"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."