Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

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drdolittle
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby drdolittle » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:34 am

thesealocust wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
thesealocust wrote:Serious questions. It's very rarely discussed on TLS, but what range of students actually wind up doing legal temp work? I've never really thought about it for some reason... does it tend to be people from big city schools who want to stay local and struggle with more traditional job searches?


Take a look: http://www.orrick.com/lawyers/ByOffice.asp?ID=WH

That's definitely a step above. A firm would never list their temp attorneys on their website, and despite the unappealing characteristics of being in the insource center of a firm it seems much more legit than benefitless, no-security temp / contract attorney work.

And that crew even had a number of "T14ers."

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bk1
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby bk1 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:34 am

I have no idea the normal structure of small firms but the small firm I have been working at has two contract attorneys (Of Counsel) who make good money (6 figures) and have been working here forever. Pretty much all the attorneys (whether contract or actual associates) here are from 1-2 local TT's.

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thesealocust
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby thesealocust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:37 am

bk1 wrote:I have no idea the normal structure of small firms but the small firm I have been working at has two contract attorneys (Of Counsel) who make good money (6 figures) and have been working here forever. Pretty much all the attorneys (whether contract or actual associates) here are from 1-2 local TT's.


I think we're talking about different things. 'of counsel' tend to be senior attorneys who for whatever reason aren't equity partners or on the equity partnership track. Contract attorney refers to temporary - but licensed - attorneys who large firms bring in on a temporary basis for particularly large document review (or similar) projects at an hourly wage.

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bk1
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby bk1 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:38 am

thesealocust wrote:I think we're talking about different things. 'of counsel' tend to be senior attorneys who for whatever reason aren't equity partners or on the equity partnership track. Contract attorney refers to temporary - but licensed - attorneys who large firms bring in on a temporary basis for particularly large document review (or similar) projects at an hourly wage.

Ah okay. I guess I had always assumed that part-time = part-time.

areyouinsane
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby areyouinsane » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:23 am

I will have to say that, in many cases, the doc reviewers don't do themselves any favors by usually abusing, exploiting, or otherwise f-ing up any little privileges the firms give them. For example, at Paul Weiss they have a really great cafeteria called the "Jury Room." They gave the coders $10 a day in credits to use in there- it was a little card that they punched each time you used it. The prices in there were cheap- they have a grill section and you can get a small delmonico steak with 'fixins for about $7 (this was in 2005). I ate the steak every day and it was always very tasty and often downright delicious. I eat my steaks Pittsburgh rare, and the grill guy got to know me and called me "p-burg" and always made my steak just the way I liked it. We used to roll up there as a gang and play "Price is Right." In this game you have to get as close as possible to the $10 food limit w/out going over (cause you have to pay out o pocket if you exceed the $10 food card limit). Some things like salad are sold by weight, so the game can get dicey if you start loading up with croutons and such.

The sodas, coffee etc are all free in this cafeteria. You can just grab a cup and have as much as you want. You can see where this is going. This one really dirty guy we called "ShitFingers" (because he never washed his hands after taking a dump- there were like 10 witnesses to this fact) goes up there to get a soda, but he's pressing on the little bar that makes the soda come out with a glass he'd already used and had like slobbered all over. So this old lady next to him says "did you already use that glass- if you did that's gross, you're getting your spit on the soda fountain." It was kinda gross, the glass had like mayo and shit smeared all over it.

So ShitFingers gets into this huge argument with her and they have it out there at the soda fountain (most of these coders have bad tempers and get offended at the drop of a hat). Turns out she was a partner- oops. So the next day the agency guy comes into the basement and says we can't use the cafeteria anymore. The agency said we would get a non-taxable $10 added to our checks so we could get food from outside. Goodbye delmonico steak- hello street meat. The only good thing about this is that we got to meet Rachel Ray- there is a really good Halal food cart at 56th st and one day her and her film crew rolled up and offered to buy everyone in line lunch who let her cut in front of them. In real life she is literally like 4 feet tall. She was also smoking a cigarette.

The other problem with getting banned from the cafeteria was that everyone was now eating at their workstation. We were in the basement under the Rock Center, down in the bowels of the building with the furnaces and HVAC equipement, etc. With all the food garbage from like 200 coders eating down there, the place got infested with cockroaches. They were even crawling inside the computers and such. So Paul Weiss had the place roach-bombed and the day after the dead roaches were everywhere- on the keyboards, in the printers, all over the floor. Pretty gross. Even ShitFingers thought it was a little too dirty, even for him.

I forgot to mention that we weren't allowed upstairs period after ShitFingers pissed off the partner with his soda fountain debacle. So we couldn't use the Paul Weiss bathrooms- we had to use the public bathroom in the Rock Center. It only had one stall and a homeless dude named "Bones" pretty much lived in there and would holler "i'm in here motherfucker" every time you went to take a leak. So everyone started using the Heartland Breweries bathroom, which was pretty dirty too.

Anyway, that was a JD project- you didn't have to be admitted to work the gig. Because of that we only got $21 an hour. Most everyone there was waiting to get admitted to NY, because the minute you did you could jump to a SullCrom gig which paid $32 an hour plus OT. I got admitted right after the roach bomb, and was at SullCrom the day after getting NY Bar admission up in albany. After Paul Weiss, the SullCrom cellar was like a 5 star hotel. At Sullivan the coders have their own bathroom, break rooms, and even a little kitchen to use. That makes a lot of sense. It's kind of like "steerage" on those old ships- hell, would you want a dirty old TTT colder coming upstairs to use the firm's associate-level facilities? Of course not. Sullivan thus gives their coders their own little basement "world" which they never have to leave.

It was really funny one day about 3 years ago when I was starting a gig at SullCrom. My project was starting the same day that the SA class was starting, and they had this big reception table set up in the lobby with 'Welcome Class of '08" or whatever. I went up to the table and told them I was there for the doc review gig- they actually told me to wait outside and they'd come get us when the SA's had cleared the lobby! God forbid a TTT grad contaminate their little party!

Later in the day they took all the SA's to the basement (i think they were getting a grand tour of the firm) and the associate was telling them "these are all just temps." The SA's looked at us like we were animals in a zoo or something, it was degrading in kind of a funny way though. In doc review you work at whatever spare broom closet, furnace room, or other hovel they stick you in (manhattan office space is pricey and why waste good $$$ on space for TTT loser temps?) On big projects you literally sit elbow-to-elbow with each other, for up to 16 hours a day. You also have to use the beat-up old furniture from the 1970s that really belongs in a dumpster. Its very much like prison, with everyone so cramped into small spaces and tensions all flaring up. Chairs are a big, big deal- sometimes a wiseass newbie will try and switch his chair with a "veteran's" chair if he gets their early that day or something. Big mistake. You see, since the furniture is all pretty much garbage, there's a real pecking order as to who gets the "best of the worst" when it comes to chair allocation. Most of the time the backrest or the swivel (or both) are broken, so if you end up with a decent chair you hang on to it for dear life. If the staff attorney or supervisor moves your seat for talking too much or causing problems, you have the right to take that chair with you to your new workstation- it's part of the "unwritten code" of the temps. I have literally seen fistfights start over people trying to nab chairs that didn't belong to them.

Another problem are those "one serve coffee" machines that are often in the break room. You know those "Green Mountain" machines with the little one-serve pods? Being dirt poor, the coders are prone to "hoarding," and the popular flavors like hazelnut will often vanish the second the case/box is opened. That's because some coders will take like 50 of them and hide them near their workstation, usually in a file cabinet or under document boxes, etc. So usually all that's left for coffee is like Dark French Roast Decaf and other crap flavors. Another big thing is the take-out menu folder. There are certain Chinese restaurants that rarely give out menus, so people are very fussy about keeping the "rare" menus in the folder. It is very bad form to take that menu from the folder to your desk, because if you lose it it's the only one we had. Also do not write on the menu, ever, unless it's something funny.

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Kabuo
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby Kabuo » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:31 am

thesealocust wrote:Epic post. Identifiable bits of things you post are not only true but fairly inside baseball type knowledge, so I don't really doubt your legitimacy. Still, the idea of somebody from yale as a temp attorney kind of blows my mind - but maybe that's just highlighting my bias / prejudices?


Pretty sure their LRAP covers this.

merc280
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby merc280 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:37 am

this is hilarious. Pretty sad how horrible the condition are for some attorneys who do temp work. Don't really hear much about the dark side of legal jobs. Great insight to how bad it can be.

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quakeroats
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby quakeroats » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:01 am

merc280 wrote:this is hilarious. Pretty sad how horrible the condition are for some attorneys who do temp work. Don't really hear much about the dark side of legal jobs. Great insight to how bad it can be.


$32 an hour plus overtime is damn near slave labor.

areyouinsane
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby areyouinsane » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:17 am

$32 an hour plus overtime is damn near slave labor.


Reading comp fail. $32 plus OT was back in 2005, 2006. Today those jobs require experience and have cut rates into the mid 20s an hour with no OT. Here's a typical project from HireCounsel, who I've worked for in the past:

http://www.hirecounsel.com/jobs_search_ ... php?id=972

Many NYC projects going on right now are paying $25 flat an hour, and some have even dipped as low as $22. That ain't much in NYC, esp. if you have student loans to contend with. Remember that you also get no health insurance.

Most of this work has been shipped offsore to India, with the ABA's blessing:

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202424085117

Therefore, only very small, low-paying, ultra short term projects are left in NYC and the surrounding area. The outsourcers are now also taking on more substantive work like research and even drafting briefs. The ABA could care less since they're all biglaw partners who will profit regardless of who churns the paperwork. Also, clients are demanding that the work be sent offshore to save $$$.

porgie
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby porgie » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:30 am

areyouinsane, what's your situation? how'd you wind up in doc review?

merc280
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby merc280 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:43 am

guess I should keep my back up plan of becoming a truck driver alive. Well at least doing that I can still make close to 6 figures and stay on the open road.

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PDaddy
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:48 am

thesealocust wrote:Epic post. Identifiable bits of things you post are not only true but fairly inside baseball type knowledge, so I don't really doubt your legitimacy. Still, the idea of somebody from yale as a temp attorney kind of blows my mind - but maybe that's just highlighting my bias / prejudices?


How does a Yalee wind up doing doc review? Isn't that like a senior being on the freshman team? Is that even possible? All you have to do is walk around New England or NY, or maybe D.C. and let people know you went to Yale Law. Someone will hire you for a respectable law job. Does he have a bad case of flatulism, or really really baaaaad B.O. or something? His class was only 170 people or so, and firms snatch them up first.

areyouinsane
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby areyouinsane » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:50 am

I graduated in 2004 from an NYC Tier One school with a 3.1 GPA. Did an intership both summers, but the gov't agency I interned with did not have any openings when I graduated. I sent out tons of resumes, but when $$$ ran low I registered with the temp agencies and got into Paul Weiss. Then I did a couple SullivanCromwell gigs and left temping for a personal injury firm where I worked as an associate for 45 K and no health benefits. That firm was so miserable I seriously thought about suicide and basically started drinking and doing drugs to cope with stress and depression. I had to keep deferring loans and really couldn't survive on the low salary. I was in the personal injury firm for about one year. Then the partner at the PI firm got disbarred and the other PI firms wouldn't interview me because of having a "stain" like that place on my resume. So my only substantive experience was basically worthless because it came from a place where a guy was getting disbarred for all types of sleazy shit, etc. I didn't really like that type of work anyway- it's a nightmare dealing with injured people and if you can't bring in cases you're pretty much topping out at 50-55 K for a salary.

So I went back into temping for another 3 years or so, and also waited tables and did other non-legal jobs between projects. Doc review wasn't too bad in terms of $$$, but you have to accept being treated like complete and utter garbage all the time. You are in no way a "professional" or accorded any respect or dignity on these gigs. They lie about the project length, lie about the hours, and terminate people with no warning by calling you at 11 pm to say the gig is over. On many projects you can't have your cell phone with you- you have to check it in with the front desk before going to your worskstation, other crappy childish rules like that.

Sometimes I really do wonder how things turned out so bad. Basically my "career" has been nothing but dead-end temp jobs and working for a scumbag firm. At this point I'm pretty much a ruined shell of a person, and plan on moving abroad with my fiancee so we can escape my massive student loan debt and start over elsewhere. She is a former ballet dancer and has an offer to dance with a company in Turkey, so I might take an English teaching job when we get there.

It's too bad student loans can't be discharged in BK. I'd gladly resign from both bars I'm admitted to for the chance at a clean financial start. I've accepted that my legal "career" so to speak is beyond dead, and dead-end temping is the only legal job I'll ever have any chance of getting. With the debt, it's simply impossible for me to "start over" in this country and change careers. Why struggle to pay for another 25 years for an education I'm not even able to use? My hunch is also that things are going to get far, far worse in the USA over the next few years, so it's probably an ideal time to run for the exit.
Last edited by areyouinsane on Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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re-applicant
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby re-applicant » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:51 am

flame or not, someone get areyouinsane a book deal ASAP

merc280
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby merc280 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:00 am

re-applicant wrote:flame or not, someone get areyouinsane a book deal ASAP



This. I would buy that book and distribute it to everyone I know. areyouinsane's way of describing temp jobs is pretty funny, or maybe i just relate to it in many ways.. I worked at a restaurant where there were roaches everywhere even after bugbombing the place. Funny funny stuff

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drdolittle
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby drdolittle » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:03 am

Or at least areyouinsane should try freelance writing for mags to start out with, if he's not doing it already. Sure the pay's not great and could be outright horrible, but at least something like that should be far more stimulating and NYC's a good place to be for it. Dude's writing style is entertaining enough to try writing about something more broadly relevant than temping.

ohnowhattodo
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby ohnowhattodo » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:11 am

Not sure if this came up already... or if this spurred the entire topic, but I just read this in today's journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... ideo_Third

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Kilpatrick
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby Kilpatrick » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:33 am

Damn, this thread delivered.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:38 am

Agree with areyouinsane that student loan debt needs to be dischargeable in bankruptcy. This would reduce both the number of law students & law schools as well as lenders, while the remaining money sources tighten the standards for student loans.

timbs4339
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:55 am

Sorry to detract from such an epic thread with a serious question, but can law students apply for these jobs? They actually sound like a good way to make some cash and since they are paid hourly I wonder if they could be done part time during the school year.

ohnowhattodo
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby ohnowhattodo » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:57 am

I was thinking the same thing. The impression I got from areyouinsane and the WSJ article is that you have to pass the bar for these doc review jobs.

timbs4339
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:58 am

ohnowhattodo wrote:I was thinking the same thing. The impression I got from areyouinsane and the WSJ article is that you have to pass the bar for these doc review jobs.


He did say some projects required only a JD but paid less. If they only required a JD I don't see why they couldn't hire some 2L or 3L.

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cinephile
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby cinephile » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:27 pm

Kilpatrick wrote:Damn, this thread delivered.


Also, good luck with your move overseas.

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Borhas
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby Borhas » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:33 pm

Paraflam wrote:This guy's posts are hysterical. Can't decide if he's an extremely well-executed and thought-out flame or not.

+1
the amount of detail makes me believe it, also they seem pretty informative

areyouinsane, you should go publish that stuff or something I'd spend money reading it

either way, godspeed, brother
Last edited by Borhas on Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

t3hevildonut
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Re: Where do contract / temp attorneys come from?

Postby t3hevildonut » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:36 pm

A magazine like Rolling Stone would eat this right up. Serious.




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