This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office New York lawyer, Vivian Sobers, talks about contingency cases and haircuts.
Have you ever decided to grow your hair out?
You know? You get a really great haircut and then, after a certain amount of time, the luster of newness transforms into the comfort of the everyday.
You decide: “I am going to change this up. I am going to grow my hair out.”
The only problem with changing your hairstyle is the inevitable awkward period of time in between. The period of: “I am not quite satisfied in the present, but I know I will be in the future.”
My law practice is in the in-between period right now. It doesn’t help that most of my current cases are contingency fee arrangements.
Contingency cases are long-term bets. A judgment call. For every case, you must ask yourself: Do I take a “lesser” payment now or should I bet on a greater payment in the future?
Inherent in every contingency based case is the risk that you lose the case or don’t win enough to even cover the costs you’ve advanced. Frankly, even if you win, there’s no guaranty that you’ll be able to collect.
Many solo attorneys can’t afford to take the financial risks contingency cases pose.
This rings even more true for a lawyer like me.
I went solo right out of law school. I was responsible for student loans within six months of graduating. I did not have the luxurious cushion or honestly, the foresight, to invade my savings. It would have been like invading Antarctica – a vast nothingness populated solely by a cold, stark wind.
Yet, in the last six months, I have found myself inundated with contingency client after contingency client. I seem to be their magnetic north.
This magnetic field realignment is discomforting, especially for my bank account.
In most of my contingency cases, I have to foot the bill for EVERYTHING.
Recently, I spent $100.00 dollars on postage. Just postage! But, when you are trying to enforce a judgment, you have to do your due diligence.
Subpeona to Moneygram. Check. (You never know. You would be surprised at how some “crafty” people try to purge themselves of monies owed to others.)
Spending one hundred dollars on postage seems crazy. What is truly crazy is when the previously insane thought becomes commonplace. Honestly, it is the cost of doing business. I have become jaded. I expect these ancillary fees.
It does not mean I am happy about it. Trust me. I am not ecstatic, but I am more dissatisfied with the time I’ve spent in the post office. (Seriously, there has to be a better way. I should just bring a cot.)
Flashback: What does all this have to do with growing out your hair?
I’ll tell you.
I see the value of where I am heading.
But, sometimes I still long for the days of comfort; the days of appearance work. The days of knowing exactly how much money I am going to make and when the check will arrive.
Who am I kidding?
I still do appearance work in order to pay for that hundred dollars of postage and the glimmer of 33 and a third percent. I will continue to sacrifice in the present to invest in the future.
In fact, I think about how I am going to spend my future earnings as I drive to Rockland County or Albany for a round of mediations.
Living in the present is easy. You don’t think or plan. You just act.
My practice is harder.
I have to maintain a balance of present and future so I can progress in my career.
I am in the terrible two’s of solo practice. But, I will grow out of it. I choose to focus on the “grow” in growing pains.
My name is Vivian Sobers. I’m young. I’m hungry. I sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees. Despite the challenges that may lie ahead, I’m committed to making this law practice a success.
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.