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by Vault Law Editors | November 09, 2007

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As a supplement to the much discussed September WSJ article on the waning job market for lawyers (which contained the immortal line "[I]t's a great day when a crackhead brings me $500"), I recommend this Washington City Paper piece on life in the burgeoning ranks of temps with JDs.

The writer, Arin , who has worked as document reviewing temp herself, found that her peers fell into three basic groups:

"[P]eople who only wanted temp jobs because they liked the freedom; people who were between regular jobs; and people who were stuck doing document review forever--not between jobs, because there were no jobs to be between."

 

My favorite detail is this creepy passive-aggressive e-mail that was sent by the staff attorney overseer of Greenwood and her fellow temps:

 

"We notice that some of you have long fingernails which are making loud noises on the keyboards. Because your job does not require the use of the keyboard, only the mouse, we are confused why we are hearing so much loud fingernail-on-keyboard noise."

 

Well, that would be confusing. Confusing as to why any of these people--overseer and point & click serf alike-- went to law school. Anyway, Greenwood lays the blame for this phenomenon on the confluence of two factors: there are now more lawyers than ever before (dot-com burst, jacked-up BigLaw associate salaries, etc) and, more significantly, the emergence of massive amounts of electronic discovery in civil litigation:

"If there were thousands of documents to review before, now there are millions. There aren't enough law firm lawyers to review all those documents--companies can't afford that luxury, not when the work takes months and most junior lawyers are billed out at $200-plus per hour."

-posted by brian

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