Debt Collection

Year-end is fast approaching in Biglaw. For litigators, the last two weeks of December are usually some of the calmest of the year. Even the hardest of adversaries are apt to adopt a “Christmas Truce” and halt the lobbing of discovery grenades at each other. Courts start to slow down, and most everyone is happy to “pick things back up” after the turn of the year. But like all things Biglaw, complacency at year’s end is impossible for a Biglaw partner — even when work is relatively quiet. Why? One word: collections.

For tax and other corporate structure reasons that your firm’s comptroller will be happy to explain to you (if you dare to actually engage a non-lawyer in conversation about the business of your law firm), most Biglaw firms want to have every single drop of revenue possible in the door by December 31st at 11:59 p.m. While your typical partner is fairly insulated from money matters at the firm all year, and mostly just wants no surprises when it comes to their compensation, at year’s end everyone is recruited and expected to give their all. To what? Collections!

How bad does it get? Pretty bad….

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Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a blood pressure raising article about hundreds of District Attorneys offices that allow debt collectors to use their stationery to chase down folks who write bad checks.

Why does anyone give a damn about prosecutors who help businesses to bully people into ponying up cash under threat of prosecution, before a lawyer ever looks over the case? Well, for starters, the DAs get a little somethin’-somethin’ from the deal, too….

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Last night, a dramatic scene unfolded in the parking lot of a movie theater. A suspected drunk driver allegedly took off without his headlights on, hit two police cruisers, terrified several witnesses, and then slammed his car into a tree. The driver was killed.

“It was coming straight towards us and I didn’t know if he was going to stop or what he was doing,” said one witness. “He was going 70, 80 miles an hour. It was scary.”

The driver of the vehicle was a young lawyer, an associate at a law firm. He graduated not too long ago from a leading law school….

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* Someone figured out exactly what’s on every nerdy lawyer’s holiday wish list: an iPhone app for PACER. Get it while it’s hot — it’s free! [iTunes App Store]

* The First Amendment will always reign supreme, even if people are harassing religious old ladies on the Twitter. [Underdog]

* Legalizing same-sex marriage is like eating your vegetables. You might not like it, but it’s good for your health. [Jezebel]

* This is quite possibly the worst “bitch owed me money” story ever. What kind of a person sets a grandma on fire? In an elevator? [TIME]

* Thanks to technological innovations, friending people online might soon carry more meaning than friending them in real life. [What About Clients?]

* Go ahead, get up and tweet about the location of DUI checkpoints. Just make sure you take those 12 steps back to your seat when you’re done. [Legal Blog Watch]

* My birthday is on Wednesday. If you want to give me a present, you can vote for Above the Law in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100, under the “News” category. [ABA Journal]

It continues to baffle me how this president who was elected thanks to the overwhelming support of young people can’t see the crushing effect of student debt. I honestly think that President Obama has a blind spot on this issue because he was able to pay off his debts with a book deal. Not everybody gets a book deal.

Heck, in this economy, not everybody gets a job.

And if you don’t have a job, paying off your student loans is the last thing on your list. First comes shelter, then food, then dating, then internet (so you can look for jobs), then all the bills where they take something away from you if you don’t pay, then alcohol, and then you see if you have any money left over to pay your student loans.

I didn’t make that last paragraph up. That’s a pretty standard hierarchy of human needs.

For some reason, Obama doesn’t understand that. He seems to think that if you pester people more, they’ll pay off their loans. Thanks to this flawed logic, expect debt collection calls to be coming to a cell phone near you….

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