The economy is bad, so that means that down here at S&C, the clients are starting to dwindle, and the ones the firm has are having trouble paying their legal bills. New cases aren't starting, which means that associates and litigation analysts don't have anything to do. That means they're starting to get the work that contract attorneys usually get.
This means that even "lifer" temps who have been working at S&C are being summarily dismissed, usually with little to no notice that we could lose the steady source of income that we'd come to expect. No notice, no severance. Your last day of earning is today. If you discuss this with lawyers not trapped in the temp system, or with basically anybody not on the inside, the situation smacks of outrageous and patent injustice.
Here's my question: what's the point of having a blogroll of people devoted to complaining about the life of a contract attorney if that position isn't being used to do some good? Sure, it's cathartic to bash on "biglaw" and the parasitic temp agencies, but at the end of the day, it's not helping anybody out in any real way.
So maybe the most obvious thing to wonder is why we aren't trying to unionize. A friend of mine who is a biglaw associate recently asked me this. And I struggled to come up with a good answer. I guess what people think is that people would cross the lines, because we're all so desperate for money, what with bills and loans. And that's a valid concern. But isn't that the case with all industries that have unionized? Sure, it's true that the temp factories are filled with people who will work under any condition, endure any injustice or humiliation. What I've found is that more and more, temp attorneys are immigrants who scraped by at Joe's #1 Law School and got the lowest passing score on the 5th try at taking the bar. And in any other situation, their resume wouldn't be considered next to that of somebody who went to a top tier law school and graduated near the top of the class. But here, where speed is the only criterion for job success, everybody who can click quickly and keep their mouth shut is equal.
I think it's about time. The economy is tanking, and attorneys all over the place are being let go. It's only going to get worse unless the people who do this job day in and day out start doing something to demand better treatment.
So what I propose is that you, along with the other temp attorney bloggers who may have some kind of audience, start to use this position as a means to start organizing. Here's a very interesting link to a page that describes how to unionize a workplace: http://incolor.inebraska.com/uswa286/howtounionize.html.
I hope you will post this and get people thinking about it.