Any person who ever thought it would be noble to be a lawyer remembers the classic scene from To Kill A Mockingbird where poor Mr. Cunningham goes to pay Atticus Finch for his legal services:
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Finch, I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to pay you.
Atticus: Let that be the least of your worries, Walter.
Cunningham pays Atticus with what he can from his farm (I remember vegetables and eggs, the internet says hickory nuts and stove wood). It’s a moving scene. As many have remarked over time, Atticus Finch represents the best of the legal profession. Hang on, I’ve got something in my eye.
Of course, Atticus is a complete legal fiction. The overwhelming majority of attorneys expect to be paid in cold cash (or hot sexual favors).
So the story I’m about to tell you is going to be shocking. A lawyer in Colorado accepted a fur pelt in exchange for legal work…
Here’s the story, from a tipster who wishes to remain anonymous:
My friend has been practicing law for less than a year and here’s her latest “why it sucks being new” encounter:
Yesterday I did some contract work for an old man. He paid me in a PELT! He brought it into the office in a plastic grocery bag…. I was aware that new lawyers, in particular, aren’t always able to collect from clients, but I would really like to know how to divide my dried elk skin among my creditors?
Sorry, I think this is kind of awesome. It would be great if I went to speak at, say, the University of Colorado Law School and they furnished me with an elk skin. (Or fake elk skin: no need to shoot an elk just for the lulz.)
And while the woman in this story is poking fun at the payment, she accepted it. It’s not like she said “look you old coot, you best dye that elk green and start printing dead presidents on its ass.”
So good job all around, I say. When you are a new attorney working at a small law firm, this is the kind of good will that will help you make an impression in the community.
Oh, and if I were her I would totally endorse the elk skin and send it over to Sallie Mae.