Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Riding the Roller-Coaster

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Total Black: $76.36
Total Red: $231,096.13

It goes up and down and all around.

The temporary project I’m on ended today.  It’s so odd too because, as I plotted in More Shenanigans, I casually asked the paralegal about the expected duration of the project, noting my interest in finding holiday work.  He said he didn’t know but would find out for us.  Curiously, he only circled back around to talk with us after I met him in the lunch area a few hours later.  And just like that, the project was over.  Today.  The client, I suppose, wasn’t willing to invest further in contact attorneys.  One of the temp attorneys disappeared before we got this message though.  Desk wiped down and cleaned up as if he hadn’t been there.  No good-byes.  We don’t know if he was told to leave or had just happened to leave early for the day.  At any rate, we won’t see him again.  See, there’s good news too.  The firm is rolling us over onto another project.  Well, that is, all but one of us.  The departed attorney will not be brought back in—hence our wonder where he went and whether he was asked to leave.  The bad news though is that the associate who will supervise the new project—its only new for me and another temp attorney—is a real bitch, according to the two contract attorneys I sat with who had worked on this same matter two weeks ago before I arrived.  I don’t do well with moody, unprofessional women who make faces and sigh and expect people to read their minds.  (Just a few of the descriptions I’ve heard of her.)

All may not be lost though.  I received another call today from a third temporary attorney staffing agency on my home telephone number.  I called in to hear my messages and called that agency back.  Turned out I was too late as they had already staffed the project.  But it was only expected to last a few days anyway and I wouldn’t have left the current law firm for such a short-stint.  But . . . as the doc review roller-coaster goes . . . I spoke with a second temporary agency, the same I mentioned in More Shenanigans who emailed me about a project.  They had submitted me awhile back and now the law firm wanted to meet with me since they’re bringing a few new attorneys on to the project.   It’s odd timing because the second agency isn’t sure when I’d start—assuming, of course, the firm selected me.

Jumping-ship, as legal temps call it, is something many temp agencies abhor, but I’ve learned from other temps that once a project ends, or even if the estimated duration that you were initially given passes, then you should be free to move on to another project without concern or backlash.  So, with this project ending today, I could bow out gracefully and avoid the next one.  Reporting to work on Monday, however, and getting trained for the new project, and then jumping ship to another agency’s project, that would be inappropriate.  So, it’s a bit of a catch-22 because I have no assurances that the new law firm would select me, and even if they did, we don’t know when they’d bring me on.  I’d be giving up a sure thing for a gamble.  But I opted to interview with the firm anyway.  I met them on Monday and will have to squeeze that appointment in during my lunchtime.

Why, then, am I even trying for another project with so many unknowns?  One reason: it won’t hurt to give it a try.  If I’m not selected, then so be it.  If I am, I’ll have to decide then what to do.  A second, and more important reason: I probably would be able to work more hours.  My current project is capped at forty hours per week at $35 an hour.  This other project would only pay $32 an hour but it’s capped at fifty hours per week.  That works out to $200 more per week.  Another reason: I’m not crazy about the subject matter of the case the current firm wants to roll us over onto whereas I am interested in the other firm’s case.  Perhaps a final reason: sitting in a room with just two other people is starting to get to me.  I have a great rapport with them, but I need more bodies around me.  The last project had upwards of one-hundred fifty people.  This is a bit of a shift I’m not getting used to.  All in all, if I don’t get selected for the new project or if it doesn’t start up any time soon, I’ll be fine staying put.  It’s steady work for now and it allows me to work on Wall Street a bit longer and also weave in other part-time gigs.  But the way the transition was handled today left me uneasy and made me think I’d rather work for a place that’s a bit more forthcoming.

One interesting observation I encountered today: ironically, this second agency is actually the first I signed up with way back in April 2009 and the project is the same that I expressed interested in back in the Spring.  It’s still going on.  When I learned that this afternoon, it just got me thinking about how different my life may have been if I had been picked for this project back then.  I would have been working steadily these past seven months.  I certainly never would have taken, and passed, the Pennsylvania bar exam.  I would have had to cut my time short at the local prosecutor’s office I had been working pro bono at and I wouldn’t have gotten to know the colleague I’ve spent so much time working for.  And I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have started this blog.  Frankly, I probably wouldn’t have had reason to.  Earning $6,400 a month, before taxes, would have kept me quite content.  But, without this project, I probably would have just perpetuated my debt.  Regardless of the outcome on Monday, I’m so happy the firm never picked me all those months ago.  In so many unimaginable ways I’m so much better off now.

Never thought I’d say that about the past seven months.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

November 20, 2009 at 23:55

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