El Huerote Welcomes You

Huerote is a Spanish word that, loosely translated, means “big whitey.” The name is attached to an experience I had in Mexico several years ago. While walking down the street, a young kid around eight or nine years old looked up at me as I walked by. I was probably the first white person he had seen in person instead of on T.V. or in a book. I am not a huge person by American standards,  but I am by Mexican standards. The little Mexican boy looked at me with big eyes and said, “Huerote.” It was not the first time I was noticed by the locals for being out of place. Often, little kids would approach and tug at my arm hair and ask why I had so many gray hairs. They had never seen a blond person before.

I’m not going to talk exclusively about Mexico, Spanish, racism, politics, religion, sports, how much I despise the legal profession, airplanes, cell phone companies, parking lot courtesy, alcohol, Michelle Obama’s big butt (not as big as Sir Hillary the Rodham Mrs. Clinton’s, but that’s for another day,) the Ford F-150, or strip clubs. I will talk a little bit about everything from time to time as I see fit. Most of my inspiration to blog came from reading other blogs by writers who are fed up with the legal profession. I’m talking insiders who came to the realization that practicing law is not what they thought it would be/worse than they imagined/ not actually that profitable/not what they wanted to do with their lives/ absolute hell. Whatever the reasons or conceptions I had going in, they are not as persuasive now as the ones telling me to get out. Perhaps I will never get out. This blog might actually reduce my stress and anxiety levels to a healthy chum of productiveness.

Productivity. That is the name of the game in the legal profession. Once you earn by the billable hour, you put all of your life activities in the context of the billable hour. Wash the car? Clean the house? Play with the kids? Treadmill? Sleep? Fraternize with friends? Quality time with Wife? One must choose carefully when there are so few hours in the day and your time is your money. Don’t get me wrong, I love capitalism. I just think that attorneys are mentally sick because they bill by the hour. In other jobs, your bosses will tell you how many hours they think a project should take and you aim to get under that hour mark so you can save the company money and shoot for a bonus. When you’re in business for yourself, it’s a twist on the same prerogative: get it done quickly and save money. With attorneys, its backwards. Get it done quickly, get paid less. Even if you do an awesome job, your client isn’t going to say, “Hey, I know you bill by the hour, but you did a brilliant job and here’s something extra.” Sometimes, attorneys can work by a flat rate, but not all jobs lend themselves to flat rates. You’ve probably heard of contingency fee arrangements. That’s beside the point because now I’m getting off topic. The point is attorneys don’t think like normal people. Their brains are warped to the billable hour.

But what, aren’t some attorneys paid a salary? Yes, some. But in many cases, the salary is figurative in that it’s not a true salary. For example, if I say you’re hired at $125,000 per year, but here’s the catch: you have to bill 2,500 hours during that year. 2,500 hours is nothing says the medical resident. That’s only a 50 hour work week, right? Wrong! I said 2,500 billable hours. Just because your rosy cheeks are in the office doesn’t mean your time is billable. That’s actual time spent doing a billable activity. Not sure what’s billable? Check out your nearest bar association website and look it up because I don’t care to rehash it all here. Your state bar association will expect you to track your time to the tenth of the hour. That’s right, 0.1 hours. For some people, they can ask their secretary to make a note of when they start and stop activities. This can get difficult/confusing/frustrating/enraging when you are dealing with multiple clients and multiple activities in the space of a few hours. The Dish and the Spoon just called about their prenuptial arrangement, so I’ll put down a note here for 0.3 hours in my amazingly expensive time tracking software or my not so sophisticated paper calendar because it’s cheaper than software. Oh yeah, I just spent 0.6 hours researching that issue for Humpty Dumpty and premises liability and sovereign immunity. Oh but wait, how long was I drafting that complaint for Ms. Muffet’s emotional distress? Oh, no matter, I’ll just fudge it a little. Oh fudge, the Muffin Man and his property taxes, I spent all day on that yesterday, and I didn’t write down how many hours. See where I’m going with this? And don’t even think about fudging your hours. One whiff of that and you’ll get audited and sanctioned by the bar. Your clients find out you’ve been sanctioned for fudging? Now you’re looking at the wrong end of the litigation barrel.

I suppose that’s enough for one day. Did you enjoy thinking about old nursery rhymes in terms of legal doctrines? Didn’t think so. I don’t’ enjoy it either, but I can’t make my brain stop.

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