I promised to tell it all to you. Sometimes, because nothing specifically occures apart from the daily grind of labor and sleep you might think that there is nothing happening in the Bad Lawyer's world. And I am under no illusion that any of this is at all interesting, since everyone has their problems or as we say in "recovery," issues. Perhaps the camouflage of the bizarre tales from the legal and justice world posted on Bad Lawyer makes you think that things are just puttering along with the Bad Lawyer, himself.
This is not the case.
I was telling the young, good lawyer who comes to coffee in the AM that I go through my days with the feeling in the pit of my stomach that you feel when the roller coaster peaks, then drops...and drops. I go to bed with that unremitting sensation, then I awake in the middle of the night with that sensation, and if I'm able to go back to sleep I awaken with that sensation.
I get up, do my routine, here, at home then go off to coffee for an hour, and I'm at my day job by 7:45, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. I haven't talked much about the job so let me set the scene. I am working in a law firm for a brilliant character I knew for the better part of two decades. "Ira" is smart, funny, deeply compassionate and the head of the downtown OurTown sattelite office of a medium sized multi-service law firm. Ira manages the plaintiff's workers' compensation department comprised of 5 lawyers, myself and 8 or 9 other staffers. The OurTown downtown office in addition to our individual offices has a couple "commuter offices" and three conference rooms. The majority of firm located elsewhere in a very cool small town setting to the east with rambling offices where a very interesting mix of commercial, entrepreneurial, family, patent, creditor-debtor and class action work is handled. Without a doubt this is a neat law practice built on the architecture of a two guys, a personal injury and divorce attorney who launched the practice in the 1950s, and who are now retired.
There are several problems for me not the least being the impending financial and punitive consequence of agreeing to enter a plea to a tax felony.
There is also the expressed natural concern of young associate attorneys in the office joined by the one equity attorney that the limitations placed on my activites by the OurState Supremes make me ethically radioactive. And as you might imagine it is quite natural that these young attorneys do not want to catch radioactive illness in the event that my services cross the line. I can't blame them. Heere's the problem, I am not permitted to speak to firm clients--lest I inadvertently "practice law," by saying something that sounds like I am exercising legal judgment or giving clients advice. Having once been the most "verbal" of attorneys I spend a great part of my day in absolute silence, a vow of silence. Likewise, the Supremes require the firm to send out a letter to each client whose file I "touch" to tell them that a "suspended lawyer" is working on their matter in a non-lawyer manner. I am not allowed to send out anything under my signature, in fact nothing I draft can be independantly filed, or sent with Ira reviewing and sending out himself. So why did this guy hire me?
So I keep my head down, and I pour through volumes of files looking for "value," I work with case management software, I generate contact letters and letters to doctors, I draft memoranda, and briefs, I am permitted to schedule clients to meet with Ira, and I talk to Ira. In exchange for these services I receive a more than generous "paralegal" level salary and God willing, if it ever kicks in, health insurance for my family. If I was not facing further legal peril this would be a way back to my license. I am so grateful even to the young lawyers who feel threatened.
If I go to prison, this is gone. Frankly, I'm pretty much in a prison of my own making as it is.
I am terrified thus the sensation in the pit of my stomach.
My beautiful daughter, is asleep downstairs as I write this. My wife and I adopted her (and her brother)--she was placed in our arms 72 hours after she was born. She has given us beauty, light, love and joy--all her life. She still does. My darling girl is 17 and about to graduate from High School. She is lovely and amazing, talented, but she absolutely trashed her academics.
My daughter is ADD. About 6 weeks ago (I had suspected, but) we discovered she had been selling some of her medication for this condition to a fellow student. We had lost our health insurance at the time so the cost of this RX was a small fortune--but the cost was the least of it, I was terrified on several levels as you might guess. First I saw my legal peril playing out in her life, then I was afraid for the child that purchased this RX and of course, I was fearful for my daughter's ability to focus on her daily schedule. The BSL, kicked in gear and made my daughter retrieve the medications she had peddled and then she shut down her prescription.
On top of this nightmare, two weeks ago the local police called the house at 1 am, they had pulled my daughter over after she had pulled through an intersection in the BSL's car without having her headlamps turned on. She had three boys in the car with her. My daughter had come home from work at a local ice cream parlor, and snuck out of the house, ostensibly because some friend needed a ride home. This manuever cost us time from work, a fine, and no end of further anguish. Fortunately, my son is not contributing to this agony, this week.
This morning I was so depressed I called the OurState Lawyers Assistance Program to see if they had any availble assistance. I have not heard back from them.
You read about these stories of bad lawyers, judges, professionals, and others and I think it's probably pretty easy to think that, that is all that's going on, that these losers have a professional or legal problem and that's all there is. In reality problems, crises keep piling on and for me the grief and despair is pretty overwhelming.
Can I end this post on a hopeful note? Struggling mightily, meditating, writing here and elsewhere I am making some connections and beginning to sort through some of the underlying themes in my "movie." I am seeing at some primitive level where I planted the seeds that I fertilized with my animus that sit right now like an oak on my chest. I need light! If it comes, I'll share that with you, too!