Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When You No Longer Care About Impressing People

So today, I get a phone call from someone seeking legal representation. Keep in mind that I don't actually solicit clients at this point. The biggest reason is because I've been burned by them not paying me after I put in significant time, work & effort for them. Not a single client I've had has ever paid me for my services (as a result, the number is very small).

Not getting paid for my time & effort pisses me off. I'm sure you'd also be pissed off. The best analogy is working for a large company that decides to arbitrarily not give you a paycheck without any warning or explanation.

Apparently, someone I likely met at a networking event passed my name along. Who knew? I largely go to events to meet more entertainment industry people but if I become the go-to legal counsel, okay. That's not something a lawyer should complain about. If someone asks for entertainment work & I don't have the time or experience to help that person, I will happily direct them to a lawyer I know who might have the expertise or time to help.

As long as you don't ask me to represent you in litigation (too time-consuming), ask me to violate the state ethics rules & you don't mind that I don't have an office or have to go to bar association libraries to do legal research, it's cool. You'd also better be paying me & not trying to get freebies. Would YOU want to be giving freebies to strangers? I didn't think so.

If you can do those basic things, then we're all set. I don't pretend to be the expert on everything (I'll be the first to tell any prospective client that fact) but I am a stickler about being treated w/basic respect. That's another thing I don't take kindly to & probably a big reason why I'm not really suited for work in big business. I just realized I'm operating like a drug dealer getting clients: dealers won't sell to or work w/anyone who can't be vouched for by someone the dealer already knows. I wouldn't represent someone who can't be vouched for due to my horribly bad experiences. The upside is I've developed business relationships w/some collection agencies & know more about the Part 137 Fee Dispute resolution program.

My husband thinks that I haven't been able to find a day job for myself b/c people are too intimidated by me. Yeah, I have done a lot of things & a legal colleague said I pretty much had to work on my own to find jobs since my background is so unusual. Guess that theory is possible.

I think I've also become like Peter Gibbons in Office Space after he went to the hypnotist (again, see this movie if you haven't already). At least I have that stance with new opportunities since the people I already deal with do appreciate me.

Seems like so many people I know have become like that lately. The plus side to it is I think it definitely prompts one to be more honest & direct with people than the average applicant. Maybe I've gotten some results b/c the honesty throws them off. Maybe my personality is helping me. I don't completely know but since I'm happier doing that, I'll keep it up.

Either way I'd rather work someplace where my personality & go-getting is seen as an asset. Don't know why I'm able to have some of the conversations I have w/people but maybe I did inherit some of that sociability that my sister & father have mastered. No one's a stranger to them; you'll hear some interesting conversations & insights from the most random people if you hang around them. Travel w/either of them is particularly interesting.

One example: during a massive blizzard in December 2003, my father & I drove up from NC to CT for me to see the law school campus I was considering attending. Thank God he was driving for this trip b/c we had more than one close call (he's also a former truck driver who's driven in many bad weather situations).

The day after we arrived & had seen the campus, we stopped into a Friendly's in the midst of all of it before hitting the road to go home. There weren't a lot of people there since there was a blizzard, but he ended up starting conversations w/the waitress & some other patrons. We were talking to this couple that I believe were heading to Florida or visiting from there. I told them about my seeing the law school campus & we were all just chatting. He also spoke to our waitress & had very kind words for her. Face it, if you came to work as a server in the middle of a blizzard you deserve some generous tips.

Anyhow, by the time we were going to pay the couple from Florida had left & the waitress told us they'd paid for our meal. It certainly wasn't expected or asked for; it was just one of those random acts of kindness.

I try to perform those from time to time. I may be assertive but that doesn't mean I don't have a caring side.

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