Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Archive for October 2009

A Financial New Year

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Total Black: $3,353.25
Total Red: $230,569.24

I opened a piece of mail today that I received yesterday or the day before.  I’m not sure when exactly.  The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance sent it.  I knew what it regarded, so I figured there wasn’t much rush.  Well, it turns out the NY IRS equivalent has filed a tax lien against me.  I owe $2,973.16 cents.  Ironically within about ten minutes of opening that letter, I received an automatic email alert from Equifax with the same information.  So, it’s now on my credit report.  I’m trying to keep my chin up and stay positive as I noted a few days back on Eyes on the Prize.  But it’s getting more and more difficult.  I fear that even the strongest will and the best intentions can’t make things get better on their own.  I need a job.  If I still had the previous contract attorney position, I could have paid this tax lien in two paychecks.  Sometimes it seems I was better off when I was on unemployment.  I don’t know how that could be though.  Keep reading . . .

The Days of My Life

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Total Black: $3,164.09
Total Red: $230,663.35

I’ve been feeling like my life is a bit of a soap opera.  Kind of fitting to title a blog entry accordingly. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 30, 2009 at 22:26

Eyes on the Prize

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Total Black: $3,921.09
Total Red: $230,663.35

I had another interview with a temporary attorney staffing agency today.  That’s makes four interviews this week and five in the past seven days.  A lot of smiling faces and hopeful talk, but so far nothing’s materialized into a job.  But that’s clearly the wrong approach to take. Keep reading . . .

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October 29, 2009 at 23:05

Landlord v. Laid-Off Lawyer

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Total Black: $4,219.15
Total Red: $230,663.35

Well, it’s begun.  The suggestion in One Step Back, Two Steps Forward that I was just overreacting was unfounded.  I arrived home today from back-to-back interviews with attorney temporary staffing agencies to find a postcard in the mail from the Civil Court of the State of New York informing me that a lawsuit had been commenced against me and advising me to respond.  I guess the landlord’s attorneys have not discontinued their action against me, as I suspected in It Just Bugs Me, even though rent for September and October has already been sent in. Keep reading . . .

It Just Bugs Me

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Total Black: $2,255.14
Total Red: $230,648.00

As typical of the past few months, I was awoken again this morning by the telephone ringing.  The first caller was SallieMae at 8:57am.  Surprisingly, however, the second caller was not.  SallieMae often calls from two different telephone numbers so they effectively call you twice as often.  Not sure how legal that is.  But today, the second call came from the landlord’s management company.  The letter I mentioned in Bring It On seems to have brought something on because within a half-hour of the landlord’s management company calling, their attorney telephoned as well.  His message indicated that he’d do his best to try to get the lawsuit for non-payment of rent discontinued.  Later in the day I received an email from the attorney slightly retracting that earlier message, claiming that I had said I’d be paid in full by this time and I’m not yet.  He also noted that they’re “looking into” my other complaint.  I replied and referenced only the financial issues and clarified that September’s rent had already been sent in, and should have been received already, and that half of October’s rent was coming.  Later in the day I received another telephone call, this time from someone else with the management company, telling me that he heard I had a “problem” with the apartment and he wanted to talk to me about it.  Isn’t it interesting that my “problem” all of a sudden is a concern of theirs? Keep reading . . .

Bring It On

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Total Black: $2,389.54
Total Red: $230,589.98

First day back being unemployed.  I won’t be able to resume collecting unemployment benefits, however, until at least a week has passed.  That’s how New York state runs its system.  You have to wait a week to get your benefits.  I don’t see the logic in that.  It’s not like your expenses or bills wait a week.  I truly hope much-needed common sense gets injected into the social services systems. Keep reading . . .

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October 26, 2009 at 22:58

Waiting For the Guilt to Subside

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Total Black: $2,638.40
Total Red: $230,589.98

I’m recovering slowly but surely from the drunken debacle that I wrote about in A Day Without a Post.   All that remains is some guilt and a few aches. Keep reading . . .

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October 25, 2009 at 19:16

A Day Without a Post

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Total Black: $2,642.01
Total Red: $230,360.63

I had wanted to finish this project with 365 posts: one for each day from August 9th, 2009 to August 9th, 2010. Yesterday was the first night I hadn’t posted in seventy-five days. I was in the emergency room instead. Keep reading . . .

Strategically Unstrategic

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Total Black: $1,078.26
Total Red: $230,212.47

It’s looking like the contract attorney position could be ending soon, perhaps even by tomorrow.  So, the Woman Who Sits Next To Me provided me with contact information for other temporary legal staffing agencies.  She also suggested that I sign up with The Posse List, a website and blog that provides information for and about contract attorneys.  I emailed each contact and signed up with the list.  A few leads she provided paid-off already.  I have appointments tomorrow and then Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week. Keep reading . . .

Should I Stay or Should I Go

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Total Black: $1,112.96
Total Red: $230,119.21

Total black today includes my earnings from the Recession Art Sale.  I am now an accomplished, and paid, art seller!  I had hoped that my gig money, like donation money received, could go straight towards my debts, but with the Rent Demand from the landlord, I might have to use that money to get current.  I get paid on Friday, so I might be able to “rescue” those funds from the landlord, but only if I net enough to cover September’s rent.  October’s might have to wait a week and November’s is just nine days away.  On second thought, maybe I need to dump all of my available income on rent. Keep reading . . .

Only Way Out Is Through

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Total Black: $826.61
Total Red: $230,080.21

A friend of mine reached out to me today to express his sympathy about the developments I mentioned in One Step Back, Two Steps Forward.  His email also conveyed his own frustration at his inability to help.  As I walked home from the temp job, I thought about his email and also about the frustrations expressed by the Woman Who Sits Next To Me regarding her own struggles with debt.  I thought I’d try to weave both together in this entry since they share a common element, namely that the only way out of something is just to get through it.  But there’s many ways to get through something and many ways to help others as they do. Keep reading . . .

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

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Total Black: $889.52
Total Red: $230,285.21

As I left my apartment this morning, I decided to stop by the post office on my way to work.  The temp position has had me going for roughly twenty-seven days straight now without a day off.  It’s getting difficult to recall which day of the week it is especially without weekends to mark time by.  I received a few notices from the post office of letters and packages they couldn’t deliver.  So finally today I thought I’d stop and pick them up.  I’m glad I did. Keep reading . . .

I Need a New Gig

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Total Black: $1,247.29
Total Red: $230,131.21

The temporary contract attorney position is nearing its end.  There’s a chance it could be extended.  A slimmer chance that I’d be one of those selected to stay on.  The Recession Art Sale has already ended.  So, it’s time for a new gig.  But what? Keep reading . . .

The Dearly Departed

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Total Black: $1,295.42
Total Red: $230,131.21

A year ago today I left the firm for good.  It must have been nearly 8pm that day.  It was a Friday.  I was there late even on my last day because, unlike other associates—one of whom, upon hearing that she was being laid off, walked out the door and didn’t return—I actually did what was asked of me.  I filed all my papers.  I archived all of my emails and documents.  I cleaned out my office and boxed up my own belongings.  And I said my good-byes. Keep reading . . .

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October 17, 2009 at 23:32

Pro Bono Publico

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Total Black: $1,312.95
Total Red: $230,131.21

A year ago today I was scurrying around at the firm, finishing up the cases I was working on and ensuring they were transferred to someone else.  One such case was a pro bono lawsuit on behalf of a homeless woman whose personal property had been denied her by her landlord and then by a storage facility.  Earlier this week I inherited that case once again.  Odd timing, no?  Effectively I will be a solo practitioner.  It’s a bit intimidating thinking about the upcoming deadlines and overall responsibility, but I’m committed to this client and her story.  Plus, in a sense, she’s my first client.  She was my first “client” while at the law firm, even though the firm, not the lawyers, has the clients.  And now she really will be my first client. Keep reading . . .

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October 16, 2009 at 23:57

Small Town Boy in the Big City

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Total Black: $22.71
Total Red: $230,281.21

Again Bank of America has walloped me with insufficient funds fees.  This time I don’t even know for sure just how.  A few days ago I received an email notice from Barnes & Noble alerting me to some difficulty processing a check card transaction.  A few months ago I purchased some items on Barnes & Noble and it slipped my mind that one of them wouldn’t be available until the Fall.  I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the transaction, so I figured I’d just let the order be canceled as Barnes & Noble suggested might happen if I didn’t update my order information.  Besides, I’m in savings mode now and those items were purchased before I began this project.  A day passed and another email alert arrived reminding me once more of the inability to complete the transaction.  And again I passed on it (not that I would have had money from anywhere to pull to cover the approximately forty dollar transaction).  The next day a new alert arrives thanking me for my purchase and providing me with the tracking number.  Huh?  I checked my checking account but no pending transaction was listed.  I figured that perhaps it was some other credit card I had used that suddenly became available.  I didn’t really care to go investigating.  Today I got alerted of insufficient funds fees and saw that somehow Barnes & Noble force through the order or Bank of America authorized it despite the lack of funds in the account.  This time, I will get my money back.  I’ve printed out all of the insufficient funds fee notices for the past month and I’m walking into the branch office near my job.  As Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported that “[b]eginning Oct. 19, Bank of America will stop charging any fees for customers who overdraw their accounts by less than $10 in a single day.  It will also limit the number of overdraft fees it charges to four a day, although the bank will continue to charge a fee of $35 per overdraft.”  Unfortunately, it looks like the bank is trying to garner as much money as it can before its new policy goes into effect. Keep reading . . .

The Difference a Year Makes

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Total Black: $115.36
Total Red: $230,281.21

It was a Tuesday morning.  I was still at home.  Typically, as I quickly learned to do, I’d check my blackberry upon waking and then a few times more throughout the morning before leaving for work.  I lived in Brooklyn then, in the Clinton Hill area, and so it took roughly forty-five minutes to get to Midtown and all manner of emails and voice mails could have transpired during that commute.  At least by checking before submerging, I’d have narrowed my chances of missing something.  This morning I had gotten up late and hadn’t bothered checking my blackberry.  When I finally did, I noticed a voice mail message waiting for me from a partner I wasn’t working with and with whom I hadn’t had much contact.  It meant one of two things: a new assignment or the ax had fallen.  It was the latter and I had four days to untangle my life from the firm, wrap up the matters I had been working on, and leave the firm for good.

That was a year ago today.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 14, 2009 at 23:54

Take Two

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Total Black: $113.55
Total Red: $230,281.21

I didn’t work fourteen hours today, despite my best intentions.  Once I hit 8pm and realized that I could leave before 10pm for the first time in over three weeks, well then I had difficulty staying longer. I did make it straight through for about eleven hours though.

Today’s post is short because one of the justifications for leaving “early” tonight was because I needed to finally put together the hours that I worked in August when I helped a colleague with his consulting work.  I’ve been dragging my feet on putting my hours together because it’ll be complicated reconstructing it now months later and because I’ve just been so tired.  It’s taking an enormous amount of energy right now to even keep writing.  I was tempted to just post total black and total red, per my commitment to this blog, and leave it at that.  I know it’s worth it though.  Getting rid of this debt will make all the difference in the world, not least of which is because it’ll free me to work for a “normal” government or public interest attorney salary.  With over $230,000 in debt, I couldn’t afford a $50,000 position.

This week will be a week of reflection for me.  This week last year is when the firm laid people off.  I thought I’d use these next few days to think back on different aspects of my time at the firm and on firm life and culture in general.  More on that tomorrow.

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October 13, 2009 at 23:04

Fourteen-Hour Days

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Total Black: $619.25
Total Red: $230,281.21

Now that the Recession Art Sale has ended, I’m left with only the contract attorney position.  And that will keep me very busy.  Today would have been my first day working straight through.  During the art sale I would leave the temp position for approximately four hours a day—generally during lunchtime hours.  Today I had to visit the doctor’s office for my two-week check-in for the medical experiment.  So, I was happy to have that interruption.  Testing the drug is coming along just fine.  No significant side-effects any longer.  Or at least none of the type described in Good News & BadKeep reading . . .

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October 12, 2009 at 23:11

Make the Man, Make the Money

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Total Black: $631.22
Total Red: $230,281.21

At the temp position today, one of the other contract attorneys gave me a fortune cookie.  I think he had received an extra with his order, so he offered it up and I said I’d take it.  I figured, “Why not?  I could use goodFortune fortune.”  Unlike fortune cookies from a few years ago, fortune cookies of today seem to have lost their foresight.  My fortune cookie read: “Wealth is not in making money, but in making the man while he is making the money.”  No fortune-telling there, just a bit of wisdom being passed on.  But for me, it is a very apt and timely “fortune.”  And one worth teasing out a bit further. Keep reading . . .

Third Day of Accounting

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It’s the 10th and my third day of accounting.

Total Black: $673.47

Here’s the Breakdown:

Primary Checking: $43.21
Secondary Checking $507.02
Savings $1.73
PayPal Account (Personal): $0.52
PayPal Account (Blog): $48.25
Amazon Payments Account $10.14
Mutual Funds Account: $62.60

FICO Score 565 (unchanged from last month)

Total Red: $230,280.28

Here’s the breakdown:

Credit Card Debt

MasterCard $5,650.00
Visa $8,050.00
Visa $5,728.28
American Express $2,500.00
Raymour & Flanagan Credit Line $5,698.98

Student Loan Debt

Federal Stafford Loans: $96,810.17
Private Student Loans: $33,891.93

Back Taxes

IRS (2007): $1,231.72
IRS (2008): $27,792.93
NY State (2008): $2,926.27

Other Loans

My mother: $40,000.00

Just in time for my third day of accounting, my internet service has been restored. It cost $538.70 too. I guess I was quite a bit behind. It’s been a busy past few days. Keep reading . . .

Same Story, Different Day

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Total Black: $785.02
Total Red: $230,311.86

I got paid today.  Reminds me how much I dislike taxes. My total pay was $2,770.00.  I took home $1,572.83. That’s $1,197.17 in taxes paid.  Insane!

As I walked into work this morning, my cellphone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, but since today was the last day for the Recession Art Sale, I figured I should answer it.  Could have been a buyer.  No.  Instead it was Bank of America looking for money.  So instead of paying rent, I had to use my check to pay the utility bill, the cable/Internet bill, the cellphone bill, and then two credit cards.

Internet has been paid but it’s not yet been restored.  I guess I’ll have to stop by Starbucks tomorrow to use the Internet.  I don’t feel comfortable trying to update my blog at the contract attorney position.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 9, 2009 at 23:40

Miracles of Modern Technology

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Total Black: $112.45
Total Red: $230,311.86

I came home tonight to find that my cable, telephone, and Internet service had been disconnected.  I’m posting this entry via my iPhone.  I’ll clean the post up tomorrow at the temp job when i get a chance.  I’ll also be able to pay the bill.  Hopefully my blogging efforts won’t be constrained tomorrow as well.  Thanks to these miracles of modern technology, I can still post my daily entries.

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October 8, 2009 at 23:20

Antics of an Art Salesman

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Total Black: $128.71
Total Red: $230,272.86

Well, so far I’ve sold three pieces of art.  That’s roughly a thousand dollars in commission already.  And we still have two more days to go. Keep reading . . .

Strategies and Specifics

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Total Black: $129.73
Total Red: $230,272.86

A number of people have asked me how I intend to get debt free in one year.  In the About Laid-Off Lawyer page I detailed the basics about this journey I’ve undertaken.  I’ve not yet mapped out the specifics in how I intend to accomplish this goal.  That’s mostly because I’m not clear on it myself. Keep reading . . .