Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

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.

The pro bono work of lawyers, and especially large law firms, and the support of the law firms, is one element of law firm life that I do miss.  No other profession seems to insist that its practitioners provide free services to the public.  I’ve asked doctors, chiropractors, and accountants.  It’s a wonderful and overlooked aspect to the practice of law.  Currently it is not mandatory.  Most bar associations strongly encourage a minimum of twenty hours a year.  That amount of time on any matter is borderline malpractice.  There is talk of making it mandatory that lawyers must take on indigent clients and do the work for free.  I support it.  While I was at the law firm I worked on multiple pro bono matters including the lawsuit mentioned above, research into legislation and policy efforts to stop prisoner rape, a lawsuit for damages caused when a doctor revealed his client’s HIV status, and two fifty-state surveys on prison policies and laws related to women in prison.  I enjoyed each matter, naturally for different reasons.  And each helped me hone different skills.

My first client’s case will get me trained on taking depositions.  And if it doesn’t settle, I’ll have a trial under my belt by the end of the year.

So, I’m happy to report that various things are turning around.  Today is the first time since starting this blog that total black is more than three digits.  Of course, all but a hundred or two of that money is already allocated to various credit card and other bills.  Unfortunately, there’s just over a week left to the contract attorney project.  But at least I’ve started the uphill climb.  Cell phone bill, utility bill, credit cards, and cable / internet are all just about current.

Now it’s off to bed.  I finally worked fourteen hours today and I’ll be pulling twelve tomorrow.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 16, 2009 at 23:57

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