Finding The Easy Life As A Contract Attorney – By ALEX RICH

Finding The Easy Life As A Contract Attorney – By ALEX RICH

Ah, the easy life. For some people it is the windmill they keep tilting at, trying to find the exact right amount of effort that things work out for them, but not so much that they have to worry or stress out — about anything really, but certainly about a job. My father was like that. An unapologetic union man for over 30 years, he resisted promotions to management convinced that without union-won guaranteed yearly raises, the small bump in salary attached to the promotion would be moot in a few years and certainly not worth the extra hours and stress.

I can certainly respect that way of life (it did in fact pay for my childhood), but I never ascribed it to myself. After all, I was going to law school. I would be a professional, different and apart from unions or a real struggle for salary.

But now the struggle is real, and all I want is to not get hassled through my day.

It wasn’t always like that. I wasn’t always like that. When I worked at a law firm I was the kind of associate that never said no to an assignment and never complained that I was too busy for something new. I was so certain that each right move would be an indelible gold star that would somehow, despite the odds, get me to the next level. Of course that isn’t what happened. At the first sign of trouble I was unceremoniously dumped. Left to fend for myself with thousands of other recently unemployed lawyers.

And it may have taken some time, but I’ve made peace with the turn my career has taken. But even though there may be fewer responsibilities associated with being in document review, it isn’t usually the easy life. Let’s not forget it is contract work, so you are constantly on the look out for the next project and worried about the financial implications for your life if you can’t find anything.

But there is a sweet spot. When you start working for a big law firm or document review vendor that has a steady stream of cases. They tend to draw repeatedly from the same pool of reviewers, cultivating talent if you will, so unless your work is terrible, you actually have something vaguely akin to job security. As one project starts to wind down, instead of the paranoia and fear that usually sweeps through a review room, the team is just quietly and competently trained on another matter. You roll from project to project and your comfort level goes up, freed from the worry of what job comes next.

There is however, a downside to that comfort and likely complacency. And I have seen it happen all too often to less than circumspect reviewers. You start to be picky. That’s never good when your job is by its nature temporary. “No,” they say “I would prefer not to redact a 10,000 page spreadsheet and instead make incredibly easy calls on a case with a 95% responsiveness rate for the same hourly wage.” Even if you think the project managers all love you, review rooms don’t do well with real autonomy so they need to nip it in the bud. And whether you get immediately reprimanded or get the slow fade, where all of a sudden you aren’t rolled onto new projects the results is the same — you have sabotaged your easy life.

The lesson for reviewers is: you can get an easy life, just don’t get too comfortable.

Source: Above The Law

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