Blind Woman Needs Grant Help To Keep From Drowning In A Sea Of Lawyers
by Lucille Uttermohlen
(Monticello, IN, USA)
I am a 57-year-old woman who shares a home with her 92-year-old mother. Together we have three dogs.
My interests include natural medicine, animal care, family law, healthy cooking, spiritual matters and education.
I have been a lawyer for 30 years. My first love is, and always has been, writing. The best aspect of writing is that it requires research, which I also love to do.
When I look at my life in terms of blessings, I have no right or room to complain.
My mother’s home is free of all liens and encumbrances, and I was able to buy us a car before this interesting financial crisis hit.
We have enough food, and the denizens of our small town can gratefully report that, except in the shower, our nakedness is covered.
We are not without the small luxuries, such as occasional meals out and short trips to visit relatives that make life pleasurable.
However, I would prefer to work for my keep, and this recession has played havoc on my ability to earn my living as a family law attorney.
I hate accepting Social Security Disability, but if I didn’t, I would not be able to contribute to the household, and would have to live on my mother’s Social Security benefits.
That would certainly put an end to the short trips and dinners out, not to mention minor conveniences like utilities and trash removal.
Of course, being the considerate person I am, I would continue to dress, if not stylishly, thoroughly, just so I wouldn’t scare the neighbors.
I was born with glaucoma. I had some vision until I reached the age of sixteen. I had surgery to reduce the tension in my eyes. Unfortunately, I lost what little vision I had at that time.
In the past several years, I have had a hip replacement that has been wonderfully successful.
I had an acoustic neuroma, which has made me totally deaf in one ear, and has affected my balance and directional hearing.
I also had to have both of my eyes removed due to extreme pain. Happily enough, I still have a good personality.
All of the money I earn in my law practice goes to expenses. I have considered closing my office down, but my secretary has been with me for 17 years, and I can’t bear the thought of cutting her and her seven year old son out of the meager living that working for me is able to provide.
All of us deserve security, and I am more than willing to work for it. Our small county has about 20 lawyers to serve a 20,000-person population, and new law offices are opening all the time.
I insert this to assure you that my under-employment is not a result of anything I have done or failed to do.
My reputation is solid. However, due to the self-help trends, and the many colleagues competing for the remaining jobs, there just isn’t enough legal work to go around.
My attempts to become a self-supporting member of the world community have been varied.
I still practice law when work is available. I am currently starting a guardian ad litem service. This means that I will be offering my services to local courts and attorneys to investigate and advocate for the interests of children and disabled adults in our court system.
I am in the process of writing my own websites. My proposed topics include family law, with an emphasis on divorce and related issues.
I am also planning a site to review merchant web sites for their honesty, the quality of the information they provide, and their accessibility.
Human and animal nutrition and care, with emphasis on the elderly are also areas that interest me, and that I hope can feature in future web site projects.
I have access to two doctors, a nurse practitioner and a pharmacist to vet my research before I offer my acquired expertise to the public on these topics.
I have applied to several freelance writing sites in the hope of earning some money to pursue my other projects. However, I have discovered that the work doesn’t pay very well.
I’m willing to work for peanuts, but not after an elephant has stepped on them. I don’t think that $1 for a 500-word article is fair, and I can’t write them fast enough for that kind of employment to sustain life, let alone be lucrative.
I am looking for a grant to help me get my several business ventures off the ground. I need to pay for sighted assistance for both secretarial and driving duties.
I also need to support myself while I work towards building a solid financial future.
Much of what I want to do and am already doing fits into the general writing category. As a lawyer, I write and present briefs to both local judges and appellate courts.
Guardian ad litem’s duties include investigating the ward’s living situation and making written recommendations as to how the court can best meet the ward’s needs.
Creating websites and writing as a freelancer require both research and writing skills.
I could work more efficiently if I could pay someone to do the things that take me a lot of time, such as proof reading, and submitting proposals to potential employers.
The money I would need to conduct my business efficiently would include enough to continue paying my secretary a living weekly wage.
She currently works for $9.50 per hour, and has to supplement her income by doing income tax returns and typing jobs in the evening.
I would want to pay her $15 per hour to compensate her for the fact that she would be taking on more work for me, and would probably have to curtail her other money making activities.
She does some of her outside work during her time in my office, as things have been quiet enough that I don’t give her enough work to keep her busy.
I still need someone to answer the phone and submit clean work to courts on my client’s behalf. I'd need to have her here for a normal working week. Otherwise I might as well close the office down.
My driver earns about $10 per hour. I hire her when I can’t bum a ride, which is most inconvenient at times. I could use her assistance for 10 to 20 hours per week, which would help her family out considerably as well.
I have had my Pac Mate Braille note taker for eight years. It works when I plug it in, but can only function as a paperweight after two or three hours when it relies on battery power.
To replace it would cost between $3000 and $5,000. Since the one I have only needs a new battery to be able to do what I need it to do, my intention regarding it would be to send it to the manufacturer for a new battery as well as general maintenance. This would cost $350.
I need this device to take notes when I am gathering information away from my office.
I would also need a digital camera to conduct an effective guardian ad litem service. My secretary is trained as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and would take pictures of the various homes, children and disabled adults whose lives I would be investigating for the courts.
A brochure is available regarding this service. My cell phone features a camera, but I have been assured that the pictures it can take would not be of sufficient clarity to assist a court in understanding our presentations.
I can make $1500 per month and still qualify for disability. In addition to giving my mother more assistance with our household expenses, I would like to be able to pay myself enough to discharge the $3,000 in credit card debt I have accrued trying to start the income streams I need to get back on my feet and become self sufficient again.
I could also stand to spruce up my meager wardrobe, since people aren’t as likely to hire a middle-aged blind person who dresses in the latest bag lady style.
I plan to send copies of my guardian ad litem brochure to the judges, attorneys, mental health facilities and welfare departments in my practice area. I would follow these with a reminder post card.
Afterwards, I would send a monthly newsletter containing articles about laws and experiences relevant to guardian ad litem services.
My goal would be to keep my name in front of those who are likely to refer clients to a GAL.
In addition, I am currently preparing a co-parenting course for our local welfare department both as a community service, and a marketing exercise.
I will not be paid for conducting the classes, but I believe that doing this is both good press for me, and a valuable contribution to our community’s separated parents and their children.
To market my web sites, I would write and submit articles to various article directories and blogs for publication. I would also send a weekly ezine to subscribers who opt in to be on my mailing lists.
Participating in forums and contributing to other people’s blogs would also enhance my online efforts.
Being able to outsource the administrative work, such as physically making the submissions, would enable me to be much more productive.
I would want adequate funds to hire such assistance.
This can be done online, but I don’t want to take advantage of people who are desperate enough to work for the peanuts the elephants have already crushed.
I would estimate that such assistance could be hired for $10 per hour.
The number of hours I would have to purchase would depend on what work I am hired to do, and what the employee would have to do to submit my work for me.
Finally, I have written two e-books that I intend to sell through my current web site, www.yourlawlady.com.
I have also written two novels that I would like to promote, but have not been able to market because of the secretarial limitations mentioned above.