Monday, September 28, 2009

I won't get out of bed for under $35 (and I hope I don't eat my words).

Met with a nameless parasitic temp agency [credit to Eve] today in the Big City. The guy I met with seemed nice enough: dull, a big lug. Someone who was probably not a great lawyer and fell into the position of temp attorney recruiter by accident. He probably considered himself a headhunter at some point--a kind of urban mercenary. But as the market tumbled, he came to realization that he is simply a temp contract attorney recruiter. He's one step above a leech.

I have met with so many of the temp agencies. I have picked favorites and thrown some other cards away. My favorite temp agencies are ones where there they say key words like: "temp to perm" or "hope" or "market picking up" or "insurance" and sometimes "401k." But today's temp agency is definitely at the bottom of my list. We had a good conversation about my "career" (ha!) and my goals. Then the conversation turned ugly:

"I know temp attorneys that haven't worked for a year. I guess they are too picky on how much they are willing to take hourly. I don't know how they survive."

"The rates have dropped so much. It was $35/hour in the summer and now it's dropped to $26/hour (40 hours-straight time)."

"I think this market isn't going to recover for months, if not years. The longer you can delay starting temp work the better."

"I'm thinking to submit your resume for this large financial institution. It's a corporate environment, which you would like and I know they would like you. But they aren't willing to pay more than $28/hour (40 hours only). But they may hire you if they like you, after 2 years or so." (FYI, this is about 60K a year... and that is IF it lasts a year)

"Well, I realize you think that you aren't interested in a job for $28/hour, but maybe you'll reconsider after a few months (of unemployment). How much is it again? $400? I don't know how you can pay for anything with that."

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm... yah.

He totally deflated my ego. I felt the same way as when I went to Jurassic Park. When I saw Jurassic Park in the theater (a hundred years ago), I was so engrossed in the film that I forgot it wasn't real. I went to the bathroom and was half expecting a raptor to jump through the wall. Then I had to calm myself down and said, "Angel, Dinosaurs aren't real. They don't exist anymore. Relax."

As soon as I got out of that nightmare, I emailed a couple of my contract attorney friends. They made me feel so much better.

Lily wrote:

"Thats a load of crap that agencies feed new temps so they can keep more of your money. His info is 6 mons out of date. About 6 mons ago, the rate bottomed out at 29/30 for some (not all) projects. I never worked for that low, but ppl took it bc of the lack of work. Now, rates have gone up and there is plenty of work and NOONE is paying less than 35. [Nameless state] rates tend to be lower but there also not as many projects. These days, 28 in [nameless state] is unheard of. Stick to your bottom line of $35. They are trying to file you away in the sucker drawer for when a cheap firm calls and they have some poor sucker to take it."

Sucker drawer. I luv that. How does one assume to put a 30 something year old educated women into a sucker drawer, I don't know.

Besides, he underestimates my ability to become anorexic or sleep my life away.. both are better options than working for $28/hour.

And Eve, in her infinite wisdom said: "I think if people accept jobs like that, they're helping to artificially depress the market. Fuck them."

Why don't we take control of our own market and unionize? What's stopping us? Should I start the movement?


  1. I know what you mean. We are seeing a race to the bottom with lawyer "salaries." Hell, thousands of law students and even practicing lawyers are VOLUNTEERING their time, skills and energy. How often did CDOs tell us, "Volunteer with a small firm to gain valuable experience" or "Network and get your name out there"?

    Strapping young people with huge student debt loads keeps many of us plugging away for Corporate America at shit pay. However, it also makes many of us postpone marriage, having kids, or buying a house which further undermines our economy, as the government and its corporate masters will further rely on cheap foreign and immigrant labor.

    Lastly, here's my personal favorite: "You can do anything with a law degree." Yeah, sure you can - like be unemployed for months at a time and be considered "overqualified" for many non-law positions.

  2. Start a union... please. My aunt, who has lived in this country for 2 years and speaks very broken English, currently works as a cashier at Giant. She is part of a union and gets great health insurance for herself and her as-yet-still-not-employed husband, time and a half pay on Sundays, and is paid $20 per hour.
    My brother, who grew up in the US and went to law school, graduated top 20 of his class and passed 3 bars on the first try, was laid off with 3 weeks notice and no severance. And that's it for the past year.
    Please start a union.



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