Tuesday, March 3, 2009

So much for a regular posting schedule!

Sorry everyone. Market has been slow, and other interests have gotten in the way of my posting and I have to say that at times the conversation has degenerated at times more than I would like to see. I have many ideas, but not as much time right now. Maybe it is that second job I had to take. As I have always said, the Black Sheep is all of you contractors who are the Black Sheep of the legal industry (whether you believe it or not).

As to current updates on the market, one of the posters in the last string I think did a pretty good job at summing things up. Anonymous at 7:51 AM Feb. 19 said...

Here's what I can come up with based on people I've talked to and this site and others:

Dechert (staffed by Hudson): Vioxx/Vytorin, they just had their four-year anniversary, and it doesn't seem to be shutting down anytime soon. There are rumors of them moving it across the street from 2 Logan to the Bell-Atlantic Tower. Last I heard, they started at $27 an hour (with time and a half for OT) but had a freeze on raises (people who have been there more than 18 months get $35 an hour. Supposedly, they just hired 12 to 15 people and even added a few staff attorneys. I’ve also heard there are ongoing, smaller projects at Cira Center.

Pepper Hamilton (direct hire, or staffed by HIRECounsel, or staffed by Special Counsel): Zyprexa, Avandia, don't know what the Special Counsel thing is. I've heard direct hires are for either Zyprexa or Avandia and pay $38, but the unlucky HIRECounsel folk are hired exclusively for Zyprexa and are paid $30. So why does ANYONE go there through HC? Because not everyone knows about the direct-hire route, which isn't advertised. I doubt they'll be doing any hiring anytime soon with the Zyprexa settlement and the 200 hours a month/ 10 hours a day cap on hours.

Stradley (staffed by JuriStaff & Special Counsel): Avandia. Pays $35/hour, down from the $40/hour it used to be with Oxford Legal and Special Counsel. Limited hours, are they currently hiring? Who knows how much longer it has to go? After all, with Zyprexa settling maybe Pepper Hamilton will take back the Avandia work.

McCarter English (staffed by Hudson): Seroquel. I don't know what that pays but that project only has a small skeleton crew working on it, and it's unlikely there will be any new hires for the duration of the project.

Morgan Lewis (Providus): Some non-pharmaceutical thing. Pays a nice $35+OT, but I don't know if they'll be doing anymore hiring for the duration of the project. Work seems to be slow to the point of being almost nonexistent at Morgan’s regular review space in the basement adjacent to Suburban Station.

Montgomery McCracken (HIRECounsel). Pharmaceutical case. Pays $30/hour straight time. Smaller project. Just hired people and probably won’t be adding.

Then there's always work at the plaintiff's firm Barroway in Radnor (staffed by HIRECounsel) for a yucky $28/hour, where they reportedly have cameras on the contract attorneys. If you live in the suburbs you won't have to pay Philly wage tax, but so what, it's $28/hour in oppressive working conditions.

JuriStaff recently was looking for people for a short-term (one to two month project), but it was a plaintiffs firm, the hours were extremely limited, you were required to take an hour unpaid break, and there even was a set start time for your workday.

JuriStaff and Special Counsel also have a pharmaceutical review at Reed Smith. It pays $35 an hour. You can pretty much work as much as you want, but it pays straight time. However, this project probably will be wrapping up soon.

There's also that $35/hour HIRECounsel gig in Blue Bell as someone else mentioned. Also for whatever it's worth, HIRECounsel and Special Counsel had a flurry of ads in January. I don't know what else they have besides the aforementioned jobs. Kelly Legal also posted a couple of ads for Center City gigs. I know that they do some work for Dechert.

There also are ongoing jobs down in Wilmington, but they tend to pay $30 or so, and who really wants to work in Wilmington?

Does anyone know if there any jobs at Ballard Spahr, Blank Rome or other firms going on right now? If so, who staffs them, what do they pay, and how long are they slated to last? This blog really could be a resource to take power away from the parasites such as Denise Asnes and Julie Dailey. We should be sharing information. Despite what the firms and agencies might tell you, you can share information about what firm you are working at, what you are being paid and what the work conditions are like.

I have not heard about any recent jobs at Blank Rome, Ballard Spahr, Duane Morris or Cozen O'Connor. In fact the last time I heard of Cozen hiring contractors was about 5 years ago. I have heard many reasons that this firm does not hire contractors anymore despite their litigation heavy clientele, but I do not actually know if any is true.

As far as the debate about Wealth vs. Hard Work, it is pointless for many of you to debate, and for those that are borderline in either or both categories, it will just depress you. Here is the thing in my opinion. There are many young attorneys who have gotten jobs on merit, in fact probably more than on wealth and connections alone. Partnership is another question. And it is an interesting one at this time in the practice of law as all size firms are getting very top heavy with partners (both equity and non-equity). And some of those partners are "Working Partners" while others are "Rain-making Partners." And if you are reading this Blog, the likelihood is that you will never be either unless you start your own firm or break off of a large firm with only a few partners. As far as pre-requisites for getting a big law job, all of the following things help:

Wealth and Fame
Connections to the "Right" people (including relations to partners or clients)
Hard work resulting in Top 10% of law school class
Top Schools for both Undergrad and Law School
Journal experience
Clerking for a High-Level Judge
Distinguishing Litigation Ability
Unique Talents
A Backstabbing Mentality
Willingness to Pledge your Allegiance to the Firm above anything else

Do you need all of these things? Certainly not, but if you have all of them you are likely shoe in for partner. Everyone has different paths to achieve success at large firms or small firms. I have met quite a few people who have been given jobs based on wealth alone (as I hear it about half of the Vioxx staff attorneys got their jobs through familial connections and probably will not be Associates any time soon) and many who have achieved due to hard work and good grades. The shame of this debate is that there are so many in document review who just want a shot at showing the large firms what they can do, while there are some in large firms that have got there with only apparent familial connections and are taking up space despite the fact that they do not really want to be there. Bottom line is you cannot change your past, only your future so find a way to achieve what you want. This may require changing your dream. My new one may be to become a manager at Best Buy as one commenter has suggested many times (at least I would get an employee discount on all of those electronics, of course I may be frisked upon leaving work, and will certainly have to frisk lower level employees if I recall the lawsuit that was going on there last year).

As far as the discussion about Document Review being filled with 3rd and 4th Tier graduates, this is certainly true, but it is also true that the 2nd Tier is well represented as well. In fact in this area there are many Temple and quite a few Villanova Grads that are contracting. Rutgers numbers have been growing up in NYC as well. These are all second tier schools, and if the numbers can be relied on they are in the top half of the second tier. And by the way these are not just bottom of the class grads either. I know one cum laude grad with journal experience from a second tier school who has been contracting for a couple of years.

AS far as news like the following, it is bad for us as contractors because many of these people will take desired jobs from us because they will be viewed as better qualified. This fact can be seen at Stradley Ronon where as a recent poster pointed out Staff Attorneys were demoted to contractors while released associates were rehired as Staff Attorneys:
Black Friday For Law Firm Staff and Attorneys....What About in-House?

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Dechert Lets Go 10 Staff Attorneys

Incidentally being a Staff Attorney might not be much better (especially at a large firm) as Tom the Temp and anonymous poster pointed out in the following post

Thursday, February 26, 2009--What Is A Staff Attorney?
"Yolanda Young will be happy to explain in detail. From her recent court pleading, I gather it is somewhat like a legal sharecropper. You have to 'work off the clock,' and probably get paid in script, only negotiable at the 'company store.' Also, the desks would be set up in 'converted filerooms,' which Yolanda speculates do not meet OSHA standards. Anyone that complains gets the tar and feathered, and then their bonus is pressed down to a measly $5,000."

-ABA Journal Commenter on...
High-Profile Ex-Staff Lawyer Sues Covington & Burling, Alleges Discrimination

Speaking of Tom the Temp. Congratulations are in order, he made the Blog 100 as one of the Best Career Blogs!

Some additional news on a variety of Legal Blog topics check out this site:

Want to add ot our knowledge about what contract Attorneys are and do, feel free to add to Wikipedia's definitions here:

Want to know how to become a contractor, check out E-how

Oh, by the way, some of you may have noticed that unlike last year, this year I did not do cheers and jeers for wishing our agencies and staff attorneys a Happy Valentines Day. That was not by design, if you want to send them in, feel free.

Have fun. And I welcome your comments.

The Black Sheep


Anonymous said...

Thanks for updating. Is anyone besides me concerned about outsourcing work not to India, but to lower-income regions in the South and Midwest? Rates are definitely higher in New York, DC and Philly compared to Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Houston. I'm concerned, and granted this is just speculation, that we may see more and more projects going to places like Kansas City and Nashville, where the cost of living is cheaper, and attorneys would be thrilled to make $18/hour.

Code Monkey said...

Providus has a doc review starting in Oklahoma City. At $32, I'd consider wandering the earth like Cain in Kung Fu as a hobocoder.

Anonymous said...

$32 in OKC is probably like $50 in Philly. That's damn good living if you feel like living out there.

Anonymous said...

I would bet that there is a good amount of work that'll go to the south or the midwest. If that is the case, some people who currently live in places like NYC or DC should consider moving. Sure, there are many people who were born and raised in those cities. But the vast majority of them are transplants from somewhere else (quite possibly the midwest or the south). When asked why some coding attorneys don't move in with their parents to save rent, one of the perennial answers seems to be that they're not actually from NYC or DC so it's not feasible. I guess they might be lying about that and really just want to not be embarrassed to move back in. But really, there should be a substantial amount of people who are only in NYC or DC because they moved there to work. For those people, they should consider moving to Nashville or Cleveland or whereever.

Ironically, I think Philadelphia, and maybe to a larger extent Wilmington Delaware had previously benefited from being lower cost than NYC or DC. One of the projects I had been on actually originated from the firm's New York City office and the partner actually came down to Philly to say hi. I guess now even Philly might be too expensive. One of the projects I worked on in Wilmington was from DC and an associate from DC was sent to Wilmington and lived in a hotel there. (The one from NYC was finance related and the DC one wasn't pharmaceutical) Maybe our area will at least retain some of the projects, since I can't really picture New Yorkers or Washington people tolerating long flights to further out cities.

always long-winded

Anonymous said...

Many projects are now being "on-shored" meaning that they are taking place in the US versus India, etc but they will be taking places in cities where the cost of living is much lower like the South, mid-west, etc.

Anonymous said...

Stradley link is dead, please repost.

Anonymous said...

For those of us in the pharm. doc review arena, let's give a big hand to the U.S. Supreme Ct. for their decision against Wyeth! Let the flood gates open!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Clarence Thomas even sided with the good guys on this one.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of friends who were contracting at MLB whom I haven't seen in WEEKS but I don't want to ask if they have been laid off...does anyone know what's up there? don't want to inquire and make someone feel even worse if they are out of work

Anonymous said...

7:08-- Were they on the Providus project? If so, I believe that one still is going strong. If not (if they were there through Frankly Legal or Special Counsel), they most likely aren't working at MLB right now because things have been really slow there.

Anonymous said...

I thought Providus was not a philly agency? When did the providus project start because they have been tehre a while...

what did they do with the people who weren't on the providus project and worked for Hudson or other agencies?

Anonymous said...

Providus isn't a Philly agency-- they got the job because they had a relationship with the client. The job started in August 2008 and probably will go at least another month or two.

As far as I know, there hasn't been much work for anyone else since October.

Anonymous said...

another month or two isn't a long time!!!


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any details on the Stradley shake down referenced in the original post? Associates to Staff Attorneys, Staff Attorneys to contract attorneys! A perma-temp's vindictive dream!

Anonymous said...

Based on what I've seen, the "shakedown" at Stradley wasn't all that earth-shattering. The project merely demoted 5 of the original 10 staff attorneys into contractors. 2 of the demoted staff att'ys decided to leave the project altogether rather than be contractors, while the other 3 stayed on. Honestly, it's not exactly a big shock either that these 5 were the ones who got demoted.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me one of the "demoted" was the insufferable woman who had her prized BIGLAW awards plastering her office. Just in case any of the temps accidentally mistake her for a typical staff attorney- she was a biglaw associate once, see! Look at her awards!

So there was no demotion of any of any of the supervising Associates?

Anonymous said...

There's one female staff attorney at Stradley that I wish had been demoted. Unfortunately, she wasn't.

Anonymous said...

From the way it's looking, pretty soon everyone in law is going to be demoted. To unemployed. Partners included if they don't have business. And if they don't have business, there are no document reviews. nice forecast.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anything from Hudson lately? I used to get calls all of the time, but haven't heard a peep from them or about them in weeks if months. Anybody out there?

Anonymous said...

i don't think there are any jobs out there. If anyone knows differently, please speak up

Anonymous said...

Hudson is basically confined to the ongoing Dechert Vioxx/Vytorin project anymore, aren't they? I never see them advertise anymore, and I haven't heard of any jobs that they're staffing other than that one. Well I guess they still have the scraps of McCarter English, if that's even still going.

Anonymous said...

i heard mccarter and english is totally dead and hudson's stock has really sunk. just wondering if they even have much of a presence in philly anymore. i know there haven't been many, if any jobs, but i'm also curious to know if i've been blackballed for some mysterious reason

Anonymous said...

Which firms are hiring and who are they using? I have heard it is dead out there

Anonymous said...

I would hope that this is just a trough in the cycle right now. Hopefully new drugs will have some lawsuits, and hopefully as a result of this financial crisis we'll see increased securities litigation. Not sure how much of that will trickle into Philly though as this is a pharmaceutical town, not a financial one.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the big law awards staff atty was one of the 5 demoted at Stradley. None of the 3 supervising attys were demoted. In fact 1 of them was elevated to PARTNER at the beginning of the year. His pay increase was what probably led to the demotion of the 5 staff attys- just a guess though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Stradley update. I've been on a lot of reviews and for some reason that one made my skin crawl.

I can't imagine promoting a glorified babysitter to partner. He must have some serious blackmail material!

Anonymous said...

What more can be done to discourage people from attending expensive, private TTT law schools?

I've posted on lawschooldiscussion and other message boards, and I tell everyone I know that law school is a scam.

I hope the poor economy and the mass firings at prominent biglaw firms will discourage at least some people from attending.

Anonymous said...

Hey 7:20AM- Preach on brother!

Anonymous said...

Anyone have a Pepper Hamilton update? Are they still hiring, or laying people off, or what?

Anonymous said...

Pepper is not laying anyone off, but they definitely are not hiring- even tho they get tons of resumes per day. The project is still going strong, but no more contract attorneys are needed.

Anonymous said...

For those who may have missed it, Tom the Temp had a post about some supposed $17/hr doc review job in NYC posted on craigslist. They're debating whether or not the ad was a joke. God I hope it was. The last thing we need are people willing to make next to nothing to do this shit in areas with a high cost of living.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was an agency looking to see just how low of a rate they could offer and still get responses.

Anonymous said...

Yeah someone over there proposed such a conspiracy theory. It wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Anonymous said...

I am just wondering if anybody out there has chosen to get an LLM in an effort to ride out this economy or make yourself more marketable?

Anonymous said...

I know a couple of people who got LLMs in tax, it helps a little bit, but with the hiring freezes today it wont help much. The hope/plan would be that by the time you are done, it would be better. I would suggest to get it. It can't hurt.

Anonymous said...

Heard a rumor (?) that MLB laid off most of its contract attorneys--- is this true or a rumor? did they keep the higher level reviewers?

Anonymous said...

LL.M stands for Lawyer Losing Money. I think Tax may be the only limited exception, because Tax is a fairly technical aspect of law.

I would not bother with any other LL.M. Aside from international students who want to practice law in the US, I don't know any non-Tax LL.M who found the degree useful.

Code Monkey said...


Haven't we learned our lesson? We took out large loans to pay for our JDs. This had a lower return on investment than we expected. Increasing our debt for additional credentials is like going all in on a crappy poker hand.

Anonymous said...

I've been out of school for almost three years now, and I could never go back to school again. I look back on things and wonder how I did it all. I wouldn't go for another degree on someone else's dime, let alone my own. However there are suckers born every minute thinking that MBA or LLM is going to get them the big bucks. Guess what--no one cares anymore.

Anonymous said...

An LLM can't enhance a resume with insufficient experience or poor grades. I know handfulls of people who went and got LLM's when they were doing doc review or whatnot...and guess what...still unemployed with even larger debt.

The reasons most people are unemployed right now aren't going to change with another degree...poor job market, poor/mediocre grades or law school, no experience, etc. In a job market where people are losing their jobs because firms are making cuts, what makes someone think that a position would open up if they had another degree? the firm can't afford to hire ANYONE, regardless of degree, grades, experience. No one is going to hire anyone when they are, instead, laying people off!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think an LLM can be helpful if it is in a "real" subject such as tax and if you go to a really good school such as NYU. I wouldn't bother to get one at a school such as Villanova or Temple.

To illustrate my point, I have a friend who went to an okay law school but got her tax LLM at NYU. She now makes six figures working for the IRS. Another friend got her tax LLM at Villanova and has been doing document review for four years.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone give recent updates as to who is hiring, who is laying off...as far as contract work goes? Updates on all the biggies (Pepper, Dechert, Morgan Lewis, etc. would be helpful) I know we had updates before but maybe someone knows more now, and given how rapidly changing the market is, it couldn't hurt as it probably changes by the day

Anonymous said...

No one is hiring. Everyone is laying off. Learn to live with it.

Anyone hear anything about the rumors of layoffs at the Vioxx/Vytorin project today?

Anonymous said...

Pepper is not hiring, however it doesn't hurt to send a resume directly to Noreen Onimus, in order to be considered for the future as a direct hire at $38/hour.

DO NOT GO TO PEPPER THROUGH HIRECOUNSEL--IT ONLY PAYS $30. If you go to HC for other jobs, and Denise tells you that Pepper is interviewing, tell her that there's no need since you've already applied directly.

Anonymous said...

Who's hiring?

I see a bunch of posts from HIRECounsel for foreign language reviews, and some anticipated projects in Philadelphia and Wilmington.

Juristaff has a couple posts for projects.

Its looking pretty empty.

Anonymous said...

Any truth to the rumors that Dechert had contract attorney layoffs?

How about Morgan? any temp layoffs?

Who IS hiring? who, other than pepper, has ongoing projects????

Anonymous said...

Well the partners at Wolf Block voted to dissolve the firm today, so it's not looking good for real attorneys either in Philly.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Pepper is that no one was adequately trained, so everyone has a different way of coding. If QCers give coding tips, there is fairly high probability that they will be wrong.

No one understands how the project keeps going and going. Granted Zyprexa was a giant clusterfuck, but the federal and private litigations have both ended. The only thing that keeps it going is that so many states have sued. I'd feel sorry for Lilly if they weren't guilty as sin.

The only other major document-review that Pepper has going is the Glaxo/Avandia case (working with the asshats at Stradley), so when Zyprexa dies down, no one knows what will happen.

Another big problem with working at Pepper (other than the lack of Internet access or respect)-- at least in the Health Effects Litigation Practice Group-- is that various people doing the same job are paid different rates, which causes a lot of resentment. They hired from a bunch of different agencies, and they hired people directly. Some people make $30 an hour. Others make $40 an hour. Meanwhile, they pay some unlicensed folks time-and-a-half while none of the licensed people get that.

That fact-- coupled with the fact that you have to work with assholes such as Mike McFarlin and Adam Block-- makes it a very unpleasant place to be.

As far as how many people are there, it is hard to estimate because they have people all over the firm (and off-site). It is safe to say that between the health effects people and the people in other sections, Pepper is the biggest review in town.

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