Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I had to convince myself today to do this. I had quite possibly the lowest day in my life yesterday. I'm writing this only so I face it head on and don't let it throw me into a spiral of emotional eating and a deeper depression.
Last night my husband came home and I immediately asked him what was wrong. I can tell - no matter what. Well, a check I wrote to a friend of ours bounced. I've NEVER bounced a check and still don't know how that happened. But I've been unemployed now for 6 months with no prospects and worry constantly because I am not bringing any money in.
How I got unemployed is almost like a bad crime novel. I am a paralegal and was working for an attorney (personal injury) where I pretty much did all the legal work for the firm. The attorney quite literally only made court appearances. His wife was the 'office manager.'
Well - in June of 2011 I started having some concerns about clients not getting return calls. The attorney stopped showing up to work. I went on vacation for 11 days in July and got constant phone calls and texts that they only people at the office were 2 legal assistants. New clients were being blown off. It was bizarre. Then calls came from vendors who were not being paid. Calls came from clients who had not been given their settlements. And I got cc'd on an email by mistake and the attachment showed me he had lied to the court. What was going on? My instincts told me what was happening, but what if I was wrong? I talked to my now husband and we decided that I should stay until I was sure and then report it to the State Bar. And then they missed payroll - and somehow called me up and blamed me for it! (I don't do payroll.) I called my husband and told him and asked if I could quit. He supported me. I gave my 2-weeks notice and they refused to allow me back in the building. And stiffed me on my pay.
I called up an attorney who had been fired from the firm and told her all of my suspicions. I thought the attorney had stolen the money from the client trust account. Her father was on the ethics committee and an investigation started. Then a client called me (a friend that I had referred to him and I negotiated the $400K settlement) and told me that he'd missed a vital court date and she was now being ordered to pay $38,000 for an unpaid medical bill plus interest and attorney fees. I put her in touch with an attorney, had her file an immediate bar complaint with the State Bar, and file a malpractice claim against his insurance.
I found a job with another attorney in town (the one I mentioned earlier) and let the investigation move forward. Meanwhile I was getting calls from clients, other attorneys, and just the curious about what I knew. I stayed quiet in case I would be needed as a witness. I only talked to the investigators. No gossip. They eventually shut down the practice - and released a news statement that almost $1 million dollars was missing (it is actually more) from the trust fund that should have been paid to clients.
These were people who had already had serious injuries - one man had been refused a PSA test by his PCP and ended up with stage 4 prostate cancer. Another was in an auto accident that left her incapable of using her leg. Not little fender bender injuries. People who had already been hurt - and the attorney and his wife had hurt them again.
Fast forward to yesterday. When we moved over here - the majority of attorneys knew who I'd worked for and that I was the one who started the investigation and brought down the ponzi scheme in 1 month. I have been essentially blackballed. Oh - there is all the lip service of 'good for you' but no one will hire me. I have a master's degree and no one will hire me. But every single assistant and associate attorney who stayed while they KNEW what was going on, are employed.
And then that bounced check happened. I just sat on the floor and cried. My husband is completely supporting me. What little I can collect in unemployment goes to some serious medical bills I had. I feel so hopeless. I can't find anything in this small town - even outside of the legal field. The couple of contract jobs I did get - stiffed me. They won't pay me and I don't have the money to send them to collections.
So here I sit today. Wanting to move forward but unable to do it. And on Thursday - I have to meet with the FBI and IRS about that attorney. I'm going to see it through - for all the clients. They may not get their money (it is all gone) but I will help them get justice.
I am hoping that karma will kick in and maybe I won't keep being punished for doing the right thing. But that is how it feels.
I hope this doesn't sound too 'poor me'. I am focusing on having a wonderful man who loves me beyond what I could imagine. And I've been successful for 2 weeks now. Everything happens for a reason and I can try and think that this is all happening because something better is on the horizon. But hope is fading.