How To Find An Attorney For Civil Suits And What To Expect

It looks like my mold saga is coming to an end. We seriously considered finding an attorney to help us negotiate with our landlord. It was a frustrating process, but my eyes are definitely more open to the reality of what it’s like to work with an attorney.

Last month I was at a kindergarten graduation and I was talking to one of the moms. The topic of lawyers came up because she had been through a divorce. She said, “all they want to do is bill you.” I didn’t think much of it but after looking for representation of my own I realized she was right.

I Learned A Few Things About Lawyers And The Law This Week:

  • The Purpose Of Tort Law

Tort law, according to Wikipedia, is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Its purpose is to right a wrong that has been made and put that person who was harmed back as if they were whole again.

So if someone negligently drives under the influence and ran someone on the sidewalk over and then that person lost their legs, tort law tries to find a monetary amount that would be equivalent to losing your legs. In other words, how much are that man’s legs worth?

So even though we were exposed to mold in our apt, which could have dangerous health effects on us and our 2 month old baby, the fact that we weren’t dead or dying didn’t give us much of a case.

  • Lawyers Aren’t Going To Do All The Work.

I don’t know why I have this image in my mind of lawyers wanting to jump at the opportunity of righting some injustice, but that’s not even close to how they work.

They don’t want to have to prove you have a case. YOU have to go to them and prove that you have a case under the law. That means you have to do a bit of digging on what laws apply to your issue.

From there you might get a consultation and if the attorney feels you have a good enough case, then he’ll take you on and start the process of the lawsuit.

  • It’s All About The Benjamins

Even if you have a case, that still doesn’t mean you have a case worth taking on. Because attorneys need to get paid one way or another. It’s going to be either hourly billing or contingency.

For contingency fees, they usually run 33% if you settle and 40% if it goes to trial. Zilch if the case doesn’t settle or win. So what they’re really looking for are cases that can settle or win.

For most attorneys, the question on their mind is, “If I take this case, how likely will it be to win and how much will I make.”

If they can’t make money off the case, they won’t take it.

  • Personal Injury Attorneys

Our first attempt to resolve this was to find a personal injury attorney. And they are the worst. I could not get a hold of a single one of them. They all had these bulldog secretaries that just took information and messages. Whether the attorneys actually got the messages, we don’t know, but I never heard back from anyone.

I thought it was really ridiculous that they spent all this money on advertising, to bring clients in, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet with us or respond. I guess we just weren’t dead or dying enough to make a case that was worth the money.

  • Find An Attorney That Specializes On What You Need.

At first it felt like we were taking shots in the dark. I would call personal injury attorney’s and ask, “Do you do mold litigation?” I didn’t have any referral attorneys that I could turn to. If someone said no, I would ask for a referral. It seems no one wants to give another attorney a referral.

None of the lawyers would help me so I had to rely on information from the legal secretaries. One straight out told me I would have to be severely injured for them to take me. Another referred me to the state bar association. The state bar can refer me for a $35 fee. Another secretary was more helpful and told me I would need a landlord/tenant attorney and to check AVVO.

AVVO is basically like the Yelp for attorneys, they sort by area and specialty and can help you find an attorney that has the experience you need. There are also a lot of reviews, so you can choose a top rated attorney.

  • Be Prepared To Drop Your Case Before It Even Started.

“I’ve always found the legal system to be disappointing” That’s what my dad said when I told him I wanted to sue over the mold.

Well, he was right. After I finally found a landlord/tenant attorney to meet with me for a $150 consultation, we learned we wouldn’t recoup much in damages. Maybe one months rent.

The attorney was very knowledgeable but basically laid it out for us that to pursue this in court would cost more than we could get and that basically we need to negotiate with our landlord to fix the problem permanently or to allow us to break the lease. I felt a little jipped, of course I can negotiate with my landlord directly and they already told us we could break the lease. What we wanted were damages for the costs of moving and furniture!

Our search for an attorney was long and stressful. In the end we did get enough information to make an educated decision on what to do about our apartment. I honestly hope I never have to consult a lawyer again or use an attorney’s services. Because at the end of the day, getting injured from mold or anything isn’t worth a large settlement.

We learned a lot from our situation. In case you ever need legal advice, here are the questions you’ll need to ask:

  1. Have you ever dealt with cases like this before?
  2. What is your success rate
  3. What is your retainer?
  4. Do you work hourly or by contingency basis?
  5. How will you keep me in the loop about the progress of my case?

Good luck and thanks for reading!

What It’s Like to Marry Your Soulmate

I’m thirty, and I’ve known my husband since I was 18. He’s the love of my life and my soulmate.

We had met the third day of our freshman year in college. My husband (K) had been in orientation with my roommate, and he invited us out to hit the city and go to this place that allowed japanese sake for the underage college crowd. Of course, I decided I wanted to wear these new pointy toed shoes that I’ve never worn before. I think I bought them from some discount fashion store. Well, halfway through the night, my feet are blistering at the heel and the shoes are feeling too small. K offered to give me a piggyback ride after all my suffering and complaining. I thought it was so sweet and from that moment on we were inseparable.

How do I know my husband is my soulmate?

Now that I’m trying to put this in writing I realize it’s hard to conceptualize but I just can’t imagine my life without him. And if I did have to live without him, I’d probably live alone because, in my heart and soul, I know there’s no one else who will love me like he does. Our relationship is special and not a day goes by that I don’t feel grateful for it.

This is what our relationship is like:

Sometimes we fight

But not very often. We both have flaws but the problem is we’re both comfortable living with our flaws. When we fight, it’s always one of us calling each other out for piss poor behavior. Even our fights I can appreciate because it helps us grow and get over the habits that hold us back. Without the love of my life, I would be stagnant.

Some people fight on the regular, constantly tearing each other apart for being themselves. It’s amazing for me to be with my soulmate who appreciates me for who I am but also calls me out when I’m being crappy.

We end every phone conversation with “Love you.”

This sounds really sappy but we still let each other know that we love one another. It’s so easy to fall into a routine and forget to show affection. We can’t be apart even a day without checking in on each other, seeing how each other’s day went and saying “Love you.” Just hearing someone reaffirm those words to you can change your whole mood and make your day better.

I can see our future of bad times and I’m not scared

The honeymoon phases is said to be the best period in a relationship, when everything is new, exciting and overly romantic. But for K and I, that period came and went a long time ago. Now we’re a couple caught in the routine of life and day to day errands.

The material aspect of our lives doesn’t matter as long as we have each other. We lived with nothing when we were 23-26 and yet I look back at that challenging time with love because even though things were hard we still found ways to have a good time.

Looking forward, I see us getting older, dealing with elderly and sick parents, watching our kids grow up and move out, and our own health scares. All these things are inevitable and sure to happen. And though they’re not necessarily happy things, I’m ok with it because we’ll go through it together.

We still have moments of laughter

You would think that after 12 years we’d run out of things to talk about, let alone laugh about, but we haven’t. Maybe K is just a funny guy but I know for a fact I’m not particularly funny, yet he finds things to laugh about with me. It’s nice. I personally think laughter is the glue that holds relationships together. Once you stop laughing, a relationship just starts to die. He still cracks jokes and I’ll poke fun at both of us.

The moments I remember more than anything are the happy and fun ones, the arguments and challenging times just fade away in my memory.

It’s not just sexual

After 12 years, sex is a little more routine. We have two kids and we have to find time when they’re either away or asleep to get it in and be intimate together. We also know exactly what the other person likes and aren’t selfish in our intimacy. There’s no beating around the bush or floundering to figure out what turns the each other on.

But sex isn’t the foundation of our relationship. So many relationships are based mainly on sex and what the other person has to offer sexually. The reality is that, in a long-term relationship or marriage, sex will wax and wane. Sometimes one person will be going through some stuff and not have much of a libido. Things like illnesses, work issues, family problems, pregnancy and a new child can affect libido. People who base their whole relationship on sex will see their relationship fall apart at the first hurdle.

As my soulmate, my husband doesn’t guilt trip me if there’s a dip in intimacy. Thankfully, he’s understanding. I don’t have to constantly worry that if I can’t have sex he’ll go somewhere else. Our relationship is based on much more than that.

We have things we love to do together

I’ve never understood why people stay together when they can’t find shared interests. To be honest, both K and my interests have changed over the years but we’ve always been able to share something together. Like a favorite show or a restaurant that we love. He entertains my fondness for street carnivals and visiting the rinky-dinky summer carnivals that visit our town. His interests seem to change like the flavor of the week but I’m good at being curious about them. It’s great to have something to bond over and share memories with. These memories will last a lifetime.

I feel at peace

Most of all, I feel a sense of comfort with my soulmate. Having someone who completely understands me is such a blessing. I don’t have to explain myself constantly, he already knows and understands my motivations. I know he’ll always have my back and that I’m not left to face this world alone. Everything we do, we do as a team, not as adversaries trying to one up one another. And I don’t have a sense of insecurity in my relationship because of everything we’ve been through and had to overcome. K is the love of my life and knowing that he will always be there for me has given me an immense sense of peace.

———————-

Overall our relationship has been through a lot. There have been ups and downs along the way and we’ve changed as individuals over the years. Meeting your soulmate doesn’t mean everything will be happy all the time, it does mean that they’ll be able to appreciate all that you offer and be able to complement you as a person. I would describe our relationship as a ying and yang dynamic and I know I’m blessed to be in such a harmonious relationship with the person I love.

I don’t know if there are multiple opportunities to meet your soulmate or whether are multiple people you can be soulmates with. But when you do meet that person, it would be a mistake to let them pass you by. For me, meeting the love of my life was a once in a lifetime experience and a life changing one too.

Check out my other posts!

What is Love?

Dear Single Friends, This Is Why You Are Still Single. Love, Your Married Friend.

How To Get A Guy To Commit Without Pressure And Fall In Love With You

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I was writing a comment on this article.  The article was about being a type A personality and it inspired me to kind of dig deeper because this guy was writing about how he has like 3 jobs and is a perfectionist and easily works 16-17 hour days. And he was kind of promoting this as a normal thing to aspire for. That he was type A personality, a perfectionist that demanded so much from himself.

I was short and sweet with my comment but was basically like, “You need balance, dude! Work smarter, not harder!”

We live in a work culture that takes advantage of these types of people and pits the work horses against everyone else for the sake of production.  We don’t need to be promoting this type of behavior. Honestly, the writer was essentially sacrificing his relationships and health in the long term for more money short term. And that to me does not seem like a good deal.  I guess he had to think it over, but he eventually commented back that he was only working this hard to build for his future for his finance and cut down his debt and that he agreed that this current workload was not sustainable.

It really did make me think about the type of people I often find in my workplace vs the type of employee I wanted to be.

There are really 3 types of workers:

Lazy workers- Typical worker, makes up a majority of today’s work force. Doesn’t care to improve or grow professionally.  Happy with their slice of pie, only thinking about their salary increases and benefits. Looks at investments and business opportunities as too risky.

Hard workers- Time is money and these people tend to follow paper like it’s the gospel to life. They sacrifice all their personal relationships, free time, hobbies to work. These work horses generally are high earners in their company but leverage their salary for more responsibility and more hours. They are also adverse to risk and are only going to consider investments and business endeavors if it will reap quick money.

Smart workers- leverage their experience and time for more money. Unlike hard workers, who sacrifice time for money in positions that they are easily replaced in, smart workers focus on long term career growth ands specialize in niche areas that will be of great use and high demand. Or they recognize their unique experience to be valuable and come up with a business idea that blows up.

I think the difference between the three workers is really just attitude. The lazy worker is the worst, they are not really able to see beyond themselves and their long term contributions to their work. They don’t have the ambition or drive to give extra and see what it reaps. They often hold the belief that they are hard working enough and that they should get better pay for just being there. They often exhibit bad habits like lateness, lack of detail, lack of effort, a disinterest in the work.

My previous receptionist was this type of worker, I had mentioned her in a previous post. Her issue was that she knew the work but would “pretend” to forget or not know in order to lighten her workload. Over time this worked she had the easiest role in the office, leaving at 6 when me and our manager would often leave at 7. But when my asst. director came in to restructure the office, it became obvious she was the weak link to our production, so she was the first to be cut and the easiest to replace.

My old manager was a hard worker she would make sure all deadlines and reports were complete, it would be so detailed. Everything had to be perfect. Any reports that she did would take hours to compile. Her work was correct but at the end of the day none of the directors had the time to actually review it in depth so it went unnoticed.   She was also a shrew that made sure she had a majority of all the deals so between the deals she had to close and the detailed reports she had to do, she was working 60 hours a week. Yes, she was making more money. But she was also working more hours and putting more effort to make more money. She wasn’t any happier either. For all that money she was making, she wasn’t enjoying it and she eventually pushed herself out of a good job with her self-created discontent.

I think the happiest kind of employment, the one I aspire for, is to be a smarter worker. I think it takes a lot of self awareness to pick which traits are marketable and in demand.  I also think courage to take take that skill and make it a business, especially if no one else has done that before.  And I think it takes a lot of confidence to put a price on those skills and stick to it.

When I was an rental agent , there were other agents charging less than a months rent in commission.  They were undercutting a lot of agents.  Considering you had to pay the brokerage a piece of your deals, taxes, and other business expenses, that basically meant that those brokers had to work on a high volume basis.  They were spinning their wheels, showing apartment after apartment in the summer heat.  They had to be dishonest to keep the leads and clients flowing.

I didn’t have the heart for all that.  I focused on quality and getting the highest commission possible, almost 2 months worth of rent.  I focused on creating value and marketing my skills for getting the best deals for clients so that my commission would pay itself off after the first year.   Well, I wouldn’t say I was the highest earning salesperson but I definitely made just as much as the high volume agents with literally HALF the work.  That was working SMART.  I had people who were so happy with my service, they were referring other clients who would pay FULL commission.  They were referring other clients who would buy properties with me!

I ended up leaving that work environment due to personal reasons, but I never forgot the lesson of what it meant to work smarter.

Now I’m working  a salaried position and I’m constantly trying to find ways to make my time more valuable, be an efficient worker and to do more with less and be more productive.  I’m hoping my company would value that and reward me at bonus season.  I’m also trying to find ways to leverage my other talents and skills, to hopefully something profitable.

There’s no one rule for working smarter but if I had to name one thing that will definitely help you, the #1 way to improve efficiency at work:  STOP DOING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING.  Most people are not smart or even hard workers.  Following the status quo is the recipe for mediocrity.

Share the ways you were able to find better use of your talent and time below, I’d love to hear it.

Feel free to read my other posts:

Playing The Game Of Life And Winning: 5 Approaches To Success

Organize Your Mind: How To Be More Productive With Your Day

My Job is Killing Me….

Status Update: Don’t Over Do It!

Feel free to like, share and follow if you liked this post

Why I Took The Risk And Quit Law School

I think a lot of what has held me back in life has been my own insecurity over what other people think. There’s kind of a safety in following the herd and doing what’s expected. I was always one of those people who found safety in numbers. Sure, standing out meant you might be liked more but it could also be an opportunity for people to put you down. So that’s what I did for many years, I was a self chosen wallflower. I wasn’t much different from anyone else, nor did I want to be.

For people who suffer from self esteem issues, there’s a lack of self acceptance that causes you to doubt yourself. A little voice in your head that says, “I don’t know about this, people might think this is stupid.” What I’ve learned over time is that that voice is irrelevant. I really pushed myself against what other people think. In my heart, I knew what was right for me and though my actions seemed risky to others, I followed my passions.

I feel like the story about how I quit law school is pretty relevant to this message. You see, like many young college students I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea what my talents were or where my interests lay. I knew I was smart and was able to get good grades with some studying. Grad school seemed like a good option. And I like money and respect so going to law school seemed perfect. I could figure out what kind of law later. I had a vision that once I became a lawyer, I would be important and rich and everyone in life would like and respect me. So I took the LSAT, applied to different schools and finally was accepted to a decent law school in NYC with a partial scholarship. Everything seemed perfect.

A few days before I started law school I had a gut instinct that I didn’t want to go.  That was the first sign to quite law school.  I didn’t know where this feeling came from, I knew I shouldn’t be pursuing this degree. It was like a feeling of dread, like something terrible was about to happen. Logically, I didn’t have a good enough reason not to go, I didn’t listen to that instinct.  I went and spent 30K on that 1 year of law school.

And I bombed.

I sucked at the test taking. No matter how hard I tried I just wasn’t absorbing the information. I sucked at legal writing, I sucked at contract and real estate law. And I wasn’t happy. By the end of the first semester I started to question whether law school was the right direction for my talents.  My parents said, “No, you’ve got to see it through. Don’t be a quitter.” I didn’t want to be seen as a quitter by anyone. Even though that terrible gut feeling of doom was back, I continued my education for more torture.

That second semester, I was not sleeping or taking care of myself and literally abusing my body with adderral. I needed to get better grades, at whatever expense. I was getting addicted to adderall and by the end of that semester I was just over it. I didn’t bother checking my grades, I knew I was at the bottom of my class. June came and people had internships and I was like WTH, no one is going to hire me with these grades and I don’t think I can get through two more years of law school and a bar exam to become a lawyer.

So I quit.

The Assistant Dean actually called me when he saw I didn’t enroll again. I just let it go to voicemail. I couldn’t go back. My parents told me, “This is a decision you’ll regret for the rest of your life.” I wasn’t hearing it, I wasn’t going back.

That year, people would ask me how law school was going and it was so embarrassing to tell people I had quit. I tried to say it in a way that didn’t sound like quitting, “Oh I decided I didn’t want to be an attorney. Law school wasn’t for me.”  And it wasn’t. But being seen as someone who walked away from an opportunity really hung over my head.  I had quit law school and the question on my mind was “now what?”

After that I did an oddball office job until I got the special idea that I should be a real estate salesperson in NYC. I think I got the idea from Million Dollar Listing NY. LOL. I just loved the flashiness of it and the hustle. It seemed so legit. So I got my license and then signed up with a rental brokerage. It was the easiest thing ever.

I sucked at that too but I had the passion and drive to keep at it. I could tell you a billion stories about all the shitty client’s I had and all the fun deals I did but I’ll save that for another story.  I eventually climbed up the ranks to a great six figure sales opportunity. When I think about my current opportunity, I think DAMNN, you lucked out girl. This was a true hustle.

Other things happened in my life that I felt was totally not the norm, like getting pregnant at 23 and having a gunshot wedding to my college boyfriend who dropped out of undergrad.  Without a plan in sight, I’m sure it looked like our lives were about to crash land into loser land.  But K and I hustled like a dream team and made it work. Now people are looking at us like the power couple that got it all done before 30.

And if you told 20 year old version of me that I would be killing it at 29, I would have called you a liar. But we really did it and worked hard for the life we have now.

I think the moral of this story is more like:

Don’t be afraid to do you. Follow your gut and take risks. You’re not going to win at every single risk you take but at least you’ll have the experience and learn from it.

People who don’t take risks have nothing to lose but also nothing to gain. That’s the truth. The people in my life who played it safe are now wondering, “why isn’t life happening for them?” I just want to shake them and say, “because you did nothing to make it happen.”

I want to inspire everyone who’s reading this to think about the one thing you always wanted to pursue and then make a plan to create that reality in your life. Life and success doesn’t happen to lucky people but rather people who go out and make things happen. So the one thing I would recommend everyone focus on is to care LESS about what other people think about them. Of course there’ll be people who don’t like you or try to put you down. Those people are the minority and if you’re making people upset, that just means you’re doing something right.

I hope my story was one that inspired you! Please like, share and follow!

Check out my other posts too!

The Power Of Positivity

Playing The Game Of Life And Winning: 5 Approaches To Success

What Does It Take To Be Charismatic and Likeable?

Motivational Book Club: The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter, by Meg Jay

This is the best book for young grads about to depart for real life.  It’s the perfect self help book for those coming of age.  I gave this book to my younger sister after she graduated college. She was so fresh faced and optimistic and I kinda wanted her to experience adulthood without all the bumps and headaches I had to learn from. My older sister had read it, she was trying to understand the mistakes she had made in her 20s and why she was not so happy with her early 30s and recommended this book as well.

I would say don’t judge a book by its cover, it kind of has a bland and doctorish look to it but I found The Defining Decade to be a refreshing bit of truth in a world that says that your 20s are just an extension of adolescence.  But we all have to grow up and some grow up later than others.  Using your 20’s as a leaping post to get a head start on life could be the best decision you ever make.

I really liked how the author is a Clinical Psychologist and uses her client’s stories to highlight some of the hard choices and pitfalls a lot of 20 year olds go through. I mean in her work section, she’s very candid on how your 20s are a period to grow career wise. Not to put too much pressure, but the earnings you make between 20-30 can grow exponentially. I’ve seen it in myself. The first year in real estate, I made -$6,000. Now I’m making nearly $90K, five years later.  Meg doesn’t take bullshit about how you need to find yourself in your 20s.  She basically says that by the time you’re a young adult, you have two decades of experience under your belt. Maybe you don’t know exactly what best suits you as a career but you have a general idea of what your strengths are. The key is to use those strengths and put it towards a viable career.

Her discussion on relationships was also a great highlight. Meg says it best, that the biggest decision you’ll ever make in life is who you’ll marry. And most people don’t think twice about who they marry! They just fall haphazardly into relationships.

She touched base on cohabitating and how it affects the success of marriage. Cohabitating is not the same as deciding to get married. And the issue is that people start cohabitating and then slide into marriage. You don’t necessarily slide into it with the idea of what it takes to have a successful marriage. The book recommended a few key steps in cohabiting successfully.

I personally loved all the short stories about her clients, though I think she gave us the simplest examples of the type of clients she saw. Her writing was that of a concerned mother who had already experienced life and knew all the pitfalls.  Her story telling was very good but I felt like there was an underlying problem with all the clients she saw:  THEY DIDN’T THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE.  And, well, anybody who doesn’t think of the future and how to accomplish far off goals is going to have problems.

Other parts that caught my interest were the discussions on fertility, friendships and family.

Her discussion on fertility actually reminded me of an old friend who planned on having children EARLY.  She knew that her menstrual cycle was wonky and decided to see a fertility doctor at 20! The doctor told her she had some issues and she needed to start really thinking about having children right away if that’s what she wanted.  It was what she wanted, and she ended up marrying young at 22 and having her first child at 25, but not without struggle and treatment.  A lot of the women that Meg interviewed thought that they could easily have children at 40! They thought they had all the time in the world and felt resentment when they realized their fertility was on a timer..

I will rate this book as a thought provoking book.  I think it’s good for people who struggle with decision making and who might be waiting for life to happen to them.  The Defining Decade reminds you that time waits for no one and that you need to make your life and future happen now!  I don’t think she came up with clear solutions to the issues that her clients brought up but she did bring up some questions that I had to stop and ask for myself.  At times Meg Jay had a kind of judgy tone towards her patients, so I’m not sure if I would be interested in her as my own psychiatrist, but her writing is definitely entertaining.

Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read this book or are interested in other book reviews like this.

Feel free to like, share and subscribe 🙂

Check out my other posts as part of this book club:

Motivational Book Club: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Motivational Book Club: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck By Mark Manson