12 months later

I’ll bet you don’t know know where you were December 19, 2008 at 2am.  I was at the Pink Pony.  Arguing with a plaintiff’s attorney about the case we had against each other that was scheduled for a hearing in 2 days.

Me:  If I’m going to come up to forty-five, I’m going to need a general release and a resignation.
Chuck Chase:  She’s not going to quit her job.  And we want fifty.
Me:  Fuck you.  We’ll go to court.
CC:  Now hold on a minute…
Me:  I never wanted to settle this case in the first place!  My jackass client seems to think your exaggerating client has a good case.
CC:  She does!
Me:  My ass.  I’m glad to risk my first loss in six years on this case.
CC:  Fine.  Forty-five.
Me:  Smart man.
(1-2 minutes of silence)
CC:  You know…I respect you…you’re not afraid to try a case and seem to know your shit.  You should change sides.  Come work for the good guys.  Hell, come work for me!
Me:  Maybe.  Some day I might.
CC:  I’d tell you to come interview with me right now, but I just made an offer to John Smithson, and I don’t have enough work for two more associates.
Me:  Well, that’s your fault.
CC:  Excuse me?
Me:  Your website blows.  You don’t use any social media or SEO.  I could bring a shitload of revenue to your firm, given the resources you already have.
CC:  How?
Me:  You started a blog but did nothing with it for several months.  You’re nowhere on Google.
CC:  Well, if you’re so fucking smart, why don’t you start your own firm and see how well you do?
Me:  Maybe I will…

Two weeks later:

Me:  I’m tired of working for other people.  I don’t like having to take cases I don’t want to take and not being able to make decisions about when to go to court and when to settle.  And I don’t like relying on someone else for a raise or a bonus.  I’ll take relying on myself over others any day.
Pretty Bride:  You know what?  You should do it.
Me:  I know I should…I’m just not sure when.  A year?  Two?
PB:  No.  Now.  It’s going to eat away at you until you do.  I’m tired of seeing you frustrated and unhappy.
Me:  Really?
PB:  Yes.  You’ll be great.  You should believe in yourself.
Me:  Maybe I should talk to Dan about bonuses and raises…it’s almost review time.
PB:  Well, maybe.  But it’s still not going to satisfy you.
Me:  I reckon.  I’ll talk to Dan anyway, though.

One week later:

Me:  Dan says the economy’s got revenues slowed.  I’ve done everything right.  I’ve busted my ass.  I’ve won every trial I had for these people.  I’ve billed 2100+ hours a year.  But raises aren’t even going to beat inflation this year.
Screw it.  I’m going to wait til I’m vested in the 401k in April, get my bonus, and then leave.  I really think I’m going to.  I don’t want to turn 40 and be where I am today.  Hell, I don’t want to turn 35 and be where I am today.
PB:  I think that’s great.
Me:  Yeah.  Now to work up the courage to actually tell Dan.

April 6 was my soloversary.  It wasn’t an accident that I picked that date to go out on my own.  It was my maternal grandfather’s birthday.  The guy who swept the floors at Woods Hall at the University of Alabama to pay his living expenses after asking the University President, Dr. George Denny, for a scholarship but was told after graduation that he couldn’t attend law school there because he had a family, and law students weren’t allowed to work while in law school, and any man with a wife and child obviously had to work.  The guy who told me, “It’ll work out according to God’s plan.  Don’t worry.” when I learned I’d been wait-listed where I wanted to go to law school in 1997.  The guy who died on March 17, 1998–a year and five months before I finally began law school.  The guy whose old desk ended up in my apartment and was used for hours and hours of research and studying for the 4 years (thanks to the war) that followed.

I turn 35 in 2 months.  I am nowhere near where I was in March 2009.  Stagnation is for nasty water, shitty investments, and people with tremendous fear.

I started with zero clients and have since helped over 100 injured people.  Not everyone became a client, but over 100 people found me by using the advice I gave Chuck 16 months ago.  Some folks just needed some advice and some encouragement.

We’ve garnered over 25 settlements.  A couple judicial verdicts.  Another 50 still have open cases.  By month 9, I was able to replenish my personal savings and pay myself better than any employer ever has.

While first quarter 2010 brought less than half the revenue that fourth quarter 2009 brought, I have faith that second quarter 2010 will be better.

I have faith in myself.
I have faith in myself.

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  1. Congratulations to you. Wonderful.

    That said, what a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. With someone so inspirational to look up to, you couldn’t possibly fail.

    Mazel tov.
    .-= CP´s last blog ..Facebook Conversation with the Hotband. =-.


    I love the triumphant tone you have, even though you’ve no guarantees. LOVE it.

  3. *Like*
    .-= Busy Mom´s last blog ..Mommyblogging in the media =-.

  4. Wow, this is inspiring. I love your words about stagnation. You’ve done an amazing job and I admire how hard you’ve worked. Congratulations. I hope someday to have the strength to do the same. 🙂
    .-= angelynn´s last blog ..Fear =-.

  5. “Some folks just needed some advice and some encouragement.”

    And that, rather than lawyering, is really your life’s work. It should be everyone’s work.

    Be good professional, and a decent human being, and the money–though important–becomes secondary.

    Keep up the good work, buddy.
    .-= headbang8´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Cleanliness =-.

    • @headbang8, Thanks…I hope so. I had a consultant I met with recently that I take too many low-dollar cases. I have a hard time telling folks “no.”

  6. As I’ve said before, I admire your choice, and once my wife is working full-time again, I will consider doing the same thing. It’s just not in the cards for me right now: we need some source of income to get over the initial startup period.
    .-= SciFi Dad´s last blog ..Music? Only Technically. =-.

  7. avatgardener

    Reality recap reveals righteous relatives, reasonable reactions, rescued referrals, replenished reserves. Right on!!

  8. Pretty Bride

    I never doubted, not for a single second, even when it was hard. You’re amazing.

  9. Thank you so much for rubbing it in the face of we 40 year old wage slaves. :p
    .-= Grant´s last blog ..I have things to say but no time to say them =-.

  10. Fear is useful, it protects us from harm… but we just need enough insight to ensure that it doesn’t protect us from our happiness, too.

    Congratulations on having the wisdom to know the difference and the drive to do more.

    May this be the first of many, many years for your practice. Some dead Greek guy said something like this 2000 years ago… “The secret of happiness is freedom and the secret to freedom is courage.”

    Freedom, happiness and courage to you always.
    .-= Faiqa´s last blog ..I’m Still Alive =-.

  11. Solid brass balls. I love it.

  12. You kick so much ass and have soooo much confidence. Good for you!
    .-= Swedish Skier´s last blog ..The line between asshole and normal is yellow =-.

  13. wow. go you! shit, i’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of months and I have Faith in You.

    I loved this post. I loved that you really thought about that date. And that you shares it. And you should know that.

    well done.
    .-= leel´s last blog ..weird stuff of icons and saints. plus a Temple of the Dog song or 2. =-.

  14. I’m pleased! It’s nice to see someone very excited about what they do. Thank you.

  15. Congrats on your success. You’ve earned it.
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..Cool stuff you shouldn’t miss =-.

  16. Wonderful post. I just recently started reading your blog but have found it consistently worthwhile. Congratulations and thanks for the prodding of those of us not yet quite willing to take a similar leap.
    .-= pvz´s last blog somewhere over the rainbow… =-.

  17. You’ll do just fine – it’s all about getting the client in there, so advertise, advertise, advertise!

    My husband has been self employed for 10 years now in SoCal. We really loved most of it, but are ready for some stability for our family (I have never worked outside the home which really says a lot for him)!

    One more thing, have faith in God! : )
    .-= jade´s last blog ..David, Where art Thou? =-.

    • @jade, I try to market inexpensively…I’ve heard from older, wiser peeps that advertising is the most expensive and least effective method of marketing. That being said, I have started spending a little on it, though (<$1000/month). What's most gratifying is when current clients refer their friends and family. Glad to hear your man is doing well and has been for a decade. Hope to say the same about myself in 9 years. I do. I just find that no mater how much I look for burning bushes to tell me what to do, I have yet to find one. So, I have faith in Him and in myself and try to muddle along and keep from screwing up what's good and right in the lives I'm able to touch.

  18. Well that’s shit hot! Good for you!

  19. Inspiring story, sir. It’s great that you’re getting to live the life you want and do your job the way you want.

  20. Wow. This was incredibly inspirational. I am at a point in my freelance career where I know I need to break out and do something completely different. Thanks for sharing this.
    .-= JD at I Do Things´s last blog ..I Compare Hoboes and Gypsies so you don’t have to =-.

  21. So damned cool.
    .-= TwoBusy´s last blog ..Sporadic updates from unreliable sources =-.

  22. It’s a huge step, and I’m glad we have been able to watch it happen. I’m happy for you and even a little proud, but not in a condescending way. In a “proud to call him my friend” way.
    .-= Avitable´s last blog ..Today’s Horoscope =-.

  23. You are awesome! I just need to find someone to sue for sexual harrassment so I can hire you and we can get rich together. Let me consult my files and I’ll get back with you shortly!
    .-= Stefanie´s last blog ..Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Me =-.

  24. You are awesome and stuff, yes.

    But the part of this post that really had me cheering was your wife’s encouragement. It’s so much easier to not be afraid when the people who count on us to succeed believe in us.

    So, yes – go you.

    And go her, too.
    .-= Miss Britt´s last blog ..If my butt ever looks good in these jeans, I’ll have the Internet to thank =-.

  25. Great story. Love when parents and grandparents have inspiring stories. I am impressed with the guts it took to go solo. As the head of a family, that had to be scary, but wow! you seem to be doing great! I think I’m experiencing a similar feeling of unhappiness with my profession, but I don’t have anything like your guts. Good on you!

  26. I’m so damned proud of you. And that’s why I want my step-niece to meet you. Even though she’s just finishing her first year of law school, I want her to listen to you talk about starting off on your own, not necessarily the type of law you practice, but that you did it on your own.

    Totally awesome. Congrats!
    .-= Coal Miner’s Granddaughter´s last blog ..X-Wing Technicians Learn New Skillz =-.

  27. Damn. I love reading success stories. WTFG.

  28. Pingback: 2010. | Father Muskrat

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