Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hudson/McCarter project continues Cutbacks

As I understand it, last Wednesday the McCarter project made further cutbacks to its hours, limiting the coders from the previous 50 to 40. This came in an announcement that made it impossible to make even 40 hours for the week because the site would close early on Thursday, and would not be open Friday. This comes as little surprise to many contractors as apparently there have been many periods when the site has been sitting idle because documents were not coming in fast enough. The only surprise here is why the client, McCarter or Hudson did not make the decision to limit hours, or close on Fridays sooner. There were apparently very similar lulls in productivity last year throughout the late summer and early fall. Why didn't they have more limited hours then?

I would submit that now something has changed. They are getting closer to the end of current discovery orders and now are on the verge of closing down or laying off many more people at the site.

Coincidentally, on Wednesday afternoon 30-40 contractors on the McCarter project were called upstairs as a group to Hudson's offices to be told that their services were no longer needed. They could have until the end of the week to clean off their workspaces (which was only one more day).

I believe this is a vast improvement over the way layoffs on the same project were handled this past April. In that layoff, there was a lot of assurances from people that should have known better that there was nothing to worry about. Even some of the more experienced Contractors were not prepared to be laid off that weekend. This time there were no assurances.

In April, Contractors were merely told to check their e-mail over the weekend. This was not out of the ordinary as the Team Leads frequently would use E-mail to tell the rest of the Contractors when and if there would be weekend hours. This caused many to assume it was business as usual. Instead, hundreds of people in PA and NJ were told by E-mail that they were let go. This was ridiculous. Here, Julie Dailey and Lauren Gibson actually delivered the news face to face (even if in a large group).

In April, Contractors were not even allowed into the premises to get their own stuff, rather, the team leads merely packed it into a box which they then had to get from the front desk. This time, they were allowed back into the premises and allowed to earn a couple of more hours pay, and could pack up their own stuff.

Incidentally, I have always wondered about this practice of not letting a contract attorney back into the offices after they have been let go. Why? Do they think we are going to commit acts of vandalism? Do they think we are going to steal the oh so valuable documents we have been working on and give them to opposing counsel? Do they think we are going to steal a client? that we would steal office supplies or computers? What is the point? The practice is inane and perpetuates the myth of the unstable or untruthful attorney. We are attorneys, we had to pass some sort of character screening to be licensed. And let's face it, there are numerous people that would be observing our actions. None of these ill effects is likely to occur.

So here are some questions for you. Was the way this layoff handled better then the one in April? I think so. Were Julie and Lauren influenced by the way the contract community (via these blogs) reacted to the April Layoff? Or is this the way that they would act if they were not pressured to lay off so many workers? Did the McCarter or the Client influence the way either of these layoffs were handled? Which would you prefer in person and 1 day, or by e-mail over the weekend?

We welcome your thoughts.

For those who were laid off, I do not have any real current leads for you. Things are a little slow right now. Make sure you apply for unemployment, you can do it online now. Good luck to you, and if I hear of anything I will try to let you know.

To the other contractors out there, I am sure these guys might appreciate a little help. And to those former contractors, what are you doing now, and how did you get there. I am sure that some of those laid off are looking to get out of contracting and into something else, maybe even out of the Law.

Anyway, that's it for today. Keep in touch.

The Black Sheep

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Anybody out there celebrate the 4th working? I actually did not.
How about the Philly 4th Celebrations? I was out of town.

This weekend we celebrated our Independence from Tyrannical rule by a dictator located many miles away in England. Ironically many of us contractors are subject to the tyrannical rule of the law firm running our projects, but are not on site. We could easily overthrow our overseers with physical violence, but that would be the end of the project. they would deal with the situation and write us off. So how can we regain a little control? Think about it. What do you want out of your job situation? Do you want to be a mindless robot spending innumerable hours staring at a computer screen in poor conditions for relatively small salaries for the rest of your lives?? Or would you like to have your opportunity to move up the ladder? To have a say about your conditions? To increase your pay scale? To get better benefits?

Anyway, this post I have a couple of news tidbits.

First, I have heard that McCarter has officially closed the doors of its large Newark, New Jersey Document review site. The reason being not enough work (though some have reported that it was because the coders up there were so piss poor). There have been rumors that both Vlad and David King are returning to Philly, but this is unconfirmed.

Second, we for got to celebrate the FLSA's birthday it was June 25, 1938. It was meant to create standard wage practices, primarily for non-management hourly workers. It essentially mandated that anyone working more than 40 hours per week get lunch breaks and pay for overtime. Read it sometime it is worth it.

Third, the Temp Attorney website has a good benefits story that everyone should read. It is at:


FINALLY, I would like to close with an issue that has been bugging me as of late. On the large jobs that I have worked here in Philadelphia lately, I have noticed something. There is a lot of the attitude that Philly contractors are better than New York contractors, and that they cost less. Many of the contractors that forward this opinion, tend to go on to say that the large firms see this and will choose Philly over New York for future large jobs. I do not think this is true at all, especially in light of how Philly was before the Pharmaceutical Products Liability cases brought massive Doc Review to Philly. So, I wanted to get your opinions on this. Are Philly Contractors better then NYC? Will Philly take work from NYC? Is taking pride in our fair city's contractors worth any effort? Does it really matter?

I welcome your comments as always on any of the above issues or articles. Also feel free to post about issues you would like more about, or in the alternative, send me an e-mail, I will do what I can to address anything you bring up.

Black Sheep