Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Semicolon And

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Total Black: -$28.87
Total Red: $230,428.32

I spent a few hours over the weekend helping my colleague again. Yes, the same colleague who has not yet paid me for work done in August and who seems to trigger multiple comments. I guess I’m a sucker for helping people in need. But in his defense, I don’t think he’s billed the company yet for our hours, so it’s not that he’s holding out on me. He’s received an offer from the government office we both worked pro bono at so he needs to finish up his consulting work as quickly as possible. You can’t work as a government attorney and have clients on the side.

As we were going over one of the documents, he expressed concern that the way the lawyer on the other side of the transaction had structured certain provisions didn’t capture all my colleague wanted. We started talking about it and discussing how to rework it. He explained that he wanted to make clear that each event had to occur together with the others. He was concerned that the other side failing to perform one of the four or five specified actions might mean that they were in default or had breached the agreement as to that one provision, but were otherwise in compliance. The way the language and various provisions read, well it didn’t really make explicit that each item was linked to the next and were in succession. So, I chimed in, rather lackluster in fact, with a suggestion to just add a semicolon and then an “and” after each provision. That would link all four or five sections to each other and would read as one unified whole. It seemed a quick fix and any court, should a breach occur, would see that all had to happen together. I didn’t really give it another thought until he paused to praise me.

He explained that he wouldn’t have thought of doing that and noted that what I suggested really shows my training at the law firm. He took an atypical path after graduating law school and really hasn’t practiced law in a formal sense. Nonetheless, he’s pretty adept at SEC filings and taking companies public—something few BigLaw associates have ever done start to finish on their own, without help from anyone else. I was taken aback, however, by his comment. I’m not sure if I can attribute that training to the firm. Perhaps it is best attributed to my experience on law review. Or my master’s degree. Or my nerdy appreciation for rules of grammar and citation. But maybe not. Maybe it is something that I picked up during my years at the law firm. It’s really an insignificant grammar point, but for a moment I was able to look back on my tenure as a BigLaw associate and be thankful for it. Up to that point, no one had ever praised my abilities and linked it with having worked at a large, corporate law firm. It was an odd but enjoyable moment. It’s good to know that I left the firm with more than just increased debt.

Speaking of which, total black is back in the red again. At least until payday on Thursday. The subway money I referenced in A Cold Blustery Walk Home finally posted today. It exceeded five dollars by a few cents and so therefore doesn’t fall within Bank of America’s new insufficient funds fee policy. I got hit with a thirty-five dollar fee. I had also purchased a Starbucks coffee and a snack last week. That too took awhile to post. Another thirty-five dollar fee. I ended up in the negative because I was a little too generous with my tip last week at the theatre’s holiday party. Well, that’s not true . . . not exactly. I did intend to leave ten dollars as a tip, but mostly because the bartender only charged me for a fraction of what I ordered. That purchase finally posted, pulled me under, and then left me negative for the two five dollar charges I referenced. I’ll be on the honker to Bank of America again to see if I can get any of those fees returned. In Fifth Day of Accounting I referenced Suze Orman’s Back to Cash Movement and explained that I agreed to swear off using my credit cards for six months. I was a bit unsure whether I would count debit cards in with credit cards as you’re not using credit. Well, today’s lesson is that cash means cash. Period.

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