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The Life of a Contract Attorney: Many Don't Get Paid OT, Breaks

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 20, 2011 6:43 AM

Whether you want to call them temp lawyers or contract attorneys, their lives aren't pretty.

Jumping from job to job with mediocre pay (by firm and loan payment standards) without medical or retirement benefits, these wayward souls have seen the darkest side of the profession.

And they're not even being paid overtime to do it.

As you may know, with the legal sector losing permanent jobs left and right, contract attorneys have become the new norm in the realm of the unemployed and recently licensed.

In fact, use of temp lawyers is expected to increase by more than 25% in the next 2 years, reports the Wall Street Journal.

As contract work has picked up, so have lawsuits brought by the people who do it.

Firms think that they can skirt overtime and break laws by capping hours and paying based on speed, notes the Wall Street Journal.

And those who don't put these measures into place? Well, they just claim that contract attorneys are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

That's right, contract attorneys are exempt from federal overtime rules if their duties are "administrative, professional or executive in nature."

Is document review or coding professional in nature?

It depends, but surely a large chunk of it requires only intermediate literacy and basic typing skills.

At least that's what this blogger's experience has been.

The point is that, while contract attorneys are technically employed, they aren't treated very well and are often struggling to make ends meet. They're also mind-numbingly bored. So instead of looking down upon the temp lawyers in your life, try being nice. You never know when the roles might be reversed.

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