Saturday, March 21, 2015



Weather and banking regulations have me feeling dragged northeast by the wind and southwest by the tide. Pushed in one direction and pulled in another. Or several.


I’d very much like to be cleaning rope and painting buoys and trying to make fishable pots out of the crumbling misshapen mismatched collection of gear in my yard. I would like to be doing that as the grass gets green under my feet and the air softens up on my brow. If, however, I were to show up there this afternoon, much shoveling of snow crust would be required to even get a glimpse of my rope pile. The snow banks look slightly shorter, but I have this uneasy sense that they’ve only compacted and become more obstinate.

George sent me a picture of my house a few weeks back- at least the visible portions. I’m afraid that the snowbank halfway up my window may be trying to sneak inside through the sash.

As a result, I am pulled to get back home, but pushed back into place on the mainland for another little while waiting for a thaw. When it comes, it will happen quickly. Right?

Financial Institutions

Without rehashing my well worn descriptions of financial and personal struggle, I can say I have worked hard the last couple of years to be a good doobie and build up the real estate law work so that when I can’t be on the island, I can still meet my basic responsibilities.  

This usually goes along well enough in terms of actually doing the work- examining titles, fixing problems, running down all the numbers and details and providing reassurance to buyers and sellers that the sale will go through. For the last almost 3 years, the work has grown and gotten more enjoyable through a lot of sweat, tap-dancing and steep learning curves.

Less enjoyably, real estate practice is not what it was when I started assisting other attorneys while still in school. The secondary mortgage market wags the title insurance dog that dominates the practice.

Enter a new, bigger, clumsier and far less friendly dog: new banking regulations. Because of the excesses of coked out sleazy mortgage brokers, financial professionals as creative as they were sociopathic and greedy, cyber criminals and complacent parties elsewhere throughout the real estate business, the rest of us who did not create the problems- lenders, attorneys, insurance underwriters- all have to cope with dizzying new requirements for security and fairness in lending. This is noble but stupid; an ass-up-the-tree foolish idea that more small print forms will assure that borrowers are better informed and personal information better protected by creating more layers of process.

Keeping up with escalating bureaucracy and regulation has become an additional part time job and a far less satisfying one.

For an independent firm trying to stay up on this stuff, two things come through loud and clear. First is that small producers like me are hanging on by our nails and are at risk of being choked out of the business because the requirements favor larger firms. Second is that the regulations address risks posed by those selfsame big firms, big banks and the right hand/left hand syndrome that happens in those environs.

Pardon me, but a large city law firm may get infiltrated or have information get misdirected in one way or another, but nobody, nohow is getting by Cyndy and Christine, who between them know everyone who ever lived in our county for several generations.

Small banks are much more responsive, nimble and able to deal with risk, and much less likely to engage in the kind of drunken gambling that brought the market crashing down in 2008. Small law firms are much more likely to be aware of fraud risks and much less likely to have cyber vulnerability.

Those things being said, I’m feeling very much the endangered species. I’m feeling pulled toward success by learning the business and keeping up with changes, but at the same time pushed away by a system that values conformity and bureaucracy over responsiveness and dedication. Pushed toward Matinicus again. The big thaw can’t come soon enough.