Uber Editor Tina Brown coined the term "Gigonomics." It refers to the way more professionals are earning a living. And that's, documents Brown, from gig to gig vs. having a career. Giggers, to extend Brown's terminology, are not primarily free spirits. They are those who crave that old-fashioned entity of a full-time permanent position with benefits. But there are none to be had.
Gigonomics has now become commonplace in the field of law. That's not because those gigging attorneys relish the freedom of not having a full-time job. That's the only work available to them, at least in legal services.
Julie Kay reports in THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL that a growing number of JDs have been forced into temporary uncertain low-paying contract assignments [subscription required but clip available on Law.com.] They have no other option than to become day laborers at $35 an hour, that is if they can snag even that. Because of the overall glut of attorneys, layoffs in BigLaw, and frozen demand for legal services during the transition between administrations in Washington, gigs have become scarce.
The obvious question is: Why are men and women with law degrees and all the skills - analysis, writing, client management - which go with that education and training enduring this way of making a living? Are they unduly optimistic that if they just hang in as gypsy workers they will eventually land full-time jobs? Yeah, like Cravath or Jones Day recruits from the temp pool. Are they so passionate about law that they will do only that sort of work? Are they simply unimaginative about pulling together their abilities and creating something more lucrative, more their own, and more dignified? And/or do they lack the courage to leave the path they were pursuing since probably undergraduate days?
If I had to finger just one or two reasons why lawyers are getting stuck in the black hole of gigonomics in the first place and can't or won't get unstuck, those would be a deficit of imagination and courage. Those traits get hammered out in law school where, although the professors claim to want to encourage strategic thinking, there is frequently one right or best answer. The same continues into preparing for the bar examinations and doing associate work. Take intellectual risks? Forget it.
That's not how we in communicators were ever boxed in. From our first Journalism, public relations, or film-making course what is hammered is: Getting attention. That comes only from risk-taking.
So when we get laid off, treated badly by an organization, find our own business failing, or whatever, we move on - briskly, confidently and often to something better. No surprise there is huge mobility in the field. Sure, now and then we might have to fill in with contract work, which can range from $20 an hour for proofreading to $90 for temp speechwriting. But we're rarely gigging it for long. Here is my sad story of those months of gigging, what I got out of it, and how I got out Download Geezerguts.
How to unblock creativity and courage? A bullet-proof way is to simply change some routines. Routines serve to keep us stable or hold everything inside us intact. Upset the routines and it's a whole new world of perception, emotion, and direction.