The Department of Labor has proposed a new rule regarding the overtime exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act, but temporary workers, including contract attorneys, are still being left out because of outdated presumptions about our profession and ignorance about the changing legal industry. Click here to view the proposed rule. The DOL needs to know about our working conditions and wages, and you need to submit a COMMENT, by September 4, 2015.
Let's demand an exception to the professional exemption for contract attorneys because we do rote work, need the money, and we're overworked - the exact kind of workers that FLSA intended to protect!
1. Click here to submit a comment - http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=WHD-2015-0001-0001
2. WRITE YOUR OWN COMMENT OR COPY/PASTE & USE THIS SAMPLE:
a. It's time to update the overtime exemptions to to provide temporary legal workers with overtime compensation because the legal industry has changed and the regulations exempting attorneys are based on outdated presumptions about our profession. We demand an exception to the professional exemption for document review attorneys because we do routine work, are paid low wages as compared to the traditional attorney, and we're overworked - the exact kind of workers that FLSA intended to protect!
b. I am a document review attorney hired on an as needed or temporary basis, project by project.
c. My average rate of pay is $____per hour. My average work week is ____ hours per week and last year I made $_________.
d. I have $_________ in student debt.
e. I work for agencies contracted by law firms, and my work is routine - reviewing thousands of documents for relevance as part of litigation preparation. I DO NOT go to court, write briefs or memorandum, conduct legal research, meet with clients or perform other duties consistent with the entirety of the practice of law.
f. My low hourly rate and routine job duties reflect a distinction between me and other attorneys paid professional wages such as the median salary of $113,400. 
g. Given the routine work easily transferable to other workers, low rates, excessive hours, lack of benefits, and larger student debt burden, document review attorneys should be entitled to overtime pay, similar to highly compensated employees, and should not be included under the FLSA's overtime exemption for lawyers. The presumption that all attorneys make a "professional" salary is outdated because there are at least 14,000 document review attorneys like myself working in this "temporary" industry nationwide.
h. Furthermore, using a weekly wage for the salary basis test is also outdated given the growing contingent workforce, with some temporary document review assignments lasting for as little as 2 weeks. Therefore, an hourly wage test should be used instead while also considering average student debt per industry.
We are professionals and should be paid professional wages, not a measly $25/hr. The overtime exemption was created when lawyers made an upper-middle class salary. This exemption is no longer relevant because our wages have fallen precipitously through the growing use of temporary contract attorneys without collective bargaining power. We are an example of the disappearing middle class. Without the professional salary, we need the overtime wages, especially when we have the same debt burdens and professional obligations as the rest of the Bar.
Show solidarity with a fellow contract attorney who took a stand against his employer, and help pack the courtroom to weigh in with our presence.