We all get frustrated from time to time; that is a seemingly normal part of every job. And I suppose it only makes sense that those of us that actually got ourselves through law school, and have the debt to show for it, but somehow find ourselves mired in the morass that is document review would be especially vulnerable to these feelings. Modern technology being what it is, there are now seemingly an infinite number of ways to deal with the sense of impotency: maybe you post racist and sexist invectives under an anonymous (read: easy to figure out) screenname, maybe you try to garner support for a union, or maybe you take to task those that you feel have wronged you, by posting a Craigslist ad.
This is a story about the latter. What does it look like when a contract attorney decides to flame on?
To be fair, this ad could have been posted by anyone, but it is clear from the contents that this poster has experience in the world of document review — specifically in Richmond, Virginia. And they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Let’s enjoy some of the highlights, shall we?
We are currently seeking licensed attorneys for upcoming projects that will likely never materialize.
Opening blow, right there in the first line. Definitely a strong start. But I wonder, how is the follow through?
— Be licensed to practice law;
— Have no spine because you will be working in substandard conditions;
— Place little value on your skills because you will not receive a fair wage;
— Be willing to work at the whim of the client, including on holidays, with all OT to be paid at a flat rate;
— Consider Flavia, donuts, bagels, and pizza fringe benefits;
— Submit to an extensive and worthwhile conflicts check and body cavity search because we understand that you possess top secret company information from past clients, and we know that you remember all of it;
— Have previously worked on or applied to Richmond projects that pay $21/hr-$25/hr; and
— Lack the self-esteem to tell agencies that you won’t work for below market rate.
Well. That escalated quickly. Personally, I enjoy how the poster seems to think that self-esteem is going to pay bills. In my experience, Sallie Mae has always been really understanding when I explain I have too much dignity to earn money to pay them. Seriously though, this is why we are seeing more calls to unionize. The lowering of the market rate is difficult to resist as an individual, especially in smaller legal markets like Richmond, and even if you personally are able to hold out for “fair” rates, that does little to change the overall going rate.
However, this poster does not seem to just be railing against the overall market. No, s/he seems to have a very specific target in mind:
Thanks for being stupid, unmotivated LOSERS who don’t mind me – and my firm, HireCounsel – making money hand over fist while we pay you THE SAME WAGE A BURGER KING MANAGER WITH NO G.E.D. MAKES!
Mmmm – burgers. My fat ass got hungry. Whopper with cheese coming up. Hey, its better than the whopper of a lie I’m selling you that this project will last for months (only a few weeks to be honest) and will “move you up in our company quickly” (all lies!)
We contacted HireCounsel to get their take on the ad. While we were unable to connect for a more in-depth discussion, they were quick to point out the ad was not of their doing:”Obviously the ad was not written by anyone at Hire Counsel or associated with our company.”
No surprises there. It may be easy to dismiss this as an outlier. Some individual had enough and decided to post this (highly entertaining) rant, but it is basically a one-off. But there is a growing sense of discontent and frustration in the document review market as the hourly rate is getting pushed further down. Even the most robust markets like NYC are seeing this trend. We recently got a tip for a NYC job paying $24 per hour (for those following the job boards in that market, not the first — or last — job we’ve seen in the the mid-low 20s). And (unfortunately) while the rate may not be all that unique, the tipster also sent us their response that was sent to the staffing agency:
As a former practicing attorney, I’m sure you know, $24/hour for an attorney licensed to practice law in NY is beyond insulting. Costco workers make $26/hr and they accept felons and require only a GED.
I know you say below only to answer if interested, but I felt compelled to say something.
Our degrees have become worthless because of actions like this and something needs to be done to stop it.
So people are pissed — across multiple markets, the feeling is the same. All that remains to be seen is what (if anything) can be done about it.
(Read the full ad, in all of its glory, on the next page.)