Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Sleep, It Does a Body Good

with one comment

Total Black: $83.81
Total Red: $228,965.35

Short post today.  I spent much of the day sleeping.  Over the past seven days I have been working as much as possible at the contract attorney position while also allowing for shifts at the theatre gig some nights.  Yesterday, for example, I worked at the contract attorney position from 8:30am to 9:30am, then left for New World Stages for a 10am shift, then back to the contract attorney position for 1pm until 4:45pm when I returned to the theatre gig for three more shifts until I finished up around 10pm.  By the end of the day, my throat had started feeling a bit sore, so I asked the bartender to whip me up a hot toddy to help numb it.  One of the cocktail servers overheard and asked whether I was still feeling ill.  I wondered what he meant until a bit later when I recalled that last Sunday I also felt ill: sweaty, tired, achy—and I had asked him pick me up some chicken soup from a nearby supermarket when he went out for his lunch.  From last Sunday until today I have only slept about five to six hours of sleep each night.  Not good.  Not getting enough sleep doesn’t let your body recover from any cold or flu you might be fighting off.  I made up for much of my sleep deprivation today—only one shift at the theatre today and it lasted just under two hours.  Thankfully this upcoming week I am only scheduled to work on the weekend at the theatre.

Although I need the sleep, I can’t really afford it, or being sick, today because I need this day to work on the one-off research assignment I took on through a former law firm colleague—not the one mentioned in Vindication!.  I’ve also got a task or two to wrap up for the colleague I’ve spoken often about.

He and I finally discussed money.  The commenters were right in so far as he isn’t going to feel magnanimous on his own.  When prompted, he said he’d prefer that the total amount be $2,500, i.e., he’d pay me fifteen hundred more.  He’s already had one of the three companies we worked on pay me $1,000.  Curious that, that would mean, in effect, he’d only be paying me the same amount we agreed to way back in August while making it seem like he’s giving me more than we agreed upon.  As I’ve said all along, getting $1,500 is unacceptable.  $2,500 as well is too low.  I had clocked over fifty hours back in November 2009; if I were billing my time at $100 an hour, a rate abysmally low for a Manhattan attorney, I’d already have earned over $5,000 for the work done for him.  Plenty of comments on prior posts have taken me to task for daring to “expect” something more for doing more work.  Well, we can just agree to disagree on this point.

Yes, I didn’t ask.  But he didn’t also.  He acknowledged as much in the email discussion we had the other day.  For whatever reason, we both avoided the issue of money.  I won’t do that again.  Lesson learned.  But thankfully in the law a principle called unjust enrichment.  If someone has been unjustly enriched at your detriment, then the law will adjust an agreement accordingly to achieve what’s most fair.  And the irony here is that he’s about to receive about $30,000 from one of the clients I helped him get registered with the S.E.C.  Yet he wants to pay me only $1,500 from that.  As far as I understand, he billed my hours to the client at his own rate of $250 an hour and yet wants to pay me less than $40 an hour for all the time I’ve put in since August.  I just don’t get that logic.  And before everyone starts jumping all over me, I repeat: we agreed in August to $1,500 for a specific set of items on a “to do” list—literally there was a list.  Anything subsequent to that checklist was outside our agreement.  He kept coming back to me for help with various tasks and, though I enjoy his friendship and the opportunity to learn,  I wasn’t working for free.  He should know that.  Even more ironic is that I helped coach him as to the points he should raise in the conversation he had with the client as to why he should be paid the total amount he billed.  Ultimately, he did come down a bit, but not by that much: he’ll be getting about $27,000.  And out of that, a portion of which includes the time I put in, he wants to pay me only $1,500.  As I said in Almost Unemployed . . . Again, I won’t just accept $1,500.  I’m fine frankly with $6,500, which would mean only $5,500 out of his own pocket.  Hell–I’d even take less than that already because I need the money now.  But you have to have a floor.  No one else is going to advocate for me, except me.

One other point of interest: the third company we worked on, his own company, is being acquired, so once his stock is bought out and the acquisition is concluded—he’ll be receiving another massive infusion of cash.  And, in addition to all this, he received an offer from the local government office we worked together at last year, so he’s no longer working for free.  So, I have no sympathy for any of his purported financial woes.  He’ll be making roughly $50,000 in salary and will have upwards of $27,000 from one client.  Who knows how much more once his small company is acquired.  $4,000, for example, for all the work I put in over the past six months to get him to the place where he can earn this much money—and frankly the job offer—is not much to ask.  Frankly, if he screwed up at work because he couldn’t juggle all the projects he had going he might not have gotten the job offer, so in a sense I helped him there too.

Well, I guess I’m feeling better since this didn’t turn out to be a “short” post after all.  Can you tell that selfish businessmen get me pissed off?  Why is it so foreign to expect someone would say something like, “You know, LL is a good guy.  He did a lot of work for me, oftentimes when I was nearly drowning.  He’s also in a tough spot now so I’m gonna help him out and give him [fill in amount].”  But, of course, in the “downsizing, efficiency-focused, humans-are-resources, ship-it-overseas-for-cheaper” world we live in, such sentimentality in business is unheard of—unless it’s one of your cronies you’re helping out.  Huh.  Maybe that’s what’s got me a bit peeved about all this—that after all this work I’m still not an insider in his world.  Maybe I’m not feeling better after all as I seem to be babbling.  Let me end this here: I’ve got to get working on these tasks for him, get my clothes out of the laundry, and get to work on this research assignment.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

January 24, 2010 at 20:38

One Response

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  1. Unjust enrichment only applies if you sue the guy, which is going to take up time and resources you don’t have, not to mention there’s a written contract in place that provides that your pay is $1500, and you got an extra $1000 on top of that. Add to that the fact that legal employees are not paid according to what their employers bring in (that’s why peole strive to be partners) and the fact that unjust enrichment is far more a law school theoretical discussion than something actually used in the real world. Good luck finding a court willing to rule in your favor. Next time just listen to your group of ‘naysayers’ who could see plainly that absent a new contract in writing, you weren’t going to get much more, if anything. When are you going to stop learning such expensive lessons?


    January 25, 2010 at 09:15

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