It’s Monday morning 04:00h. You just left the office after a 90+ hour week working on a document review project and you will be (expected to be) back in at 09:00 sharp. Fair enough, you made some sweet overtime money but you cannot stop feeling empty, disillusioned and somehow used.
Sound familiar? This can be the physical strain you put yourself under working those long hours over a longer period of time. But – from our own experience here at Contract Attorney Central – it is as likely the lack of appreciation for your hard work by your employer, project manager, firm or agency which makes you feel deflated.
This is a very common mental state of mind in the contract attorney industry. We are expected to put in very long hours. Basically put our whole social and family life on hold for the duration of the project, act professionally and of course create a good ‘work-product’ (probably) to be charged out to the client at a sweet premium. All this while (usually) not being given any indication of duration, headcount and general future developments of the project. Hence, the more cynical amongst us will refer to ourselves as ‘Paramonkeys’, ‘Cattle’ or just ‘Numbers’. You have most likely come across this pretty perfect image painted of contract attorneys on document reviews.
Apologies – that’s enough of status-quo analysis and complaints (another common contract attorney habit btw!). Rather, let’s dig into some tips and tricks CAC researched for you to help you deal with the lack of appreciation at your workplace. We have compiled a Top 4 of some more and some less obvious tips for contract attorneys on document reviews to stay sane, feel worthy AND make the big bucks on a busy project:
4 TOP TIPS TO FEEL APPRECIATED AS A CONTRACT ATTORNEY ON A DOCUMENT REVIEW
1. Ask for Feedback
Asking your project manager or the firm’s associate in charge for feedback has a two-fold advantage. Firstly you will actively push him to express some level of appreciation by giving you a feedback about your work-product and performance. Keep in mind the timing of your request and the approach you will take. Secondly it can give you a better feeling about your manager’s personality. It could simply be that he just doesn’t express appreciation to any of the contract attorneys on the document review. In that case, harden that skin of yours a little more and just continue doing a good job, while not taking the lack of appreciation for your efforts personally.
Contract attorney and document review work is groupwork (rather then teamwork). That’s good as it gives you the opportunity to socialize with your co-workers. This will help you to take your mind off feeling unappreciated and will also offer you an outlet. Socializing with co-workers will also give you the opportunity to talk to and seek advice from people who probably experience the same lack of appreciation and hence sympathize with you.
3. Appreciate Yourself
This might sound weird but a great mental trick to deal with lack of workplace appreciation could be to treat yourself to something nice you always wanted (and are now able to afford!). Use your 30 min lunch-break on Monday following (yet another) crazy workweek and spontaneously buy the Swiss watch, Louboutins or iPad. Too much? Get the massage you’ve always been yearning for, which you haven’t ever needed quite as much as you do now.
4. Take Breaks Between Projects
Considering that we contract attorneys are paid on an hourly basis and, because hours = income, it is very tempting to work non-stop. Don’t move from one project to another, then immediately onto another project like a hamster in the all-so-common document review wheel. This will inevitably lead to you being burned out and, because of the nature of the document review beast, will likely lead to you feeling under-appreciated at some stage (perhaps even when it is not warranted). Nip this in the bud and consciously take a few days, weeks or months off between gigs. Permanent employees get holidays, why shouldn’t us hard working contract attorneys?
Have you experienced lack of appreciation working on a document review? How did you deal with it the situation? Do you have additional tips? Please share them by letting us know is the comment box below.