Thursday, August 31, 2006

Opposing Counsel

Apparently I must be doing a good job at my toilet firm because the partner swaggers into my office, plops down in front of my crumbly, falling-apart desk thats been here since 1826, and says:

"Batman! I have great news!"

"Yes, Mr Partner, what abuse will you dole out on me now?"

"I'm giving you the __ case! I just drafted our last discovery request and need you to pick this file from here and run with it. So prepare a summary judgment motion to get us out on the damages issue!"

"Uhh sure..great. Whats this case about?"

"Well, its rather serious!! plaintiff had his ______ chopped off when he fell from a ladder at work. We have some serious heavy hitting firms on this case!"

"oh? like whom?"

"We got Wilson Elser, along with DLA Piper, Smith & Laquercia, and Sullivan Papain in the picture, just to name a few!"

"so what now?"

"Well we are going to try the case unless we get out on summary judgment, which is where YOU come in!! . Its not like we haven't won against Sullivan Papain before! and DLA must be getting in on the business, I'm surprised they are representing ____, then WEMED of course they have their hands in every little dirty case because the partners there do nothing but fight with each other for referrals"

"Oh?? What do you mean?"

"Well, I have had associates call me who left for Wilson Elser begging to come back. Unfortunately, we had already filled the job (winks at me), but seriously, you don't want to work at that firm. Its just a miserable place, the partnership structure there is something else!"

"Ohh I seee..well good thing I don't right?"

"Right on my man! So get started on this motion and leave a draft on my desk! I am going to see my grandkids in FL this weekend! It should be a nice Labor Day! Call me if you have any trouble with the motion."

"Uhh..sure"

So guess there goes my Labor Day.

Reason # 4 why practicing law sucks:

Your Hours are Not Your Own.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another Fun Court Appearance

Today I was in court for another toilet slip and fall case. So I was waiting in court, and reading the list of firm names on the calendar sheet pinned outside the court room. I am 90% sure the majority of cases being handled by most of the firms listed were toilet personal injury/construction accident claims. You can tell right away if its a toilet PI case simply by the caption...

Like

Joe Smith v. Pathmark Stores, or

Jane and John Doe v. Turner Construction, Turner Contracting, Turner Bulding Management Company.

or the ones that can get thorny:

John Doe, Jane Doe, John Doe's Step Cousin, Jane Does Sister in Law, Jane Doe's Sister in Law twice Removed, John Doe's Parent's, Jane Doe's Parents and the Doe Village v. NYC Transit Authority, NY and NJ Port Authority, NYC MTA and ABC Mangement Co.

Cases like these are my favorite because nothing really gets done until 3 to 5 years after the action was first filed! There will always be one defendant who didn't do jack shit, never put in an Answer, or never responded to everyone's requests for discovery.

As it so happens, the toilet case I'm on is in the middle of depositions...So what happened went something like this

"So my client won't be available for depositions until mid September because he's going away to...blah blah blah"

"Well I need to get his testimony now before we move on to so and so's deposition scheduled in late September. Let's do it next week"

No I can't man! I just told you why! No can do!

"What the #$%? You want me to give you another @#$3 adjournment here? We've been playing phone tag with your firm for months now over your client! If you don't produce him, we are going to seek a court order!"

"Fine, go ahead!"

"FINE!"

HHMPGGGH.

Okay, so many it didn't go exactly like that but the general feelings were there.

This is reason # 3 why practicing law sucks:

You go to court and fight with other lawyers over stupid shit like deposition dates.

Damn.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Deposition Hell plus the Hard Numbers of Settlement

I just took a deposition in one of my toilet cases. Opposing counsel constantly harrassing me with objections left and right, interupting me at every phrase:

"this isn't relevant!". or

"you can't ask my client that!" or

"improper form!".

I am so sick of it.

In law school, I remember spending HOURS just watching attorneys conduct depositions. Meanwhile, none of my depositions to date have gone over 1 or 2 hours. Today's deposition lasted a pathetic 40 minutes. 40 minutes!!! How am I to account for my billing on that?!

What really burns me up is that the case is an absolute shitter. The plaintiff's injuries are ALL soft tissue, (no fractures) there aren't even any photos of the alleged "defective" conditions, and plaintiff's attorney thinks he wants us to fork over at least $50,000 for damages and suffering? For cripes sake, the plaintiff isn't even alleging lost wages!!

Yeah, get over it. I'll be lucky if I will even offer anything close to $10,000.

What really burns me up, our firm has budgeted about $35,000 for the defense of this case while I think this case shouldn't even be worth the paper the Complaint its written on.

Tell me again why plaintiff attorneys exist...

Oh wait, now I remember. So ID schlubs like me actually have something called a "J-O-B".

Monday, August 14, 2006

Document Review v. Ins Defense: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've had the glorified experience of being not only a current insurance defense attorney, but also a former temp doc reviewer!!

Here is my personal list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on both

I. DOCUMENT REVIEW / TEMP CONTRACT ATTY

a. The Good:

1. You get paid WELL (at some projects around $40-50/hour, lowest around $20/hr)
2. You control your vacation/downtime
3. Zero responsibilities (just show up and do your job, collect paycheck, pass GO).

b. The Bad:

1. You can get canned for just frowning at a paralegal
2. You will be sitting at home for many days/weeks/months between assignments
3. At the infamous Paul Weiss, except to work under terrible work conditions (ie basement cockroaches, one bathroom).
4. Expect some associates or firm staff to treat you less than a human being

c. The Ugly

1. Do temp work for more than a few months or a year, and expect your resume to be forever branded as "Permanent Contract Attorney", diminishing your ability of getting a REAL attorney job. Of course, this might not be so bad if you really don't give a rat's ass about even starting your legal career.
2. Do enough temp work, and the idea of using your brain at work will start to feel like a lofty fantasy you entertained as a pre-law.


II. INSURANCE DEFENSE

Otherwise known as: personal injury defense/general liability/casualty defense/liability defense/general litigation, etc

a. The Good:

1. You have a JOB!
2. Your firm might actually offer you benefits! (and by benefits, I mean dental, vision, 401K, etc)
3. You might have your own office!!! Maybe even your own secretary and/or paralegal!!
4. Once in a while, you get court appearances!

b. The Bad:

1. Your salary is crappy (>55K for many entry levels)
2. Your firm might not even offer generous raises (or none at all!)
3. BILLABLES!!! Minimum of 2,000 but realistically its more like 2,200-2,400 at many firms.
4, Expect to spend all your days reading through boring or disgusting medical reports of plaintiff's injuries
5. Long hours for crappy pay

c. The Ugly:

1. Do enough ID work and you will never be able to transition to a more lucrative practice area (aka Insurance Coverage, Commercial or Business Litigation).
2. Your court appearances will revolve around Kings and Bronx Supreme..where court clerks treat lawyers like children and where you will spend your time litigating with adversaries who act like Joe Pesci from "My Cousin Vinny".
3. Partner compensation at most ID firms is barely a 1/4 that off Partners at REAL firms like Skadden, Heller Ehrman, Lowenstein Sandler, etc...thanks to CHEAP insurance company and low billing rates
4. If you're a 1st year associate doing ID, good luck in ever making 80-100K within the next 3-5 years.
5. Toilet ID Firms like Wilson Elser will be quick to FIRE you the minute your billing falls under a certain criteria.

So there you have it.

Read it and weep.

I'm still weeping.

The Legal Job Market for Lawyers

So theres some asshole spammer who has totally ruined JDJIVE. You can barely read any of the messages..But whatever.

Here is the skinny.

JdJIVE is only, like, 5% of the law graduate population.

Really. Not everyone out there is slaving away for 35K doing ambulance chasing PI or document review at Paul Weiss for a miserable $ 21/hour (although it seems like that is your fate if you were to believe everything on that board).

Yeah, I know I am bitching about how practicing law sucks but let's face it - its not like we didn't know what we were getting into when we signed on the dotted line and sat our butts down in front of some rickety-82 year old, arrogant, fire-breathing, Torts professor back in 1(hel)L.

Yeah the market sucks.

Cry me a river.

After September 11, 2001, everyone under the sun decided to enroll in law school in droves.

Now you're paying the price.


Next post:

Document Review v. Insurance Defense: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Day in Bronx Supreme Court, Rm 707

So I had a Preliminary Conference today on one of my toilet cases.

I call it a toilet case because my firm represents the insurance company for this Bronx slumlord building who didn't do squat about EVERY little crack located in front of the building's sidewalk!!! And you know what happens when you don't fix every crack!!! Some poor unfortunate old lady will eventually trip over it!!

As it so happens, that's exactly what happened! The plaintiff tripped and fell and...oh no, guess what happened?? she fractured her right ankle!!!

Poor baby.

So she's unemployed and decides to sue.

You have to love these plaintiffs!!

So they sue the building owner and everyone under the sun.

Which is why I am stuck in Room 707 in Bronx Supreme for a Preliminary Conference.

Plaintiff is represented by a 2-attorney ambulance chasing outfit in the Bronx.

of course, I get there at 9:30 am, dutifully circle my firm's name on the Court calendar outside, and sit inside the courtoom as everyone starts to arrive.

Within 15 minutes, the room is full of yellin attorneys, mostly fat old white men, catcalling each other case names.

"Anyone here on Gomez?!?! Gomez case!?!?

"Martinez v. Joe Schmoe Realty!!??

The court officers, have to YELL at all the attorneys like 5 year olds to "quiet down!!"

There are 3 separate calendars on for today, the PC calendar (Preliminary Conference), CC calendar (Compliance calendar) and Discovery/Motion calendar...(who konws how long those poor schleps have to wait until the judge decides to hear the case)

It is 10:30 am and i am *STILL* sitting there.

Waiting for plaintiff's attorney to show up.

*tick* Tock*

Finally, she appears. A short buxy blond. Not bad looking, but not exactly hot.

"Are you here on __ case?"

"Yeah, I've been here like an hour.."

"Ohh!! I am sorry. I got stuck in the Pre Trial part upstairs. Let's just do the Order and get the judge to sign it."

It is now 11 am. We sign the order (after all it only takes 2 minutes to pick a deposition date!) and wait..

I kid you not..

Another fuckin HOUR to have our case be called. What do I end up doing?
Read the newspaper!!!

Yes folks, I get PAID to sit on my BUTT in court reading NEWSPAPERS!

So by the time we meet with the clerk who basically "rubber stamps" our order, it is now 12 pm.

12 freakin pm.

For a SILLY preliminary conference, that took all of 5 MINUTES to do with my adversary.

So now you see, what lawyers *really* do in court.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Reality That Is Law

There is a poster on JdJive that goes by the handle of "law is 4 losers".

The first time I read entries by him (or her?), and also by another poster called "Anonymous Litigator" (who now goes by some other name I believe), I thought I was reading my own messages.

I had to a double take.

I mean, really. These people (or maybe its 1 person?) really HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD as to why this profession s-u-c-k-s. Not only that, reading about firms I worked for, interviewed with, and actually know all about??

Thats like going onto the Greedy Associates boards, reading about Fried Frank and knowing I can talk about my firm because I know something about it!!


Well, I think this is what propelled me to start this blog.

Its not just about me..(although I do find myself to be quite fascinating and can entertain myself for hours on end), but about my crappy job and my views on this profession.

It is about SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE about law firms that are below the radar. The firms that arent the Skaddens or the world. Firms that sit under the radar because they are just too small and insignifcant to even mention a listing on Martindale Hubbell!!

Heres a little interesting tidbit:

You think you know what lawyers do in court?

Here is a hint. At a preliminary conference on a PI case, the majority of lawyers will spend their time sitting in court reading a BOOK or MAGAZINE. Then both sides will arbitrarily pick dates for discovery and then wait almost 30 min to 2 hrs for a judge to simply sign it.

Then you go back to your office.

Thats it!!

Nothing HARD about that right??

Well guess what, law really isn't hard at all..

or maybe its just that I am too smart to be doing dummy ID work..

*sigh*

Monday, August 07, 2006

Introduction

I have thought long and hard about starting this blog and decided..to heck with it.

I once held delusions of grandeur of having my old blog become famous. Not "ohh- look- at- this blogger- who- seems- funny" famous, but more like "holy- cow -this- person- almost -got- fired, got- featured- on -[insert random media site] famous".

Yeah well. I am not Jeremy Blachman.

I am not Melissa Lafsky, aka "Opinionistas".

I am not Stephanie Klein, nor Mimi the Stripper (miminnewyork.blogspot.com).

I am not that former Asst US Attorney who authored "Underneath Your Robes" (although that was a good blog before he came out)

I am just an ordinary NYC insurance defense lawyer trying to make ends meet.

This will be my private space to just vent about anything.

And right now the biggest thing I feel like venting about is how crappy it is to analyze a bunch of medical records when the only injury in this case is a silly right ankle fracture.

**sigh**

Gotta love law.