Johnny, You can do it…. says Jaime Escalante to his students at Garfield High. I hear him repeating his favorite phrase in my ear each time I try to build this thing I intend to call a practice. Practice is a good word for it, I feel as though I am in rehearsal for my professional life, instead of in it. It would feel different if I wasn’t making it up as I went along, but instead was being told what to do. Damn it, I should have just gotten a job.
This is so incredibly hard, and there is no guarantee at all that all this hard work will result in money. (Though really, I would love to have some money, it’s nice to be able to buy things, pay bills, visit family from time to time.)
I have had great success in the long term, high risk/high reward side of my business. My one environmental client will give me as much work as I can handle and then some. Of course, I only get paid for that work as part of the damages portion of a settlement or winning lawsuit, so I can’t count on that money to pay my monthly bills for at least another year. (Try telling that to your creditors, “just one more year guys and I will be all set!”)
So, to balance out my business and pay those bills I have been building a “bread and butter” side to the practice. To begin with it was children’s advocacy. I have been working with the Office of the Child’s representative (OCR) for over six months now to get added to the contract for state pay cases. This would insure a modest, but consistent income I could use to pay those pesky monthly’s while I build my environmental empire. (Yes, I am queen of the nigh extinct creatures, the polluted waters, and the wasted resources.) Things were going along great until the OCR met with a huge budget crisis in the new economy and stopped hiring new attorneys. Including me.
So… no bread and butter there.
Then I thought I could get a job working with the various legal temp agencies doing document review. It pays even less than the kids work, but it’s still good money. So down I went to interview with two very nice women who are very interested in getting me work. Unfortunately, all the clients they have who are okay with me representing my own clients in my off hours require me to work Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week. The clients they have that will work with my schedule and let me work 30 hours on a M, W, F, schedule require me to take no additional clients.
So… no bread and butter there.
I sometimes panic, thinking I was a fool to believe I could work in the law, raise my children, and earn some money. It would seem the odds are stacked against me making one out of three of those things work. Either I can take everything on speculation and have no guaranteed income (a situation my creditors dislike heartily), or I can work for pay but only full time, or I can raise my kids and work at Taco Bell (Starbucks is likely way too popular for me to even try in this economy, I am sure there are hundreds of CEO’s trying to land jobs as Barista’s.)
I have reached out to a mentor of mine for advice and help, and he is noodling on the problem, so I am hopeful. However, I could use a little you can do it these days, there are so many indications that maybe I can’t. This business is the riskiest thing I have ever done. I would like to believe it is going to take off and get me flying, but there is a inside me saying I will land, Splat, flat on my face.