Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today was our first annual Volunteer Day at the firm, orchestrated by the new Outreach Committee, organized as part of a settlement after a few of our neighbors sued us for some bogus charges they couldn't prove. But instead of dragging it out and fighting them in court, we decided to pay a little bit of money and commit to being a "nicer corporate citizen" and "giving back" to the community. The term "giving back" doesn't make any sense to me. They didn't give us anything to begin with. So there's no "giving back." It's just "giving." And when you've worked hard enough to charge $700/hour for your services, it doesn't feel very good to just "give" hours away.

I don't understand successful people doing things for free. If someone offers you a free pair of shoes, you wouldn't take it. You would think something's wrong with the shoes, that if they were any good they would cost money, that someone's trying to pull a fast one on you. It's the same way with people's time. Someone offers me something for free, I have no choice but to assume it has no value. Someone says they'll help me for free, they must not be very good at what they're offering to help me do. I wouldn't send a child to a free school, I wouldn't rely on the free police to protect my family, and I certainly wouldn't want someone building a house for me if they weren't good enough at it that they could charge some money.

Nevertheless, as part of the settlement we agreed to spend a day helping some organization build a house for poor people. As if building them a house will really solve the underlying problem of why they're poor. Anyway, we assigned each partner 3 associates, and we took our associates down to the construction site and spent the day supervising as they did the work. It was a ridiculous waste of my time to have to sit in a chair, answering e-mails on my BlackBerry, while my three associates carried wood and hammered some stuff into the ground. The chair they set up for me wasn't very comfortable, and they ran out of water bottles before lunch.

I had a side bet with one of the other partners that I could get my associates to do more work than he could, but my associates were lazy and I lost. Even the threat of weekend work didn't get them moving any faster. Toward the end of the day I realized a loophole in my side bet, and so I had my associates undo some of the work my colleague's associates did, unscrewing some bolts and knocking over some support beams, but my associates weren't even skilled enough to undo enough work to put us into the lead. The organizers were a little confused about why they were taking things apart that they should have been putting together, but I slipped one of them a $20 bill and she kept quiet.

Luckily, we were all back in the office by 6:00, so everyone was able to work a half-day anyway. It's not like clients put all their problems on hold just because we want to waste a day helping the community. It'll take two days just to catch up on the missed phone calls.

There's a better way to do this. Our firm "gives back" to the community by supporting the local sports teams. We get free tickets and box office seats for clients or partners. Occasionally, a team member will drop by unannounced and signs some autographs that we then of course sale for a profit. Finally, our volunteers go out at 5:30am and sale sports events tickets and papers (that are provided free to us) during the morning communte thereby getting out the firm name and raising money we can then donate to whatever we want... partners retreat. You know those poor unfortunate professional sports teams don't receive enough money. Our community really appreciates it and then we can ignore those silly poor poor. Yeah the poor.
And yet, I deeply sympathize. As of an ordeal in journalism class this morning, I can say that I HATE donating ANY of my "free time" to people, and I daren't say I'll EVER EVER EVER do it again. Ever. (X10.) >__>
Side Bet = the one in the film "Trading Places" not the TV show 'Trading Spaces.'
Yeah, it really blows when asked to "give back" when you KNOW you haven't taken anything.

These ridiculous days you're "speaking" of.... It's the "suits" we're making the side bets on. Hee.
The idea of giving back just is worng. I mean why should the people you pay you $700.00 have to sit by and watch you "give back" hours of your time. I mean if you were going to give bakc shouldn't it be to those who have given you something, like the aforesaid $700 an hour? And we all know that will never happen - except in fee dispute mediation.
This blog is the best i have come across in a long time. I'm hooked- it 's hilarious!!! AAAH keep writing AL.

This comment has been removed by the author.
It is very funny this stuff I admit.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Yess! Why do anything at all if you don't make money from it? It is after all the only way to estimate value.
What is all this "giving back" garbage? Don't we all "give back" by the very nature of our jobs?

I mean, when I place a lien on someone's home and sue him for treble damages for not paying my client for construction work, I am "giving back" to the community because otherwise society would have to absorb the health care costs to fix the legs of the deadbeat contractor my client just broke.

When I make an auto insurance company pay for my client's bad back, am I not thereby preventing my client from hiring some pollacks with baseball bats to return the favor?
You could probably hire some vagrant teenagers to do the "giving back" for you - paying them minimum wage, you'd come out far ahead. Glad you got a half day in nontheless.
I sure hope you're a satireist(sp) and you don't really mean the things you said in this post.
I also hope this is tongue-in-cheek, because your comments betray a real lack of sensitivity. I can't imagine people undoing the good work of others just for a tiny spiteful bet. Building a home for others actually does help fight poverty. Ever tried to make a living on minimum? Ever tried to make a living while paying your own way thru school?
a "lack of sensitivity"??? And where in the world is it written that people need to "be sensitive" to each other? Is there some law heretofor unknown that proscribes "insensitive" behavior or makes it a crime to be an a-hole?

As to your other comment. Fine--build a house for a poor person. If they are too poor to afford a house payment, how are they going to pay for all the utilities and the property taxes. Seems to me like you are only delaying the inevitable bankruptcy filing, and actually creating more debt to society as a whole.

As to making your way through school, how about scholarships, grants, student loans, and part-time work? People who can't "make a living" in school were either a) too stupid to get any scholarships and/or b) too lazy to fill out the paperwork for loans and grants or get a job.
oh yeah, as the old saying goes "give the poor some fish, and you will give them food; teach them how to catch a fish, and you will give them life..."
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