Monday, August 14, 2006

Document Review v. Ins Defense: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've had the glorified experience of being not only a current insurance defense attorney, but also a former temp doc reviewer!!

Here is my personal list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on both


a. The Good:

1. You get paid WELL (at some projects around $40-50/hour, lowest around $20/hr)
2. You control your vacation/downtime
3. Zero responsibilities (just show up and do your job, collect paycheck, pass GO).

b. The Bad:

1. You can get canned for just frowning at a paralegal
2. You will be sitting at home for many days/weeks/months between assignments
3. At the infamous Paul Weiss, except to work under terrible work conditions (ie basement cockroaches, one bathroom).
4. Expect some associates or firm staff to treat you less than a human being

c. The Ugly

1. Do temp work for more than a few months or a year, and expect your resume to be forever branded as "Permanent Contract Attorney", diminishing your ability of getting a REAL attorney job. Of course, this might not be so bad if you really don't give a rat's ass about even starting your legal career.
2. Do enough temp work, and the idea of using your brain at work will start to feel like a lofty fantasy you entertained as a pre-law.


Otherwise known as: personal injury defense/general liability/casualty defense/liability defense/general litigation, etc

a. The Good:

1. You have a JOB!
2. Your firm might actually offer you benefits! (and by benefits, I mean dental, vision, 401K, etc)
3. You might have your own office!!! Maybe even your own secretary and/or paralegal!!
4. Once in a while, you get court appearances!

b. The Bad:

1. Your salary is crappy (>55K for many entry levels)
2. Your firm might not even offer generous raises (or none at all!)
3. BILLABLES!!! Minimum of 2,000 but realistically its more like 2,200-2,400 at many firms.
4, Expect to spend all your days reading through boring or disgusting medical reports of plaintiff's injuries
5. Long hours for crappy pay

c. The Ugly:

1. Do enough ID work and you will never be able to transition to a more lucrative practice area (aka Insurance Coverage, Commercial or Business Litigation).
2. Your court appearances will revolve around Kings and Bronx Supreme..where court clerks treat lawyers like children and where you will spend your time litigating with adversaries who act like Joe Pesci from "My Cousin Vinny".
3. Partner compensation at most ID firms is barely a 1/4 that off Partners at REAL firms like Skadden, Heller Ehrman, Lowenstein Sandler, etc...thanks to CHEAP insurance company and low billing rates
4. If you're a 1st year associate doing ID, good luck in ever making 80-100K within the next 3-5 years.
5. Toilet ID Firms like Wilson Elser will be quick to FIRE you the minute your billing falls under a certain criteria.

So there you have it.

Read it and weep.

I'm still weeping.


At Monday, August 14, 2006 11:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, batman. Yours truly, law is 4 losers

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 9:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a lawyer at an AmLaw 100 firm. I would prefer to be a trustifarian and work on pottery all day, but, since I have to work, I am reasonably happy with the bargain that's been struck. I'm reading your blog b/c a classmate of mine got stuck in the contract lawyering world and has had difficulties dealing. I work hard, but don't touch 2200 hours. If you can do that and run a blog, you do better on little sleep than I do.

I could say a lot about your post, but will limit it to this. I've never heard the term "toilet firm" but from my contract atty. friend. He uses it a lot.

Avoid the phrase, if you want a job at something other than a "toilet" firm.

BIG LAW partners are essentially solo practitioners with their own practice which they conduct under the auspices of an umbrella BIG LAW LLP. Their lives are not easy and they don't get "paid" x dollars; they make those dollars and the salaries of all those who work for them.

The moral for you is this - You tell a hiring partner that you work for a "toilet firm" and she's going to recognize you as an employee who intends to cash payroll checks rather than cut them. She will identify with your boss, not you.

At Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:00:00 PM, Anonymous gimmecoffee said...

"I'm a lawyer at an AmLaw 100 firm."

I guess you needed to state that to separate yourself from thousands of lawyers working at the toilet law firms or stuck in doc review jobs like your friend. Point noted. But what you miss is this blogger's obvious point that she realized after working for these toilet firms what they are: crapshoot! She's NOT saying that she's going to go around and "tell a hiring partner that you work for a 'toilet firm'" when she speaks to her own boss or goes on job interviews as she's trying to get away from these firms!! Duh!

At Friday, August 28, 2009 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Temp Hottie said...

LOL I love "you can get canned for just frowning at a paralegal..."

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