Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Hard #'s

Okay, for the first time, I have an actual bill in my hand. The law firm is a V50, the client is an investment bank, the year is 2004, and the matter involves the Enron class action:

Junior Partner Billing Rate - $475

1st Year Associate - $245

Contract Attorney - $220

Contract Attorney winds up being paid - $35 (without benefits)

46 comments:

JDWired said...

The gap has widened significantly with biglaw associates now up to around $160K starting--in some cases more--while contract attorney hourly rates have remained flat.

Anonymous said...

What good does this do us?

Anonymous said...

of course they remained flat! you aren't associates. DUH.

Anonymous said...

$35 an hour is more than enough money for me to live on. I am not complaining. BUT WE ARE BEING BILLED OUT THE SAME AS FIRST YEAR ASSOCIATES WHO ARE MAKING 3x AS MUCH AS WE ARE!!! The least they could do is not house us in a work environment that is not infested with cockroaches. Or, what about a small health care contribution, or CLE reimbursement?

Anonymous said...

Things aren't going to change unless you stop accepting the way they are. It's not merely a matter of supply and demand. It's a matter of having the will to change it. I come to this site a lot. There is a lot of bitching, and little if any action.

Anonymous said...

can someone explain how this is at all different then buying clothes? they get made for $10 and the workers fer 5$. We buy the shirt at Brooks Brothers for $80. MASSIVE markup, right? But we still buy the shirts, etc. because that's the way it is. We don't go into Saks demanding cheaper shirts bc "how dare" they make such a big margain on us. THINK ABOUT IT.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, 11:42. Welcome to the white collar sweatshop!

Anonymous said...

I am thinking about setting up a doc review sweatshop in Africa. The Subcontinent Indians are starting to ask for more money. MAny african countries are ex-british colonies. They speak English and they follow the common law. These are the two ingedients that make India so great. Hey! a phone line to Ghana is the same to Bombay. FEdex has next day shipment to both countries. Anyone want in on the ground floor?

Anonymous said...

hahhahaha. One first must establish the rule of law in these countries, in order to gain the auspices of the multinational corporations. Plus you will have to fight the stereotyping.

Good luck with it! My thought would be to try Nigeria first, maybe you can get some of the thousands of Nigerian lawyers in NYC to go back with you as entrepreneurs and document reviewers.

Anonymous said...

I saw "Jamaica D." on the street the other day. I quickly crossed the street, as I was afraid she was going to beat the crap out of me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, any chance you could scan in the invoice and post a link??

Anonymous said...

[Redacted]

Jamaica D said...

This is Jamaica D and I am gonna kick the crap out of you loser!

selling my jd said...

people... people..... band together now.... we all have useless JD's .... we all should have had the foresight to go to nursing school....

everybody knows that those law firms love document reviews for one reason only... they are a billing cash cow....

but people if we blow it all up... where will get the money to eat ???

Anonymous said...

aren't you supposed to be "at war"? what about those "effective" guerilla tactics?

HAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

Julie Zuckerburg! HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Anonymous said...

is it ethical for a law firm to bill client $220 an hour for our services when they are paying the agency a fraction of that, and us even less? You guys need to think more about taking up these issues with the New York State bar etc...

Anonymous said...

It is allowed. As long as the client is made aware of it. A rule concocted by ABA officials, biglaw partners, and in-house counsel, who all frequent the same country club.

Erasmus said...

It is an act of sheer base criminality for law firms such as Arnold & Porter; Howrey; Latham Watkins; Wiley, Rein & Fielding; Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, Baker & McKenzie; Skadden Arps; Morrison & Foerster, Sidley Austin and others, to make use of, and indeed rely heavily upon the skills and dedication of, so-called "contract attorneys" (who are not even allowed any other kind of employment while "temporarily employed"), make obscene profits from their labors and not provide them with a decent wage or increases in salaries along with their more favored brethren associates.

There is no ethical justification for this crass rapacious and utterly craven unprofessional use of other human beings as fodder for the wealth of the owners of the firms. In no other business would such horrific treatment of a valuable set of employees be allowed.

As it is, the only reason these robber barons get away with fiscally raping their employees is that the high and mighty Bar Associations and Courts who have jurisdiction over these firms, look the other way and fail in their ethical, moral and social responsibility to police the monetary lustiness of their political allies.

"Contract attorneys" need to either join, or form, unions. The law firms who use them as if they were of no more value than a 2nd year law student need to learn what it means to be a professional and organize and manage their businesses so that they can make a good profit without wholly losing their sense of justice, fair play and responsibility to enhance the lives of others -- as well as their own pocketbooks.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the contract attorneys don't even get benefits.

A quick search at http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/ reveals that my employer, one Mel Weiss, donated to the Hillary and Edwards campaign and yet won't provide their own contracts with health insurance. Let's hope Hillary gets elected and passes the employer mandates for healthcare.

maynelaw said...

As someone who has skated from the contract attorney ranks, to being hired by an AmLaw 100 firm to handle document reviews, back to the contract attorney ranks, I can say that in the last 2 years, much less since 2004, there has been profound change in what firms are able to charge for contract attorneys.

In fact, the firm I worked for took the position, in some instances, of letting the client company hire the contract attorneys themselves. The firm was completely out of the loop and not making a dime off of the hours the contract attorneys billed.

This is not to take away from the vitriol focused on firms still raking it in off of the backs of contract attorneys, (and the large % of associates that don't make partner) but it's not the same at all firms.

spaces said...

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/daily-brief/2008/02/07/corporate-america-revolts-against-its-lawyers

Anonymous said...

There is no ethical justification for this crass rapacious and utterly craven unprofessional use of other human beings as fodder for the wealth of the owners of the firms. In no other business would such horrific treatment of a valuable set of employees be allowed.

Is this a joke--it's called CAPITALISM. Where have you been?

Anonymous said...

We are behind the curve....Please go to Portfolio.com's article on'Corporate America's Revolt Against its Lawyers"...e.g. bye-bye outsourced agencies and contract attorneys........it isn't even an issue of shipping it all to India.

Anonymous said...

It isn't an issues shipping privileged highly confidential documents to India until their internet goes out due to cable pipeline cuts, and that Fortune 500 client misses its discovery deadline and the judge renders sanctions. Not to mention the work product is horrible in India.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Should wipe the smirks off of every condescending shithell associate/partner when they realize that the ones who pay their office rent can go direct to the corporations' in-house legal departments. Win-win for corporation and contract attorney - loser, big law firm. Hello quiet layoffs.....

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Should wipe the smirks off of every condescending shithell associate/partner when they realize that the ones who pay their office rent can go direct to the corporations' in-house legal departments. Win-win for corporation and contract attorney - loser, big law firm. Hello quiet layoffs.....

Anonymous said...

Corporate America Revolts Against Its Lawyers

In every business lawsuit, mountains of electronic data must be sorted through and eyeballed as the opposing sides gather evidence in the discovery process.

Wading through "e-discovery," as it is called, creates many headaches, but the companies ultimately footing the bills for the legal services have a big gripe:

Law firms hire temporary or contract attorneys at $50 an hour, then turn around and charge two or three times that amount to their corporate clients.

"It's a profit opportunity for many firms," Robert Bjornsti, vice president at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, told a packed audience at LegalTech New York, an annual trade show at the Hilton New York. Big firms see the labor-intensive discovery process as an opportunity to create "another profit center."

He added: "My view is, 'Why would we pay any more than we need to?'"

Bjornsti is not alone. At a panel discussion on managing e-discovery costs, Martha Mazzone, associate general counsel at Fidelity Investments, said she has taken discovery and document review in-house at her fund-management firm.

Security was one reason, but Mazzone said she also got fed up with bills that included temporary or contract lawyers whose fees were doubled or tripled when Fidelity was asked to pay.

Joining Mazzone on the panel by Jeffrey Fowler, a lawyer with O'Melveny & Myers — one of Fidelity's outside law firms. He was there, she said, because the law firm figured out how to lower document review costs by setting up discovery centers and didn't charge more than it was paying for its temps.

Bjornsti said AXA has gone a step further, by bringing much of the discovery process in house. AXA now hires the technology company vendors and temps, and makes it clear that the corporation, not its outside law firm, is the client.

The AXA executive's speech preached a "new paradigm" for using outside counsel, which he delicately suggested will "affect law firm profitability."

Bjornsti told the crowd he wants to be free to hire smaller, cheaper law firms from, say, Peoria, Illinois, rather than be tied to the "marquee" firms in big cities. Marquee firms have the "scale" required for complicated discovery processes, that feature comes at an increasingly unpalatable price: as much as $1,200 an hour for senior partners.

Bringing discovery in house opens the door to hiring less-expensive litigators, he said. At any rate, corporations are usually better equipped to handle massive amounts of data than law firms, because corporate IT departments "bigger than the entire law firm, very often," he said.

"Why would this be a core competency of a law firm?" he asked rhetorically.

"We can hire temporary attorneys," Bjornsti told the crowd. At the panel, Mazzone said highly skilled contract lawyers will "charge a fourth of what a law firm is going to charge you," she said. "The model that outside counsel has worked on will go away."

So let's hear it for the temps! But surely, there are some associates who are counting on document review to meet their requirement to bill those thousands of hours. What do they make of this corporate counsel revolt?

by Karen Donovan

Anonymous said...

http://law.shu.edu/administration/admissions/career_opportunities.html

I'm really curious to know how many members of the nebulously entitled category, "employed in large firms" are temps....any care to hazard a guess? I would say 85-90% of that total based on the postings here and other places.

Anonymous said...

http://law.shu.edu/administration/admissions/
career_opportunities.html

Anonymous said...

Did anyone contact Karen Donovan to tell her that her $50/hour quote is about $15 more than the actual average contract attorney rate in NY?

I wouldn't mind making $50 an hour. Then my only gripe would be getting decent benefits and a good 401k.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of these biglaw whores billing us out at $250 and paying $35. And they wonder why we are so lazy and unmotivated. TIME TO CUT OUT THE MIDDLEMEN!

Anonymous said...

And I am even more sick of the whorish recruiters who sold us out like cheap Malaysian prostitutes to that disgusting Hughes Hubbard sweatshop with that nasty, fat, out of control Lisa Hart monster. Zuckerburg and Cohen may you rot in hell.

Anonymous said...

People who do not like temping, should go to work in a law firm. I have worked in 3 firms and in between I have temped.

Each has its ups and downs. There can be a lot of pressure in a law firm. Long hours and one never really goes home. You must check your blackberry and sign on at home and carry work with you every where. I personally can only do it for so long.

If you cannot get a job, maybe you need to take a hard look at yourself and perhaps hire a life coach.

Or perhaps, go do something else for a living if you don't like temping. Many, many people with JDs do other things besides practice law.

I suggest that every one buy this book called "Who Moved My Cheese". It is a very easy read and is about dealing with reality. When a situation changes, you too must change in reaction to that. If you hate temping and have not done anything else in years, then it is time to move on. Your cheese has moved. Stop whining. Go find yourself some new cheese.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't disagree with the central thrust of the last post except to say that it really has nothing to do with the issue at hand. One can be okay with temping and still want more money. . And, what you call reality is not necessarily reality 9:26. There are temps out there who have cut out the middle men, and are making the kind of money that makes temping lucrative. There is nothing that says that it can't be done. I do agree people here tend to only bitch rather than come up with workable solutions.

Anonymous said...

PS

I really wish this blog would use the attention and traffic this site gets (from even law firms) to actually do something more constructive than bitching. Some of us know the problems already- we would like something more than wallowing in it.

Anonymous said...

What should we do 'constuctive', 10:42?

I've got it! How about we become cheese makers? With our educational achievements and levels of intelligence, I'm sure many of us can turn out killer gouda, bree, and feta. Then if someone moves our cheese again, it won't matter because we'll have plenty more where that came from.

You're a genius!

Anonymous said...

I forgot the 'r' in 'constructive'. Please don't call me stupid. I cut the cheese quite competently, which makes up for my grammatical deficiency.

Anonymous said...

I agree. If you think an "On The Waterfront" strike is going to happen anytime soon, keep dreaming. The temp work force is too fluid and disjointed. Many of us are buried under debt and are just trying to pay the rent.

This blog is great, given the circumstances. It shows you what projects to avoid and what shady characters to watch out for. You may call it complaning, but I call it a god-send.

Information is power.

Anonymous said...

I second that, 12:16. But I'm still waiting for a secret recipe and curing instructions for a top-notch provolone. Someone moved mine.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a high level of intelligence to come up with what I wrote. I'd be the first to admit that.

Many of you are amazingly insecure. Its understandable because temping breeds fear and insecurity. But, I don't sit around worrying about how smart I am and, despite the fact that I temp, I have learned to stop being insecure. That's why I wrote that 10:42 post. It was a "think differently" post. You can fill in the blanks however you want.

You aren't going to get anything out of sitting on your ass beating your head repeatedly against the desk expecting a different result. I am in the same place as many of you. I am just not going to beat down by it. That was my only point. Not rocket science.

Return to Temping? said...

I've only performed attorney temping for a short period. I'm now working in the law department of a NYC agency and I find that I don't necessarily enjoy it any more than the temping. The benefits and job security are great, but the pay is half what I'd make temping and the work environment is as bad as the worst places you read about on here.

So here's my question: is the grass just always greener on the other side? Am I nuts for seriously considering leaving this civil servant job that'll take me a lifetime to pay off my loans with? Should I return to the den of the temp attorney in order to climb my way out of debt?

Let 'er rip....

Anonymous said...

Okay, pppffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttttttt.

Ahh, feel better, thx for giving me the chance to "let it rip".

Anonymous said...

I second that!

pthfffffptttt

Short and sweet-smelling.

Anonymous said...

And how much does the associate make? Maybe double that. But how much does the firm pay to the temp agency? The associate ultimately does not cost the firm that much more money.

Anonymous said...

Why isnt any blame placed on your temp agency? They make money in the deal too. They are the ones that could pay more money to you. How much does the temp agency get for each hour?