Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Here's a real pick-me-up for temps

Got an email from The Posse List the other day that just confirms the status of temps in the legal community. The post referred to a case regarding the Bernie Madoff stock fraud. Basically, the judge told the slime-ball plaintiffs' firms to quit trying to overvalue the work of contract attorneys. As The Posse List put it:
A federal judge in New York approved a hotly disputed fee for lawyers who negotiated a $217 million settlement with Madoff "feeder funds," but only after leveling harsh criticism at the firms for trying to obtain excessive markups for low-paid contract attorneys.
The judge thought the plaintiffs' firms were trying to collect too much in fees for work done by contract attorneys. Of course, they were. They were trying to get up to $400 an hour for work done by contract attorneys. Wow. That's a lot of value-added provided by temps, right? Yeah, nobody's buying it. As the judge put it:

I have struggled for several weeks with this whole issue of compensation for document review. Had I thought ahead to the end of the case at the beginning, I would have included in my order appointing Lead Counsel specific directives about how much this court was prepared to authorize in terms of an hourly rate for document reviewers – and it would likely have been significantly below even the $275 blended rate achieved by Keller Rohrback and Lewis Feinberg. There is little excuse in this day and age for delegating document review (particularly primary review or first pass review) to anyone other than extremely low-cost, low-overhead temporary employees (read, contract attorneys) - and there is obviously no excuse for paying those temporary, low-overhead employees $40 or $50 an hour and then marking up their pay ten times for billing purposes.
My first reaction to this was, fucking temps are getting 50 smacks an hour:? Sign me up! After I got over that, though, it was pretty clear that the judge was saying explicitly that temps aren't adding much value and it is wrong to attempt to charge for their work what you might charge for work done by a "real" lawyer. Just let the fucking temps do it for bargain-basement prices and save everybody some money.

The worst part? Actually, there are two worst parts. First, she's right. Keeping costs down is why temps exist. We aren't worth more, at least in the eyes of the rest of the legal community.

The second worst part? The sack of shit who made the devaluation of temps a part of legal precedent has a job for life, and the people she devalued don't know if they have a job for tomorrow. Fuck her.

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