07 June 2004

Why Me?

Crime and Federalism wonders why I am still doing court-appointed work (and, perhaps, overestimates my abilities). I wish I had a noble answer but must admit that the primary reason is that I really don’t have anywhere else to go (although at times it does feel really good to help someone who needs it). I have my own solo practice which I’ve nurtured from a folding table, an out of date computer, and an old beaten up swivel chair in a room of my apartment to the point where I now have a pretty nice - albeit out of the way - office of my own. 99% of that has been by court appointed work. This means that I have gained a good amount of experience but that I am relatively unknown outside of the courthouse. So, clients aren’t exactly beating a path to my door and no firm out there is really anxious to bring me into the fold because I carry no portables.

So the next option is to grow my practice. The problem is that in order to pay bills (and often not even all of them) you have to churn a lot of court appointed cases. This is because Virginia caps its fees at very low levels. So you spend your time running from jail to courthouse to jail; I think I average two days a week wherein I do not even see the inside of my office. Needless to say, this is not conducive to developing other areas of practice or making yourself available to those who might have been interested in hiring you.

All-in-all, it's a little bit of a trap. I often contemplate other options like joining a public defender’s office or a prosecutor’s office or even scrapping it all and looking for employment at some other firm. It may happen some day. Heck, who knows, maybe somebody from Huntin’ and Gruntin’ will call me tomorrow and offer me 120K+. After I picked myself up from the floor, there’s no way I could turn that down - however, I would have serious questions about their sanity. But short of that I will continue on the path at least for the foreseeable future.

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