Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Almost Unemployed . . . Again

with 6 comments

Total Black: $748.08
Total Red: $230,715.35

Today will be my last day working at New World Stages—at least for a month or so.  Two shows will close today: The Toxic Avenger Musical and Love ChildAltar Boyz will close on January 10, 2009.  For the next month or so, only Avenue Q and the Gazillion Bubble Show will be the primary two shows performed at the location.

Once the new season starts, management assured me they’d call me back to resume working at the theatre.  More than a few ushers and management told me that I’m one of their favorite new hires.  That really feels good to hear.  It’s not something you’d hear from lawyers. 

I’m feeling both relieved and a bit saddened at wrapping up the theatre gig.  Part of me is doubtful that I’ll actually be called back.  I don’t know why I feel that.  Maybe because I’m doubtful that people keep their word any longer.  Maybe too because I’m apprehensive that I’ll actually be available again come late January or February.  I couldn’t cease a great 10+ hour a day temp project to work again as an usher.  Well, at least not during the work week.  I suppose I could always usher weekends, time permitting.  I’m also feeling relieved, as I noted, because since I hopped on this usher treadmill I’ve not stopped going.  While I was working both the contract attorney and the usher positions, my daily posts fell behind.  Almost all have now been updated.  I believe only two remain outstanding.  I welcome a bit of a reprieve.

And it comes at a perfect time as I’ll be back in court in Landlord v. Laid-off Lawyer lawsuit again this week.  More landlord attorney shenanigans too.  The landlord’s attorney referenced the building management’s monthly exterminator visit as the inspection that we stipulated to conducting last time we were in court.  Of course, that exterminator said he did not find evidence of bedbugs.  Of course, that exterminator has a monthly contract with the landlord.  I’m sure he’d say whatever asked.  Plus, that “inspection” happened a month before we were in court.  Insane how these attorneys play fast and loose with overburdened court systems.  If you don’t have both hands on the wheel . . . .

Still no check from the colleague.  I don’t know if the mail was delayed or if he didn’t mail it yet, though he said he did.  I need that money for rent.  And like a schmuck here I sit on a Sunday afternoon, doing work for him yet again.  He’ll be employed in a few days so that’ll cut off this stream of income for good.  I trust after all these months he’ll pay me a decent amount.  He’s getting about $25,000 from both his and my time collectively that he billed the client.  Clearly he worked on these matters more than I, but I feel I should get at least $6,500 or so.  That’s fair, right?  Roughly a quarter.

No word yet on the new contract attorney position that I was told might start tomorrow.  Perhaps on Tuesday.  One temp attorney found permanent employment so the firm needs a replacement.  I’m available.  Nearly two months ago, in A Few Bits of Good News, I declared that I wouldn’t go back on unemployment.  I trust I’ll be able to keep that promise.  Fingers crossed.  I’m off to grab lunch and then usher.

6 Responses

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  1. If you didn’t discuss a fee beyond the $1500 you initially agreed to, I’m not sure how you feel entitled to $6500 now. You should have agreed to a set fee (dollar amount or percentage of his collections) beforehand and gotten it in writing.


    January 3, 2010 at 13:13

  2. It’s not a matter of entitlement, but earnings. I did not agree to work for him for free. We agreed to $1,500 for a discrete list of tasks that had to be accomplished. Back in August. That’s long since been accomplished. Each subsequent reengagement could be interpretted as a new oral contract for $1,500. That would be at least $4,500. Contracts for employment are not subject to the Statute of Frauds and therefore need not be in writing to be enforceable. I will not walk away with just $1,500. That much I assure you.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    January 3, 2010 at 13:23

  3. But why on earth did you not discuss fees up front? And agree to something? And get it in writing?


    January 3, 2010 at 16:29

  4. Because it didn’t really start out as something formal. We worked together. He called to ask a question about something I once mentioned. We got to talking and he explained how much work he had on his plate. I just came off the bar exam and had lots of time so I threw out that I could help him if he wanted. I had in mind proofreading, just an extra set of eyes, etc. Then we met to go over it all and I saw all he had lined up. Initially I didn’t even think about money. Then he raised the issue and we spoke about it and he said he didn’t want the cost, for the tasks he outlined for me, to exceed $1,500. Once those tasks wrapped up, he didn’t pay. I asked. Since then, he needed more help. I offered. Really the only opportunity to get anything in writing was at the outset. We didn’t. We were colleagues and friendly with each other. It didn’t seem necessary.

    And even if I had something in writing, what good would it do me? I couldn’t do anything with it but use it to remind him of my outstanding bill. Or sue him.

    Lesson learned for the future, I suppose. I know now he’ll pay. He already alluded to it. How much is another question.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    January 3, 2010 at 17:34

  5. I read your “plan”/New Year’s Resolutions. “I will pay off a credit card in January” is not a plan — it is just a goal. The difference between a plan and a goal is that a plan has concrete steps that you need to take to achieve a goal. So if your goal is to pay off your smallest debt in January, which is a worthy short-term goal that moves you closer to your overall goal of becoming debt-free, you set up a plan that will help achieve that goal. For example, your smallest debt is $X. In order to amass that amount by the end of January, you can plan to gather $X/4 each week extra during January through a combination of earning more and spending less. You can earn more by busting your friend’s chops about paying you (though I agree with previous posters that your concept that you are owed some karmic proportion of what he made on the work, rather than what you agreed to be paid, is ridiculous). You can also earn more by googling around for odd jobs (going beyond your Craigslist efforts) and looking for coding work like that you have been doing that you might be able to do from home (do any of the companies that outsource document coding to India or the Phillipines need quality reviewers? Those systems can be logged into from anywhere.) You can also collect more by re-applying for unemployment (swearing off a source of income when you are in your situation is just arrogance, not dignity). Also work again to rent out your bedroom and sleep on the couch during the period before you sublet the apartment entirely.
    On the spending side, it appears that drastic cuts in your spending are quite foreign to you — even when I had a swank firm job I thought Equinox’s rates were ridiculously too high, and I brought my lunch from home every day. You have no income at all and more debt that most people’s mortgages and seem to think that limiting yourself to a single purchased coffee a day, no massages in exchange for paying Equinox’s fees, and a couple less restaurant/take out meals a week is a big sacrifice. WAKE UP — there is no possible way that you will get out of debt without making drastic changes in your expectations.
    You mused one time about whether someone on unemployment “deserved” to hit Starbucks. If by “deserved” you mean could you continue to wallow in your debt, making vague assurances to yourself that you really, really, really, want to be debt-free, while cushioned from the reality of your debt-chained existence by the cold comfort offered by buying a coffee everyday, or picking up lunch whenever you feel like it, then sure, you “deserve” it. But if you want to deserve something worthwhile, the right to say that you owe nothing to anyone, then no, you won’t be “deserving” coffees out for a very long time.
    You are in the same boat as many others (see the following article, among hundreds of similar articles), but you must be the captain of your own ship, the master of your own fate — and right now you are pretty rudderless.,0


    January 4, 2010 at 12:59

  6. I just started reading your blog. Good luck with the credit card bills. Fortunately tax season is coming up and if you expect a good refund this year, you should probably spend it reducing your debts. I know it’s tempting to use that money for something for yourself, but that doesn’t help you with the debt burden. Everything I hear about the NY job market is dismal, so best of luck finding the next gig!

    Jim in Chicago

    January 4, 2010 at 14:52

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