Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Soooo Glamorous to be an Attorney.

Today, I had to file a complaint, file affidavits of service and buy a judge (pay for an RJI) so that I can have a motion heard.

I went to the basement of the courthouse and paid for my index number.  The clerk laughed at me because I forgot to write "Summons" on the Summons.  She made me write in by hand. My bad. I need a secretary.
I asked her if I could pay for an RJI (Request for Judicial Intervention) at this window.  She directed me to go to a room on the first floor.

I went to that room. I waited in line, behind a bunch of Chinese-Americans who were there to get their passports.  After 15 minutes, I realize that I could have gone around those people and I walk up to the window.  She takes a look and says, "you have to go to the room next door to have this RJI form approved before you pay for it."

I go to the room next door and I meet with the motions clerk.  He looks over my documents, makes me make a few changes by hand and tells me that I have to go back to the first room (no, the second room) to pay for it, then I need to bring back two copies of the motion and two copies of the RJI. If I don't bring back those documents, my motion won't be on the calendar.

I go and wait in line.  This time, it's a real line.  I am behind attorneys and clerks.  I get within eye shot of the window and I notice that I have to have copies of the RJI before I pay for it. Shit.  I step out of line and go to the copiers to make said copies.

They are 35 cents a copy.  I have nothing on me besides tens and fives.  Ugh.  There are two people standing at the copiers looking for change.  I leave this room and head down to the record room, where I know there are copiers.  I take the stairs because I've already spent too much time at the courthouse and I can't handle waiting for the elevators.

I slip into the record room. I see two copiers. I head towards them and see a sign that says they are not for public use.

I walk around the bend and I see 4 copiers for public use.  Once again 35 cents a copy, but these machines are equipped to take bills.  There's one catch: it only takes OLD five dollar bills.  What?

I open my wallet and take out my three five dollar bills and I notice that they are all NEW five dollar bills.  I note to myself that I haven't even had to think about this distinction, ever.

I run upstairs to the convenience store in the courthouse and buy gum. I don't eat gum, but I wanted to break my stinking five so I can make my copies... I need about 12 copies.  That's about $4.20.

I go back to the basement to make copies with my new one dollar bills. I stick my document on the glass and the stinking machine says it doesn't have paper to match my document.  No letter sized paper?  Really?

I open up all of the drawers and the machine only has letter sized paper. I start pressing buttons and finally, the little green light says that it will let me proceed.  I make two copies, and another two copies of another document. I bend over to look at them and they are facing the wrong direction and at about 25% of original size.  Shit.

So, I'm down about $1.40 and I have no copies.  I don't have enough to make the remainder of the copies either. I head back upstairs to buy more gum.

I come back downstairs and I finish making my Godforsaken copies.

I'm not done yet.

I head up to the cashier's office where I pay for the RJI and I pay for it--finally. I run over to the motion clerk's office and give him all of his documentation.  I've been in the courthouse about an hour longer than I had planned.

I step to the front of the courthouse and there is a torrential downpour.

What's glamorous about this job again?
This is real life. It's not LA Law and unless you're rolling in dough, this is the shit that you have to do to make it as a solo.  My friends tell me I should hire a law school graduate... hire being a loose term because it would be unpaid... to take care of this crap for me.  But my morals tell me that's wrong. I blog about the pains of being a new graduate and I would hate to "employ" someone that despised me for not paying them or not paying them adequately.  Could I?  Should I?

But that doesn't change the premise of this blog. There are plenty of attorneys at the courthouse tending to these matters on their own. It's not pretty. It's not glamorous and it's not aspirational. It's the shit in shit law.


  1. Geez Angel - that picture!

  2. Nando inspires me. :) At least it's off a baby's butt.

  3. Like I don't see enough of this at home. : )

  4. I'm about to enter the military as an officer. I need to read things like this just to re-affirm my decision and to never forget what I'm escaping from. I'll have to physically work harder and won't be making much even 4 years out, but, I just might be making more than the shit law attorneys and I'd be doing something more productive.

    I seriously need to make sure I remember this, so I don't try to go back into law or anything afterwards. Thanks for the posts and good luck to everyone else.

  5. Good luck to you! Thanks for serving our country. Your work is far more noble than mine.

  6. "Good luck to you! Thanks for serving our country. Your work is far more noble than mine."

    Isn't that what they say to everyone going into a shitty profession. (e.g., teachers, military, lawyers, family practice medicine, etc.)

  7. Noble = helping people, serving society.

  8. I am glad to provide some inspiration, Angel! This is a sick industry. The LEMMINGS that insist that they "love the law" CLEARLY do not know what the hell they are talking about.

    With state judicial budgets getting slashed to the bone, try filing a substance abuse evaluation (SAE) at state expense. Then tell me how lucrative, rewarding and prestigious this "profession" is. I have filed such motions, with first time offenders who did not have two sticks of gum to rub together, and these - without fail - were DENIED *the moment* the judge or his clerk came across them. That was the case with everyone else in my clinic.

  9. It sounds like you were at the New York County Supreme Court . . . am I right?

    Anyway, my office is in that neighborhood so if you are ever downtown and you need to make a few photocopies or you want a cup of tea or a snack on me, feel free to give me a call.

    I'm not in my office every day but if I'm there I'd be honored to have you as a guest.

  10. "I forgot to write 'Summons' on the Summons"

    "After 15 minutes, I realize that I could have gone around those people"

    "I notice that I have to have copies of the RJI before I pay for it"

    I was going to say, "Well, of course it's not 'glamorous' when you're still learning the ropes and don't know how to do anything." But then I got to this part:

    "I bend over to look at them and they are facing the wrong direction and at about 25% of original size."

    Nah. If you don't even know how to use a copier, you've got bigger problems than just being a newbie.

  11. "The clerk laughed at me because I forgot to write "Summons" on the Summons. She made me write in by hand. My bad. I need a secretary."

    No, Angel, you need a clue. No secretary with half a brain will take direction from you. Learn how to DO things instead of complaining about them. Out in the real world, it's called "paying your dues." Best of luck.

    P.S. Make sure you've got good malpractice insurance.

  12. I've got good malpractice insurance, thank you very much.

  13. Oh yah, I missed the class in law school about how to properly operate a 30 year old copier. Did they offer that at your TTTT?

  14. Angel, say thank you and send a bouquet of flowers to the clerks to put on the desk... they will remember you and help you in the future.

  15. Your law school had a copier that wasn't 30 years old? You must have gone to a TTTTT. We still use carbon paper and Jefferson's copying press at the Ivy.

  16. The older the copier is, the more likely it is to be easy to figure out, without, like, a manual. (I'll spell it out because you seem a little dim: the older they are, the fewer bells and whistles they have. It's basically "hit the Print button.")

    And 11:34 has it absolutely right: "Out in the real world, it's called 'paying your dues.'" I don't know where you got the idea that law is supposed to be "glamorous" for absolute beginners - I assume you've watched too many TV shows - but most people with half a clue know that everyone starts out doing scut work. That's just the way it works - in most professions, not just law. Bitching about it just makes you sound entitled and not too bright.

  17. Of course its a bribe: You can't get to heaven unless you get past the gates. Best advice anyone ever gave me -- think of all the grunt work the clerks do without any end in sight. They've seen every newbie mistake and problem and they will help you if they know you.

  18. At one time a parent adored that poopy diaper and took a photo of it for all to see. "My wonderful little gift from Heaven made a poo-poo! This is amazing! I am so so happy to have an adorable baby. I worship everything he does, even his poo-poos."

  19. Seriously, you may think it's shit law, but if you want to practice in NY County it's a skill you need to learn. Someday maybe you can advance to "Discharging Mechanic's Liens." That said, you would be stunned how few lawyer in NY County have clue as to how 60 Centre Street works. After wasting my life for 9 years in shitlaw, God took a pity on me and found me an in house gig...where I do all these things myself (of course, then I go home after I am done, even if it's 11am ... practicing law is so stressful at times). I also stun the outside counsel I hire by knowing the procedure even better than they do. If it makes you feel better, we can call it "learning the ropes" rather than "paying your dues." You never know if learning this stuff will come in handy sometime...for me, it did.

    Good luck.

  20. Welcome to the rest of your life.

  21. I practice in Chicago, IL, and I can't tell you how many times I've had days similar to this. It is absolutely soul-draining.

  22. I vote for a docket service. I started as a solo after that Ivy League JD produced no job. Who could keep up with all these requirements? $100/mo and someone else worried about all these damn rules. Plus I always made a zillion copies just in case.

  23. Dude, dont take this the wrong way but seriously you are soft. Real talk, you are not going to make it in this industry if you don't toughen up.

    This is basic lawyer work and its dumb easy. Seriously ask yourself how friggin dense someone would you have to not have prior knowledge of the attorney line.

    What the hell were you looking at in the line the whole time? did you not notice the separate window for attorneys? There is always a sign.



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