Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

That Man Behind the Curtain

with 4 comments

Total Black: $635.37
Total Red: $270,000.16

Felt a draft today.  Went right up my dress.  In a manner of speaking, of course.  I uncovered a gap in my blogging security that might have revealed my true identity.  And we can have that!  Or can we?

This afternoon I tuned into C-SPAN’s Book TV and listened to a program with Matt Gallagher talking about his book Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War.  Gallagher shot to stardom in 2008 when Washington Post columnist Ernesto Londoño broke the news in his article Silent Posting that the Army had forced Gallagher to shut down his personal blog Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal.  Gallagher blogged simply as Lt. G., but the military still found out.  It monitors all the traffic that goes over its communication lines—something I learned back in law school when I interned for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the military watch dog group dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Listening to his story got me thinking about my year blogging and where I might take this.  Gallagher turned his into a book.  I suppose that’s an option for me.  I certainly have a tale to tell from the hardscrabble life on the front-lines of the Great Recession.  But then for certain I’d have to unmask myself.  Am I ready to do that?

When I first sat down to set-up this blog, I opted for anonymity for a few reasons.  First, it added an extra layer of protection given that I planned on posting the balances from my various accounts daily.  That’s what led to second post, Day of Accounting.  Aside: perhaps that’s the breakfast post that got Knut so flustered that he read no further.  I must admit my craft has sharpened in the eleven months since I started.  At any rate, I felt it a safer road to tread to not have my name and my checking account balance available for the world to see.  But perhaps telephone banking isn’t that vulnerable.

I also opted for anonymity because I felt it a safer route for my career.  Articles abound of people who lost job offers or were fired because of their internet goings-on.  MONEY magazine reporter, Ismat Sarah Mangla reported in April 21, 2009 about the “Cisco Fatty” incident, a prospective job seeker who nearly  lost a job offer after a silly tweet.  (He claimed he had already declined the job before the fallout.)  With prospective employers already screening job applicants based on their credit scores, something T-Bag linked to in a recent comment, it’s probably safe to assume they’re also checking you out on Facebook or Twitter or any number of other sites.  I know I’ve done it before.  I googled my judge before I accepted.  If anything remotely homophobic showed up, I probably would have passed.  Whether right or wrong, it is a way for us to pull the curtain back and peer behind it, getting a glimpse of the person on their own time and in their real life.

One other reason I opted for anonymous blogging is because it lends a bit of cachet.  Consider the fiasco Nando, of Third Tier Reality, must endure now, with commenters looking to out him any chance they can get.  The message gets lost in the blather over the messenger.  Of course, that’s partly on the reader too for allowing such blather to distract us.  But human is as human does.  Posting under an anonymous, and undeducible, name sidesteps that mess while simultaneously piquing the interest of the reader.  Human beings do love mysteries.

But today’s draft as the curtain parted for a minute worried me.  I quickly closed that electronic gap and all is good again in the land of Oz.  It is something that I’ve worried about: what if people do learn my secret identity?  What if meddlesome kids foil my plans.  Why were they always meddlesome and always foiling someone?  Couldn’t they once have been bothersome kids who prevented plans?  But I digress.  As the one-year anniversary approaches, I’m wondering whether it’s worth worrying about that for another year.  Perhaps it’s best to unmask myself as David Lat did before meddlesome kids try it first.  Or does it matter?

Any publishers in the midst?  That could expedite this issue.

In other news, and speaking of opportunities and such, I received my fourth donation from my third donor, a new reader.  Thank you, David (Lat)!  (No, it wasn’t David Lat, but he did send the traffic my way which resulted in a donation.)  The thought had crossed my mind that perhaps as I approached that one year mark a few readers and commenters might toss a few coins my way, but I didn’t give it much credence.  It’s difficult to justify such hand-outs in tough times.  So I’m grateful for Donor 3’s generosity.  Otherwise, total black is down by $900.00 because rent was due today.  I haven’t actually paid Lord & Lady yet because they’re not here, but I opted to deduct that amount as it is due today.  Total red hasn’t budged.  One troubling bit of news: I received an alert from Equifax that New York State of Department of Taxation and Finance obtained a judgment against me for tax due.  Infuriating news since I paid that tax back at the end of June.  I must have it dismissed; not sure my credit score can take another judgment hit.

I can’t wait to leave New York completely behind.  Seems every chance it gets it comes back again.  The pro bono client too is still hanging on.  Legal Aid Society doesn’t refer cases that can be contingency fee.  The former colleague from the law firm who worked with me on the case isn’t keen to take it over.  My caring may be my undoing.

Out, out damned New York spots, I say!

4 Responses

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  1. Nobody cares that you were identified. Its the story.

    setting me up

    August 2, 2010 at 14:58

  2. Nope, no identification. Just came close. I’m glad someone doesn’t care who the messenger is.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    August 2, 2010 at 15:28

  3. Yeah, it would suck if you were “outed” before you were ready, but there are probably folks that already know who you are. Gasp! Er, anyway, it probably wouldn’t be any big deal for you as people would probably like you more after reading your stuff (unless they’re anti-gay or are evaluating you for a financial manger position or something! 🙂

    It’s hard to stay anonymous if you maintain a blog for a long period of time, especially if you are the subject of it. I disagree people not being hired, being fired, etc. because of a personal blog, but the fact of the matter is that it happens. There was a local blogger near where I go to school that outed herself (although she knew she was gonna be outed by a reader) and she ended up getting fired. I’ve vowed to never have a blog, use facebook, twitter, etc. simply because you never know who you’re going to offend and end up having it come back to haunt you.

    Probably going to be hard to stay off of facebook forever, but other than that, I stand by my decision!



    August 4, 2010 at 11:47

  4. I told some friends and collegues about my blog. Wouldn’t surprise me if they in turn told other friends and colleagues about the blog, thus increasing the number of people who could know. And there’s plenty of ways for people to deduce my identity if they really wanted to. Perhaps my “fault” for being too open. The larger question is whether I want [name] + [blog] to show up in search engines. I’m not David Lat, for example. If his resume were submitted for a job, and someone googled him, search results would show him connected to his website,w hich could result in difficulty in getting a job. Prospective employers might worry that he’d blog about clients, cases, etc. But here, if Laid-off Lawyer submits his resume, and someone searches for Laid-off Lawyer on the internet, this blog won’t show up if Laid-off’s name isn’t associated with it.

    I think the struggles facing Americans now are real. I think the hurdles placed in front of us by banks and lenders are also real. I think the legal profession too has serious challenges facing it. I touch on all of those from time to time, but really my blog is a chronicle of my struggles to get through this Great Recession, to get my debt under control, and to increase my saving, all while blogging about the challenges I encounter along the way. If an employer were to fire me—or a prospective employer refuse to hire me—because I purchased a Jeep here, for example, or because I had to borrow money from my mother, then that’s not an employer I’d want to work for, or continue working for. So that’s my only concern. If, among my readers, are judges or prospective bosses, then I’d just have to take my chances with them. But I’ve said nothing in my blog that I wouldn’t say in person, at a panel discussion, in a book, and so on.

    I own my truth and am not afraid to share it.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    August 4, 2010 at 12:59

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