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.
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.
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.