Posted by: chlost | December 6, 2011

The nagging little thought in the back of my head—-

Currently, I work from home. I have a part-time contract as an attorney with the public defender’s office. The contract is half time. My time on the contract cases are routinely at least full time. There is no additional pay for additional hours.   There have been no raises for several years. None foreseen for the future.  Low pay overall. Public employee and all. I am just taking advantage of you taxpayers, you know.

I have had this contract for seventeen years. The job is generally thankless, overwhelming, depressing, frustrating.

Additionally, I maintain private cases. These are mostly related to families….divorce, custody, child support. Sometimes I am also appointed by the court to represent people in guardianship and civil commitment cases. Again, many of these are very difficult cases; people are in crisis, confused and overwhelmed. I have done this type of work for  28 years.

The person who has the full-time position  for the public defender’s office recently decided not to return from a maternity leave.

So what am I doing?

I am going to apply for the full-time position at the public defender’s office.

Am I nuts?

I think the answer may be “YES!”.

If I get the position, and there is a pretty good chance that I would, it would mean that I would no longer have private cases. I would work in an office. I would have a supervisor in the office-the same guy who has been my supervisor under the contract, but has been a supervisor in name only. My caseload will probably double.  I will likely be limited in vacation time (currently I take as much time as I want, but I have to ensure that my total hours for the year are fulfilled) and I will have to follow “normal” office hours. No more answering the phone or writing letters in my pajamas.

Husband desperately wants me to have the job.

It will mean at least a doubling of retirement benefits. I hope to retire in about 8 years. It will at least double the income that I can count on each month. I will receive health insurance. I will have some limited staff support-5 attorneys share one secretary and a paralegal.

I  have mixed feelings. I want the job. I will be very disappointed if I don’t get the job. I know that I can do the job-I am already doing it, I just haven’t been getting paid for the time that I am doing it. Overall, I enjoy the clients (kids are amazing-even those in trouble), and I respect and like the people I will be working with. Most of the people in the office are my children’s ages, but there are a few old folks like me who have been in this business for a long, long time. They are enthusiastic, smart, competent, hard-working people who are doing a very difficult job day after day.

So why am I thinking that I may yet regret this?



  1. Any change is going to be a bit tough, but it does have an end in sight with good reasons for doing it. In my own life I have learned that I can tolerate almost anything for a limited time. Your loss of relative freedom is temporary with fulfillment and an end in sight. How bad can it be? Retirement benefits are terrific. I know,because I don’t have any. Just sayin’.

  2. I’m not that far from retirement (I hope), so having a full-time position with benefits has been wonderful. Some days I wish I could stay home and start retirement now, but we recently had a medical need and it was so nice to have good insurance. No matter which path you choose, there will probably be some regret or at least questioning whether it’s the best one. Good luck.

  3. I love my work bit I often wish I had a regular paycheck and benefits.

  4. More money to retire with. Good.
    Health care to make sure all is taken care of before retirement. Good.

    Regular hours, not as good
    No p.j. days, not as good

    For good, there is typically not so good. But in the end they balance out.
    At least you’ll be doing a job you don’t hate, and 8 years will go by more quickly than you would believe.

  5. Don’t know if you address this again, but wanted to wish you belated luck. I imagine you just have misgivings because you’re aware of the downsides. I now have misgivings about everything so my gut isn’t a very good guide.

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