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Messages - Jhuen_the_bird

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1
I'm not sure if bar associations can do anything about this, though.  The only real recourse is appealing, and if your client doesn't want to or can't afford it, then you just don't.  I think you're overestimating how much money lawyers have to "just do" things ... Or if you work for a firm, they tell you what to do.  Judges are elected here, so I guess you could campaign against them?  Might not work out, though.

2
wow. I guess it varies by district. Interesting stuff.

On the parts other than judges discretion, have you thought about contacting the bar to file complaints or asking clients to do the same if they feel their rights adversely affected?

A judge about 5 years ago "retired" after refusing to allow miscogenation marriages "for the good of future children".  The never married parental rights issue seems very simular to that from a rights perspective.

And anytime anyone "refuses" to do their job, heck start with the bar and then try it in the media. Just get the turds flushed out.

I think a lot of attorneys end up putting up with this, because in order to pursue something that would require the client to have the money to pay you to do so.  Otherwise, a lot of DR attorneys are already too busy to worry about it.  Some more established attorneys even refuse to take any matters in certain counties, bc of bad experiences!

3
The judges personalities is for sure a thing you have to pick up along with way (along with other personalities depending on who you commonly have as your OP and if you have to deal with juries, etc, I am sure) No way to beat that but doing it first hand multiple times.

As for the "extra" papers. What type of stuff is that normally? I know the clerks "can't give legal advise" (and they think that is even though the courts have rules that helping give directions on papers is NOT legal advise, they still hide behind the lie due to laziness(etc) ) but I am suprised the schools can't mention those papers in classes like pretrial skills or trial prep.

Can you give a few examples for those of use still novus to it?

Well, one of the local juvenile courts won't let you file requests for production of documents.  The clerks will turn you away.  They just WON'T let you file them.  It's not really "right" ... but it's weird and you feel like an idiot when they treat you like one.  Another example, a certain judge in juvenile court in another court "doesn't do shared parenting" for never-married couples who have a kid.  That's also wrong in the law, but it's sole custody + visitation or nothing in that court.  Also, another judge in domestic relations court actually has a somewhat "secretive" chart that lays out spousal support based on the number of years married.  It's just HIS form (since judges have discretion on that) and it's what he uses to determine the spousal support EVERY time.  It's not on the website and it's a paper that the local attorneys just share with each other.  Weird stuff like that are good examples I can remember!

4
I don't doubt your honesty, but the "didnt make much money" part would make zero dif.  If you made $0 but still got free rent for work done, the IRS would still view that as income if it was in front of a tax judge to decide. Good to know they aren't bugging you over it, but they could have.

So would you say the clinics are the better options for those who want to go solo then (compared to the option you took).

What "tricks" have you picked up? I'm assuming all good stuff, anything worth sharing? Why do you think they don't teach them in school?

I like your black letter tax law enthusiasm, but no one is going to see "got free rent for work done" b/c there is no evidence of that (and it's not even accurate).  I'm not going to get into details, though, lol.

As for "tricks" / lawyer secrets - it's really specific to area.  Like, certain things you don't know about judges' preferences / personalities.  The "extra" paper you have to file so that the clerks won't review your filings and send them back to you with instructions to include _______ sheet (even though that is nowhere to be found on the website / instructions / they won't tell you in advance). 

If you have a desire to go solo there are lots of things you could do differently in law school.  You can take courses in areas of law that are the most feasible for solos (family law / domestic relations, bankruptcy, SSD/SSI / employment law to an extent, etc.)  I would say that doing clinics *probably* would help, but I obviously don't know from experience.  Trial practice, maybe?  Maybe taking courses / experiences regarding negotiations / mediations - for the purpose of settlement.

5
No argument that better experienced people do better jobs. Thats for sure.

The who tit for tat argument on the rent issue would have bombed in tax court if you were on the taking end of the stick, but like I said most don't and most don't get called out on it, plus SOL, so unless C&F got up on you (and they won't) eh, I guess.

Didn't you school require externships and clinics to get experience though? Did you really enter without any real world practice other than (the self contained-bubbly boy-joke) that is called moot court or law review?

I barely made any money last year.  The tax man is not after me. :)  I was VERY honest on my taxes, though - much more than I could have been.  I know several solos who outright lie in order to get their tax bill lower (i.e. making up "contract employees" they paid under $600 so that they can deduct it w/o getting to the minimum for a 1099, lol).

As far as experience goes, I did an externship with a federal judge, clerked at that medium sized firm, did research for a West book and did research for a professor.  I actually came out knowing a lot about certain areas of law and how law firms tend to work / federal court filings.  My experience was relevant for getting a "real" job at a law firm.  These are scarce now, though.  I could have done clinics (related to domestic abuse / criminal law / etc), but I wasn't planning on being a solo and I wasn't planning on doing domestic relations or criminal law (I still haven't done any crim law, and have no desire!) ... and it just didn't work out with scheduling / timing for me to do a clinic.  Even doing those things, though, I still wouldn't have known all the "attorney secrets" that are out there.  I know it sounds silly, but it's totally true.  It's a profession that really needs a training ground, and that is typically what a firm job would have been in a decent economy.  We are just the unlucky ones ... but still kicking!

6
I meant where you were compared to where you are. (the big firm vs the not the big firm)

I don't doubt that you did at least as much if not more work than solo's I was just pointed out that you had responded to comment on the " I tried the solo thing for 6 months and didn't like it" part.

As for the services for not paying rent, did you make sure to include that in your end of year income? (FMV of rent deferred in exchange for services rendered) I ask since most know they should, and yet most do not.

It wasn't an official agreement or "this for that" ... it was just a situation in which this guy (and the other solos in the office) were being nice to me as a young, new attorney and letting me use the space for free.  Therefore, I just felt like I SHOULD help out if they needed assistance drafting something or doing some quick research.  I didn't get into anything that complicated on my taxes, if that's what you mean.

If you're just asking for me to compare different places I've worked, I've never worked at a "small" firm.  I was a law clerk at a medium (around 20+ attorneys) firm.  The office where the solos were was just a small office with 3 solo practitioners sharing space.  It was a nice atmosphere, and I liked those people a lot, but I was barely making any money and it was stressful to feel so lost / clueless about everything.

I DID try the solo thing and didn't like it - even with as much help and support I had while doing it.  I couldn't imagine just trying to do it on my own as a new attorney w/o any mentors.  I just commented b/c it's ridiculous when people say "why don't new attorneys just go solo!?" ... it's absurd.  It's far too difficult for a majority of new attorneys (and can be a real disservice to your clients since you know so little about practical legal practice) ... and it is often NOT lucrative at all.  Yeah, it's something you can kind of limp along doing while trying to find another job and it looks a lot better than doing NOTHING, but I wouldn't say it's just a simple solution to the legal job market and we attorneys are just too dumb to figure that out - lol.

7
It sounds to me less like you were a solo practioner and more like you worked for a small firm with some work on the side. Not the same as starting from scratch, but still valuable real life experience and I thank you for that.

Are you just trying to compare small to big firms?

Do you think you could have gotten into the big firm without the experience you gained from the other work?

Well, I wasn't on a payroll aside from being an independent contractor and just helping out the more experienced solo practitioner so I wouldn't have to pay any rent.  I definitely did as much, if not more, work than other solo practitioners just starting out (6 months is a very short period of time!)  I also did all the things you need to do (set up IOLTA account and business operating account, malpractice insurance, etc.)  The part time "of counsel" position I had was very part time, and appearances are something most solos I know do to supplement their income.

What do you mean by comparing big to small firms?  I'm a little confused as to what you're refering to ...

There are 2011 graduates who are working with me as staff attorneys at this big firm (hired the same time I was), so I'm not sure if my experience helped me get hired or not.  There was a GPA minimum requirement, so that was obviously important.  I think what helped me most was that I was just coming off of doing a document review project, and staff attorneys do a lot of doc review, so I had experience with doing that kind of work.


EDIT: I guess what I was trying to show is that, yes, I was technically a solo practitioner with independent contractor jobs on the side.  It seems like I wasn't doing a lot of work / not very busy, b/c there ISN'T a lot of work out there - at least not feasible work from paying clients for an inexperienced new attorney.  I did as much as I possibly could, but in the end I decided it just wasn't for me.

8
General Board / Re: I hope this Board can rebound because I love it.
« on: March 08, 2012, 01:19:28 PM »
Hahaha... So far I'm actually being helpful, but I could see this devolving quickly ... lol.  I feel kind of sorry for them, actually ... I started law school just before all the doom and gloom economy, and everyone was all happy and positive.  Ohhhhh well.  Times is tough!

That's what I don't get about people. I see it in all trades and walks of life. People have a job they can get in a good economy and go "no I want to go to school, it is sunny outside so let's stay inside" and then when they can't find work that is worth having, they go "no I will not go to school the economy is bad, it is cloudy and rainy outside so I must stay out doors".

Are people just plain retarded?

I'm not sure what the point of this is in relation to what I posted ... situations are different across the board.  Back when I was applying to law school, I was in undergrad and didn't already have a job (and I had planned on attending law school for many years).  That was just before it was general knowledge that the legal job market was terrible / going downhill.  I was just saying it was nice that there was none of that and everyone was positive.  Now potential law students are facing all the negativity.  In some ways, this is good, in other ways it's bad.  The legal job market may just be worse than the general job market, too.

9
Hah.  Starting your own practice is only good for tons of stress and no money.  I know from experience.  It took me 6 months to give up on that little experiment born from desperation!

Someone with actual real world experience and not just rehashing BS they read online or heard in class............ ;D  VERY REFRESHING!

Just out of curiosity what type of law did you practice in those 6 months, how did you find clients/very many/how much would you say you made overall and what were your overall costs for that period? Was it just you or you and a few other grads? Did you get absorbed into a firm, find a non legal job, or just hop into a line at the soup kitchen(nothing wrong with soup, I love it)

I ask since I am curious about hearing real life experience on it. Was it just the lack of clients or what? Don't most businesses (legal or non) take at least 2 years to grow regardless of what you are selling?

Well, for me, I really had no desire to grow a business / be a business owner.  Way too much stress for me, personally.  If it was someone's lifelong dream to run their own practice and had the business background (education and/or experience) I think they COULD be successful at it, so I'm not saying it's impossible - just extremely difficult for most folks.

What happened for me was about 4 months after passing the bar (I had continued being a law clerk at a medium sized firm that wasn't in a position to hire me and then did a legal fellowship with the city through our law school during that time) is that I made a connection through craigslist.  Someone was looking for an office share.  I met with this attorney (he is in his 50's and experienced and a solo practitioner) and ended up using a small office in the space (there were 2 other experienced solos in the office).  None of them were SUPER organized, but they were successful enough.  They definitely helped me a lot, but my heart just wasn't in it.

I did the "general practice" thing, but most of what I got were domestic relations / family law clients (which I knew nothing about, and panicked over constantly).  I only had a handful of my "own" clients while practicing (about 5 or so) ... and getting them to pay was always like pulling teeth.  The only things I ended up really doing on my own were writing a couple demand letters on contract disputes, getting a woman child support, and a couple dissolutions (uncontested divorces).  I helped the one attorney with a lot of his work and he would kind of just give me money sometimes, but I didn't have to pay rent or anything.  My costs, therefore, were pretty low (malpractice insurance was dirt cheap - around $500 for the year) and I bought some furniture and did CLE's, etc.

Most of my income during this time, though, came from a part-time "of counsel" position I took with a national "debt settlement" firm - very sh!tty sh!t law, but money is money.  I also did appearances for several firms (just show up for multiple types of hearings and don't spit at the judge, and you get paid $100-$135 - we have multiple courts in our area).

I am married, so I didn't have to worry too much about making money to live - I definitely wouldn't recommend it if you aren't being supported by a spouse or parents.  My only expenses were student loans (mine aren't incredibly high) and whatever clothes / food / etc. I bought for myself. 

So ... it worked out and was a good experience.  I think it was worth the try, and I met tons of awesome mentors / colleagues while doing it, but it was a struggle!  I transitioned out by applying to anything and everything I could ... finding out about a contract attorney position doing doc review ... did that for a bit, and then got lucky and am now a staff attorney at a big law firm.  I know this isn't the "end place" for my career, but it's great for now!  Pays well and is relatively stable.  It's a relief!

Basically, it's just incredibly difficult to do what you intended to do with a law degree with the state of the legal economy now ... beggars can't be choosers!

10
Jeez, how many schools did you apply to?  Anyway... It depends on where you want to go.  I would choose the school out of the ones where I had been accepted where I wanted to go the most and pay that deposit ... Then you can wait and se if you get into what I assume is a preferable school if /when you get in there.

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