Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Survivor Guilt

with 2 comments

Total Black : $303.49
Total Red: $228,853.79

I learned yesterday morning that the temp job I’m on will be over on Monday.  But not for me.  The firm has asked me and another person to stay on longer.   The temporary attorney staffing agency called me yesterday morning and informed me.  They also asked me to be discreet and not mention this to anyone else on the project.  The catch: there’s only three of us on the project.  So all day yesterday I had to listen to the other attorney on the project, the third has practically been moved permanently to a conference room in the firm, go on about the “signs” and how it looks like the project might be winding down and how another week on the project would be great.  I had emailed Tom the Temp to ask for his advice.  Nothing back yet.  I wondered whether there were any unspoken temp attorney rules on such matters.  Where does my allegiances lie?  With my employer?  Or with my fellow temps?  Feels like an episode of Survivor.

So . . . what are the rules?  Are there any at all?  Or is it really just a jungle out there?  If I were in the other attorney’s shoes, and about to be unemployed, I’d like the advanced notice.  I’d appreciate another attorney giving me the head’s up that the job is almost over.  But then again, this other person I work with might also have been asked to stay on and the conference room person may be the one who will not be returning next week.  I wasn’t told who would be staying.  I have a feeling though, based on conversation and comments last night, that this other attorney working in the room with me hasn’t been asked to stay on.  He’s older.  Used to be a partner in a law firm before he lateraled into the business world.  I forget now how he’s found himself back in law, and in doc review land.  We all exchanged our stories on the first day but that seems like months ago now.  So, given that background, there’s a resentment angle I don’t want to have to deal with: this young guy informing the older guy, “hey, I’ve been asked to stay on.  Have you?”  And if he hadn’t been asked, then I’d have to endure his resentment, anger, annoyance, or feigned nonchalance.  Or perhaps join his pity party.

I wonder why temp agencies and law firms manage projects this way.  Really, there wasn’t a need for the agency to call me.  Sure, I’m happy to know that I’ll be working at least for a few more weeks.  But they didn’t have to tell me two of us were being kept on.  They could have let us all go about our business and then on Saturday afternoon after we finished, or even Sunday or early Monday morning, informed one of us that the project was over, that they were scaling back and didn’t need us any longer, and so on.  The other two attorneys would show for work on Monday as normal and only then would find out that one had been cut.  Sure you wouldn’t have had time to say good-bye and all, but it’s better than having to carry this knowledge around.  Or maybe I’m too ethical?  Too considerate?  I wonder how long I’d last on the island or whether I’d be voted off.  And speaking of that island of documents, I’ve got to wrap this up and head out to work.

Total black is down because total red is down.  I’m thinking I might prefer to give $1,000 a week to my landlord, thus totaling $4,000.00 by the end of February, rather than go two weeks effectively without a paycheck.  See, assuming I work thirteen hours a day at six days week at $34.00 an hour: that nets me $2,652.00 per week before taxes.  I’d probably only get about $1,800 in the bank though.  And hitting seventy-four hours a week is rough.  I haven’t done it yet.  Aside: I suppose could also adjust my withholdings; but that’s partly how I ended up owing taxes to begin with.  Hmm.  At any rate, if I were to give my entire check to rent, I’d have to do that two weeks in a row to barely scrape the surface of rent owed.  And then I’d have to go two weeks without making payments to any other debts.  Not good.  Really what I need is a higher wage!  Being able to work a lot of hours only takes you so far for so long.  Not sure how long I’ll survive myself.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

January 29, 2010 at 09:27

2 Responses

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  1. Keep your mouth shut!! I have been on both ends – as the one being kept on and the one being let go. Either way best is for everyone to just keep things to themselves. Don’t feel too arrogant that you are being kept on – trust me, no matter how good you are one day you too will be cut like a dog just for some silly reason. Don’t feel too “sorry” either – it happens to the best of us. Keep your mouth shut and your eyes on your work. Even if you inform everyone out of the goodness of your heart, people will be resentful and angry and the last few days will be hell. That’s just the way things are. Good Luck.

    Prince Michael III

    January 29, 2010 at 11:43

  2. I agree. Ultimately, you’re all at the mercy of the staffing agency, and if they want it kept quiet, the sad truth is that it’s best for your own continued income to play along.

    Jim in Chicago

    January 29, 2010 at 11:52


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