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Time, Place, and Manner

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The Rising Cost of Lawyering

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Here we are, a week after the Blind Drunk Justice State of the Union Drinking Game, and I am still nursing the hangover that the speech caused. Those who drank along with BL1Y and myself know that we were pretty much hammered after five minutes because the President began by focusing on jobs. For next year’s SOTU I don’t care how bad the economy happens to be, I will not drink every time that President Romney says the word jobs. (But Namby, if Romney wins there won’t be a State of the Union speech in 2013 because ever since George H. W. Bush took office in 1989, incoming Presidents haven’t called their January speeches State of the Unions! …Oh really? Wow. What part of “hangover” was unclear to you? I have a tie with a coffee stain that can't be dry-cleaned out, would you care to be strangled with a half or full windsor?)

All of this talk of jobs got me to thinking about my present employment situation and how in this down economy everything is getting more expensive. It’s that time of year when my office mail is chocked full of requests for cash money. The Illinois State Bar, the various professional associations I belong to and (my personal favorite) my law school are all sticking their hand out asking for my money. Problem is, that outside of my law school begging for a donation, I don’t have the option to not pay up. Unlike some of my friends whose employers comp these expenses in an effort to let the associates forget that they are making shittons of cash off their hard labor I foot the bill for these “luxury” items.

And now, as I venture forth into my next year of practice, the leadership of the various groups I listed above have decided that I am a mature enough lawyer to pay an increased membership rate commensurate with my experience. Apparently, when you reach a certain point of practice, these professional groups think you’ll have had “raises” or “livable wages” or “a life without debt servicing” that will allow attorneys who have to pay their own way to easily afford their dues. I mean, that is the only reason I can give for the 250% increase for the 2012-2013 professional association dues.  [Not to be outdone, the Illinois Supreme Court just jacked the price of applying to the bar by $150]

It’s only money, right?

But that’s exactly the problem, I don’t work in the gilded halls of BigLaw nor in the solid middle class bungalows of MidLaw... I work in the slums and shanties of SmallLaw where raises may come (or they may not) and at the end of each workday I get down on my knees and thank God that I still have a job. Receiving a meager paycheck results in survival, benefits are sparse and job satisfaction typically only comes when someone else is paying for your first drink. That said, since I’ve got to foot the bill do I do the professionally prudent thing and pay for the professional association as it will provide an invaluable resource as I do my work for the next year OR do I do the fiscally responsible thing? Buy a case of wine that I don’t need.

Fuck it, I’ll just pay with credit for both.

[Read more from The Namby Pamby]

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