Billable Hours, Contract Attorneys

Want Ad Seeks Lawyers Willing To Sell Out Other Lawyers

Except with fewer hundreds. Lots fewer hundreds.

Did you grow up idolizing Bond, James Bond? Can you recite all the one-liners from Archer? Ever want to jump into the daring and dangerous world of espionage? Maybe try your hand at being an international man (or woman) of mystery?

Well, this probably isn’t the job for you then. But if you are a natural busybody who would like to get paid for those snooping skills, then you may be interested. And all you need is a J.D.

This tip was sent to us from Craigslist and it is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds….

A document review project out on the West Coast (San Francisco Craigslist) is looking for someone with an actual Juris Doctor degree (though unlicensed) to “monitor” a review room over the holidays.

So maybe not so much a “spy” as a “dirty snitch.”

But here’s the real question: What kind of compensation can you expect for dropping a dime on any reviewer hoping to duck out of work to do last-minute holiday errands? Thirty pieces of silver adjusted for inflation, or $15 per hour plus overtime.

Contract attorneys — good enough to review your client’s confidential documents, not reliable enough to fill out time sheets on their own.

Listen, it’s true no attorney, whether hired on a contract basis or as a permanent employee, should be billing a client for work that they have not done. Plenty of ink has been spilled on this website (and others) bemoaning the billable hour and the incentive it provides for… creative billing. And every practicing attorney (and I’m including contract attorneys in these ranks, well aware that the meager service we provide may not be considered the practice of law) has heard anecdotes of frivolous billing — even associates billing a client for the time it took them to drop a deuce.

It’s clear the phenomenon of overbilling is not limited to the world of contract attorneys. So why are we the only ones forced to deal with the indignities of a grade school hall monitor? I mean, no one is posting a job opening to watch the lobby of some Biglaw firm to “monitor” which associates and partners are leaving early (though if you do see that posting, please PLEASE send an email to with details). Also, does anyone else see the irony in the implication that the contractor attorneys are somehow being dishonest about their time (and hence in need of a babysitter) when it’s the law firms that turn around and charge the client a giant markup (three to four times the cost) for that work?

The sad truth is I’m not terribly shocked by this. There are tons of administrative hoops (some of which are quite demeaning) that contractors are forced to jump through just for the privilege of coding some documents in a vain attempt to earn a living. If one project wants me to sign in with another temp, who isn’t even licensed yet, in order to earn my money — well so be it. I’ll smile politely and hope I find another, more humane project soon. Because that’s the upside of life as a temp, if you don’t like who you’re working for there’s always the next job.

A screen cap of the Craigslist ad is available on the next page if you really don’t believe it….

(hidden for your protection)

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