Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Omnipresence Of Tom The Temp

"The unusual preoccupation that many law firms and individual lawyers have with regards to the individual identity of Tom the Temp illustrates simple ignorance and the inability to grasp the greater significance or relevance of what is truly important.

Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor once stated that the most valuable thing an individual has to give is their labor. In a fair and just society an employee is rewarded for their earnest and legitimate spirit of hard work. When an individual is respected for their hard work with a fair wage, honorable treatment and good working conditions, the continued loyalty and devotion of the worker are inspired resulting in increased productivity and profits and less turnover. When there is insincerity in approach, a hostile working environment or an effort to profit excessively off of that effort without sharing it with the employee the equation breaks down. While the long term profitability of the company/firm is paramount, there is no honor when the profits are not shared equitably. Employees at every level are critical to sustain long term profitability of an entity. Profitability and equitable treatment are not diametrically opposed concepts.

The Legal Profession in modern America unfortunately resembles “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Many legal professionals are ambitious people who worked hard, borrowed a great deal of money that they may never be able to pay back for programs in American law schools that provided and continue to provide unrealistic expectations about the opportunities available to graduates upon graduation. The educational establishment is bankrupting a generation and the Treasury with the illusion that an investment in their tuition supporting their professors and administration is a wise investment, all while the default rate on student debt continues to climb and desperation mounts with so many scavengers and predators who have created a Ponzi scheme where recruiters and firms gorge themselves on the backs of temporary workers. When you look with disdain at the “Temps” or you encourage your employees to do so, you illustrate your morality. These “temps” are people too, many of whom had dreams to be Perry Mason, Alan Dershowitz, F. Lee Bailey, Clarence Darrow or Marty Lipton and not Perry Doc Review. So consider how you treat that individual who is driving up the profits of your firms, enabling your lifestyle and treat them with respect. They are not necessarily living their dream working for you but many do come with a strong work ethic to work hard, earn money to pay their rent, payoff their student loans and otherwise try to make a living.

There are many firms where legal professionals are leased to law firms by the agencies at rates upwards of $75 per hour while the firms themselves turn around and bill these interim staffers to their clients at the rates of a first or second year associates in excess of $200 per hour, all while the interim staffers have their rates pushed down as close to rates as close to the $30 per hour level as possible. Furthermore, they are often asked to work in conditions where they are watched like hawks, have limited break time and have to deal with supervisors who create a hostile working environment. Acknowledge that sometimes a firm will hire the wrong temp but that also they may have hired the wrong Supervisor with a questionable agenda that is contrary to the interests of others.

So while you go consider going on a Witch Hunt to uncover the whistle blowers in your firms, remember that you illustrate your morality when you intimidate your own employees from being able to speak up in earnest, without fear of retribution, so that they have no choice but to see a therapist, take anti-depressants or write into a blog. What does that say of your firm culture that people leave, get fired and are otherwise undermined if they question the conduct and treatment of your supervisors all while you look the other way at their numerous indiscretions. Instead you direct your focus on review of their email and auditing their internet usage. If you bill them out like associates maybe you ought to treat them like associates or at least professionals, rather than indentured servants.

Tom the Temp is Omnipresent. Tom’s spirit lives in every firm where Fair Employment Practices are not their to protect us.

So look in the mirror, Tom the Temp is on every project, he is sitting next to you, he is a paralegal, he is an associate, he is a she, he has a friend who is a temp, he is your friend and he is your enemy and he may at times even yes, be YOU. I pray for a world where Tom the Temp is not necessary but unfortunately that may never happen..... WE ARE ALL TOM THE TEMP."

-Anonymous Comment

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quinn has instituted a no talking policy on the project. On Friday, a rat bastard associate, a real putz, watched people like a hawk. He walked around constantly checking to see what temps were doing. Under the guise of asking if temps had questions, he kept up his harassment until another supervisor took over. This Quinn micromanagement will not help their case. It just alienates temps who will click away wildly and produce a crappy work product. Quinn has no idea how to treat people in a respectful and professional manner thereby creating a positive and productive work environment. It you don't treat temps as professionals, you breed resentment, and a pissed off temp will screw you everytime. Quinn mangement should tell the putz associate to back off and stop acting like a Gestapo agent. The paranoia of Quinn is just over the top. They act like temps are trying to steal from them. They seem to believe that temps need to be supervised like kids by their rat bastard associates and direct hire contract attorneys. In this environment of distrust and paranoia, nothing positive can be accomplished in representing the client.

Anonymous said...

The Quinn project is the perfect example of when a few bad apples ruin the bunch. While I'm sure most temps are hard(ish) working people, there have been too many instances of bad atty temps either:
1. Keeping bad time; grossly inaccurate billing. (Partners don't bill while they take a piss, but temps think someone should pay for their urine release) 2. Literally sleeping on the job 3. Socializing like it's a club 4. Yapping on their cell phones for inordinate amounts of time in full view of firm associates/partners/client who might be on site at the time. 5. Abusing internet access, like using it to view pornography

It sucks, but it's true. The losers ruin it for everyone.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, associates and partners have more often behaved badly. From gross, unchecked, shameless overbilling to the Cravath associate that raped little girls on Astor place, the behavior of these snot-nosed, ivy league assholes has gotten out of control. Now we hear certain partners feel that they deserve to bill themselves out at $1000 dollars an hour and associates still aren't content with 190K a year! Corporate America is getting sick of it!!!!

Anonymous said...

You forget: The firm members have more leeway. They CAN get away with more because they are actual employees of the firm, they are more valuble to the firm than your doc reviewing clicking will ever be.

Stop comparing yourself with partners and associates you will not and should not get the same privleges. Get over it. You are there as a point and clicker.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to strike a good balance. Temps are attorneys with professional obligations including confidentiality and honest billing. Professional ethics are not negotiable and it doesn't matter what you think of your client. Having said that, professional people should be treated with appropriate respect. I think reasonable pit stops, trips to the lounge to pour a cup of coffee or tea and brief phone calls should be considered normal parts of the cost of doing business, so long as there's no abuse and an honest, professional effort is being made overall.

Anonymous said...

If a break (of up to 20 minutes) is permitted, then it should be paid as working time.

http://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/faq.shtm#7

Anonymous said...

You fool. "Labor laws" don't apply to temp workers. Any temp worker that tries to exercise their legal rights or tries to raise trouble in anyway may very well find themselves downsized in the next wave of project layoffs.

Anonymous said...

Labor laws don't apply to temp workers? Please return to 1L status ASAP, your fired.

Anonymous said...

6:11 - Return to your law school fantasy world. In the REAL world, labor laws don't protect temp workers. An employer can always provide the false rationale that a temp worker was fired due to a project ending or a project downsizing.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the document review world... what's the going rate for an admitted attorney in NYC with no previous document review experience?

Also, can anyone recommend any good agencies? I know Tom posted a list of good ones but it is over a year old at this point.

Anonymous said...

You want to hear some "good" reports from these clowns? HA! All they do is bitch and moan and have nothing good to say. Forget asking these temps, go out and ask some friends. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

"You want to hear some good reports from these clowns?"

Hi, Dick!

Anonymous said...

The posting is misleading, inasmuch as it starts with a quote. Robert Reich, President Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, never said a damn thing about temps. ttt may be more than one person, but s/he is getting really self-important.

Post about projects, not the pay rates we already know from our agencies.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Try Tower, Peak, HireCounsel, Paulson, or even Hudson.

Lex-Pollution and EP Slime are just shit, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I would check out Update for sure. They have all the best jobs and their staff is really helpful!

Anonymous said...

How about rates? It's roughly $27 for unadmitted attorneys and $35 for admitted ones, more or less?

Anonymous said...

$35-40 for admitted ones.

Anonymous said...

$27 for nonadmitted?> No way. Paul Weiss only pays 21$ an hour and you have to pay for your own roach fighting raid spray.

Anonymous said...

I thought Paul Weiss ended their program. Thanks alot Tom the Temp!

Anonymous said...

They ended?? Oh no! The poor homeless roaches. :(

Anonymous said...

It is truly unbelievable that attorneys are paid only 20-40 dollars an hour. Its madness. I don't care if the attorney picks his ass all day....thats at least worth 65 an hour. Truly disgusting. Why can't we unionize. What is stopping us? Im tired of hearing about this India Sh it. Thats not going to happen. Those guys could f up a wet dream, net alone try and do what we do. The longer we remain unorganized....the longer these douche bag firms get rich on our back. And thats right we want the meals, and we want the cars and we want the high pay....were lawyers goddamitt.

Anonymous said...

1:01 -- You are not a lawyer. Doc review is not practicing law, or even near it. I am doc reviewer, but lets not fool ourselves, we may have the education, and some of us have a bar admission, but you are not a lawyer while doing document review.

Anonymous said...

I think some perspective is in order. $40 dollars an hour is the equivalent of $80k a year ($40 x 40hrs x 50 wks). That's a ton of money for a job you can get graduating in the bottom of the class from a bottom tier school doing work that takes negligible skill or thought. You can't afford to live in Manhattan on that salary, but it's a hell of a lot more than prosecutors, public defenders, newly minted divorce lawyers or residential real estate lawyers make. I mean, Engineers from MIT don't make $80k a year until they at least have 3 years of experience. That a new graduate from Crap U with no experience can make more than an experienced engineer, accountant, editor or journalist from an ivy league school isn’t something to bitch about. (I know loans change the equation, but the average debt load for law grads is less than $100K. And even at a really high interest rate, few people are paying more than $13k a year. Most of my friends from undergrad don’t make $67k a year with 6 years of experience)

The issue with temping is that it's a dead end job where there's no hope of advancing or acquiring marketable skills that will command a higher income. People do it because it pays a lot better than taking a job at a small firm where you'll gain the skills and experience to warrant higher pay a couple years down the road. Doctors have to do a residency earning subsistence wages for years after med school; a low paying first job where you’ll actually learn something is the equivalent for all but a handful of new attorneys.

Anonymous said...

10:04, are you a toilet school administrator? Your post is riddled with lies and distortions.

"That a new graduate from Crap U with no experience can make more than an experienced engineer, accountant, editor or journalist from an ivy league school isn’t something to bitch about."

A new graduate from Crap U doesn't get $40 an hour. In fact, many tier 1's with several years of experience aren't making $40 an hour right now. Without a language skill or other speciality, $40 an hour is rather on the high end. A new graduate from Crap U is probably going to be stuck in the Paul Weiss basement making $17 an hour with the cockroaches, or rather will find themselves packed like a KFC chicken in Lily's sweatshop.

"And even at a really high interest rate, few people are paying more than $13k a year."

Not true, esp. as of lately. Private law schools (which make up 12 out of the 13 law schools in NYC) are now costing close to 50K a year. Many people are now coming out with debt loads of close to $150-180K a year, with sky high interest rates. Maybe the students should take some responsibility for this, but that is another issue.

"People do it because it pays a lot better than taking a job at a small firm where you'll gain the skills and experience to warrant higher pay a couple years down the road. Doctors have to do a residency earning subsistence wages for years after med school; a low paying first job where you’ll actually learn something is the equivalent for all but a handful of new attorneys."

That is why people are so pissed, and that is why blogs like this are getting alot of attention. Doctors, engineers, etc. are actually rewarded in the long run for their years of indentured servitude. Lawyers, on the other hand, who either temp or work in small law, are never rewarded. They slave away for years just to pay off their loans, get burnt out, and have nothing to show for it in the long run. People are finally beginning to wake up to this fact. It follows that we are no longer going to allow pompous ass professors to rape us with massive annual tuition increases, and we are certainly not going to allow bottom scum feeders like Dick "Head" Osman to put our lives in danger.

Anonymous said...

"You are not a lawyer."

Yes, you are. These big firms want to have their cake and eat it to. They want to bill you out to their clients and profit off of you as a lawyer, but behind closed doors, they want to neuter you and treat you as a third world sweatshop worker. Stand up for yourselves, people!

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear.....Thats exactly right if were not doing legal work, and we are not attorneys.....then explain how firms andagencies can bill us out at 200 an hour?

Anonymous said...

“A new graduate from Crap U doesn't get $40 an hour. In fact, many tier 1's with several years of experience aren't making $40 an hour right now. Without a language skill or other speciality, $40 an hour is rather on the high end. A new graduate from Crap U is probably going to be stuck in the Paul Weiss basement making $17 an hour with the cockroaches, or rather will find themselves packed like a KFC chicken in Lily's sweatshop.:

I’m going off this chart: http://temporaryattorney.googlepages.com/ At least in New York, market is $40 flat or $35 an hour + OT.

“Not true, esp. as of lately. Private law schools (which make up 12 out of the 13 law schools in NYC) are now costing close to 50K a year. Many people are now coming out with debt loads of close to $150-180K a year, with sky high interest rates. Maybe the students should take some responsibility for this, but that is another issue.”

I realize that people are coming out with debt loads close to $150-180K (I was one of them). And if you graduate with $180K in debt, I agree that you’re screwed. But that’s not the typical law student. Average law school debt is below $100K a year for students who borrow, even at private schools in and around New York.
http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/usnews/edu/grad/webextras/brief/sb_law_debt_brief.php

When you consider that an associate from a top program who starts at $165K only makes $60 an hour if they work 55 hrs a weeks, 50 weeks a year, $35-40 an hr doesn’t strike me as that horrible.

“Doctors, engineers, etc. are actually rewarded in the long run for their years of indentured servitude. Lawyers, on the other hand, who either temp or work in small law, are never rewarded.”

Law firm economics are pretty simple when it comes to associate pay. A third of that you bill usually goes to the partnership, a third goes to overhead (offices, staff, supplies, westlaw, marketing, ect.), and a third goes to you. So if you want to make $100K a year you need to generate $300K a year for the firm. Assuming you bill 2000 hours, you have to command a billing rate of $150 an hour. Outside the world of big firms (which generate a tremendous amount of doc review type work) no one will pay that much to a brand new graduate who has no clue how to practice law. You need some meaningful experience to command that sort of rate. But if you get that experience, you will be rewarded. You’ll command the higher billing rate and progressively keep more of what you bill. The only way to get there from where you are is to take a pay cut from temping, and get a job doing real legal work.

Anonymous said...

"Real" Law? Where? The ID mills?

Anonymous said...

"Real" Law? Where? The ID mills?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, if you think you are practicing law while doing document review, you have never practiced law, and therefore, can not tell the difference.

Anonymous said...

People are streaming out of the ID mills because they can't afford to live off of ID and other small firm salaries. Something is going to break soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking about working for an ID mill (though it would be better than temping). The key is learning how to handle cases or transaction on your own. A second year associate who has closed 30 residential real estate transactions will command a substantial premium over a fresh grad who took a class in property two years ago.

Anonymous said...

"The paranoia of Quinn is just over the top. They act like temps are trying to steal from them. They seem to believe that temps need to be supervised like kids by their rat bastard associates and direct hire contract attorneys."

Apartheid.

Anonymous said...

I agree that temping is just a rat race. I don't care, I am taking a pay cut and going to work for real estate firm or a governmental agency. Yes, there will be a pay cut at the begining but then, it will start paying off in the long run after I get all the experience I need. Temping does not give that to you. I need to get out there, go to court, write/draft motions and argue cases AND NO, before anyone mentions ID, I am never ever doing that. I have heard enough horror stories from my friends :(

Anonymous said...

What is "ID"?

Anonymous said...

I believe ID is insurance defense.

I would say that if either PI or ID gave you substantial court time, I'd probably consider it. However, it seems to me that most of the lawyers in those firms never actually go to court. I mean, they go to court to request stuff, but the cases never go to trial. So the experiences might not be as great for skill building.

Anonymous said...

ID is not good for skill building. All you do is go to court conferences (which isn't trial) and cut-and-paste boilerplate motions all day. You do get to practice your deposition skills, but it gets pretty mundane when you see the same case day after day.

Anonymous said...

Is Quinnn a bad firm to work for or does it depend on the agency the project is assigned by? I would note the assignment I am considering is located offsite and is not being staffed by EP Dine or Lexolution.

Anonymous said...

depends on the project.

Anonymous said...

As a group, each profession is paid exactly as much as they deserve. Contract attorneys are being paid $35/hr because enough attorneys are willing to take that pay.

I don't get the philosophy that one wrong justifies another. So a Cravath associate hired a prostitute or raped someone? Does that mean you should be able to rape someone as well? No, you idiot. And it doesn't mean you can overbill, either.

Anonymous said...

whining temps are classic. Stop being a victim and start being a solution. Not a Lex-olution but a solution to your misery. Get out while you still can, while you still have your livelihood- you don't want to be the 40 year old temp with a family to support and no retirement savings or medical insurance because you don't get any benefits from the agencies you're working for...I think in about 30 years there will be a lot of destitute ex-TTT law grads sleeping in subway stations because they have no 401k or IRAs for themselves.

Anonymous said...

"Get out while you still can"

Thanks for the poignant words of wisdom, douchebag. Like we all had not already figured this out.

Anonymous said...

Tom the temp ... is a woman! (I bet it is, just to throw everyone off...) Keep on blogging Tom, we love you!

Anonymous said...

The offsite Quinn Emmanuel project that is not staffed by Lexolution orr EP Dine sucks ass. A quiz was given on a packet the size of a phonebook, and someone was fired for failing the quiz. Morale is low.

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about the Quinn project that is staffed by Update?

Anonymous said...

No.

Anonymous said...

so everytime i google "insurance defense" i come upon these blogs, with pretty much every lawyer and law student critizing the profession. well try this, going to law school post-september 11th, the economy tanked, law school applications skyrocketed, my class at a top tier (state) school was overrun with harvard and columbia alums (often with graduate degrees already), graduating in the top of your class, being on law review, moot court,....doing everything "right" to get a good job....and guess the only firms who will even LOOK at me for an interview--insurance defense. so it makes me really angry when so many people who haven't even been in the practice yet or who were fortunate enough to get a big law firm job and make $160K a year criticize insurance defense. it is a job. it is a job practicing law. it is a job that allows me to draft motions and pleadings, do legal research, answer and propound discovery, take depositions, appear in court for not just case management conferences, mind you, but also to argue dispositive motions, sit second chair at trial (as a first year attorney), and have extensive client contact. but my profession is criticized. thanks, you arrogant people--and thank you for reaffirming my opinion of most lawyers and law students.

Anonymous said...

i started temping a few months ago. I can easily afford to live in Manhattan. It is the easiest job I could ever imagine. I laugh at the associates who have to work so hard and really don't get much for it. But it pisses me off that we are billed out by the firm at such a high rate, so I purposely do crappy work. If they want a better work product, then they should pay for it.

Anonymous said...

i started temping a few months ago. I can easily afford to live in Manhattan. It is the easiest job I could ever imagine. I laugh at the associates who have to work so hard and really don't get much for it. But it pisses me off that we are billed out by the firm at such a high rate, so I purposely do crappy work. If they want a better work product, then they should pay for it.

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