Friday, March 02, 2007

Waiting for news.

One of the things about working on short-term projects is that you're never sure when it's going to be over. Typically, you get no notice - "what you're now working on will be it, and when you're done, you're done" - and sometimes it's worse than no notice at all (a phone call from the agency when you get home in the evening, telling you that the project is finished and don't go back to the office).

So you get to be good at speculating from the slightest of clues: the amount of work left to be done, compared to the speed the group has been working at, or the approach of a deadline which may or may not be extended, or the frequency of visits from the people in charge, or the level of distress on their faces when a contract attorney leaves the project, for instance.
And then there's speculation based on no clue at all, just wishful thinking. ("Wouldn't it be nice if the project lasted until the next lottery drawing, which I would win and then quit this job...." which tends to lead us into other lines of speculation.)
My current project was described as being "two weeks" long. On our first day, we were informed that we were to have everything finished by the end of the month, nine days hence. On Monday of the second week, we estimated that we had about one more day's worth of work, and on Tuesday, we overheard one of the paralegals on the phone: "You mean today's not going to be their last day???"

Through the next couple of days, they kept finding small things for us to do - mostly reviewing and re-doing work that had previously been done (and done badly) by BigLawFirm's associates who had picked up pieces they could work on and thereby pad their billable hours. But the last of the documents kept looming in front of us, signalling the end of the project.

Until today: they swept through the room and announced that they'd next like for us to go back through all the documents, and determine which documents should be used in upcoming depositions. And that this document preparation work ought to last "at least a month."

Well, good. I'll be able to keep making mortgage payments and purchasing cat food, after all.

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