Friday, March 30, 2012

Oh no, not the Pizza of Doom!

Yeah, they fed us today -- the Pizza of Doom. Of course, this agency serves pizza one Friday a month anyway, so this was a coincidence. And it is much easier to get the word that the project is over when the arrival of pizza is simply a coincidence. Nonetheless, the swordfish is on the deck, gills flapping. Some folks might be called back for a while next week, but information is scarce. Might be everybody, might be nobody. Party's over, folks. Go on home, there's nothing to see here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tearing my hair out

In addition to being monumentally boring, the project I am on is frustrating as hell, even in relative terms, which is really saying something. The parameters we are supposed to follow are constantly changing, making it difficult to remember how the hell we're supposed to treat various types of documents today as opposed to yesterday. To make it worse, the associate is dealing with us by remote: she's at the firm, not here at the review site, and so we have to email questions through the project manager. Not optimum. Another guy on the project with whom I worked an earlier, similar project summed it up like this: "The guidelines on that project for (a law firm that shall remain nameless) were crazy, but at least there was an associate on site to change them everyday."

Not even getting that here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not sure that's what they had in mind

This is another music post. There's a song out by Rascal Flatts called "Banjo" that advocates driving out into the country, across creeks and such, past the end of pavement so that you can get in touch with the country. The problem here is they tell you to drive "'til you here a banjo." The thing is, if I drive out past the pavement and hear a banjo, that's not good. Fuck, I saw "Deliverance." My ass is out of there. Did they think this through?

You know it would be a great song

I've been thinking that the number of people who can tell the difference in three notes or less between "No One Like You" (Scorpions)," Rainbow in the Dark" (Dio) and "Rock You Like A Hurricane" (Scorpions again) is probably vanishingly small. The opening chords are virtually identical. To take advantage of this, and to eliminate the confusion that arises any time one of these songs comes on the radio, I propose we merge them. The resulting song would be called: "Rock You in the Dark Like No One." Guaranteed hit. Who says document review isn't sufficiently occupying my mind?

Update: Maybe "Rock You Like No One in the Dark" flows better. Hmmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Movin' on up

We just surpassed the visitor total for November, which remains the worst month for traffic on this blog. (May 2011 doesn't count because the blog started in the middle of the month.) I'm feeling the momentum.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm conflicted

OK, I'm not conflicted. I'm talking about the ludicrous conflicts checks that contract attorneys often are subjected to. Technically, that should read "to which contract attorneys often are subjected," but, as Winston Churchill once said, that kind of slavish devotion to proper grammar is "something up with which I will not put." So fuck the English teachers in the crowd. Actually, these days, most of the English teachers out there probably don't realize there was anything wrong with the original formulation. But I digress.

We were discussing conflicts checks. As we have discussed ad infinitum at this site, contract attorneys are the bottom of the food chain in the legal community. OK, maybe contract paralegals are below us, but maybe not. In any event, we generally are not trusted to remember what we're working on while we're working on it, much less after the project is done. And, frankly, this is a problem for many attorneys. We all keep conflicts sheets, detailing the actions on which we have worked (suck on that, English teachers! Me 1, English teachers 0.) just in case a firm wants to know. The problem arises if you don't add your last job to your conflicts sheet the minute the gig ends. A couple days later, I can't remember a damn thing about most of these jobs. My conflicts sheet is probably the biggest lie out there. For more than six years, I worked at two major DC firms -- I don't list even a quarter of the matters I worked on, because it was often for a week, a month, even a day. I list the big ones. I also worked for a public interest organization and a small firm. Ditto for listing matters upon which I worked. ( Me 2, English teachers 0). Much easier to leave shit out.

Which brings us to contract work conflicts. If I don't write it down right away,  it is lost in the mists of time, although I occasionally suddenly remember stuff, much like I expect to remember other rivers I have crossed without boats or bridges. (You gotta keep up, people. Check the last post.) I think firms are beginning to recognize this, as conflicts checks have become much simpler in recent years. Basically, if you've never worked against the client or for the client's opponent, you're good to go on most projects. This makes sense, as our involvement is at the lowest level. Personally, I think even that might be too restrictive, but I can live with it. It's a good balance, especially these days when projects are so often much shorter in duration as firms and clients seek to cut costs. Who gives a shit what client I spent two weeks working for a year ago if I can't even remember who it was?

Some firms apparently have not gotten the message, it seems. In January, I registered with an agency with which I had not previously worked. (Me 3, English teachers 0.) They quickly suggested submitting me for a gig at a firm of which I am not especially fond. (Me 4, English teachers 0.) I am not fond of this firm for a couple reasons, but the primary one is their conflicts check form. You are required to list every employer you have had since high school. Maybe this is no problem for somebody fresh out of law school who went straight from college to law school, although it certainly could be. Seven years can include a lot of employers. For somebody like me, every employer since high school is pretty much impossible. I'm 51, I've always worked for a living, I didn't graduate from law school until I was almost 35. I've had a lot of jobs, many of which I barely remember and most of which I would be unable to detail in terms of employer, address, duration, dates of employment, etc.

So I told the firm that on their conflicts form. When they said list every job since high school, I said, "No. Where I shucked oysters prior to attending law school is not relevant, nor is any of my employment history prior to my legal employment. My resume and attached conflicts sheet should suffice with respect to my legal employment."  Needless to say, I probably am burned with that agency, if not with that firm. Personally, I don't think firms have all that much institutional memory, so you're never really burned. Agencies will leave you burned until they need you, so I don't worry about that, either. Really, it felt good to say to a firm (an the agency that enabled the firm's request) to fuck off. If they think they need that much information, I don't need their job. The irony? I used to be on the list of people that firm would request, and I never had to give that level of detail on my employment history. Not sure what happened to them. I just really wish more people would say no to such moronic requests.

Now that's pretty freaking random

As thoughts go, this one was more random than most. I was driving across the Potomac River this morning (on a bridge, of course) when out of nowhere I wondered, how many rivers have I crossed without benefit of bridge or boat? At first I figured the answer was "Damn few," but after a few moment's thought, I realized it was probably more than most people. For the record, the rivers I have crossed under my own power without benefit of any spans or floatation devices include the New River in Virginia, the Firehole River in Wyoming (in Yellowstone Park), the Fu Lung River in Taiwan, and the Saluda and Broad rivers in South Carolina. There might be more. I'll have to think about it.

While you were sleeping . . . .

someone else obviously was awake, because we passed 7,000 visitors Saturday night. Thanks for stopping by, including our first visitor from Iraq!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Working on 7,000

Should hit the 7,000th visitor in a few days, unless things really tail off. Mexico could put me over the top, but they're worse than Canada about visiting here. Anyway, I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, think about fur-lined underwear. Not sure why.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Can't we just execute someone?

It doesn't happen on every project, because not all projects have freezers with ice cube trays that require refilling (at least if you empty them and want more ice cubes later), but it happens on every project that has freezers and ice cube trays. It is further evidence that there is a significant minority (please Jesus do not let it be a majority, although I have my doubts) of contract attorneys who simply refuse, upon emptying an ice cube tray, to put unfrozen water in the tray and put the tray back in the freezer so that there will, magically, be ice cubes again later.

But it's worse than that. Of course it is -- we're talking about contract attorneys. They don't simply empty ice cube trays and not refill them. They take ice cubes out a couple at a time and leave partially filled trays in the freezer. At some point, all of the ice cubes are gone, and all the ice cube trays are in the freezer, empty. Oddly enough, this does not produce additional ice cubes. And yet, this does not inspire contract attorneys to refill the trays. I have tested this  -- empty ice cube trays can sit in the freezer for weeks, with no contract attorney making any move to put water in them in hopes of the ice cube gods smiling upon them.

So my question is, if the ice cube gods won't smite them, can I? I feel like I'd only have to kill one or two offenders before the rest got religion. Hell, we'd probably be up to our asses in ice cubes.

But I got a good seat

Looks like I'm kind of on a roll here. Fourth project in a row I got a good seat -- end of the aisle, facing where the associate sits (handy for avoiding surprise visits) and at the end of the row closest to the wall. It seems so insignifcant, but it means so much. And I didn't even have to throw any elbows to beat somebody to the spot. Sweet.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sartorial excess

One of the things about this business I will never understand is the all-too-frequent requirement for business formal on the first day of a project. Here we are, fresh off our last project where we were wearing jeans and shirts with no collars (not to be confused with t-shirts that say "Smell my face"), and the next thing you know, you have to wear a suit. I am reasonably confident that most contract attornyes have not had to wear a suit in quite some time. Those of us who have been at this a while haven't purchased a new suit in a long time. This means, of course, that I will be jamming myself into a suit that fit great 15 pounds ago. It's been a long 10 years since I wore a suit daily. In any event, I am starting a new gig tomorrow, and a suit is required for the first day. If anybody ever figures out why they do that, let me know.

More first-timers

Taiwan and Kenya have checked in. I actually know people in Taiwan, so it might not be a search engine. Kenya does not to my knowledge have a thriving contract attorney community (yet -- I hope I'm not giving the discovery management firms any ideas) so my money there is on search engines looking for the word, well, you know which one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happens every time

On every project with more than one person, this issues will arise. In a review center like this one, with multiple projects ongoing and dozens of contract attorneys on site, it happens a lot. At some point, surrounded by other temps, a temp who "has his own practice" will have a privileged conversation with a client. (Yeah, yeah, a fair number of temps have a client or two, but almost none have what you could legitimately consider a law practice outside of their temping. The ones who do have a burgeoning practice that they are temping to support themselves as the practice grows don't hold privileged conversations in a crowd.)  Of course, that conversation isn't privileged anymore, since a bunch of third parties heard the moron's legal advice as he paced around the communal kitchen or stood in the hallway blithering on his cell phone to his client. You see it on almost every project. They never learn. I have a hard time believing their clients would have hired them knowing this. But what do I know?

Canada checks in!

Finally, someone in Canada shows a little interest. Who will I bitch about now? All eyes turn south. Can't claim a language barrier -- got me some Kenya this week, as well as Venezuela. Hablemos espanol aqui, y'all. Besides, if it's just search engines, "fuck" is the universal language. In any event, welcome to our Canadian -- I would say brethren, but that's plural, so I'll leave it at "our Canadian."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Behind enemy lines

Posting at work (on a break, thank you, but behind enemy lines nonetheless). This is a fairly boring gig -- not a log of talking or interesting characters, and too small for much in the way of bureaucratic excitement. There are lots of people on other projects in the project center that I know, though, so I have occasional hallway conversations that may yet bear some blog fruit. At this point, though, this is a very pedestrian project, not much in the way of hours (started as a 40-hour gig, but they added five hours for this week, at least, although not at time-and-a-half) and a short deadline. The ax falls on the Ides of March. We'll see if we can stir things up between now and then.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I hear the steaks are great

I think we have our first visitor from Argentina. I certainly don't remember one previously. I hear Buenos Aires is lovely. So, welcome. And keep your fucking mitts off the Falklands.