United Contract Attorneys (UCA) has been approached regarding their position concerning the Lola v. Skadden matter which is currently pending in the 2nd Circuit. In this case, Lola, a contract attorney, has sued the agency (Tower) and law firm (Skadden) which hired him to do document review for failure to pay overtime.
The UCA would first like to express solidarity with Lola as a fellow contract attorney who has been exploited and underpaid by firms making exorbitant profits from his labor. As a group of workers organizing to create better rates, conditions and experiences for lawyers working in document review, members of the UCA can sympathize with someone like Lola who is struggling with student loan debt in a profession he expected would adequately compensate him for his investment.
As Lola's case was dismissed prior to any discovery concerning the nature of his work, it is impossible to comment on whether or not Lola was engaged in the practice of law and therefore exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirement. In general, however, the UCA maintains that contract attorneys use their legal training and professional discretion regularly while doing the majority of the work in the indispensable discovery phase of litigation and therefore deserve to be paid as such.
Despite performing invaluable functions in the litigation process, document review attorneys are under constant assault by their very employers who have sought to reduce their pay at every opportunity. Burdened with massive student debt, document review attorneys can oftentimes not even afford to live in the very city in which they work. This leads to extra money and time spent commuting to a job where they are often required to work 60 hours a week for $25 an hour or less while being billed out to the client for 10 times that amount. This plight of overworked and underpaid contract attorneys is simply another example of the shrinking of the middle class in the United States.
This situation, caused by firms like Skadden and agencies like Tower, is clearly untenable, and many of us have had enough. Firms often bill clients much more than they are paying their document review attorneys, and United Contract Attorneys demand proper equitable wages based on our education and experience and on the value we bring to the firms.