to court and got Husband's traffic ticket dismissed. Okay, so that was actually a situation of my creation, so I guess it's fair I take care of it. He was driving my car (his was in the shop) and I had a headlight out. So while he was leaving McDonald's at midnight Thursday night to satisfy my preggo craving of a strawberry-banana smoothie, he got pulled over, because our city's finest really has nothing better to do these days. And of course he couldn't find my proof of insurance. So I got the headlight fixed and brought the insurance card to the courthouse and got the ticket dismissed. Didn't really take a law degree for that one, but oh well.

However, as a warning to all peace officers out there who are thinking of pulling over a man who is bringing the object of a midnight craving to his pregnant wife... I think this accurately describes the potential fail of delaying said midnight craving:


"Where's my fuckin' smoothie, bitches?!"

In the future, I suggest you flip on that siren and give the man an escort home at dangerously high speeds.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Text message exchanges...

... with my mother. Sigh.

Exchange 1: (two weeks ago)

Mom: Fwd: FWD: Fwd: FWD: Sheronda wrote: Fwd: FWD: Anthrax poison in Tide detergent packs coming thru the mail do not open or use. 7 people dead already.

Me: That's not true.*

Mom: Are you sure

Me: Is it the lead story on the 6 o'clock news?

Mom: I don't know

Me: Then it's not true. There is also no Easter bunny.

Mom: Funny and there's no santa claus either

Me: Way to kill the Christmas spirit.

Mom: You are funny aren't you little old to believe in santa

Me: And you're still too young to believe everything you get by random text message!

Mom: I only sent that text to see if you read or heard about it

Me: Sure. ;)


Exchange No. 2: (today)

Mom: What do you think of the name Rosalie for a girls name

Me: It's exactly like Coralie?

Mom: No it's not

Me: How is it not? It rhymes with it. All same except first three letters.

Mom: I think it's a pretty name** Rosalie you can call her Rosa

Me: Nevermind the fact it rhymes with Cora's name and incorporates her middle name which is Rose. Why don't we just name all the kids George like George Foreman?

Mom: Funny lol how about Magdalene

Me: We aren't that Catholic.


* It's not true. You know how tough it is to create weaponized anthrax? No one wastes perfectly good weaponized anthrax on random wahoos that use detergent samples out of the Sunday paper. Snopes agrees.

** For the record, while Rosalie isn't a bad name, other than the fact it would be ridiculous to name two siblings Coralie and Rosalie, it's simply a reflection on my mother's poor judgment in naming. I only escaped being saddled with an awful, cutesy two-first-name combo that invokes images of big blond hair and country music, because my father found a more reasonable name in a baby book and vetoed her name selection. I would look terrible as a blond, and I hate cowboy boots.

Monday, January 24, 2011

MILP Roundup #187

Is at Butterflyfish.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making plans

Not sure what the future will hold. It's difficult to make plans, which is definitely something I dislike.

Husband is being recruited for a job where he used to work. It would be a great deal more money, but it sounds like it would be a lot more hours. The benefits would be better too, and the work more interesting, but not sure that's a good trade off for the extra hours. So, he's got some decision-making to do. He likes where he is, but isn't sure he fits in.

I, on the other hand, need to figure out what to do with myself. I'm not really happy doing what I'm doing now. It's the lack of permanency, lack of structure, I'm just unhappy. I'm getting burned out on practicing law, and I don't even know if I want to continue to practice at all. I just want to get my debt paid off and figure out what to do with myself. When I think about practicing, I want to go back to a mid-size firm, I want to have a regular paycheck, and know what is expected of me. I want to know what I'm doing. But until the market improves, I don't think that will happen. I guess in the meantime I need to keep doing what I'm doing. Building up my practice experience and, unfortunately, often learning the hard way when I screw up.

After the baby is born, I'm going to take some time off from practice. I'll just do my part time work for the MLP and just enjoy snuggling with a new baby, catch up on some reading and figure out where I go from there. In the meantime, I need to work on getting some debt paid off so I can take that time and that means stepping up the workload over the next nine months.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yet another reason law school ruined my life

I was looking at this summer program, which I would love to do. I want to try to get back into IR and the like. I think if I actually manage to someday pass the fitness test for that federal job I so desperately want, that such things would help boost my resume. However, there is no way in hell I want to send them my law school transcript.

Not only did my law school grades consist mainly of mediocre B's and C's, and never even a proper A, just A minuses, but especially considering my craptastic final semester, my transcript is embarassing. That final semester is when the asshole nonprofits prof decided to be a dick and give 1/3 of the class (including me) a C-, after working us half to death the entire semester at the detriment of our other classes, posted the grades in the middle of finals week (and 16 hours before my International Law final), which caused me to have an emotional breakdown and completely effing bomb my International Law final, getting a grade I had never seen before: a D+. It was the domino effect of fail. I have no idea what happened on that final. I think I wrote something like "alien torts are tasty." I dunno. It was epic. Although pretty embarassing considering my background in the topic, at that point, I just didn't give a shit. I mean, I had a job lined up, and as the law school managed to perform its final act of nonconsensual buggery, I just took it and went on with life. And really, who cares. Some of my friends at the top of the class didn't have jobs until after bar results came out, and some of those friends are currently making less money than I am. And it's true, no one will ever ask my class rank or gpa again. (Which is good, because I honestly don't know what either one of those numbers is, nor do I plan to find out.)

But if I ever want to go back and do anything like the Columbia program that's academic, I feel like my law school career will stop me. My graduate school grades were fabulous, because I actually liked graduate school and gave a shit. But now it's this black mark on my academic record, which pisses me off. If not for that last semester, I would probably still apply to the program and while not feeling stellar about my chances, at least not be embarassed to apply.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MILP Roundup #186

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup** is hosted on a rotating basis at the PT-LawMom, Attorney Work Product and Butterflyfish blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday. Next week Butterflyfish will have it.

First, congrats to Butterflyfish who has a new Angelfish!

LL has tidbits.

PT-Lawmom has a new love: he's square but he's hawt.

Googiebaba has dinosaurs (and an open invitation for the party!)

LC is surviving.

The Wild Northwest Litigator has an app for that.

Jenny starts the semester off... with the plague.

The Cowgirl in the City is putting things in order.

Shan gets grades.

-R- is hoarding Christmas, and trying not to panic.

The Erbgarden has time travel.

CM is looking for bath tips.

E.H. is overcome by the spirit.

RG is looking respectable.

Dakota recaps the holidays.

SuzieJD is feeling rejected.

Momttorney found a new bed.

The Southern Female Lawyer is now the Shameless Domestic Hussy, is taking a legal sabbatical and is knocked up.

[And, that reminds me, apparently I'm knocked up too. Cora is unimpressed, and my bewbs hurt. That's about the extent of it.]

Join us next time for the Roundup over at Butterflyfish!

If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like us to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.

**Hat tip to the “original” Roundup Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Giving up, giving in, giving out

I'm not sure which it is. But I think I'm going to take the additional hours at my friend's office. I'm just burned out on my own stuff, and realize, I just can't handle all this alone. I don't want the responsibility of solo practice, and considering the shockingly bad result we had in court today on that other matter, I'm just done with it. Something my husband said about nursing, that you can't wallow in grief over losing one patient, because on that shift you have other patients that need you, and need you at your best. So, I've pushed through today, getting stuff done that I needed to do. After going back to my office and crying for about 10 minutes, of course. (My office mate was like, oh crap.) Then we talked it through and I felt better that there was nothing more I could have done, and we talked strategy for the future. I have to say too, that the other attorneys in court today were very nice to me too. Two of the public defenders, and another more seasoned private attorney were very kind. Unlike the judge who was decidedly not nice, but oh well. It's one of those times that I really miss where I was practicing before... where they don't eat their young. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Random thoughts

I don't have the focus to write a full post on my career issues. Let's just say I have decisions I need to make. Foonberg's right about not being able to build a legal practice while half-assing it (he put it more eloquently, of course). My hesitation continues to be that I just don't want to practice by myself, but I feel like I'm making a mistake if I give it up so soon. Not to mention, I've at least partially invested in it.

Still, there are things about solo practice that I really really hate. One of it is the billing. I want to write down my time and have it magically turn into money. I don't want to spend an entire day once a month just making bills and checking them and double-checking them and sending them out and going to the bank and probably failing at math and then not paying myself on accident and wondering why the hell I'm $200 over in my escrow account (better over than under I guess). Yeah. These are things I do not enjoy.

I like practicing law. I don't like being the end all, be all of the decision-making. I've been practicing for like 10 minutes, what do I know. I want the training wheels back on the bike, I'm wobbling.

There's the rainmaking, which I really don't mind at all. I'm a social butterfly, I like meeting new people and making new contacts, and my background in sales helps quite a bit. But it's also an exhausting activity, and something I don't really feel like doing when I've already worked 50 hours that week. So for right now, I don't feel like rainmaking.

I don't see how I can possibly make any money from the court appointments. While I've got 5 cases right now, they eat up my time by sitting around in the courthouse waiting for my case to be called. I don't know why it takes so long, but it does. The other day I had the 10:45 case. I got called at 1pm. The obvious solution would be to just arrive later, but the one day I was ten minutes late coming from a hearing in another county, I missed the hearing. Ugh. Does not bode well for good time management.

I also hate most of my clients. I thought solo practice meant I could choose my own clients. I can't. I have to take what I can get, and the court appointments are even worse. When they call me, I want to throw the phone out the window. Tired of them.

Clearly, I need a change. But I'm hesitant to make one. I'm in limbo. I need stability.

My friend and her dad offered me more hours at their firm. It's still contract work, and doesn't pay well. But it's enough to live on, and would be more than I'm currently making, really. It would mean getting off the court appointment list and likely not practicing on my own anymore.

I dunno what to do. If I'm gonna practice on my own, I need a real office and I need someone to do all the stupid billing stuff for me, because I clearly fail at it. I would need to devote myself to it, and not feel so schizophrenic about it. But I still want the MLP to turn into a full time job. (They're sending me to Baltimore in March for a conference. Seems promising.)

I just can't figure out what I want to do with myself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

MILP Roundup #184

Is at Butterflyfish. Enjoy!