Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Charts and Calls

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Total Black: $63.19
Total Red:$231,259.60

A few days ago I received a comment suggesting and requesting a budget and income analysis.  It got me thinking that a few visual aids might help me, and my readers, to gauge my progress.  So, I spent the better part of today tooling around with excel spreadsheets trying to graph my data.  In Third Day of Accounting I included an excel chart that showed total red from the prior two days of accounting.  I didn’t have time to update that chart for my Fourth Day of Accounting.  I thought I’d start with charting my total black and total red for each day.  That chart didn’t come out looking as clean as I thought, so it’s on hold.  It’s not what the commenter requested, or suggested, but it’s a start.  See, a budget implies income and expenses.  These past few weeks I’ve mostly had expenses.  It’s hard to budget when your income shifts from week to week.  I can chart my expenses, but I kinda covered that in Cutting Costs, Corners . . . and Concerns.  But I promise to make my entries a bit more visually stimulating.  Perhaps that’s a task I can accomplish while relaxing over the Thanksgiving holiday at my mother’s.

I also spoke today with my pro bono client.  As I continued reviewing her files and preparing to dive back into her case, I started thinking about any loose ends that should be tied up.  One loose end is a defendant that showed up once in the case, as in literally showed up to court, but never answered her complaint or participated in the litigation since.  That was in February 2008.  In legal terms, he’s in default.  When one party is in default, the other can seek a default judgment against him, which means that his failure to participate must mean he concedes liability.  The catch, however, is that in New York there’s a one-year time limit on going after a defaulting party.  That time limit ran back in April or March 2009, which means that’s yet another instance of malpractice on the firm’s part.  So, I called the client today to talk with her and explain to her what that means.  She was not at all happy, especially since the defaulter was the primary wrong-doer in the case.  The bulk of the backstory I covered in My First Client, but in short, the person in default was the building superintendent, and he’s the one who harassed and bothered her after her eviction and who ultimately moved her personal property into the self-storage units that led to this lawsuit.  The first course of action will be to send a stern letter to this guy and try and smoke him out, perhaps get him to make an appearance.  If that happens, the one-year limit would reset and the problem would be resolved.  Not the most commendable thing to do, but I’m not working with much here.  If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to seek default judgment from the court anyway, and ask that the one-year time limit be waived for some reason.  And if that doesn’t work, the only option left would be to sue the firm for malpractice.  The statute of limitations on legal malpractice though is three years in New York, so we have some time.  And that course of action might not be necessary just yet.  The problem is that the super committed all the wrongful conduct in the lawsuit and without him, it makes it that much more difficult to get at the landlord.  All they need to do is throw their hands up and play victim and claim that the super acted outside the scope of his authority.  Without him in the case to point the finger back at the landlord, a jury could find that he was primarily liable and ultimately sink her case.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Still, it’s an important lesson to learn early on.  It’s easy to fuck up a case.  And for my client, this wouldn’t be all that bad.  A legal blog, Above the Law, reported on another large law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, screwing up a death row inmate’s claim.  Sure he can sue them for malpractice, but he’s still going to be executed.  What’s he going to do with whatever amount of money he might recover, get his cell painted a nicer shade?  I wonder how much malpractice might have already occurred since large law firms shed the bulk of their associates.  I was working on two cases at the time and my firm fucked this one up.  There’s gotta be more instances.  Just another example of seemingly intelligent lawyers acting like asses.  One would think they’d think through the ramifications of their actions.  Instead they jerked their knees in an effort to keep from getting fucked in the rear by the market.  Guess their bottom (lines) were more important than their ethical commitments to clients.

While I was on the phone with my pro bono client (the call took ninety minutes—she’s very long-winded), I received a call from New World Stages.  They want me to start sooner.  I was slated to start on December 2nd.  Now instead tomorrow will be my first day.  In fact, I could have worked more shifts this week but I’m heading back to Pennsylvania on Wednesday for Thanksgiving and won’t be back in New York until next Monday.  I’ll have to post from the Scranton area.  Perhaps I’ll tie that in to my entries this week.  Hmm . . .  At any rate, already next week I’m working four shifts at the theatre.  Each starts at 7 p.m.  Not sure when they go until.  Two days ago I ushered my third of three volunteer shifts.  I covered My First Time; the title says it all.  From what I gathered speaking to a few of the employees, theatre staff cover a number of tasks: bartending, ticket taking, ushering, and concession sales: t-shirts, CDs, candy and snacks, and so on.  Getting bartending experience out of this gig would be an awesome bonus because I could turn that into instant cash.  Matthew Richardson of Bitter Lawyer posted a great article titled “The Wrong Side of the Bar,” all about his efforts at moonlighting as a bartender.  Of course, I too lived the lifestyle he writes about.  It’s just that mine is now catching up with me.  He’s still got the large law firm job.  If I do get a bartending gig, hopefully mine won’t be as short-lived as his.

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