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Commentary: Something completely different, and yet the same

The other day my fellow Law Journal columnist, Jane Pribek, and I decided to swap columns.

I would give advice on how to save a few bucks, and she would explore The Dark Side of the legal profession.

“So, where do you get your column ideas?” I asked.

“I spend lots of time on the Internet looking for new apps [apparently, that’s some sort of techie code for ‘computer applications’],” Jane said. “I also lurk on listservs. Sometimes I find ideas on blogs. When I’m really desperate, I ask my husband for tech ideas.”

“I am so not going to do that,” I responded.

“Well, where do you get the ideas for your columns?” she asked.

“I don’t do anything. Mostly, I just boast about my own iniquities,” I answered.

“I don’t have any good iniquities to boast about,” she replied. “I was raised Catholic, remember?” So we set about our respective tasks bereft of any relevant guidance.

Anyway, here goes:

Don’t pay for parking. When I practiced law, I never paid to park. Jane never did, either. She parked several blocks away where there’s free two-hour parking. But she’s one of those running freaks who doesn’t mind a little exercise once in a while. I simply befriended two elderly gentlemen who manned a parking lot near the courthouse, and they let me park for free.

Besides the free parking, I derived three other advantages from the policy.

First, they also worked at Milwaukee County Stadium, manning its parking lot, so I never had to pay when I went to see a Brewers game, either.

Second, I represented them whenever they needed any legal services. So I got work out of the arrangement, too.

Finally, even though I never paid to park, I still billed my clients as if I did. They just assumed that I had to pay to park by the courthouse, the same as any other attorney, so it never sent up any red flags.

Besides, I was the one who went to the effort of befriending the old guys at the parking lot. Why should my clients get the benefit of that effort, rather than me?

Looking back at this column, it appears that I really haven’t given you any decent financial advice at all. Instead, I’ve just boasted about my own iniquities, the same as I always do.

That’s all right, though. I expect that Jane’s explorations into The Dark Side won’t be as illuminating as mine usually are. But I bet she’ll find a way to save money while she’s at it, which I’ve never managed to do in my decades of wallowing there.

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