Monday, January 15, 2007

The new job.

I suppose it's time to report on the new job. Many things about it are a whole lot better than the former job, although there are a couple of drawbacks.

Good things first: They treat us like human beings. The firm has given us honest-to-goodness legal work to do, and are willing to let us make our own "legal" decisions on what we're looking at. (The firm has just taken over as General Counsel for a Fortune 100 company, and the former General Counsel boxed up all the case files and sent them on with a bare minimum of description of what's going on and what needs to be done right away. So we are going through the boxes of case files and writing case summary memoranda: we are to figure out what the case is about, who the parties are, where the lawsuit is located, what motions are pending, what discovery deadlines and trial dates are coming up, and even make suggestions as to what strategy to follow. Possibly four or five hundred cases involved.) The firm even treats us (mostly) as though we were permanent employees - we went through a day of orientation (HR paperwork and videos telling us that sexual harrassment was bad and computer security was good), we get subsidized parking in their parking deck in the firm building, we get our own email address with the firm's address, and they even put us onto their internal website.

And of all that, the best is that they give us actual legal work to do; stuff that would probably be done by the firm's associates if they had the luxury of a bit more time to do it in. But since we were discovering rapidly approaching deadlines (the last date for filing an answer in one case is sometime next week, or a trial in another case the last week of the month, for instance), they really didn't have that luxury.

Just a couple of drawbacks. First, they stuck us into a computer training room. You know, an interior room (i.e., no windows) with three rows of tables with a bunch of computers crammed onto them. The sort of room that you can barely tolerate for a two-hour class on How To Use Outlook. Fifteen of us were shoehorned in there, taking up all the computers. And with no room for the 4 or 5 boxes of case files that we each needed to peruse. (We would ask for mustard sauce, but I'm not sure the paralegals would understand the reference.) Just barely tolerable for a short-term project (and this one is scheduled to last 2 to 3 weeks).

And the other drawback? The project is already over. It lasted about six days. Plus-or-minus a half day, depending on how much work you had left to do when they announced, "This box we're handing out now is the last of the cases. Whenever you're done with what you've got, you're finished with the project." It turns out that at some point they decided that they needed us to look at only the product liability and personal injury cases, about 60 of the 400+ cases they were taking over, but didn't either reduce the number of people needed on the project or tell us that it would be even more limited than originally planned.

So it's back to being an unemployed layabout.

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