Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

Awhile Longer

with 4 comments

Total Black: $87.19
Total Red: $229,237.47

Looks like the temp job will last awhile longer.  The staff attorney on the case all but said as much.  I was asked about my plans and availability for the upcoming weeks.  I suppose it wasn’t small talk, right?  I forgot to ask straight-out about the length of this project.  Well, “forget” isn’t exactly accurate.  I suppose “didn’t think to ask” would be more on point.  It was only later that I realized that was a perfect opportunity to find out how much longer they needed me.

Contract attorneys constantly moan and groan about not being given information like the true the length of their projects, when their projects will end, how close to the end they truly are, how many documents are left, and so on—all so they can plan accordingly.  I understand their frustration.  I’ve been guilty of it myself.  Who really wants to rock that boat, I suppose.  Yet it’s another example of the silliness of the corporate side of this profession.  See, the fear is—or at least purportedly it is—that if the temp attorneys knew that the end was approaching, they’d slow down or otherwise stall just to keep their job for a day or so longer.  Or that if the temps knew the project was over in two days, many might just bail now and take on another assignment.  It can be read as though you’re anxious to leave.  But you’re not—well, not generally.  I don’t think any of those assessments hold much water, however.

One temp on my project already bailed.  She booked a staycation into her initial availability projections and was able to pull on that to bail before we finished.  She didn’t know the end date.  Instead she picked her own.  A temp on one of the other projects at the site where I’m at left prematurely even though the other temps on that project will be there at least to the end of this week.  She bailed as well without knowing the end date.  Their project is wrapping up soon, but not yet, so she must have left just to leave that project or because she found something else.  Not knowing a firm or semi-firm end date didn’t stop her from jumping ship, as they call it.  So why not just give us the information?  Temps can tell when the documents are winding down.  I noted as much in Bah! Humbug! back once another project had ended.  And I didn’t jump ship because I’m loyal.  It didn’t get me much.

Those outliers who bail early or slow-up their pace shouldn’t be used by law firms, or the temporary attorney staffing agencies if they were in the know, as justification for keeping their workers in the dark.  People want to plan trips, schedule doctor’s appointments, and so on.  And if that pesky item on the To Do list can be pushed off another week because the project is about to finish, then a contract attorney will do it.  We are paid by the hour and it’s not as though the location is available 24-hours a day for people to clock in their time.  So generally, going off the clock to meet a friend for lunch or to take your child to the dentist means losing money.  If, however, contract attorneys knew that the project was slated to end—even approximately—by the end of next week or even something more vague like not anytime soon, then they could schedule accordingly and perhaps aim to make-up the hours next week.

At base we’re professionals.  (Or we should be.)  And banging that drum repeatedly seems to help to keep a few strays in line.  And if not, they’re sure to be cut for some other reason.  Or perhaps they just stick around and become “that guy” that everyone talks about.  Even temps have water-cooler conversations.  And that’s a good point: all of this is told to me, or picked up along the way, from other temps.  So some of this might just be a case assumptions making asses out of everyone.  I doubt the firm will fire a temp for asking what the projected end-date is.  But yet they typically don’t ask.  Rarely will the law firm associates share that information of their own accord.  That I can recall, I’ve not yet had an associate tell me that they don’t share information because they’re afraid of temps leaving or slowing down or because they like keeping us in the dark.  The associate on the project that ended in Bah! Humbug! mentioned as much—literally said something like “I know we’re not supposed to tell you guys this because you could slow up or your pace” but she only mentioned that as a disclaimer to show how magnanimous and inclusive she was and how she wasn’t going to be like that.  Then she cut us from the project without warning.

I’m happy to be working awhile longer and I’m not about to rock the boat and ask when it will end.  I suspect I’ll be on this project until the end of March.  I can live with that for now.  And with the bitching and moaning of my colleagues.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

February 23, 2010 at 23:59

4 Responses

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  1. [Will leave comment in the am]

    Minnesota Man

    February 24, 2010 at 04:23

  2. It was only funny the first time.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 24, 2010 at 09:44

  3. My god, losing. LOSING!

    Anon

    February 24, 2010 at 13:53

  4. Just makin’ sure you’re still on those toes. 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 24, 2010 at 14:05


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