Posts Tagged ‘document review’

The Wall Street Journal: Lawyers Settle…for Temp Jobs

Lawyers Settle…for Temp Jobs

June 15, 2011 By VANESSA O’CONNELL

When he decided to become a lawyer, Jose Aponte followed a familiar path: He took the LSAT, spent more than $100,000 on law school, took a grueling bar exam and paid for continuing education.

But the work the 37-year-old New York lawyer, a graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law, is getting is a far cry from the stable, lucrative type he originally envisioned.

The grunt work in corporate litigation is being farmed out to contract attorneys. More and more law school graduates, steeped in student-loan debt, are settling for this unsteady, monotonous work for surprisingly low pay. WSJ’s Vanessa O’Connell and Jason Bellini report.

Mr. Aponte is part of a growing field of itinerant “contract” attorneys who move from job to job, getting paid by the hour, largely to review documents for law firms and corporate clients. These short-term jobs, which can pay as little as $15 an hour, have increasingly become a fixture in the $100 billion global corporate legal industry as law firms and clients seek to lower their costs.

This new “third tier” of the legal world illustrates the commoditization of the legal profession, which once offered most new entrants access to prestige and power, as well as a professional lifestyle. It also shows how post-recession belt-tightening is permanently altering some professions….

Please tell me why is this article JUST NOW being published. It’s so ‘johnny come lately” that it’s journalistic satire. Lawyers haven’t settle into contract work–they have been pushed into contract work by TTT and TTTT schools, false statistics, an economic bubble, lost jobs and oversaturation in the legal industry and let’s not forget outsourcing. The title alone makes it appear that an attorney is CHOOSING to be a temp lawyer when the reality is that many do it because they I don’t know would like to eat the next day. Any time an economy have partners and associates losing their jobs in the private sector and firms merger with others in Europe to decrease costs and relying on LPOs as their new business model the over-the-top educated ones in debt will suffer.

Interesting how the author uses the word “commoditization” you know a sophisticated manner of referring to the legal industry as McLaw or its attorneys ummm “slaves” or “working poor.”

The title is a mockery to those who have worked hard and constantly applied for jobs in their field and level of experience. Then again, maybe lawyers have settled…settled into knowing that their industry and their lives as they believe it would be will never exist or be the same again. It’s a conventional and practical way of thinking for many. To avoid disappointment, become accustomed to depression and being in debt and knowing that your life has been financially ruined though you will be held to a higher standard than any lay person. At a brink where we should be screaming at the top of our lungs are voices have turned to a faint shriek because no one cares. It’s a joke. The only sanity you can really hold on to is regardless of your professors they may have sabatoged you (not all just most), the economy and the corporate greed, you did your best but it’s game that you have likely already lost; but most people do not make a conscious choice to lose. They just didn’t know the game was rigged from the beginning.

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Legal Outsourcing Company: Someone’s thriving from Lawyers’ Misery

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On June 2, 2010 Corporate Counsel publishes an article regarding Wipro an Indian-BASED legal process outsourcing company.[

Wipro Legal Process Outsourcing Creates Gold Standard For Customer Value] and the same company will provide LPO services to Microsoft [Wipro to provide LPO to Microsoft’s IP, June 16, 2010]. Wow, I know Apple and Microsoft are always battling in the technology industry but who would have forseen Microsoft’s legal department work  outsourced to India.

On June 14, 2010 i Bridge gets a feature: Demand for Legal Outsourcing Drives Growth at iBridge in Beaverton, which profiles the company based in Oregon which does electronic business solutions for various fields including the legal industry. As stated before, many in the legal field have already noted the impact of the unofficial permissibility for law firms to outsource discovery materials to India for document review. iBridge is that “middle-man” in this instance to get the documents uploaded.

To give you some insight on the day to day o perations: “The company’s growth is driven by the demand for outsourcing of legal industry support services such as early case assessment, information collection and management, hosting and document review. The iBridge team comprises of experienced project managers, technologists, seasoned in-house and contract attorneys admitted to the bar in the U.S. and India.”  See those key words: ‘project mangers’, ‘facility’; ‘contract attorneys.’ Facility, isn’t that a work synonymous with hospitals and manufacturing plants? Attorneys, as other bloggers have called out, are part of the McJob and WalMartization of the legal industry. Those who have survived on working with firms doing similar work, is it not obvious a new career path is needed?

I am actually not surprised at all. Someone informed me a few years ago a company who was doing exactly that where the contract attorneys are akin to the permanent staff of the vendor company thus eliminating the need for a law firm to actually hire attorneys themselves through placement agencies or junior level associates whose primary job was to perform document review. As evidenced by this statement: “This team is often called to supplement law firms and in-house counsel to aid in complex litigation and document review projects.” Talk about business model and changing operations and saving money, well so the argument goes: “The value the firm provides is in enhanced productivity and lowered costs in data heavy litigation.” Though this company is innovative in decreasing costs to law firms. Just imagine the founders of this company don’t have law degrees and likely little to no student loans…the legal industry will never be the same.

A Post from Above the Law Website: Commentary on ABA approved outsourcing

This article was featured on Above the Law website, surprisingly it concerns the plight of unemployed attorneys who must survive amidst the legal outsourcing phenomenon by corporate law firms. Hopefully this wasn’t already posted on another blog. I wonder to what extent outsourcing is receiving such attention now, is it because T-14 graduates are now having to be in the company of the non-prestigious lawyers and it is having a big effect on them? I remember attorneys telling me that the discovery review work was for a long period of time the work of first year associates, then became the work of the contractual attorneys–which helped firms bottom lines. So I initially thought, maybe as a result the firms would not hire as many associates who are likely from T-14, thus rendering them in pro bono, internship or contract attorney work. As outsourcing gained additional support, more attorneys across the economic and social spectrum have been affected–is this why more people care now? Or do they really?: Anyway here’s the featured piece:

Legal Olympics Update: Outsourcing E-Discovery Sliding Down Slippery Slope, at Record Speed

The author doesn’t seem to oppose the cost-cutting effects on most American attorneys but suggests it’s primarily an issue of quality. Agreeably the standards in most foreign countries are likely not as strict in it’s process. So I get from this that it’s ok to keep outsourcing as long as quality measures were actually put in place. So in the end, no one cares about the masses of American attorneys affected by it.

Crabs in a Barrel Syndrome: Attorneys and “Office” Politics

Although ‘Crabs in a Barrel” is a phrase most often associated with Blacks, the concept can be applied to human beings in general, blacks for the purpose of this post and its historical connotations but definitely lawyers. So when you add this historical, psychological scheme to the legal field, you have some pretty transparent and disturbed black attorneys.

My Synopsis: Crabs are scavengers who eat whatever they can get access to. When one puts many in a barrel and as one opens the lid, one will notice crabs climbing on top of each other to get to the top to exit. Now logically this is a methodical way for ALL crabs to leave, standing on the “shoulders” rather shells of the others, then the next then the next. However, characteristic of this syndrome is that each crab only desires ITSELF to exit, so  it uses the others as a stepping stool to do so no matter what the cost. In the end the stupid crab doesn’t realize that as a loner he is susceptible to the one(s) who put him in the barrel with the others in the first place, it eventually will be cajoled, seasoned only to be steamed for someone’s palette. Get it?

This syndrome is everywhere but the acute nature of it when trying to “arrive” in America is peculiar among black Americans. I noticed that Africans and West Indian attorneys usually sit together, arrive together and even eat together on document reviews.  Then again there aren’t many black American attorneys (especially women) to begin with.

Yes, there is an ethnic and cultural distinction among these groups though they MAY have a historical common tie. If anyone knows about black history, divide and conquer and “breaking a person” then you can understand how this is more prevalent among black Americans. Even as of 2010 one will see on network television a sassy black assistant who is smart but for some reason is the servant of the white person whose life isn’t together (I’ve even read this about movies, i.e. Morgan Freeman-no I don’t detract from what he accomplished but still); the black males who focuses on a short-term scheme bound to fail but with a false hope it will grant a windfall, etc.  The African migrant who became a citizen or who is on a work visa, usually grew up in an enviroment surrounded by people who look like them, share all of the same culture, understands their struggles within their original homeland. In America, blacks are frowned upon, janitorial staff who is of Latino descent, or the Indian or Ethiopian guy who may work at a convenience store or the parking garage. No matter how much one reminds ALL Americans and immigrants of the contributions and foundation that blacks and Native Americans have made, in 2010 most of the time a Black will be the butt of a joke before a South Asian, Asian or an African.

In document review land, one does not work to gain experience, one works for survival. As the economy steadily worsens (and even before), this becomes the bottom-of-the-barrel way to live until the following week. Thus, the goal is to stay on the job as long as possible no matter what. Knowing that most likely Black Americans (sometimes it will be an African who does it, but from what I observed this is rare) won’t have any alliances to conspire to get “others” fired, he or she becomes confident that at least they can assail another Black, because the reality is that no one cares what happens to a Black and if someone who appears to look like them are at the helm of subjecting the target to an earlier exit, by all means.

It begins with an overzealous black attorney (for purposes of this post). The one who is all too friendly, smiles just a little too much and one wonders what types of “special” brownies she ate. If one is normal, one cringes at the fangs bared as it reminds you of Jack London’s novel ‘The Call of the Wild.’ She will be the one who arrived on site only five minutes before you but is an expert of where everything is and who are the correct points of contact. All the while she acts like she’s 007 asking people around you about you, whether or not you worked with the other before, make subtle comments at the “standoffish” behavior one appears to demonstrate. While this is happening she is counting how many people, regardless of race or gender, that she has summoned unto her mental prowess to bring more attention to this other person. 

The next step is to become friends with the team lead or project manager. If this person is Black, you may really be in trouble because likely this person also never really had any “power” in the legal field as they were usually not left in a position of supervision of others.  Then if accessible, the same person will attempt to reach the senior associate (who will likely be white) on the case, but knows this is not likely as she has not been admitted to the socially accepted notion of speaking to a peer–but she is not considered one. At this point the attorney has brought out the plastic stacking cups of illusion with gossip, make-believe and conspiracy. Like some document reviewers the target may not care as she does not desire to be there in the first place, but I doubt anyone isn’t scuffed by false pretenses, false accusation and conspiracies. The real question to ask is why, I assume for the temporary euphoria that someone thought she was important enough to influence the decisions of others. Little does she understands that she is even less respected for betraying one of her own. She probably thought she was a puppetier, yet was only the string and wood for the unseen hands you will never be. The reality is that everyone will be “released” when the contract ends anyway, as you stood on the others’ shells you will be consumed just like the rest.