Friday, September 24, 2010

This May Ramble on a Bit

Sorry about that. I just continue to get more and more disgusted by the idea of employees being slaves who should just bend over in the face of crazy hours, substandard work conditions, working off the clock, etc. and say "Thank you sir! May I have another?"

I was reading a Dear Prudence letter yesterday about some guy who was working 12 hour days in the technology field. I often read the comments after stories b/c the wackos or the sane folk come out of the woodwork. I recall reading one comment about someone whose spouse working in low paying service jobs such as in a fast food restaurant & was being called upon to work far beyond what had been initially agreed to.

Basically, this person was working overnight shifts & weekends + 50-60 hours a week all the time after being told initially it would be a once in a while thing.

Know what I think of such situations? You should just tell the person to go fuck themselves (gasp, I used the f-word!) if they expect you to not get overtime or work off the clock. If you're that hard up for a job & need money that badly, why not go rob a bank, sell drugs, or be a hooker? You might as well if you're letting someone screw you over like that. You're just an accomplice to the crime & suffering the harms of it.

It's one thing if you're in an industry or job title where working long hours is common knowledge (say doctor, lawyer, etc.). It's also different if you're building a business where you have ownership interest. Those aren't dead end jobs where someone else is pulling the strings or you're going to face the same type of abuses as you would working at the Wal-Mart.

Well, better if you're a solo lawyer but most would agree that the average BigLaw associate has an overall better job than the Wal-Mart cashier. In most of the "long hours are common" jobs, there are high salaries, great benefits or some other perk(s) to offset the long hours. Quality of life aside, I think most people would take the BigLaw salary.

The thing that really galls me is the attitude of career advice writers, many employers and the average person who think people should act like robots and accept all degradation to their quality of life.

This sums it up a bit.

I think you have a right to know the hours you're working & other roles if you're obviously overqualified for what you're interviewing for & had better speak up or you'll get taken advantage of. The scammer I worked w/apparently referred to me as an intern despite having me do some of the internal legal forms & dealing with investors.

Guess what? You don't get the benefits of my legal license if you're referring to me in all instances as an "intern". Just doesn't work. You get one or the other, not both.

Another commenter to this Dear Prudence column said that all the workers of the world should just rise up & say "no" so that crap stops. I'm all for that considering I believe in treating staff like people. Being the boss doesn't make you Lord and Master over the people you supervise. If you think you are, you need to be demoted. There was also an observation that only the US offers working hours that are akin to those in developing countries.

For a new low to bad employers, I saw this Craig's List ad a few days ago seeking new attorneys:

Newly Admitted Attorneys (Jamaica, NY)
Date: 2010-09-21, 2:41PM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Lawyer needed to work in small queens based General Practice firm. Position is open for temporary employment, permanent employment and even part-time for all shifts. Must be licensed in New York and should be familiar with Immigration, Matrimonial and General Litigation work. Must be able to attend court. This environment is very intense. Lawyer must be able to work unsupervised. Resumes can be e-mailed or faxed to: 718-874-2049. No insurance available at this time!

* Location: Jamaica, NY
* Compensation: 30-36k Starting, but with room for Increases.
* 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: 1965977784

The bold is mine. Read it carefully.

Okay, one thing the non-lawyers may not be aware of. When you practice as an attorney, it's generally advisable to have malpractice insurance. The purpose of it is so if an attorney makes a mistake, an aggrieved client can get paid under the insurance policy. Malpractice insurance costs more the longer you practice, presumably b/c you have more clients. Yet the bigger mistakes usually happen when you're a new attorney just starting out.

The cost for my field is prohibitive & when I've asked people in my stage of experience about having it, they say they don't. I definitely don't since it was $2500 a year for entertainment law a couple years ago when I had less than a year of licensing.

To my knowledge, it's not like that in other areas of law. For the more common fields, it's apparently around a few hundred a year (maybe even less than $500 but I wouldn't swear to that being true today).

So basically, malpractice insurance can be a very big deal. There's one school of thought that says it's better not to have it since it fends off the sue happy folk & since most lawyers have the student loan lenders to pay first, sue happy ex-clients won't be able to collect on a malpractice judgment. Probably even more true now that the new lawyer job market is non-existent.

As I don't presume they mean health insurance (usually described as "benefits"). As I understand it, in legal land "insurance" usually means malpractice insurance. Aside from the pathetic salary for an "intense" environment, that is the very first time I have ever seen a job posting in a physical law firm that sought new attorneys but refused to offer malpractice insurance.

Even legal clinics & bar associations offering pro bono (volunteer) work provide the volunteer attorneys with malpractice insurance!!! Oh, and these groups really do need money since they're generally non-profit or get very little funding.

And you want the new attorney to work "unsupervised?!?!?!" If you're a sane person, never hire this firm. With that type of working atmosphere, you're better off representing yourself b/c that lawyer won't know anything or have any real guidance.

What next, will attorneys be demanded to pay for LexisNexis & Westlaw access at some place like this firm?

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