Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Posts Tagged ‘law firm

Tears for Tiers

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Total Black: $3,163.08
Total Red: $270,855.95

Having a job that does not require weekend hours leaves me with much more free time than I’ve had in years.  That free time has freed me to read a few of the other blogs out there that chronicle the current state of the legal profession.  A few have included this blog on their blogroll.  Aside: I never instituted a blogroll.  I noted back in Fiftieth Post that I wasn’t much of a blog-reader.  Tides are turning a bit.  Keep reading . . .

Everyone Knows

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Total Black: $2,096.80
Total Red: $235,294.78

Well, today I told the last few people left in the dark about my departure: the law firm I’m temping with and the landlord’s management company.  I figured it was time I let both know.  I needed to alert to the landlord that I’m leaving in order to find out what my options would be regarding my lease.  And as for the law firm, I needed to let them know I’d be out of two for a few days when I fly to the new location to check out apartments. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

April 26, 2010 at 23:35

Baffling & Bewildering

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Total Black: $776.32
Total Red: $235,242.50

All day today I’ve been fielding a number of emails from the associate at the law firm I’m currently temping with.  The emails commenced this morning while getting ready for what’s become my Sunday morning routine: hawking at the theatre.  Nearly every request or question left me baffled and bewildered because much of the emergency could have been avoided had people actually read the emails other sent.  But what can I expect.  I’m Just a Temp, right?   Keep reading . . .

Cookie Monsters

with 17 comments

Total Black: $190.55
Total Red: $226,588.60

Apparently temp attorney feathers got ruffled today when a few non-agency attorneys took some of our cookies.  Ah temp attorneys.  And the world they make me live in. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

March 24, 2010 at 21:17

Cold Feet

with 7 comments

Total Black: $235.60
Total Red: $226,342.25

As I walked home tonight from the contract attorney position, I started thinking about the opportunities I may soon be presented with.  Well . . . resumed thinking about them might be more accurate as I’ve not really been able to stop masticating over them.  But tonight a few coincidences occurred that caused me to think about things a bit differently. Keep reading . . .

I’m Just a Temp

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Total Black: $268.28
Total Red: $226,349.12

The past few days has seen a steady increase in the hours at work at the contract attorney job.  And a corresponding increase in stress.  I’ve found myself slipping back into associate mode—as if I were an associate at a law firm again.  Checking my emails in the morning upon waking and just before going to bed at night.  One morning I awoke at 7am, and then said screw it and went back to bed until 8:30am.  At like 7:03am emails started coming through from the associate asking me to let them know ASAP when I’m in.  Of course, I didn’t get those messages until 8:30am when I awoke.  And I hopped out of bed and rushed to work—just as if I was back a the law firm.  I’ve even been reluctant to leave my desk and go to the gym or even out for food.  But it’s silly because I’m just a temp. Keep reading . . .

Limits of My Love

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Total Black: $210.35
Total Red: $227,391.58

Since starting this blog, I’ve somehow tied each holiday to my post for that day.  I’ve done it for Labor Day and Thanksgiving; that wasn’t too difficult to think up something to discuss about work or thankfulness.  Christmas Eve brought it’s own reason: joblessness.  Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were easy enough too.  Halloween and Valentine’s Day were challenging, but I pulled it off.  So why not St. Patrick’s Day?  Catch is there isn’t much material related to this holiday to discuss on a laid-off  laywer’s blog about debt and treading the path out.  So how do I hook it in?  I suppose I could switch the font to green for today. Keep reading . . .

Awhile Longer

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Total Black: $87.19
Total Red: $229,237.47

Looks like the temp job will last awhile longer.  The staff attorney on the case all but said as much.  I was asked about my plans and availability for the upcoming weeks.  I suppose it wasn’t small talk, right?  I forgot to ask straight-out about the length of this project.  Well, “forget” isn’t exactly accurate.  I suppose “didn’t think to ask” would be more on point.  It was only later that I realized that was a perfect opportunity to find out how much longer they needed me. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

February 23, 2010 at 23:59

No Holidays For Lawyers

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Total Black: $1,066.57
Total Red: $228,867.93

A few days ago, while at the contract attorney position, I got to talking with the office manager for the attorney temporary staffing agency’s off-site location.  She was working quite late, as was I, and I inquired why.  A new project was starting up and some computer problem had occurred.  She had to stick around until the situation was solved otherwise the project wouldn’t have been able to start on time.  It got me wondering why Law is all-consuming. Keep reading . . .

Survivor Guilt

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Total Black : $303.49
Total Red: $228,853.79

I learned yesterday morning that the temp job I’m on will be over on Monday.  But not for me.  The firm has asked me and another person to stay on longer.   The temporary attorney staffing agency called me yesterday morning and informed me.  They also asked me to be discreet and not mention this to anyone else on the project.  The catch: there’s only three of us on the project.  So all day yesterday I had to listen to the other attorney on the project, the third has practically been moved permanently to a conference room in the firm, go on about the “signs” and how it looks like the project might be winding down and how another week on the project would be great.  I had emailed Tom the Temp to ask for his advice.  Nothing back yet.  I wondered whether there were any unspoken temp attorney rules on such matters.  Where does my allegiances lie?  With my employer?  Or with my fellow temps?  Feels like an episode of Survivor. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

January 29, 2010 at 09:27


with 55 comments

Total Black: $88.81
Total Red: $229,590.92

Manna from heaven.  Yesterday the clouds parted and down fell some wonderful news.  In threes I might add.  A trifecta of vindication!  Let me explain. Keep reading . . .

Semicolon And

with one comment

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. Keep reading . . .


with one comment

Total Black: $67.13
Total Red: $230,258.15

A few days back I received a notice from my former law firm that COBRA payments for health insurance will be increasing.  Currently I pay $199.61 a month for medical and dental health insurance coverage through Aetna.  I didn’t opt in to the firm’s coverage until February 2009, once the Stimulus Package had been approved and passed, because it provided a significant subsidy for people who had been laid-off or were still unemployed.  Without that subsidy health care coverage would have been approximately $536.00 a month.  I doubted that I could afford it, especially when New York pays only $405.00 a week in unemployment benefits.  Now the subsidy has expired and I’m facing that question again.  The Stimulus Package funds only authorized nine months of subsidization.  Nine!  Congress decided to debate health care coverage and pass a health care bill, while not bothering to addressing the risk many will face by losing the coverage they have if the subsidies aren’t extended. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 18, 2009 at 23:39

Boycott BigLaw

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Total Black: $66.11
Total Red: $230,859.71

I’ve been thinking over the past few days about large corporate law firms.  About some of the changes that have already occurred—like attorney layoffs (read: firings) or deferrals (read: delayed firings).  Blogs like Above the Law and Law Shucks have detailed the dramas and charted the cuts.  According to Law Shucks, a website tracking law-firm layoffs, including both associates and staff, law firms have laid-off over 14,000 people since January 2008.  This, in an industry where layoffs were never public, always shame-ridden, and sometimes career-ending.  Nevertheless, once the tides began to turn, associates were the first kicked to the curb. Then came staff layoffs. Then more associate layoffs and staff layoffs until finally firms thought up the Great Procrastination, punting the issue altogether by deferring associates and providing stipends all along hoping the economy rebounds in the meantime or the associates decide not to return.  And now, to add insult to injury, one law firm, DLA Piper, has decided to restructure how its associates earn their salaries—not their bonuses—but their salaries.  According to Above the Law, starting in 2010, roughly 10-15% of an associate’s salary will be withheld and made contingent upon partner satisfaction with associate performance.  When do we say enough is enough? Keep reading . . .

To Be Determined

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Total Black: $63.69
Total Red: $230,859.71

Visit any doctor’s office and you’ll find mounds and mounds of magazines.  US.  People.  Reader’s Digest.  I never understood why Reader’s Digest.  Who reads that any longer?  And typically among those stacks you’ll find one or two “serious” magazines, typically Newsweek or Time.  The last time I visited the doctor for the medical experiment, mentioned back in Another Update on Efforts, the cover of Time from September 21, 1999 caught my eye.  It read: “Out of Work in America: Why double-digit unemployment may be here to stay—and how to live with it.”  Not an attractive prospect.  I didn’t have time to read the article because my medical experiment visits are always rushed from room to room and examiner to examiner.  But I also didn’t want to leave behind that information.  So I swiped the magazine.  Keep reading . . .


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Total Black: $65.23
Total Red: $230,820.71

One word.  Probably one of the most frequently uttered.  In any language.  It’s also one of the most powerful, most demanding, and most accusatory words in human language.  Not to mention the most despairing.  It’s the word uttered in utter stupefaction when something unfair happens.  It’s the scream of a mother holding her lifeless child in her hands.  It’s the weeping plea of a jilted lover.  The demanding jab of an inquisitive student.  It’s also one question I haven’t yet asked myself.

Cue Seal, People Asking Why  Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 7, 2009 at 23:55

Writer’s Block

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Total Black: $63.94
Total Red: $231,284.24

I suppose it happens to the best of us. Typically I sit at the computer and something comes. Very seldom is it planned or thought-out in advance. Today I’m dry. It’s late. I’m tired. And I can’t think of anything to write about. So instead, a quick update. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

November 23, 2009 at 23:59

Venom and Vitriol

with 8 comments

Total Black: $393.85
Total Red: $230,977.94

. . . Or a response to the Mikes of the world.

Earlier today I received my first negative comment.  Given the nature of the internet, and particularly with the ability to anonymously comment, I figured when I started this blog that it would come with the territory.  I suppose I foresaw such comments in Getting There From Here, but to be honest I was quite taken aback by the viciousness of the comment.  It physically jarred me for a few hours, partly, I think, because the comment was not given in a supportive or encouraging tone but merely in a vicious rant.  So much so that I’m devoting this entry to his comment, especially since, as of writing this entry, at least four people have rated his comment positively. Keep reading . . .

My First Client

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Total Black: $59.57
Total Red: $230,644.12

I met this afternoon with the former pro bono client to discuss her lawsuit.  I touched on this matter in Pro Bono Publico, but didn’t give the whole story.  She had been evicted in 2007 and spent much of that year trying to get her personal property out of her former apartment.  Her landlord, and the building superintendent, however, made life miserable for her and routinely denied her access.  Then one day the building superintendent removed her property and put it into a self-storage facility, but under his own name.  When she came by with a moving van to retrieve her property, neither the landlord’s management company nor the super would tell her where it was.  Instead they demanded money, presumably to cover the storage costs.  Using the process of elimination, she tracked down the storage company in the area and demanded return of her property.  But since the storage company had a contract for storage space under someone else’s name, they wouldn’t release her property.  Months later, after the storage bill went unpaid, the storage company sent out auction notices.  They were about to sell all of her personal belongings to the highest bidders to recoup the unpaid storage costs.  That’s when I, as an associate at a large law firm, was brought in to stop the auction and help her recover her property.  Unfortunately, it morphed into a lawsuit and now, over a year later, I’m back in the driver’s seat of this case, steering it to some sort of resolution.  Given my own recent interaction with corporate landlords, I’m determined to see her prevail.  When did running a business become anathema to decency and respect?  Or maybe they never went hand-in-hand? Keep reading . . .

The Dearly Departed

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Total Black: $1,295.42
Total Red: $230,131.21

A year ago today I left the firm for good.  It must have been nearly 8pm that day.  It was a Friday.  I was there late even on my last day because, unlike other associates—one of whom, upon hearing that she was being laid off, walked out the door and didn’t return—I actually did what was asked of me.  I filed all my papers.  I archived all of my emails and documents.  I cleaned out my office and boxed up my own belongings.  And I said my good-byes. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 17, 2009 at 23:32

Pro Bono Publico

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Total Black: $1,312.95
Total Red: $230,131.21

A year ago today I was scurrying around at the firm, finishing up the cases I was working on and ensuring they were transferred to someone else.  One such case was a pro bono lawsuit on behalf of a homeless woman whose personal property had been denied her by her landlord and then by a storage facility.  Earlier this week I inherited that case once again.  Odd timing, no?  Effectively I will be a solo practitioner.  It’s a bit intimidating thinking about the upcoming deadlines and overall responsibility, but I’m committed to this client and her story.  Plus, in a sense, she’s my first client.  She was my first “client” while at the law firm, even though the firm, not the lawyers, has the clients.  And now she really will be my first client. Keep reading . . .

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 16, 2009 at 23:57

Small Town Boy in the Big City

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Total Black: $22.71
Total Red: $230,281.21

Again Bank of America has walloped me with insufficient funds fees.  This time I don’t even know for sure just how.  A few days ago I received an email notice from Barnes & Noble alerting me to some difficulty processing a check card transaction.  A few months ago I purchased some items on Barnes & Noble and it slipped my mind that one of them wouldn’t be available until the Fall.  I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the transaction, so I figured I’d just let the order be canceled as Barnes & Noble suggested might happen if I didn’t update my order information.  Besides, I’m in savings mode now and those items were purchased before I began this project.  A day passed and another email alert arrived reminding me once more of the inability to complete the transaction.  And again I passed on it (not that I would have had money from anywhere to pull to cover the approximately forty dollar transaction).  The next day a new alert arrives thanking me for my purchase and providing me with the tracking number.  Huh?  I checked my checking account but no pending transaction was listed.  I figured that perhaps it was some other credit card I had used that suddenly became available.  I didn’t really care to go investigating.  Today I got alerted of insufficient funds fees and saw that somehow Barnes & Noble force through the order or Bank of America authorized it despite the lack of funds in the account.  This time, I will get my money back.  I’ve printed out all of the insufficient funds fee notices for the past month and I’m walking into the branch office near my job.  As Ron Lieber of the New York Times reported that “[b]eginning Oct. 19, Bank of America will stop charging any fees for customers who overdraw their accounts by less than $10 in a single day.  It will also limit the number of overdraft fees it charges to four a day, although the bank will continue to charge a fee of $35 per overdraft.”  Unfortunately, it looks like the bank is trying to garner as much money as it can before its new policy goes into effect. Keep reading . . .

The Difference a Year Makes

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Total Black: $115.36
Total Red: $230,281.21

It was a Tuesday morning.  I was still at home.  Typically, as I quickly learned to do, I’d check my blackberry upon waking and then a few times more throughout the morning before leaving for work.  I lived in Brooklyn then, in the Clinton Hill area, and so it took roughly forty-five minutes to get to Midtown and all manner of emails and voice mails could have transpired during that commute.  At least by checking before submerging, I’d have narrowed my chances of missing something.  This morning I had gotten up late and hadn’t bothered checking my blackberry.  When I finally did, I noticed a voice mail message waiting for me from a partner I wasn’t working with and with whom I hadn’t had much contact.  It meant one of two things: a new assignment or the ax had fallen.  It was the latter and I had four days to untangle my life from the firm, wrap up the matters I had been working on, and leave the firm for good.

That was a year ago today.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 14, 2009 at 23:54

Take Two

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Total Black: $113.55
Total Red: $230,281.21

I didn’t work fourteen hours today, despite my best intentions.  Once I hit 8pm and realized that I could leave before 10pm for the first time in over three weeks, well then I had difficulty staying longer. I did make it straight through for about eleven hours though.

Today’s post is short because one of the justifications for leaving “early” tonight was because I needed to finally put together the hours that I worked in August when I helped a colleague with his consulting work.  I’ve been dragging my feet on putting my hours together because it’ll be complicated reconstructing it now months later and because I’ve just been so tired.  It’s taking an enormous amount of energy right now to even keep writing.  I was tempted to just post total black and total red, per my commitment to this blog, and leave it at that.  I know it’s worth it though.  Getting rid of this debt will make all the difference in the world, not least of which is because it’ll free me to work for a “normal” government or public interest attorney salary.  With over $230,000 in debt, I couldn’t afford a $50,000 position.

This week will be a week of reflection for me.  This week last year is when the firm laid people off.  I thought I’d use these next few days to think back on different aspects of my time at the firm and on firm life and culture in general.  More on that tomorrow.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

October 13, 2009 at 23:04

Practice (of Law) Makes (Im)perfect

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Total Black: $429.45
Total Red: $230,417.50

A few days ago one of the artists with the Recession Art Sale forwarded me an email she had received from someone interested in buying art.  It had all the classic spam qualities: miscapitalized words, an undeliverable “reply to” address, and so on, but I thought, “who knows?” and figured I’d give it a try.  Well, I almost got defrauded out of nearly two thousand dollars.  Not sure how the scheme would have worked because the spammer wanted to send us a certified check in return for the work.  I suppose there would have been some scammer’s way to make money.  I started feeling a bit more unsure about the transaction as we went back and forth.  I was given an address in Connecticut that didn’t exactly exist.  Plus the address given in the email included “USA” in it.  Americans don’t put USA after their addresses.  So I did a bit of google searching and, thanks to the Art News Blog, I dodged that freight train. Keep reading . . .