From: diversetemps diversetemps >
Date: May 17, 2007 12:01 AM
Subject: Contract Attorneys and Diversity
Morrison & Foerster prides itself on ethnic and cultural diversity yet, below the surface, it does little to tap deep enough into the applicant pool to develop and retain diverse candidates.
Indeed, as evidenced by the email below, Morrison and Foerster actually stifles diverse attorneys' career development by limiting internet and telephone access, which are critical for pursuing opportunities beyond document review.
This firm seems to operate from a fixed paradigm: that early success in law school is an irrefutable predictor of future career success and, thus, other lawyers who come in to pick up the grunt work are not worthy of any sort of dignified treatment. This could not be further from the truth. Good lawyering, as with any other skill, can be learned irrespective of where someone went to law school or what rank they were in law school. Lawyering is not an innate skill. It is a mistake to assume that there is not diverse talent to be developed amongst the ranks of contract attorneys. In fact, the reason why law firms have such a difficult time attracting diverse candidates is because they are myopic in their approach.
While associate salaries, law school tuition, and profits per partner have grown exponentially in recent years, the hourly rates of contract attorneys have remained stagnant. Interestingly, the ranks of contract attorneys are up to five times as diverse as the ranks of full-time associates. Yet, contract attorneys receive little substantive training and mentoring. This is an issue which can no longer be ignored.
Too many discussions about diversity at law firms are focused solely upon associates. It is time for the discussion to be expanded. Instead of stifling the career opportunities of this diverse pool of lawyers, Morrison and Foerster, other law firms, clients, and bar associations should be devising ways to develop them.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Posse List
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 22:21:05 -0400
Subject: A complaint from a Posse member
...From a Possemember:
The Morrison Foerster Project at Compliance is an affront to the dignity of the 50 contract attorneys working there. Compliance's Project Manager's behavior, tone and tactics are reprehensible. From Day 1, the Project was adversarial in tone. Internet access was removed, only 2 computers provided for nearly 50 people to use. Phone call access is relegated to a balcony where there is absolutely no privacy. Compliance provided 2 keys for access to the women's restroom, only 4 key cards are provided for egress from the building after 6:00 p.m., and constant monitoring of every attorney's action, conversation and even look. The atmosphere is dismal, morale low and self-esteem constantly attacked.
Despite the minimum 50 hrs. and maximum 60, there is no food provided for after hours, unlike most large law firms' policy. Attorneys are urged to limit their lunch to 30 minutes to ensure "getting-in the 50 hour minimum," and any deviation from the 1/2 hour rule must be reported to the "Drill Sergeant" Project Manager. I've worked on several Compliance projects, and many others for large staffing agencies, I've heard many a horror story, but this one takes the cake. Most of the Project Attorneys are eager to jump ship at the first opportunity--if you're listening out there--PLEASE HELP!!!
Contract attorneys create value for staffing companies like Compliance, and their respective clients, not the other way around.
*The Posse List, based in D.C. , is 6 years old and its membership now exceeds 3,200 lawyers.