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Howdy! (Part I) [May. 17th, 2006|02:07 pm]
Hello LJ folks! I haven't posted for a while, not because I don't want to share my thoughts or respond to yours, but because posting on LJ is often low enough on the priority list that I rarely have time to post. And by low enough, I don't mean I don't think it's important; it's just that I have a lot going on. I have given my notice at my current job, so now I have some time to make an entry or two while I'm getting paid to mostly screw around at this firm.

In case I haven't talked to you on "Margarita Friday" recently, 2006 has been kinda rough on me and Alison. January was OK (aside from gathering storm clouds on the career front, which are described below), but February began with my being laid off my job. To make a long story short: I was doing very well at that job, but one of his mortgage clients took a disliking for me. The reasons had little to do with my actual work, but there were (rather silly) personal issues; I won't go into details. I had been working like that for several months, starting in about September, but when a downturn in the real estate business happened (you may have heard something about bubbles bursting & interest rates going up), the partner said he couldn't keep me on with my being unable to service that client, whose business had come to make more than half of the firm's workload. This was despite that I was bringing in legal fees and that my salary was kind of low for my position and experience.

In a sense, I had become victim of the incentives in my salary. As I indicated above, my actual salary was kind of low. On top of it I got paid 50% of the actual profit from loans that my mortgage clients closed. The firm averaged probably $80-$100 profit on each loan, and closed about 250 loans a month. If I worked hard for a couple years, I would be able to get enough clients loyal to me that they would probably close 25-50 loans a month reliably. One problem with my getting clients at that firm was that I had very little control over the customer service. The types of clients who wanted to send business to me personally were not pleased by the staff. I actually had gotten a few loans, but each time the office fucked up. The personnel was basically not good enough for the clients I was bringing in. The firm also made no effort to control the clients, so they got out of control; bad loan officers and mortgage brokers began eating up more and more of the staff's time. I noticed that more and more of the professional mortgage brokers and lenders were using us less and less as the service to them deteriorated. These were the very types of mortgage professionals that I do best with (and they are also the ones who will weather the bad times, a point that I made to the partners). Ultimately, the poor quality of the clients led to my release.

The second problem had to do with the way I was paid for legal work that I did: wills, contracts, litigation, etc. I was paid 80% of the gross legal fees that I collected. Obviously, I could make a lot more money much more quickly by drafting wills & contracts, forming LLCs, etc. than by busting my ass getting mortgage clients who wouldn't want to use us anyway. Hence, I worked a lot harder to build my legal clientele. However, by early this year we had not yet built any savings, and I had not yet built up my client base to where I could survive on it; we had too many bills. So after that main client turned on me & then the other business dried up, the firm could no longer afford my salary based on the title business, and my legal fees to the firm were not enough to keep my employment profitable for the firm. Nor were the fees enough to let me survive on my own for long. A lot of lawyers often forget how much the legal profession has become more of a business than it ever was before recently.

During February, in order to bring in as much money as I could, I scrambled and did some contract closings and did work for my clients. At the same time, I looked for a new job. I have been trying to change fields within the law, which is very hard since lawyers often get "typecast" shortly after law school. I believe I have kept my legal mind sharp, but often many hiring partners are just looking for relevant experience. Out of desperation, I took a job at the firm that got the government contract to close sales of HUD foreclosures. They offered an extremely low salary, but I had no choice but to take it since we had to have more reliable cash flow every month. On top of the pathetic salary, a bad harbinger for this job occurred the day after I interviewed; the office called me in to do a closing on a contract basis, since they said they short that day. When I got there the place was a complete mess, understaffed and disorganized. Later that week I did another closing in Rome for them, and the office was the same way. If I had had any choice at all, I would not have started with that firm. But our credit card balances were continuing to increase, and I absolutely had to start in late February.

The first month at the new job was a nightmare. My plan had been to continue looking for a non-residential real estate closing job while this job took the pressure off by allowing me find the right job at the right salary. It did not work out that way. I was in charge of the title department, but the office was so bad that I was working 12-14 hour days. And the days were hard. The place was completely understaffed, the equipment and its support were substandard, the office was hopelessly bureaucratic, etc. (There are a lot of things ongoing to this day, but I'll spare the details.) I did not have a computer, phone, or e-mail address the first 2 1/2 weeks I was there. I tried hard to look for a job, but I was also working on a couple projects for legal clients. I was not suppose to be doing this, since the firm did not want me doing outside legal work because of what they termed "insurance issues." I called bullshit and did the work for the clients anyway. But I had to do that work at night. Because of all this, throughout March I did not do very much job searching. I was simply too exhausted from this awful hellhole. In the meantime, our credit card balances continued to increase since my salary is simply unsustainable in the long term.

In late March and early April, I made the decision that I could not continue at this job and achieve my goals. The job was making me increasingly frustrated. I was working hard to try to fix their title department, but I was running into the firm's disorganization, and the managing partner was frankly in over her head. She continuously tried to micromanage and expected me to do the same. This situation was causing problems, again, I won;t go into details. The upshot of all this was that I backed off the department and basically let her run it. I also stopped working as much and concentrated at home at finding a new job. Basically, I was working 8-10 hour days, going home, and looking for a new job.

I was finally getting some good steam going on the job search when my father died ...

To be continued ...
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Disturbing [Jul. 7th, 2005|06:35 pm]
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An Example of What Can Happen [Jun. 28th, 2005|12:36 pm]
Please see my post of the other day re emminent domain; Maybe it's a good idea to develop this area, but the government shouldn't use its emminent domain power to subsidize developers ...

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And this is Utter Bullshit! [Jun. 24th, 2005|04:15 pm]

(Full disclosure: I haven't had time to actually read the opinions; I have just read brief summaries of them.)

OK, I understand the need for eminent domain. Sometimes there is a need to run the "commons", and sometimes for the public good the government should be able to obtain resources as long as there is a "public purpose" and the property owners are properly compensated. This principle is very well established in our jurisprudence.

However, this case is sickening. Basically, the government is forcing private parties to sell their *homes* to other private parties for the latter parties' profit! The case that it serves a public purpose by enhancing the local economy is utter horseshit. The connection with the public good is way too tenuous compared with the loss of these persons' homes; the purpose of that taking is to mainly to increase *private* profits for these developers; a secondary effect is that there might be a positive economic effect, and that is debatable. That is the same nonsensical crap that politicians and owners of professional sports teams use to justify the fleecing of public treasuries to build venues for *private companies*!!!

The Court is right that governments should have leeway in its actions where the level of scrutiny is not elevated (the "rational relation" test is applied to these kinds of governmental actions, as opposed to "intermediate scrutiny" (classifications based on sex) or "strict scrutiny" (regulations of political speech), these actions are way beyond the pale.

This is so because even if one concedes that the government can theoretically declare that it is accomplishing a "public good" by enhancing the local economy, the actions in this case, and almost every other similar case like this I can think of, would fail even the rational relation test! Obviously, if the economic impact would generate the money that the government said it would generate, the developers would not have to resort to eminent domain to build this center. They would be making enough money that they would be able to purchase these homes at what the owners would ask for. What is really happening is that private parties are using the government as a club to get these properties at below cost. This is inherently irrational--it is a result of political influence, not proper governance, even in theory. Accordingly, the Court should have ruled that this reason for eminent domain is not a public use as a matter of law, no matter what the government authority declares.

And this is doubly so if you think of the potential for abuse: (1) The developers will certainly have much more influence with local politicians that average folks; and (2) even if not corrupted, if a local government were to refuse to use its eminent domain powers to give this windfall to developers, the developers could blackmail them by threatening to move businesses to other areas. This last kind of race to the bottom is the kind of thing that happens with sports arenas using public money to provide venues for private businesses.

This case was decided completely incorrectly.

So why would the moderates on the Court decide this way? (Are there really any liberals on there? No, not really.) My theory is that with all the persistent right wing attacks on governmental action, whether the government is right or wrong, the moderates on the court have adopted a knee-jerk reaction in favor of governmental action, even where the governmental action goes against the reason why they're liberals (or at least moderates). The liberals have *got* to get the political debate into more balance, and soon!

Anyway, this case smells to high heaven!
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This is an Excellent Article [Jun. 24th, 2005|04:14 pm]
I couldn't have said it better myself.


I think it's going to take an amount of banging heads against walls to overcome the political situation in this country, but a bit of hard work will make it worth it ...
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This is a cool site! [Jun. 24th, 2005|04:13 pm]
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Poker [Apr. 27th, 2005|08:39 pm]
We're having Marguerita Friday at our house on Friday, and, if anyone wants, we'll have a Texas Hold 'Em tourney, with a $20 buy in. (We'll do it away from everyone else, so we don't bother them!
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For those of you who want an excuse to watch TV ... [Apr. 27th, 2005|05:49 pm]

(Free Registrationm Required)
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I Love It!!! [Apr. 27th, 2005|05:42 pm]
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The editor of this paper deserves a high-five!!! [Apr. 26th, 2005|05:38 pm]
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