Some of our readers may have noticed the absence of myself and Dybbuk (albeit for very different reasons). Until our most prolific author returns, I am trying to find the time during the evenings to start posting regularly again. I do not promise quality writing, but hopefully you find my plight entertaining.
The amount of time that I work leaves me with little free time for writing full-length posts about carefully considered topics. I just finished the first year of taxes where I actually made enough money to pay $4k to the state and feds. The amount of time and energy devoted to basic survival is another aspect of the law school scam—the marginally employed recent graduates have the least amount of time and resources to fight the law school propaganda machine because they must expend all energy to tread water.
I am a good example of this bind. I enjoy the 35% of my 60-70 hour weeks that I spend on actual lawyering, but the rest is hard as hell. “The rest” is the stuff that I have to do before I get to the lawyering. Most of it involves promoting myself, performing well, and getting more clients. Yet, I started taking cases as a solo practitioner not for the purpose of running a makeshift practice from a bedroom for years and years and not for the purpose of constantly commuting 3 hours a day between six courthouses and/or chasing down clients for money. Instead, I took solo cases to gain a high degree of specific short-term experience for possible jobs. (Note to others: starting a solo practice is not a good way to get short-term experience).
I barely make enough money to survive. The city and surrounding localities have no jobs despite my increasingly competitive experience in criminal law. The days get long. Increasingly, I get angry with my idiot clients. Most of my idiot clients have more money than me—another layer of fun irony—yet they try to screw me at every turn. One day, a client tries to plead poverty for the third time. Another day, the same client's mother tries to steal from me. All normal.
It is hard to remember sometimes how I got here. Recently, I reminisced with another lawyer about how each of us started to get interested in the law. We both agreed that starting from the third grade, every teacher, principle, parent, and relative told us about how we needed to go to college. For the older generation, college made a sincere difference in earning potential, and the debt was nothing, so they all believed that the college trick would work again for our generation. Since neither my friend nor I were science people, the only “profession” was the law. While the influence of TV and film might have played some role in our imagination of law practice, our teachers, parents, friends, and family always seemed to believe that the law was both a powerful profession and an interesting career full of moral conundrums and logical puzzles. Pfff. They also drilled into us that only smart people could end up getting admitted to law school. PFFF!
Currently, I net as much money as I previously did working as a temporary secretary. But I enjoy my work, and I supposedly can climb…perhaps slowly…perhaps slower than the rate of inflation. I am aware that I may never get a job as a public defender not just because of the statistical improbability but because I now have too much particularized experience. Maybe someday I can work as a senior trial attorney and get my debt forgiven as a backup plan in case IBR vanishes. Statistically, based on current data, I could interview for 30 years for an entry-level PD job and still never get hired. And by the time I am 35, I am too old to start at most jobs. No one will hire a 35-year-old when they can hire a 25-year-old (and lay him off by 35 to hire another 25-year-old).
The greatest irony of my plight: I am a better lawyer than many of the boomer criminal lawyers with jobs and/or with the cushy gravy-train of butt-loads of assigned cases. In our city, the boomers control the assigned counsel panels. They can deny anyone access to the panels for any reason. Even if they accept you onto the panel, the boomer judges still can avoid assigning you cases. Instead, they assign cases to their buddies who provide campaign contributions. If you are not a baby boomer with six-figures of government money flowing your way, which you can cling onto until your last breath, you have few choices besides street hustling for clients (my specialty: I wear sandwich-boards advertising legal service with a happy ending).
Even though I enjoy the actual lawyering part of my solo practice, the tight money motivates me to continue to apply to jobs. Obviously, I rarely receive any acknowledgement that I have completed the 50 pages of application materials required for most government jobs, which can take hours. Sometimes, I do an interview with out of touch boomers who think that they are interviewing new lawyers in the 1980s. The interviewers usually are smug and condescending. And many positions are filled before the show-interviews ever start.
How do I know? I have won a felony trial where the client was facing 15-life as a persistent felony offender and I have successful terminated 2 B felonies, 1 C felony, and I currently am representing a client with an A-2 felony. Yet, when I check some of the websites after an interview cycle, I see many new hires with no experience but with names that match some of the senior staff.
Recently, one of the boomer interviewers (boomerviewers?) asked me why I didn't do assigned counsel work. I just stared at him as if he had just returned from outer space after 20 years. I reminded him that his generation of cronies had blocked new lawyers from joining the panels (well, it was an interview, so I said it nicely). Only boomers get to keep representing indigent defendants on the taxpayer’s dollars -- the rest of us must force people to pay us on the private market!
These boomers still seem to think of law as a profession akin to medicine. They do not see it as common street hustling, which is current reality. They do not seem to understand that medical schools only admit limited numbers of candidates, and then they train them in paid residency programs for many years. They do not seem to understand that law schools pump out as many idiots as possible every year, dump a substantial portion of them onto food stamps and Medicaid, and say "see ya!" One boomer interviewer asked me if it was ethical for me to represent felony clients because I went solo out of law school two years ago -- for which I snapped back, "Only when I win." I also wanted to snap back, "When was the last time you lifted a finger to train a young lawyer or to help anyone except yourself."