Monday, August 1, 2011

Just what we needed (and I'm not talking about old Cars songs)

As most contract attorneys in the audience know (and if you are a contract attorney and don't know, jeez, you're fucked) there is a listserv called The Posse List that posts jobs and other useful stuff for the contract attorney world. Lately, they have been commenting on a California lawsuit that actually means a lot to those of us who make our living this way. Short version: client gets investigated by government, hires a big-time worldwide law firm to defend, law firm hires e-discovery firm which hires temps to review documents. Government looks at documents, sends a bunch back and says, um, these look kind of privileged to us, are you sure you want to produce documents protected by the attorney-client privilege? E-discovery firm re-reviews, apparently, and sends the documents right back over. Yup, they're privileged, client now suing law firm for fucking up. Also suing 100 John Does, apparently contract attorneys working for the e-discovery firm.

While I am sure the firm being sued considers this horrific on any number of levels, I care only because the client apparently is suing contract attorneys, too. We don't carry malpractice insurance because, frankly, we can't afford to and most CAs assume they are covered under the hiring firm's malpractice coverage. Since we usually actually work for an agency, not the firm, I am not sure how true that assumption is, but it is a prevalent assumption. Now we have here a lawsuit that is challenging many of the assumptions that underly contract attorney work, primary among them being that it's OK to be an incompetent fuck as long as you don't get fired for being too slow. Many contract attorneys do not live by this creed, but far too many do. Have you actually been reading this blog?

In any event, now we're getting sued for being incompetent fucks. No doubt this will serve as a big boost to the reputation that contract attorneys already have. Whatevs. The Posse List is on it, though. They comment here. The interesting part, to me was a description they included in the email I got about contract attorney work, which reads:
As many of you wrote in your responses to our weekend post, the case highlights many of the ethical problems in modern, assembly-line document review. And that's what document reviews are today: performance under assembly-line conditions by temps (not always lawyers) who often work 60 or 70 hours a week, ten or twelve hours a day, at rates ranging from $12.50 to $35 an hour (for English-language reviews) who are summarily fired if they fail to meet arbitrary production quotas.
My first question, of course, is who the fuck is working for $12.50 an hour? Then I realized it's probably those assholes in Ohio who can't find any work at all (actually, it's probably non-lawyers in the Philippines, which looks funny whether you spell it correctly or not.) Other than that quibble, though, I feel like those guys just said everything I've been saying for these past few months. Am I wrong?

I suppose, given the title I chose for this entry, I should make some cheap joke about my best friend's girlfriend, but I really don't have it in me. This is, alas, just not destined to be a funny post.


Fenris said...

Every so often a post on Craigslist requests a contract attorney for a ridiculously low rate like $15 or so. I wonder if they get anyone at that rate. I don't troll CL much myself; I hear about them second hand from JDUndergound where the posts are mocked.

Fenris said...

Is this a good place to bitch about a coworker who apparently was billing 40 hours a week despite not even showing up to work? I'm on this project where we almost literally do nothing and yet are paid to do so. It's the easiest ride in the history of easy rides but that's not good enough for this asshole.

He got called out on it yesterday. And just as I was typing this, he rolled in the door.

My policy is usually not to narc on people, since I don't want to get docked for every quick CVS run, but this dude pisses me off.