Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chipping away at Goliath

I took a long break from following economic news and in depth analysis as the cardiac arrest the country went through was dealt with by the powers that be. All I followed were the key numbers: unemployment data, the S&P 500, the price of crude oil, gold, and most importantly interest rates. Ah yes, those devilish rates that have remained slammed near zero for the oligarchs at the top of the food chain. As far as I know my loans are stuck at 8.5% interest with no ability to refinance. Credit card rates are still at 16% for the majority of the population. And then one wonders why wealth and income inequality continues to soar. 

The federal reserve, whose balance sheet has soared to $4.2 trillion, recently announced the most recent round of "tapering" reducing its monthly purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage paper to $55 billion per month from $65 billion. For a time the Fed was purchasing $85 billion per month. A one third reduction since January. For now the markets are content with this turn in events. As we speak the S&P is bubbling up to 1880, near recent record highs. With the top 1 percent of the nation owning up to 40% of stocks and bonds, no wonder a record number of new homes are purchased by rich investors. In fact, over 70% of investor purchases are all cash purchases. On the other hand, young Americans are left out of the home owner class as student loan debt hampers savings and income. But that's fine, we'll just rent and live on the cheap. 

On a macro level the economy has recovered from the lows of 2008 and 2009. Auto sales are back to 15 million units annualized. Existing homes sales have somewhat recovered to 1998 levels (adjusting for population should be 15 percent higher). New home sales remain in the gutter but multi-family homes (condos and townhomes) are on the rise. Even the federal deficit has shrunk as the CBO projects 2014 deficit at $514 billion (GAO has an estimate closer to $700 billion). A dramatic improvement from the massive $1.5 trillion deficits we had a few years ago. Projections call for $500 billion deficits for the next few years then a slow rise as the population ages and spending outpaces revenues. Of course, the CBO does not take into account a recession or another banking crisis. We will see what the future brings.

On the energy front the country has been on a shale and natural gas bonanza as hydraulic fracking has exploded in the nation’s hinterland. In fact, US oil production in 2013 reached its highest level since 1989! The gains were concentrated in Texas and North Dakota, which together accounted for 83% of U.S. production growth. The downside of this is the cost of production is not only high but only damaging to the environment. Time will tell what the verdict is on hydraulic fracking but research indicates that there is contamination of underground water sources. Average cost per barrel is $80 from these shale oil plays. In addition, the wells release up to 70% of their production in the first two years, then rapidly decline. In the short term, however, this increase in oil production has reduced our trade deficit and helped the balance of payments. It has also created jobs and spurred investment.

The beloved law schools, on the other hand, are not enjoying the current boom as applications have collapsed and enrollment at many of these esteemed institutions is in the gutter. Third tier reality has covered this story intensively. For example in 2000 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools while this year's estimate is 54,000. Great news for current attorneys as the glut is finally being remedied. As I predicted a few years ago I fully expect a number of these law schools to shut down. A recent New York Times article quotes a professor that said "Students are voting with their feet. There are going to be massive layoffs in law schools in the fall. We won't have the bodies we need to meet the payroll." Yea, man. You won’t have "bodies" aka cannon fodder to lever up to fund your salaries anymore. Enough damage has been caused it is about time that the correction arrives. For those fools that still decide to go to law school in this era, paying sticker price for an overpriced education, they can only blame themselves. The news is out for any prospective student especially in this online era. 

So now we stand at what I believe is the top of the current economic cycle. The average expansion lasts anywhere between 5 to 7 years. We would be “due” a recession sometime in the next few years but given how much interference there is in the real economy I’m not sure those metrics apply anymore. We have had rates slammed to zero since the end of 2008. The federal reserve balance sheet will have expanded to $5 trillion by the time this current round of quantitative easing is complete. All this juice, all this stimulus, and all they can muster is sluggish economic growth. In a healthy economy all these measures would have precipitated a massive boom. But this is the consequence of excess debt and a dysfunctional economy where the mega corps are rewarded while the middle class withers away piece by piece. I’m curious to see what a 3 percent rise in interest rates will do to the machine. How will the federal government deal with such an interest expense? What will happen to the housing market when rates go back to 6 or even 7 percent? We are all in, ladies and gentlemen.

Curiously, gold is trading at $1330 while the S&P 500 is at record highs. Gold may have more to fall in the near term as the markets continue their rally into the heavens. Maybe the S&P hits 2000, or even 2200 in this crack up boom. But the fact that gold has not collapsed is telling. Longer term things do not look very good for the nation’s finances and this is why I believe gold has maintained its current price. At 17.4 trillion dollars the national debt continues to rise. The current decimation of the middle class will have long lasting consequences on the federal balance sheet. Who will pay for the coming social security and medicare costs? Surely the rulers of this nation realize that we are at the mercy of interest rates. And God forbid the rates pop during a recession as it’s possible in such an environment to see gaping deficits in excess of $2 trillion. How high can the national debt rise to until we have our own bond market crisis? For some reason $25 trillion is the number that pops into my head. With real wages stagnant since 2000 but costs continuing to rise, how will this debt ever get paid off?

Yesterday I saw this headline that said roughly 36 percent of workers have less than $1,000.00 put away for retirement. This amount does not include home equity (we still have a major problem with underwater mortgages). A whopping 60 percent of workers have less than $25,000.00 for retirement. 25K should last a year, maybe two if you really stretched it out. So it’s apparent that Americans do not have sufficient savings to pay off this debt. Median household income at 50k, with the newest generation entering the workforce with unprecedented student loans. And yet the debt continues to grow unabated.

If I had to take a guess, the US Government will protect the Treasury Bond market first and foremost. The default will come to Social Security and Medicare recipients. If you think that wealth inequality is bad now the future is going to be a nightmare for many Americans. Already the US Gov is stiffing social security recipients as it understates inflation thereby reducing COLA in SS payouts (COLA is tied to CPI). Expect less quality care and benefits to medicare as the system continues to get flooded by broke beneficiaries. This is how the government will be able to “reduce” the unfunded liabilities it owes to its own citizens as it changes the definition and scope of “liability.” It is headlines like the one above that keep me from buying a new car. I will probably never purchase a new car ever again. Just buy 4 year old used ones for 50 percent discounts, putting 50 percent down paying them off in 2 years. Not live the life of payments like the previous generation did. Hopefully we can stash something away as millions of boomers are going to be in a terrible position. 

I keep upbeat on most days just grinding along doing my own thing. Focusing on this little practice of mine, trying to find ways to market myself. Nevertheless it pains me to watch this country continue to decline, knowing that our generation is dealing with the brunt of it. But there is no fighting it as we cannot stop gravity. What comes up must come down. And just like so many other empires before it the United States also has its date with destiny. Personally I place the blame on a serious lack of leadership in this country. Wall street CEOs and the executive class are more concerned about their multi-million dollar bonuses, stock options and buybacks, productivity and outsourcing instead of their own countrymen. Congress approval rating wallows at 13% as the most recent poll indicates. 13 fucking percent. The disconnect is also apparent in the wealth disparity between U.S. Senators and their constituents as the average senator is now worth nearly $3 million. Average US Household net worth is 68k. In other words 44 times more wealth then the average household. What in the hell does a U.S. Senator have in common with six pack Joe versus the big finance or big pharma lobbyist? The lobbyist will win every single time. And they do, for now. 

So what does this mean for all of us? One thing that I have learned is that we are only in control of our own lives. At the end of the day we have no control over what the rulers of this country will do. Sure we can write letters, post blogs, articles, facebook posts and raise awareness. But when power has been so consolidated at the top there are limits to the effects of our voices. The only thing we can do is control our own lives, our own finances, our own decisions, to the extent possible of course. America had a nice run from the 50s up until the early 80s. The game changed in the past twenty years and now we are in the Oligarchy America. We have to use the tools available to us. Goliath may be powerful but he has a weakness. 

Recent law school graduates indeed face a significant challenge as we have come to the realization that our degrees are not worth the price we paid in terms of money, debt and time. The winners are few while the financial losers abound. However this doesn’t mean you give up. You still have to fight. You still have to do something, anything you can, to make a difference in your life. As a personal example, one thing that I did was place my business cards in front of a register at a fast food restaurant. I’ve actually placed the cards at several establishments (friends and family). I get a call from a guy that was in a bad bad wreck. 7 months later I settled his injury case for 100k. It was a literal home run, having only spent a few hundred bucks getting hospital records, police files and writing a crafty demand letter. I could have sat at home moping my fate, being depressed about not having so many things. Not having a home of my own, not having a steady job.  Instead I chose to do something. I took some action. Little action. Every day I do something in furtherance of my practice. Am I scared? Fuck yes I am. But I just keep plowing forward. With limited capital I am forced to use my human capital as much as possible. I hope to succeed and wish to succeed.

Every day I learn something new and I educate myself. I want to be a specialist. I want to be the attorney that answers client questions with my specialized knowledge. Not like the mills that are so busy that they don’t know their client’s names.  I have worked for the mills and I HATE THE FUCKING MILLS. FUCK YOU MILLS!!! These bastards, these greedy monsters take in client after client after client. Sometimes the clients will have 3 to 4 different attorneys by the time the case is over.  These firms with their crafty retainers sucker clients in with their “investigators” that drive to sign up the clients within the hour. Sometimes the investigator fee can run as high as $300.00 if the investigator had to make an additional trip. These retainer agreements provide for 40% fees after 60 days. 60 days in a personal injury claim is equivalent to 1 hour. NO CASES SETTLE IN LESS THAN 60 DAYS UNLESS ANOTHER ATTORNEY GOT SUBBED OUT. Most of these mills don’t even have westlaw or lexis to properly serve their clients. If anything, this is what I would love to do. Spare clients the misery and misfortune of working with these mill firms that mishandle their cases and end up taking half the recovery in fees and “costs” yes some of these firms will charge a “one time administrative fee of $500.” No you fucking fucks you pay your administrative costs out of FEES EARNED.

So when it comes time to settle the bread and butter soft tissue case:
12,000.00 settlement
4800 fees (on 40%)
500 in fluff costs
200 in actual costs
300 for investigator
6,200.00 for client before medicals

Whereas a lawyer like me will charge 33.33% earning client 800 more
Won’t charge for an investigator for a sign up that’s 300
Wont charge an absurd $500.00 one time cost
Just these three items will net the client $1,600.00 more
Throw in an extra couple grand in settlement amount as I’ll actually work up the file

There, that’s my anti-mill rant.

Hopefully I’ll be successful in my endeavor. No matter what I do, the only thing I can do is do it right with 100 percent effort and nothing less. Hopefully a bunch of young guys and gals can chip away at the big mill model and actually provide quality service for clients. If there is any hope that I see it is this. The same applies in big-food, big-retailer, big-doc, big fitness. Bigger does not mean better.

That’s all for now. Peace 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

4 years out of law school

I graduated law school in June of 2009, in the darkest days of the "great recession" which I believe is a full blown depression masked by emergency measures undertaken by the U.S. central bank. My journey replicated that of many fellow lower tiered JD's. I struggled to find employment and I didn't get a full time associate position until December of 2010, 17 months post graduation. I stayed there for two years and was effectively forced to leave as financial troubles engulfed the firm. I moved on to another firm where I worked for the quintessential lunatic boss. Hours were crushing from 8 to 8, sometimes longer. Weekend attendance was mandatory. Verbal assaults were par for the course, with temper tantrums and screaming being doled out for the most minor infraction. I was working double the hours of most of my nonlaw friends while they were making six figures. LOL.

Less than seven weeks at that grueling place I walked out like a fucking champ. It simply was not worth the price to pay after so many years of struggle. He would constantly remind us of the "thousands of unemployed" attorneys that were ready to take our place if we didn't like the job. I heard that my replacement was a guy from out of town. Moved his entire family as he got a good paying gig. Poor sap if he only knew he was absolutely fucked working for one of the worst attorneys in the region. 

At that point it was either get another job, go solo, or get the hell out of law. I chose to give it a shot going solo as I have a huge network and some help from my family. So far things are going rather well and I'm sticking to my guns giving it my all. If it works it works and if it doesn't at least I know that I gave it everything I had. I know many associates and they live miserable lives. I know what its like working for other attorneys and the vast majority of them are major assholes. Even the lawyers that moved from midlaw to biglaw are finding themselves working til 9 to 10pm at night. For what, that 175k salary? No thanks, life is to short to go around saying you work for a firm that no one recognized or cares about it. 

I follow up with my classmates and the results are equally brutal. Some work for small firms (60 hr work weeks), others are solos (some have done well) while the other half is unemployed or doing contract work. Definitely not what they were expecting when we were at orientation dreaming of the big bucks and the prestigious life style. Reality is a bitch and will smack you right in the face. I wish everyone the best of luck in their journey as our generation got monkey hammered. Millions across all generations got hit hard in the past few years as many of the rules have changed. Job security simply doesn't exist the way it used to. 

Applications to law schools have plummeted as many of my fellow scam bloggers have predicted. The law school collapse is here and its only a matter of time until the weakest links start to implode due to collapsing revenue. And yet I still meet young people getting ready for the October 5th LSAT. It makes sense as it is a buyers market with plunging admission standards. I mean with my stats I would have gotten into many 2nd tier schools now, not that it makes much of a difference as the tuition has skyrocketed while employment stats are in the hole. 

For those that have been able to stick it out in the trenches I do see light at the end of the tunnel. The boomers will inevitably begin to croak alongside them many older attorneys. For the young solos and associates that remain in the game this could be an opportunity to take advantage of the reduction of supply of experienced attorneys. I have had to take big risks to get where I am today. With no real training I have taught myself procedure, family and employment litigation. Take on enough cases with associate counsel and things begin to make sense. As I said there is no looking back now and I'm plunging forward with everything I got. I will keep this blog updated from time to time as to my progress. 

Am I where I thought I would be the age of 31? No way. Not even close. Most of my counterparts are doing much better than me (financially) but some years ago I stopped giving a shit. This is my lot in life. I've learned to accept certain things and this, I believe, is the biggest step from moving forward from the law school scam. I have watched many of my friends get married, have kids, buy homes, buy new cars, etc. None of this affects me in a negative manner anymore. I live with a roommate and sometimes get the heat (oh why don't you buy a place) which I now think to myself "lol yea let me get stuck with a mortgage and more problems." I flip things around in my mind now and look at the positive outcome. Sure, I don't have a home but my rent is $800 per month giving me plenty of financial freedom. If I have a big month more savings a small month I'm not really stressing because I've put away some dollars during the good times and live frugally. I don't have a wife but I have freedom to go and do what I want when I want with whom I want. Getting involved with family law has opened my eyes to many things. One thing that is DAMN SURE is that I will not be getting married unless I am absolutely certain that she is wife material. The same rule should apply to the women out there. So many people in my social circle getting married for the wrong reasons. Who knows, if I would have been more career tracked I'd probably be in a similar situation. 

  I can easily say that maintaining a positive attitude has not only kept me from being utterly depressed but has assisted me with all the accomplishments I have done. It is surprising how many clients I have signed up by simply talking to people. If you keep a positive and good vibe people will like you and if they like you they will be more apt to hire you. If you are a natural introvert than you either (a) need to get the fuck out of law or work as an associate or (b) push your limits. If you find yourself not being able to find any employment years after graduating law school, throwing in the towel is probably a good idea. Sure, you can be miserable and depressed about it. Or, you can see it as an opportunity to start something else. Go into a new career, start your own business, become a minimalist, who knows, whatever the fuck you want to do. There's a big oil boom in the middle of the country go get some training and work in the wild. It's an opportunity and an experience that the office drones stuck in traffic driving overpriced cars can only dream of doing lol.

I probably make a third of the amount of money that my friends make but I can tell you that I am much happier than they are. I have the freedom to go to the gym whenever I want, hang out with a bunch of people, get to enjoy new hobbies and new ventures. I take on my own clients, clients that I CHOOSE to work with. I work anywhere from 10 to 30 hours per week, depending on the calendar. I actually have the ability to expand operations to double or even triple the level I am currently at but I reason to myself, why? So I could chase the mighty dollar to buy a nicer car or a nicer suit or a nicer watch? Bitch, please. My car is a toyota paid off I own no watch and my suits are reasonably priced. Fuck the rat race and if that is the reason why you got into law then let me tell you that is one terrible reason to become a lawyer. Sure, its POSSIBLE you will make money but the sacrifice required to maintain the facade is not worth it. I personally know several biglaw lawyers that got hit with divorce petitions. Primary reason is because of the hours. Too many hours in the office cause resentment and stress which leads to bad sex life which leads to fighting which leads to divorce. Yet these fools continue working in this hostile environment to maintain the facade and prestigious image. I told one of these guys, why the fuck are you still working there? Go solo, go partner up, you are smart you have experience who cares about the pay cut things change the Porsche will not make you happy. I get the look like "WTF dude" they won't get it that is their problem. 

At the end of the day we are on this planet for a limited time. Every day we spend stressing, worrying, fretting, being bitter, being envious DOES NOT HELP OUR LOT IN LIFE. Whether you are happy or mad or sad at the end of the day the day will still end. The world will turn regardless of how you feel. So in the end it is up to YOU to be happy. And this is what I believe life is about, it is about being happy. What happiness is depends on how you define it and how you experience it. Life does not owe you a fucking thing. You think life asked the millions that were wiped out during the Spanish Influenza of 1918 or World war I or World war II? It did not. Life happens and in this life the one thing that I do know is that anything can happen. What you envision for your life may not pan out and if it doesn't then you have two choices: be pissed off and miserable or make adjustments and be happy. 

It is understandable that one would be angry and bitter about having gone to law school, incurred a shit ton of debt, and then found themselves unemployable with no spouse, no kids, no house, no nice car, nothing material at all. But they cannot kill your soul. Can't pay the debt? IBR that shit to zero they can collect it when you are dead. Even though you don't ever have to forgive the law school for the fraud they perpetrated on you, you MUST forgive yourself. This is a big part of the healing process. I was incredibly hard on myself for the choices I made but all that did was create bitterness and resentment, sadness and depression. I said no more. I was a young man who didn't know better. And even if a part of me did it is what it is. There is no perfect person. Sure, some choose better for their lives than others do but that is life. We cannot all make the "right" decisions. But I can tell you this was a tremendous learning experience as I now HATE HATE HATE debt with a passion. It is funny how so many more successful attorneys are broke as shit as they spend more than they make trying to gain external validation through material items because they aren't happy with their internal core. And when you see an attorney that is kicking ass and taking names you should be geniunely happy for that person as he is succeeding in his endeavor. Instead of envy, try to learn from their success. After all, that is how we all learn, right? From others success which we then take and modify into our own. 
Realizing this is the best thing you can do for your life :)

That's all for now. To all those who are struggling just know that you are in control of your happiness. What this life will bring no one knows we just have to adjust and move forward. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Law Firm Seeks 4th Year Associate for 50k salary

Was scrolling through Craigslist as I occasionally take a look to see if there is a decent part time hourly gig when I saw this gem.

Seeking an associate with a strong desire to succeed

Mid-sized law firm, specializing in Civil Litigation, and Consumer Protection Class Actions has an immediate opening for a full-time Associate Attorney (2-4 yrs. attorney experience) in its Woodland Hills office. Firm Applicants must possess CA Bar admission, excellent research skills, able to really work a case by creating and responding to discovery, able to write effective meet and confers, and a willingness to learn. Candidates with some Federal Court experience preferred, but not required. Starting salary is $50,000 a year with health insurance, and annual bonus based upon performance. This is an outstanding growth opportunity for an exceptional, career-minded attorney.

For those that are not familiar with Woodland Hills, CA it is a suburb of Los Angeles in the region known as the San Fernando Valley. Í see gems like this pop up all the time. Let me inform you all that Woodland Hills is ridiculously expensive to live in. A simple search on Google will show that a decent one bedroom will go for $1400.00 per month with a two bedroom as high as $1800.00.

Lets break down that 50 large for a struggling 4th year associate:

Assuming debt load of Undergrad and Law School expenses of $120,000.00
50k, California taxes of 26 percent, 13k in tax. 37k net remaining
37,000 / 12 = $3,083.00 net per month
Assume this debt slave wants to be debt free in 15 years...
$1,078.00 in debt service per month
Assume one bedroom apartment for a near 30 year old for $1400.00
- 1078.00 loan
- 1400.00 rent
$605.00 remaining for food, gas, car, clothing, TV, entertainment, savings.

But what if this young lad needed, God forbid, a TWO BEDROOM APARTMENT!!!!!! As a 4th year practicing attorney!!!
Well that would leave him with...
- 1078.00
- 1800.00
$205.00 remaining for food, gas, car, clothing, TV, entertainment, savings.

Of course neither above scenario would be plausible without a roomate paying rent OR the loans put on the life long plan. But god forbid someone actually wanted to get out of the interest expense trap these are the conditions that he would have to subject himself to. God forbid this (let's assume guy) wanted to get married and have a child. Under no circumstances would this salary coupled with the debt burden and sky high costs of an area like Woodland Hills support such an endeavor unless his wife decided to work up through her pregnancy and soon after birth. And let's face it, not too many women out there want to send their babies to day care from 3 months old. Alas, the two income household has become the norm but with pathetically low salaries coupled with soul crushing nondischargeable debt burdens having a single family income as an attorney is downright impossible unless you hit the biglaw lottery never ending pie eating contest.

But lets not forget, as the job ad states, the position entails "Civil Litigation, and Consumer Protection Class Actions" which translated equals to YOU WILL WORK TIL 8PM SLAVE NEVER EVER FORGET THAT WE OWN YOUR ASS NOW AND YOU WILL EARN EVERY FUCKING PENNY OF THAT BLESSED 50K EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY HOUR OF EVERY 60 HOUR WEEK YOU WORK HERE.

For the lolz I looked at some other job postings on craigslist and found a listing for a massage therapist at massage envy.

The therapist gets $25 to $35 per hour including tips. Lets assume $30 at 40 hours at 52 weeks. $1200 per week times 52 weeks equals $62,400.00 per year. Fucking A, a therapist will make 12k more than a 4th year attorney while working a third less with NO LOANS.
Remember, what matters is the NET EARNING so the 4th year associate at that firm will have to subtract out $1,078.00 out of his salary due to the hefty student loan baggage. So now out of the $3,083.00 net per month he earns take out the loan payment for $1,078.00 leaving him $2,005.00 net versus the therapist taking home $5,208 gross or $3,853.00 net. Even with this salary the therapist can still afford the $1800 per month 2 bedroom in Woodland Hills while the broke ass attorney will be left struggling. The debt goes right to the net which hurts the most magnifying the JD's suffering. As I'm sure you are mostly aware the federal income tax write off is $2,500.00 for student loan interest expense. Thanks again CONgress.

Pretty sorry shit when a massage therapist can easily take home nearly DOUBLE the net income than a 4th year associate attorney stressing out over drafting class action lawsuits while the therapist does his job with relaxing music. Again, the above scenario assumes that the therapist works 40 hours and recieves the average of the advertised pay rate. Even if he worked less by a few hours he would make the same up to a certain point. Even if the therapist worked, let's say 25 hours per week at $25 per hour for a total of $625.00 per week or $32,500.00 per year. Assume tax rate of 20 percent his net earnings per month is $2,166.00, STILL higher than the 4th year associate at that firm which is grinding away 60 hours per week AFTER he forks over the $1,078 per month so he can be debt free within 15 years.

 This, ladies and gentlement, is the price to pay for having a shot to dance with the big shot lawyers. That 3 year buzz in law school feels goods as all of society is rooting you on, cheering for you, telling you that you are doing the right thing. Your parents, giving you that gleeful look of approval as they see you prepare for your final exams. That girl you always liked, giving you the eye as she knows that your stock just surged through the roof. After all, lawyers make good money. Wink wink.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Trial and Error

Been working on a side project and also have been helping my dad out with his business. In the meantime I've been listening to the calls to "go solo." I know there is a terrible attorney glut out there but I am a member of an extensive ethnic community so there may be some potential. You never know right? At this point I'm open to giving it a shot. One thing is for sure I'm not going back to law firm employment.

I went to the bank the other day and the manager told me that her friend needed an attorney to review a lease agreement. This was late friday afternoon. My dumbass decided to wait to call this lady on Monday as I didn't want to disturb her on the weekend.

Monday morning I call this lady and we set an appointment for 6:00 p.m at a local coffee shop. A few minutes after I get there she informs me that she contacted another attorney because I never got to her over the weekend oops! She provides me a copy of the lease agreement (10 pages long, pretty standard form) and I review it. Mind you I have no experience with commercial leases so I spent a few hours researching the key points beforehand. Lo and behold I caught something that was weak (very little language on the security deposit section). I informed her of this and she looked concerned. At that point I again reiterated that my rate is usually $150 but that I'd charge her my friends and family $125 hourly rate (LOL). She told me that she would contact me after her subsequent meeting (never did boohoo).

So I lost the lead due to my inaction. Lesson learned: get to the leads ASAP. However, I am happy that I attempted to take on the case. Three years ago I would have been so intimidated to take on even a simply commercial lease review and client advisory letter. Now, that it's basically do or die for me in the legal profession I'm like "fuck it, I'll give it my best." Interestingly enough, just a few hours of online research led me to sufficient tools to spot a few deficiencies in the lease.

I'll be passing out business cards to friends, family and the random people I meet. I also have a marketing plan I'm going to launch in the coming weeks. I'll keep everyone updated on the situation. At this point it's either solo practice or entering another field completely. At this point I really have nothing else to lose but time. I'm sure a year will be sufficient to determine whether or not it's worth it to pursue solo practice.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fine Wine, Egos and a Law School Applicant

Yesterday I went with my girlfriend to a wine tasting event. She works as a wine rep so sometimes on the weekends I go with her for company and to assist. It's pretty cool actually standing behind the desk pouring wine into the glass for the attendees. "Sir, may I try the Pinot Noir"LOL.

I took a break to enjoy the wonderful food (this wine tasting was at a Jewish Temple) and I met a pleasant 30 year old woman that said she was planning on going to law school. I still attempt to warn the youngsters about the perils of law school and the profession but she would be a tougher sell as she's been in the working world for at least 8 years.

She said that she was in design industry and that it's been brutal with long hours, low pay and constant beratement from upper management. Said she was sick of it and was ready to get into law, that she had a passion for it and was ready to work hard. When I began to advise against it she immediately interjected by stating "everyone has told me not to do it"and that "I've been in the working world long enough I know what the real world is like."At that point I knew there wasn't much to say. I changed the topic to what school she was going to she said some tier 4 with a 20% scholarship. I told her I went to a similar school starting in 2006 for 28k tuition and her eyes bugged out as her starting tuition is a massive $42,000.00. Unreal how tuition has surged by $14,000 in a matter of 7 years while employment prospects plummet. 14k increase on original tuition of 28k equates to a 50 PERCENT INCREASE IN TUITION. Has there been a 50 percent increase in the available jobs or entry level wages? The poor girl bemoaned the low pay in design (70k in secondary market was her last job). Wait until she sees entry level attorney positions offering $2,500.00 per month on top of her 150k student loan balance.

Interestingly enough this relatively attractive Jewish girl said that she has "sleepless" nights and "panic attacks" over the debt she will have to accrue in order to receive the vaulted JD. I told her you think it's bad now wait until the debt load is REAL and you have to pay that back with interest. At least now you don't have any debt." I informed her that I was fortunate to have family pay for half of my law school costs while I've personally forked over 50k in principal and interest expense. She stated that the cost is her biggest reservation. Perhaps this poor soul will avert near certain catastrophe.

I asked her if she minded working 60 plus hour weeks and informed her I was on my way out of law. She responded that she had worked 70 hour weeks in the past and that "successful attorneys have told me that I will be just fine." Don't know whether she was sending me a message i.e. I was a loser that couldn't cut it in law or whether she was simply stating what she was told. Nonetheless it was clear that her ego was being challenged and she simply had to prove to herself that SHE HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT IN LAW AND GOD DAMN IT SHE WILL!!

I recall becoming offended when people would tell me not to go into law. What, you don't think I'm smart enough, fucker? Yeah I know, I didn't get into a good undergrad nor did I get into a good law school, but I'm smart and dedicated and bla bla bla and due to family and societal pressure (plus not willing to deviate from my comfort zone) I went into a miserable and overly saturated field. 7 years ago I took the plunge. 7 years ago my gut screamed that this was not the best move and that there were other ways to make a decent living.  7 years later I'm ready to get the hell out. At least at the age of 30 it's not to late to start over and do something much more tolerable and enjoyable. Something that doesn't involve so many pissed off clients and deadlines and cutthroat saturation. I remember writing my first legal writing memo thinking to myself "holy shit this is atrociously boring" should have bailed at the end of my first semester. Could have would have should have. Only thing to do now is look forward and move on.

At least I was 24 when I started law school. This poor girl is 30 years old, still single (from what she said), is still somewhat attractive. Doesn't realize that her looks will plummet from this point forward as age and stress will get to her. Yet another woman puts her life on hold in pursuit of higher education and career dreams. Perhaps she feels undesirable now with her "lowly" 70k per year job. Little does she know how far more undesirable she will become with 4 more years added PLUS six figure debt. I almost wanted to scream "KEEP YOUR GOOD PAYING JOB, FIND A DECENT LOOKING JEWISH MAN, GET MARRIED HAVE YOUR BABIES AND LIVE PEACEFULLY EVER AFTER FOR FUCKS SAKES." Truth be told, if I wasn't a part of the wine event I probably would have said it.

High risk, high reward. No wonder so many narcissists are attracted and drawn into the legal profession. The glory of law with the victory of trial and the multi million dollar verdicts is what keeps the dream alive and well.  It's what kept me in the game as I too wanted the opportunity to shine in the court room and get that dizzying verdict. So enticing that society at large continues to be suckered by it's deceptive vanity. Surely many of you if you look deep down inside will see that the narcissist in you attracted you to the legal field. For those that see it's not the right move, if you can conquer your own worst enemy, that is the first step into making the right move for your life. It truly is amazing what some difficult and real introspection can do for your life. I find that I have been humbled by this experience and my once high expectations have been brought down to earth. People that I once sneered at to myself I now look at with awe and respect as they buy their first homes. Should have listended to all those attorneys that told me to stay away as they obviously knew more than me at the time. Of course, with my pride now dashed into pieces, it is apparent that I'm much more willing to lend an attentive ear to their proclamations.

Hope you all have a good week. Be back soon.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Getting the Hell out of Dodge

Hey guys! Been some time since I've last blogged but there's been quite a few developments in my life. I was at a boutique personal injury firm for 2 years where I must say I had a good experience. My boss and the staff were cool, the hours reasonable and the pay was decent. Unfortunately financial issues at the firm forced me to seek employment elsewhere.

 In December of 2012 I got a new job with a small firm with a wider practice area. I lasted an entire 7 weeks. My new boss was the quintiessential micromanaging narcissist lunatic lawyer. I noticed by the fourth week that something was seriously wrong with him. I got a call from defense counsel on a case and she stated to me "I never want to speak to that man ever again" (that man being my boss). I go to tell boss what she had to say about him and he fucking lost his head yelling "SIT DOWN" while in his office. Right then and there my body froze, my mind focusing on him like a red hot lazer. SIT DOWN. I thought to myself, what the fuck is this, kindergarden? SIT DOWN?! So, I sat, looking at him like I was ready to tell him to go fuck himself. He starts screaming at me "don't you ever talk to me like that again, if you want to keep working here, you will show me the respect! Don't you know that this is a top notch plaintiff's firm?" Ok. So the guy had a few million dollar cases in the past decade. He was middle average for the industry. I knew plenty of other plaintiff attorneys with far higher settlements and verdicts that WERE NOT lunatics. At that moment I realized that my time at this new office would be limited.

As the weeks went on more of his abusive personality came to fruition as my "grace period" was over. For example by the sixth week I was working late on Friday as he usually kept us late. Normally he would leave by 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. on weekday evenings but on Fridays he made sure to stay extra late. I personally believe he did this to fuck up our weekend because he himself had no life. That particular Friday he came in at 11:30 am so I knew it would be a long one. At 8:00 p.m. I tell him and his other associate (whom he treated like dogshit) goodnight and to have a good weekend. He gives me this look "leaving so soon? I guess you have a life." Monday morning he calls me in his office and berates me for leaving before him. Straight up tells me "I resent you leaving before me." At this point I realized that this asshole didn't want employees he wanted slaves. He was going to grind us for every penny he paid us. Sixty plus hour weeks plus one day on the weekend was not worth the money. I have too many friends making six figures that didn't work nearly as hard as I did. Throw in the constant ridicule, abuse, putdowns and critisism and I simply had enough.

My last week there he started throwing assignment after assignment on me. I literally had work for three people. It was too much. I started to get anxiety which I had never felt before. Oddly enough it would hit during my lunch hour (which frankly was an issue for him while the other associate would take his lunch break at 3:00 pm hurriedly while eating in his office). It was a Tuesday around 11:00 am. He threw numerous assignments at me which needed to be done ASAP (my ASAP list was growing rapidly at this point) and when he asked if the ASAP assignments we done to which I responded "Ï'm working on it" he rolled his eyes at me. At that point I said fuck this shit. I took my lunch, came back, wrote him a resignation email and bailed. Never looked back, didn't answer the three phone calls from the office. 6 weeks later I still feel tremendous relief from leaving that god awful hell hole. Thankfully I saved enough money and with part time employment I have more than enough to get by. I'd rather duke it out looking for work than deal with that shit. We only have one life, and without health we have nothing.

 The last week I was there my heart was pounding hard keeping me up late at night. I began questioning whether my "legal career" was worth my health being jeapordized. It wasn't and will never be. In life we have our dignity and only our dignity. I refuse to let any son of a bitch take my dignity away from me. Apparently personality types such as my prior employer are very common in the legal field. I have heard plenty of horror stories from defense associates how their bosses yell and scream at them, how they get abused by narcissist micromanagers. Obviously asshole employers exist in all fields but law is notorious for evil bastards like these. It's safe to assume that the glut of unemployed lawyers adds to this feeling bosses can treat their associates like scum. After all he would constantly reference the "thousands of unemployed attorneys." Ugh disgusting. At this point the question for me is whether I go back into the legal field or do I bail and do something else in my life. I worked as an associate for over 2 years and experienced first hand what an attorney does.

 Let me tell you that the work is utterly boring, you deal with asshole clients, plenty of asshole defense attorneys, but you also meet plenty of cool people too. I learned that I hate paperwork with a passion but I love talking to people. I really loved settling cases, the feeling of closing the file. The close. My gut is screaming that I need to get into sales. At the age of 30 I'm relatively young and can bounce out of law now before its too late. The saturation is beyond insane. Too many lawyers chasing too few cases. Let me tell you guys the small firms out there paying shit money probably can't pay much more anyways. The other day one of my friends got a job for $54,000.00 one year experience for marketing company. She has a BA and a little bit of experience. I got offered part time court appearance work for $15.00 per hour, gas money and parking NOT included. The interviewer said "look at all these resumes, plenty of desperate people out there will accept it." I LOL'd to myself thinking wow this profession is absolutely fucked. I'm so done with this. I'll be writing more often now that I have a bit more free time.

Wanted to throw a shout out to Law Prof with ITLSS. Thanks so much for your work! You really helped expose the scam to so many out there. Also wanted to say a few words of encouragement to those out there that are struggling. Don't quit. Do something, ANYTHING. Never sit idle. Make cards, give out cards, talk to people, go the law library, study anything you can. If you decide to bang it out in the legal profession good luck to you. If you choose to bail then do it with no regrets. Think of the law school investment as a failed investment. I happens. Fuck it. Mourn your loss and move on. Sometimes bad things happen, such as a car bomb that explodes outside a cafe killing and maiming dozens. The victims of the car bomb didnt ask to get blown into pieces but this is the world we live in. There are bad people out there that want to do harm. This is life and in life bad shit will happen. It unfortunately happened to us with the law school scam. Yes I am comparing the law school scam with a car bomb as the psychological pain is severe. So not cool suckering young people with super high expectations only to bring them down to shit, making less than people with AA degrees. Telling young people "you're going to be a winner" when in reality many will end up with soul crushing debt and jobless. I would not be surpised the emotional suffering is similar to the toil that survivors of a car bomb feel. We need to accept it and move on at some point. If you don't you will wallow in misery and depression and if you do allow that then they have TRULY WON. And why let them win? Fuck that. Go out there and kill it whatever you do, do it with passion and 100 percent effort. Do not accept failure we are still young and have a chance to do something. My parents neighbor failed the California bar exam 3 times, wallowed in depression, got into medical device sales and now lives in a $1.5 million home. Another litigator dropped out of law, got into corporate auto sales and now makes $250k per year. I will post more success stories as I find them.

Be back soon. Happy monday to everyone.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Dealing with post graduation depression

Been quite some time since I've posted. Some massive changes have taken place since the spring and I've done quite a bit of soul searching. The answers that I found have been interesting and would like to share some of those with all of you. Despite the constant protests from the media whores we all very well understand that the real economy, and not the one demonstrated by the juiced up S&P 500 index, continues to languish in a modern day depression. An economy that the powers that be desperately want to sugarcoat and hide the truth from the people. Sadly, there are many out there that continue to believe that things are ok and that if only they were "smarter" or "better" that they would be in a better position than they find themselves in. This cognitive dissonance continues to wreak havoc in many homes across the nation. Last year I found myself completely engulfed in the rat race. Focusing my time and energy on all the wrong things. Found myself angry with my position in life. Frustrated, at my so called lack of progress. Putting myself down for not being in a better position financially than I "should" have been. All this misdirected focus and energy led to me not taking care of myself and my significant other. I let my personal relationships flounder and found myself isolated and alone. Depressed, basically. I vainly attempted to put on a brave face but truth be told I was fucking miserable when I shouldn't been. In my short term depression I found myself feeling something that I hadn't felt in a very long time. I gave up. I stopped caring. For the first time in recent memory I completely stopped giving fuck about anything. All the websites I used to frequent I effectively abandoned. Market dropped? Meh. The FED refrained from additional bond purchases? Who fucking cares. Obama leading in the polls? And what does that mean for me? And it was exactly at this point when I began to see what little things I had. When you lose something dear to you, only then, can you truly appreciate what you DO have. For the first time in a long time I valued and appreciated my health. So what did I do? I hit the ground running, literally. I lost 25 pounds and am in the best shape of my life. Began to appreciate the fact that I had a job. Started taking better care of my files. Took better pride in my job. Started reconnecting with old friends again and made new ones in the process. Basically, a healthier appreciation of life. Am I in the financial position that I "should" be in? I don't know anymore. It is what it is. I know there are others that are doing better while there are others that are doing way worse. I no longer use this metric anymore. Now, I focus on ME. The things that I can control. I don't have any control over what this person or that persons life entails. But I DO have control over what happens in my life. I can control whether I eat a fatty fucking double cheeseburger or a fish salad. I can control whether I take the time to contemplate some excellent interrogatories on a slip and fall case or I can sit there being miserable that I'm in the trenches and not in some biglaw firm. I can control whether I sit on my ass for four hours straight or go for a nice 30 minute run and burn off excess calories. And for those of us that can go for that run, we should appreciate the fact that we CAN in fact run whereas so many others can't due to physical ailments. I know plenty of folks that are victims of the law school scam. Some are happy, others are indifferent, others are fucking miserable. The miserable ones tend to have something in common: they keep focusing on what OTHERS have. This guy is a cop and makes X, or this girl is a union worker and makes Y. Guess what, you chose otherwise. Snap out of it and DEAL with it otherwise your entire life will flash by and before you know you will be 50 years old, except this time even more miserable then you were before. So whenever you are feeling down about your lot in life, take a step back and appreciate the things you do have. Because before you know, what little you do have can be taken away from you. Stop focusing on what others have and focus on yourself. The struggle is immense but at least by fighting, by doing something about it, you give yourself the opportunity to make something happen. And if you fail try again. And in the end, if you do fail, at least you know you did the best you could. And if you succeed, then hopefully I'll see you one day on the slopes at Mammoth Mountain :) Peace
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