Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hell, how do I file a law suit? Status on life.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on where I am in life.  I have started receiving so many phone calls about mortgage foreclosure and bankruptcy, an area that I have spent the past few months learning about.

All in all, I believe I am ready to get started accepting clients, but my only question is... How the hell do I file a lawsuit, how do I know what kind of cause of action I should use, how do I file for an injunction, and what kind of pleadings do I use?

You would think that an attorney would know how to do such things, but believe it or not, we were never taught actual practice of law in law school.

I spoke to a bankruptcy attorney [also on the document review project]; he called doing the work we do "contract work," and he referred to it as a disease.  He has his own practice (just as I am starting my own), but he said that when he doesn't have clients, to bankroll his practice, he does contract work to pay the bills and keep the lights on.

I have a slightly different idea.  My wife and I are looking for some loan source so that I can start working full time right away.  Hitting the ground running at full speed is more likely in my opinion to yield results than dipping my toe in here and there.  The problem is that I don't see contract work as a disease; I see it as bitter-sweet shackles which stops me from getting started or succeeding in starting a firm.  It does pay the bills (most of the time, except these past few weeks where we almost couldn't pay the rent, and we even fought over this during an overly insensitive moment I had a few days back), but it absolutely KILLS all my time.

On another note, my COBRA health insurance runs out next month, and my wife and I do not have any alternative.  Paying for a plan seems so expensive and Obamacare is at least a few years out (and it will probably be legislated out of existence come November anyway).  We applied for the State's health welfare program, but we make too much money and were denied.  My wife and I have joked about how to get on medicare (think child #4), but the kids and me would still not be covered.  We will reapply for the State's health insurance program as soon as I lose my COBRA.  The reason we were denied was because they were all covered under my current plan which is still in effect until the end of November.


Starbucks employee, "You're allergic to metal spoons?"

Okay so I'm at the same Starbucks as I was last time, and I ordered my usual Venti coffee topped off with a bit of cold soy milk (parve, obviously).  This time, however, the woman behind the counter takes a LARGE METAL SPOON, sticks it into my coffee, and asks me something.

I didn't hear what she said because in my mind all I heard were the "wahkwahwah" sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher used to sound like.  I couldn't believe for me, that my coffee just achieved the equivalent status of Burger King.  Obviously it was kosher still [for someone who does not keep Cholov Yisroel], but that spoon was almost CERTAINLY considered dairy (or worse, traif), and my coffee was very hot.

So I apologized and told her that due to my very strict dietary restrictions, I cannot have any metal spoons in my coffee.  I know I phrased it weird, but I wasn't about to explain kashrus to a teenage Starbucks employee.  She understood me as saying that I had some allergic reactions to metal.  I held back a chuckle, and then commented that it was that way with me and dairy as well, so not to worry.

So for the past few minutes, I've been hearing her whisper to her co-worker that "I've never heard of anyone having an allergy to metal spoons!"

Later, she asked me if I can put a wooden spoon in the coffee for her to stir it for me.  Seeing that she had an unused wooden [stick] stirrer in her hands, I told her that would be fine.

We live in a silly silly world. :)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wife inappropriately interferes with my law firm's business decisions.


I am a little bit upset.  A few days ago, a woman from our community was in an accident while driving on Kings Highway.  A car coming from the other direction made a left turn going full speed, and she hit the car head on.

I was a few minutes late to work (like 45mins late) because I was writing a letter to my document review project regarding federal holiday pay, and so I arrived on the scene just a few minutes after the accident.

Both the woman's front airbags were deployed, and the woman's arm was pretty badly beat up.  I asked her if she needed any help or if she needed me to call anybody on her behalf (e.g., police, ambulance, family), and she instructed me who to call.  People were on their way to help her and give her a ride home.  After making the calls, it appeared as if I was no longer needed, and so I told her I'll be heading off since I was late to work.  She was on the phone, so she nodded me goodbye, and I left.

Driving a few blocks, I saw police cars with lights and sirens rush to the accident scene.  It was at that moment that I remembered that I was a New York attorney, and so I realized how stupid I was, and that it would be to her benefit to have an attorney advise her and make sure she didn't make any admissions or offers to pay medical bills, etc., which may hurt her financially in the end.

I turned around, and told her not to admit guilt, and not to say a word to the other side (in other words, be polite, but don't offer anything to be nice) unless the police ask you for information.  It took her a few seconds before she remembered that I was an attorney, and she was very thankful that I stuck around until the cars were towed and it was time for her to go home.   While the incident was still immediate in my mind, I drew a sketch of where the cars were positioned, and where each suffered damage.  Her ride drove her home, and I lost an hour of work, but I did a mitzvah of helping her out in what must have been a scary situation.

For a few minutes, it bothered me that her arm was pretty banged up and that with the deployed airbags, she might have suffered head or neck trauma, so I left a message for her to go see a doctor as soon as she can just in case she suffered any injuries which might not be immediately apparent to her.  She called me back, asked me a few questions, and thanked me for following up with her; she told me she was going to see a doctor that day because she has been experiencing neck pains and headaches from the accident.

I felt pretty good that I was able to help her out, although in the end I came to work almost two hours late because of it.  My wife wasn't thrilled with the story either; she didn't seem to be so excited that I helped this woman out.

Tonight, having promised to bring the sketch I made over to her (but knowing that I'll be busy for the next few days), I decided to write her the e-mail I pasted below.  I've taken CLE classes in EXACTLY THIS SORT OF TOPIC (car accidents, personal injury, and insurance claims) and so I wanted to share what I knew and to help her out because I didn't know this sort of thing and it would have been nice for someone to have explained it to me should I have gotten into an accident prior to becoming a lawyer and learning what needs to be done.  Here's the e-mail:
Dear Bayla,

Please let me know if there is anything you need from me.  I'll get you the sketch I made; it's no rush -- it wouldn't even be relevant unless there was a lawsuit.

At this point you should be getting a copy of the accident report from the police and learning about what kind of insurance the people with whom you were in an accident carry.  You should also be taking care of your own health, and working with your insurance company to have your car repaired / replaced.  If the people with whom you had the accident don't have any insurance (chos v'sholom), chances are that your plan has you covered for uninsured motorist (among other forms from which you can probably collect immediately; it is not a lot of money, but insurance companies are quick to pay it.  To collect, it usually requires you to simply fill out one of the insurance company's forms).

One last thing.  While your insurance company probably is your friend, you still need to be careful even with them.  Before signing any settlement forms with your insurance company, read what you are signing, or have an attorney take a look at it to see what rights you may be waiving.  You should also dig up or print out a copy of your policy to see what and how you are covered under your plan.

Also, while you do not need to make this decision right away, it might be a good idea to start thinking about whether it makes sense for you to sue to recoup some of the money you have lost in damages and injury from the accident.  They might be contemplating the same thing, and while there is no rule about this, it's probably better not to be on the defensive.  You would be seeking the maximum their insurance company policy covers.

G'mar chasima tovah,

  When I read the letter to my wife, she practically flipped out and forbade me from sending it.  She insisted that every normal person on the face of the earth knows this sort of thing, and that I'm being pushy and budding my way into her business and making us look like we are poor and looking for business when really I was trying to give her comfort knowing exactly what needs to be done.  And, I had no intention of charging her; I was hoping that by doing a good deed, she would, in turn, tell others how I helped her and thus I can get referral business that way.

But no.  My wife absolutely thinks I'm an idiot for writing such a letter, and she told me she would be very upset if I sent it.  She then told me that it's not tznius for a man to write such a letter to a woman, and that this woman would ask what I want from her from writing such a letter.  --Is she kidding?  I am a lawyer!  I was at the scene of the accident!  This woman is from our community and needed help!  If I don't follow up with her I'll look like I don't care and it will do nobody any good -- not me, not her, not the future of the law firm.

So for whatever reason my wife had (and now I'm pissed at her for interfering into my business efforts and holding me back from doing what I feel would be the proper thing to do from a law firm perspective), I decided to listen to her, and I wrote her a "I hope you're feeling better; let me know if you need anything" e-mail which in my opinion is a billion times worse than the letter I wrote because this short version looks like I am holding back information and begging for business.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So I'm sitting here in the city at a Starbucks with my laptop open, and some guy is making phone calls.  When he said his name, I typed it into Google, and found him.  He's a neurosurgeon.  When he walked by, I said, "take care, Doc."

Rosh Hashanna, 5771. Hopefully a better and more STABLE year than 5770 was.

I should start each blog entry with "AUIHBAWSIW," (as usual, it has been a while since I've written,) since each time I write, it is usually after a long time.  I guess this blog is one of those sucky ones where you wait for days thinking you're going to get content, and then.. NOTHING.  Sucks, I know.  I am sorry, please forgive me.

Really, this is one of those boring parts of life where nothing is new.  My wife and I are getting along, the Jewish holidays are here, and I'm working hard and being very aware of my sins and my transgressions, hoping G-d overlooks them and somehow finds the divine mercy to overlook them.  If I were him though, I wouldn't.  So here goes another f'cked up year.

I wrote the Lubavicher Rebbe a long P"N (pidyon nefesh, or pouring out of the soul) right before Rosh Hashanna.  My Rabbi, mashpia, and friend told me always to be careful what you write, and to describe your sorrows and your sins, and not to list the unnecessary details, because writing a letter to the Rebbe is not confession.  It's approaching a tzaddik (now nifter, or no longer confined to a body on this Earth just as my beloved Grandmother is no longer alive either) with respect, with humility, and as one of his Chassidim, asking for his blessings for a good year.  Can you imagine if someone walked over to the Rebbe and said, "Rebbe, I had lascivious thoughts which I couldn't control and I killed my neighbor's dog."  Well, I don't think he would reply with a smile in the least bit.  Anyway, that was the kind of Pidyon Nefesh I wrote.  It was immodest, brazen, and I shouldn't have sent it.

So what have I accomplished this year?  What have I gone through?  Well, in Rosh Hashanna 5769 (September, 2008), G-d decreed that I continue to work hard to save up a number of months worth of salary and get laid off from my job so that my wife and I can move our family to New York to be near her family.  We spent most of our savings on moving expenses and living without a salary.  This past Rosh Hashanna 5770 (last September, 2009), G-d decreed that we live in poverty, albeit with large injections of cash literally days each time we were about to run out almost as if we needed to learn to trust that it is G-d who provides our income and our livelihood, not our own hard work.  Literally days before we could no longer pay rent or afford to buy food, Hashem rescued us.  The first one paid very well, but only lasted from October until December.  We were incomeless and during that time, I took the Barbri Bar Review in preparation for the Feb. 2010 NY bar exam which I passed.  After the exam, from February until June, Hashem helped us survive by allowing me to win an unemploymnet dispute where I was awarded close to $7,000 in back pay.  Then in June, I got the document review position I am currently working at (which pays bubkis), but it pays the bills.  I started my own law firm, but have had only one client in a few months because I had to turn away all other clients because taking them would have required me to leave my stable document review position.  I am cool with doing this, but I see parnossa (earning a livelihood) as a monkey does, swinging from one tree vine to the next.  It ABSOLUTELY MAKES NO SENSE to jump to the next vine if one is not there.  In other words, my mashpia and close friends have told me not to leave what I have unless I have something equally as good or better to move onto.  Here, it would be stupid to quit my document review project (and get blackballed from working with them again) and take one case which will pay a few hundred dollars not knowing if there is a case after that one.

So now we're in the year 5761, and I wonder what G-d has in store.  I thought this year was a pretty shitty year until I just wrote it out for you and it seems as if I did quite well.  However, I must point out that most of the year, we were LITERALLY not making ends meet.  Most of the year was going from one miracle to the next, just to survive.  I acknowledge that.

What I would like is to have this year be a stable year where I get a few good paying clients who keep me happily busy working in my own patent firm, and while I'm working on those clients, I would work my butt off also searching for new business, and so on.  I've also been spending each day learning about foreclosure, bankruptcy, and my pet area of law, patent litigation.  If I can get enough clients to give me the comfort that I would get through the year unscathed, I would leave the document review project in a moments notice and would attend minyan every day and would do whatever I can to succeed.  I just need that comfort in knowing that something would be there as soon as I left the project.  Right now I have no clients and so it would be scary and very stupid to jump before I had something tangible to rely on in leaving the project.

My soul calls out to G-d and says, "I want to believe in you!  Please help me start my law firm and get clients quickly so that I can properly service them full time and support my family with ease!" 

Okay, this has been fun.  I need to get back to the reading I promised myself I would do before I went home for the evening.

G'mar chasima tova.