In California, thanks to regulatory bodies and lawyer Shannon Liss-Riodran, the on-demand economy is taking it on the chin. For example, the lawsuits contending that contract workers should be legally classified as employees have spread from Uber to Shyp, Washio and Postmates.
But there are freelancers who have no beef with not being an employee. We are receiving enough assignments, mostly done remotely, to earn a good living.
One site which provides listings for cut-above work is UpWork. Yes, there is a whole category of assignments for lawyers. And that section of the site for lawyers is divided into special areas of expertise.
UpWork used to be called O-desk. And UpWork is currently part of Elance. Eventually UpWork and Elance might merge into a single site. But that's in the future. On both, the payment due you is held in escrow. There are also in-house procedures to resolve disputes.
Essentially, the game goes like this. When you register with UpWork, you receive 50 free credits a month to bid on assignments. Most require about 2 credits. The unused ones don't roll over unless you purchase a premium membership.
In addition, you will pitch yourself in the kind of format required by UpWork. Yes, it's possible to copy and paste a pattern cover letter, customizing it a bit for that specific assignment. Also, organizations placing the help-wanted might require you to answer their individualized questions. A typical one is what similar projects have you handled in the past. Some are quirky such as how many licks of a Toosie pop does it take to get to the center.
It's smart to complete a profile on UpWork and get scored on tests. But all that isn't necessary to get started.
After you register, which includes a security question and filling out the 1099, you can begin analyzing what help-wanteds you will apply to. They vary in compensation. Employers who really low-ball it are likely looking for applicants in low-wage nations. Remember, this is a global site. However, you can restrict your bidding to ads which offer higher compensation.
Continually, new assignments are being posted. Responses to your application can come quickly, unlike on other sites, ranging from Craigslist to Mediabistro. Based on those responses or the lack of them, you will develop a feel for how much per project or per hour you should bid and how you should frame your pitch.
In addition to UpWork, there is Elance. If you complete the full profile, including the tests, you are given 40 free connects to bid with monthly. The assignments frequently are not as sophisticated or high paying as on UpWork. But there can be the kinds of assignments you are willing to invest your time and connects applying to. The response is fairly rapid. With practice you will identify what range of a bid will get you an interview.
The beauty of platforms like UpWork and Elance is that most work can be done on a telecommuting basis. That means you don't have the expense of a commute and aren't pinned down to being onsite.
The negative, of course, is that if you are searching for a traditional full-time job with benefits, you aren't likely to find one on freelancer sites. However, the projects can lead to long-term relationships.
Manhattan's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the lower court's ruling in favor of the unpaid interns suing Fox.
The details of that decision will have far-reaching implications. The short version is: It will be harder to unpaid interns to sue those who had used their services. Here is the coverage by Nicholas Fernandes in the New York Post.
As many remember, originally it seemed a long shot when Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman filed a lawsuit against Fox for unpaid work as interns on the film "Black Swan." Later Eden Antalik joined the suit. Essentially they contended they performed menial tasks, not learning anything. This, they alleged, was not in keeping with the U.S. Labor's Department's six criteria for permitting unpaid internships.
A lower court agreed. That was then.
Now the federal appeals court over-ruled that decision. It determined that if interns derive more out of the placement in the organization than the owners or managers do, then they did not require payment. Even more important, as Fernandes notes:
"In its ruling, the court tossed the Labor Department's six-point employee criteria."
Clearly, it will be more difficult for interns to file lawsuits which courts determine have merit. Fewer lawyers will be willing to handle those complaints on contingency. In the Viacom intern lawsuit the lawyers had earned about $900,000. That kind of payoff could be history.
Think about it: Just being inside a movie production, the interns learn a great deal about the business. That ranges from the organizational culture to the mechanics of getting work done. They also make contacts.
No wonder, Fox News head Roger Ailes had his pre-teen son Zachery do an internship at public affairs firm The Dilenschneider Group, based atop Grand Central in Manhattan. There, in that boutique founded by Bob Dilenschneider, Zachery could absorb a sophisticated understanding of the advocacy game. I do not know if the internship was paid or unpaid.
It's the trial which could have meant the end of financial independence for digital tabloid Gawker. Its owner Nick Denton would have to find a deep pocket to continue funding it.
Hulk Hogan was suing Gawker for posting a video of him having sex. He requested $100 million. Since the jury trial was scheduled to take place in Hogan's hometown in Florida where he is a loved celebrity, things didn't look so promising for the defendant. After all, everything about Gawker is New Yorkish.
But, the trial is on hold right now. The fun show, since it would involve sexual privacy issues and outsized personalities Hogan and Denton has been postponed temporarily. Here is the coverage in the New York Post.
In Philadelphia, lawyer Conor Corcoran has opened a new division of his law firm which exclusively services LGBT divorces. As CBS reports, Corcoran claims the niche service to be the first of its kind in America.
The novelty of this positioning and packaging may attract the LGBT divorce business as it develops. But that niche may be no larger than a successful practice of a divorce lawyer with heterosexual clients. According to recent research the rate of divorce among married gay couples is equal to or even a bit lower than that of straight couples.
At the 30th Anniversary of The Vantage Group, North Haven, Connecticut, Executive Director Rick Pittman honored the legacy of "Mother Mary."
Before she retired, that employee leveraged her unique empathy to accomplish anything and everything. That ranged from keeping the trains running on time to assuring that the residents of the group homes who could work found it and a way to get to it daily. The Vantage Group provides a loving, safe community environment for adults with a disability.
How the legal sector can use some Mother Marys - or Chief Compassion Officers (CCO)!
The direct impacts and unintended consequences of an industry in transition could be made less of soul-killers. The ideal scenario would be for all participants, ranging from equity partners to law students, to find joy and satisfaction in taking on new kinds of challenges.
Currently, they are conditioned to experience things that don't seem to go their way as somehow their fault. Senior associates who don't make partner often spend the rest of their lives replaying their supposed wrong moves. That preoccupation constrains their ability to get traction on another career path.
Come on, that's so unnecessary. It doesn't take much understanding of human beings and emotional warmth to change the course of a life or a career. Money is often irrelevant. The Vantage Group, like many non-profits, operates on a limited budget.
Think about it. The CCOs can parachute into the law firm when associates get that tap on the shoulder or the bar association when test-takers fail. They listen with their hearts. They position the conversation to the okay-what's-next phase. They remain a palpable presence in the lives of those in transition.
This isn't new, of course. When the market for Humanities college professors tanked in the 1970s, a Mother Mary appeared. It was the late Walter Clark at the University of Michigan. He mostly listened. We took walks. Then he made a phone call. The transition to that non-academic job was probably hard. But I didn't experience it that way because a human being was on the scene.
Not only the legal sector but all organizations have to ditch the assumption that it's all-business. That model of the cold invisible hand is actually downright cartoonish. Always has been. Some clever folks should stage a skit about that at the next annual meeting of the American Bar Association.