Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ups and downs, pros and cons, of solo practice

My wife dropped me off a block away from the train station this morning. The light at Harlem was green and morning commuters are not a patient bunch. Someone might have rear-ended the family van if Long Suffering Spouse tried to stop to let me out. So she kept going until we were past the expressway entrance and pulling over again became an option.

So I walked back a block in the direction of... home. I realized... I could just keep going. No one would know, or care, really, not until Long Suffering Spouse called to check in at lunch time and found that she couldn't reach me at my office number. There's no boss looking at his watch when I wander in; there's no clock to punch. If I want to take a walk at lunch, if I want to visit museums today, if I want to just get on a bus and ride, there's nobody but me who would immediately protest.

On the other hand, I only make money if I work. If I stall long enough, I will lose my Undisclosed Location and my house and my family. But effort is only roughly correlated with income: I can work and not get paid. This happens all too often. I haven't gone on a binge or on strike or anything -- and, still, this year so far, I've made $1,500 from my law practice. Five hundred smackers a month! Woo hoo!

This is a consequence of people not paying their bills. But the money situation is turning around; I've worked long and hard and my labors are beginning to bear fruit. And one of the two large delinquent accounts is apparently making an effort to catch up; I had a happy email from my co-counsel on one of those cases yesterday. She's waiting for the client's check to clear. That's good news -- but, in the meantime, to stay alive, I've borrowed more on my life insurance. There's not much chance of paying any of that back any time soon.

So there's no one that makes me stay here in the office except me and mine. In that sense, I'm free. But I'm just as dependent as the salaried employee is on that proverbial next check -- and, unlike a salaried employee, I don't know when, if ever, it will come.

The tension is constant; the pressure unrelenting. Is it any wonder I fantasize about book contracts?

On the plus side, I've already won my office NCAA pool. On the other hand, I'm also guaranteed to finish last. And it's the same result, year after every year.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

A gloomy financial breakdown!

Jill said...

Think positive! Perhaps this year is the year for many great things, especially the NCAA pool.