Friday, April 25, 2008

Another Philly Contract Attorney Blogger??

Hey Everyone,

I recently discovered that another contract attorney is seeking to start a blog out there, or maybe it is an agency fishing for me and other potential bloggers, but I will talk more about that in a minute. First I want to respond to a couple of comments on the last post with the pay charts.

When posting information such as that in the pay charts, I try to use the most up to date information that I have. Unfortunately, I am just one person, and I am only working on one particular contract job at any one time, or I am job hunting and trying to get information out of recruiters. The pay charts that I post may have some incorrect information on them, if that is the case, then please send me an e-mail in confidence, and I will update the information for the next post.

As to the charts themselves, I tried to include the information that I would want to know if I am considering my options as a contractor. Do I take a job, or wait for something else? Do I try to convince a recruiter to place me at a particular firm or do I try to get an independent placement? Is the salary enough or should I ask for more? Are they offering a salary below the going rate? What should I expect when I arrive? These things can all be answered by some of the information that is contained within the chart. But, I would like the information to be as correct and up to date as possible, and that means that I need you to participate. I am only one person, and do not have perfect information. You have the information about your job, if you send it to me or post it, then I can keep the charts updated for all the jobs out there.

As to the poster who wanted to know where I am working, I cannot release that information as it will narrow my identity down to some one working for a particular firm and I become not one of a couple thousand people, but one of 100 or less. I try to protect your identities as well as my own because I would not want any of us to lose our jobs or livelihoods. I take the position that the information that is posted on this website is not a violation of Attorney Ethics as the information is not about the clients of a law firm. Writing a comment on here does not violate the attorney-client privilege unless it is about the client (Merck, Astra-Zeneca, Glaxo). The problem with these blog websites that exists is that the contract firms like Hudson, Kelly, and Juristaff take the position that the name of the Law Firm that you work for is confidential, that your pay rate is confidential, that your location is confidential, and that your pay rate is confidential. There are a variety of reasons for this position, and some contract firms actually write it into your employment contract. That being said if I were to be discovered, the contract firm that was employing me at the time would likely fire me immediately, blacklist me, and even try to sue me (groundless, but costly). If they catch one of you, it would probably be an immediate dismissal, and maybe a short term blacklisting. So I urge you to be careful with what you say when commenting on the website. As far as E-mailing me, your address and identity will remain confidential, and I will try to remove any information which I feel will identify you from the narrative. If I don't protect you, then I have no information to rely on myself. In any case, I cannot go into further detail about my circumstances in the interests of protecting this website.

Finally, back on topic. Last week, I was reviewing Craig's List postings for Philadelphia legal employment, and I found this posting:

Philly Doc Review Attorney Wanted (cc - telecommute)

Reply to:
Date: 2008-04-12, 10:49PM EDT

Fellow contract attorney seeks interested doc reviewer(s) to blog about the profession near and dear to all of our hearts.

Ideal situation would be for a group of 3-5 of us to each contribute 1 post per week (flexible). You would not need to put your name on the blog. You do not need to blog about your current project / confidential information.

Send me something about yourself and your situation - and any thoughts as to what you might be interested in posting about - and maybe what blogger you think you would be most like :-)

Much like working as a contract attorney, you'll be underpaid (but hopefully not underappreciated). The rough plan is to create a paid job board on the site dealing exclusively in contract and doc review jobs. Revenue sharing would most likely be on some sort of sliding scale based on posts + lengths + comments + ?
  • Location: cc - telecommute
  • Compensation: $500/hr
  • Telecommuting is ok.
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
PostingID: 640362112

I did not post this. After reading the entry I thought several things: Why am I not making any money off of this Blog? My blog is not for profit, I do not have advertising on it, I do not charge for information, and I have not sold things. That is not to say that it will always be that way, but I am not looking to make money off of my fellow contractors. Wouldn't it be great to have another Contractor blog out there, so I wouldn't have any pressure to post anymore? Why doesn't this person use my Blog and try to join up with me? We would make 2 of the 3-5 he seeks. Does this person even care about being a contractor, or is this just his way out of contracting (by bilking other contractors)? Is this what I have to do to get more people to write in with posts, offer money? Is this actually a recruiter or recruiting firm trying to ferret me and other potentially like minded individuals out so that we can be dealt with? Is this a person trying to start a recruiting firm and hoping to get leads this way? And what about this $500/hr compensation.? Probably, a huge joke.

What do you guys think?

Anyway, enough for now.

The Black Sheep

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Contractor Pay and what else is out there.

Okay, everyone I know I took a little longer than a week with this information, but I had some other obligations including taxes. Speaking of which, at some point I would like to do a post on the tax differential between independent contractors and agencies. When you are an independent and are negotiating, then you need to be aware of the income differential and cover yourself as well as any medical etc. that you might need. I digress.

As far as what is out there, the answer is not much. Certainly not enough at the moment to cover all of the 125 or so that were laid off from the McCarter job. There will likely be a Document review (rather large) opening for Vytorin soon. That is through Dechert. Rumor has it that they already have a small group other than the former Vioxx people working on it. Most of the other projects I have heard about are ongoing, and most were known earlier in the year. I have heard a rumor that the Duane Morris project ended, but no confirmation yet. If you have new information or want to update the chart, I will try to do so as often as I can. I will keep you updated about any new information that I hear.

As to the McCarter layoff, it seems that the layoffs on the project were indeed without regard to date of hire, though the newest people received the most drastic cuts. Team leads do indeed appear to have been asked for their opinions of 7+ people that they wanted to cut. This resulted in team leads exercising sometimes arbitrary judgment and played reality TV with people's jobs and lives. I don't like this person, so I am voting them off the island. In some cases there were valid reasons, but in others people were let go without regard for their excellent work product. Some of these firings came across as revenge terminations. While it is temp work and cut backs are inevitable, this particular one was very poorly handled.

As to those that are unemployed and still looking, I also might recommend looking at legal options against Hudson. If you had seniority over the people who started in January, you were making your minimum hours, your productivity and accuracy were high, and you feel that the main reason for your selection was merely that your team lead did not like you, then you have a potential suit for WRONGFUL TERMINATION. What is better than just the idea that you might have a suit, is that they likely never documented any of the activities that they could say they let you go for. Second, if you had discussed the ideas of unionization or engaged in any protected concerted action just prior to the layoffs and feel that this is the reason for your termination, then you may want to get Hudson in trouble with the NLRB, your rights should have been protected. Third, there is no no impediment to trying to sue them for back wages for those weeks that you worked more than 40 hours, I believe that if you sue under the FLSA, you can get the overtime pay for what you should have earned between 40 and 45 hours which was time and a half. Now you have an opportunity to do things that many contractors want to do, stick it to Hudson.

Anyway, I have babbled on long enough. Here are the pay charts. Please send me updates.

The Black Sheep.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hudson sends hundreds home on AZ project

Thats right, many people on the Hudson McCarter English project have been laid off. The project had staffed up to numbers around 1000 attorneys total. These contractors were all needed to meet the Mid-March discovery deadline. I believe that Hudson and McCarter both had hopes that these contractors would be kept on for the long term, but at some point a realization that there might not be enough work coming down to necessitate keeping all of them on resulted in laying off a large portion (something like 600 or so total).

The interesting aspect of this lay off is that even after that Mid-march deadline, Hudson and McCarter were both trying to fill seats at both the NJ and PA sites. In fact, someone sent me an e-mail from Law Crossing that McCarter was looking for direct hire contractors on March 18.

There were assurances from some that there would be more documents on Monday, that the servers were being reset over the weekend, and that this was just downtime like they had earlier on the project. However, with the size of the project it was evident that without more work coming down, cuts would have to be made.

This type of mass staff up and mass layoff is endemic to poorly managed document reviews. The layoff was poorly managed by Hudson; it sounds like McCarter is not doing a good job planning out their document productions (and has not since the case started); there have been apparently a lot of computer problems with both the older Zantaz system and the newer FTI Ringtail system; and of course the client Astra-Zeneca does not seem to have a cohesive document management system or policy, and thus are delaying the production by scrambling around trying to find everything.

AS for Hudson's part, here's the email one person got from Hudson:
Good morning, we hope all is well.

We at Hudson are writing to you in reference to your contract position with McCarter &

English. We have received word that McCarter & English is making significant cuts in
staffing on the Seroquel project in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York City. If you have received this email, your participation on the Seroquel project for AstraZeneca has ended.
Due to the volume of those whom we need to contact this morning, we are emailing you
rather than calling you, but we hope to speak with you in person early in the coming week.

Please respond back to this email with a short note today to let us know you have received

this message.

We hope that the project has been rewarding for you, and we very much appreciate all of

your hard and terrific work and dedication to the project.

If you would please forward a copy of your updated resume to us at,

we would be very pleased to contact you regarding upcoming projects for which you qualify.
We have been quite busy and will hopefully have new opportunities for you in the near

Again, we appreciate all of your hard work and look forward to a continued relationship.

With our best regards,

The Hudson Placement Team

It was sent by the recruiters, not the team leads as some people have noted. From what I have heard thus far the Philly site lost between 100 and 125 contractors. Newark lost from 300-500. The last in were the first out, but there may have been a few underperformers or troublemakers that have been around awhile were let go as well. Some of those who were kept on received calls or e-mails from their leads to let them know that they were safe.

For all those laid off, make sure you contact the unemployment office immediately. Hudson will get hit with a bunch of unemployment claims at one time, and they will want to try to minimize that damage and find new placements for you. Also send your resume to every other contract agency in town and give them all follow up calls the next day. If you have enough money to sit tight for awhile, then do all of these things, but be selective and try to find something that will give you a career path and that you like. Play the game, and forget about the idiots with the poor business plan.

I will be posting the list of Doc Review jobs in the city that I am aware of within a week, but I do not have a great deal of new information about what is out there, so I will need your help in adding to it. I am also going to be attempting to post about the Philadelphia Magazine article and another post on unions soon.

The Black Sheep