26 September 2011

I love the smell of artificial deadlines in the morning

I do a lot of pro bono work, for a lot of reasons. I have to keep myself busy, so I don't leave the office feeling that I've done nothing but dick around on the Internet all day long. I need to continue training myself, so I do what I like to call self-CLE: any work product I generate for a pro bono client goes right into my personal library of forms I can adapt for a paying client later on. And of course it's good for networking, a term I don't like but can't very well ignore.

But to get work done for non-paying clients -- it's all well and good to call them pro bono, but at the end of the month they've done nothing for my bottom line, at best, and taken potential paid hours away from me, at worst -- I have to be disciplined. This week I've given myself until Wednesday to generate the first draft of by-laws for a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization where I serve on the board, which I'll chuck to the other lawyer on the board for revisions and input. In the end, I'll add another document to my library, and we'll both add another item to our resumés. The ABA advises newer lawyers against serving on non-profit boards, but fuck the ABA. They're not on the side of solo practitioners or small firms, anyway, especially those of us who graduated in the "bottom 90%" of our classes at a "bottom 90%" school.

Anyway, my ultimate deadline, if I have one, which I don't because nobody is paying me to do this work, would be the end of my term of service on this board. I guess. That doesn't come around for a few more months. But in the meantime, and while I'm still underemployed for paying work, I'm stuck making busy work for myself. Once I'm done my morning news reading.

What do you do when you've finished your paying work? Or the other side of the coin, do you wish you could do some lawyering work for a non-profit company or public-interest organization? Please comment. Thanks!

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